Between a broken TV and a random comment about helpdesk pricing in Hacker News, Girish Mathrubootham envisioned and co-founded Freshworks (then Freshdesk) in 2010 to create a better way to service and delight customers.
In the 11 years since, Freshworks has grown to $300M ARR, has a multi-billion dollar valuation, and boasts over 50,000 customers.
CEO, Girish, has never lost his passion for building products that delight customers and their employees – and he’s continued helping other startups along the way.
M.R. Rangaswami: Over a decade ago – what gap in the marketplace did you notice that prompted you to start Freshworks?
Girish Mathrubootham: It all started with a broken TV and a really terrible customer service experience; it took a year to be compensated for that TV, and that only happened because I shared my bad experience in an online forum. That’s when I realized because of the internet, the power had shifted to the customer. Customers deserved to be treated better and there was a gap in the market.
I knew early on in my career that I wanted to build a company – and I had the idea for a better way to help customers; but it was a random comment about a competitor’s pricing in Hacker News that lit the fire! The sweet spot was creating user-friendly products that focused on the customer experience and were priced right. I knew that if we could build a product that was modern, extensible, and easy to use – at the right price point – there was tremendous opportunity.
Fast-forward to today, and what started as a single product focused on customer service is now a global company with a comprehensive suite of products designed to make it easy for businesses to delight customers and their employees with comprehensive solutions for customer experience, ITSM, and CRM.
M.R.: In a competitive, evolving marketplace, what do you do as a CEO to ensure your team, their work, and your organization stays ahead of the curve?
Girish: First and foremost, I have an incredible team of leaders who bring years of industry, SaaS, product, and marketing experience to the table. I rely on them to help ensure we’re looking around corners and anticipating what’s to come.
Beyond them, I work hard to stay closely aligned with our longest tenured employees – those who’ve been around since the early days. They offer good counsel and keep me grounded.
But at the end of the day, it’s our Freshworks culture that allows the team to operate smoothly, efficiently, and stay focused on building customer delight in everything we do. One of our core philosophies is Kudumba – a Tamil word meaning family. It speaks to our roots in Chennai and how we treat everyone in the company and beyond, like our customers and partners. I believe that’s what differentiates us and will ensure we’re both ahead of the curve, and frankly, moving towards a leadership position in the future.
M.R.: With all the iterations of products Freshworks has had over the years, is there a product, service, or business move that makes you the proudest as a leader?
Girish: All of the above! I’m proud of everything that we’ve done at Freshworks. But if I had to choose only one thing, it would be how Freshworks helped change the perception of India… moving from an outsourcing destination to a product-leading country. That’s why we still have a huge presence there – it’s really the heartbeat of the company. We’re able to do more, move faster, and innovate because of our global-first mindset. In the future, Freshworks is only one of many companies that we’ll see from India, and I’m really proud to have played a part in that.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com