With the IT industry working hard to become globally local, startups need to build world-class SaaS companies by understanding the nuances of audiences from all across the world. Also, while competing with global players, it is important to position your company in the right manner. At the Techcircle SaaS Forum 2014, eminent panellists discussed the best practices while leaving a mark in the major international markets.
The panel was moderated by Vishal Gupta, MD, Bessemer Venture Partners, and saw participation from Ambarish Gupta, founder and CEO, Knowlarity Communications Pvt Ltd; Ajay Modani, co-founder and COO, Capillary Technologies Pvt Ltd; Atul Batra, CTO, Manthan Software Services Pvt Ltd; Mukul Kumar, co-founder and senior VP- engineering, PubMatic. Here are some of the forward-looking observations made by them:
Atul Batra, CTO, Manthan Software
While we were building our product, we realised that there is an opportunity for retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) analytics in countries in North America, Southeast Asia and Europe. We have only recently begun to engage with Indian retailers, as the value of analytics in retail is coming to the forefront only now, especially around disruption in e-commerce. In the entire process of international expansion, we realised that it is important to have a large presence in geographies that you are planning to expand into, as face to face interactions are important.
Ambarish Gupta, founder, Knowlarity Communications
India has 14 million SMBs and hence it is a large market for our product. If I can access just 50,000 customers, then I can build a billion dollar company. Interestingly, Indian SMBs need more features than anywhere else in the world, so if you survive in India, you become a ninja. However, Indian SMBs are not very tech savvy. Many of them have never used software in their life. So the challenge for us is to keep it simple. Besides, since we are a telephony company, on the backend, we have several copper wires coming from telco’s like Reliance and Airtel etc. Therefore, there needs to be interfaces of hardware and software involved, and it is very difficult to get such engineers in India.
Ajay Modani, co-founder and COO, Capillary Technologies
Indian companies don’t pay a huge amount upfront. In addition, they test the product in a few stores and then deploy it in all their stores. During the testing period, your product needs to show return on investment (ROI), else it is void. Also, services need to be deployed based on the pain point of the customer. We started by providing just the ‘thank you’ message solution to buyers of retailers post the purchase, and later went on to build a loyalty and social media solution. We also need to evolve ourselves by adding newer modules and features in order to constantly show value to the retailers so that our own revenues grow.
Mukul Kumar, co-founder and senior VP- engineering, PubMatic
Clients of different countries have different mindsets and requirements. For instance, Germans are very proud of their engineering and hence they only need the API, and not UI and other management aspects- unlike the Americans. You need to think of what you can do to be best in each region. You must also keep upgrading the software and expand to adjacent areas without causing any loss of customer experience. Many users want to turn on and off certain features in the UI and your system needs to support these things without having a huge customer support team.
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