SaaS Deep Dives: TAM, Product, Pricing & Community with Srikrishnan Ganesan Co-Founder & CEO Rocketlane

Srikrishnan Ganesan, Co-Founder & CEO Rocketlane chats with Shripati Acharya, Managing Partner Prime Venture Partners.

Listen to the podcast to learn about

01:30: Joining SaaS World: From B2C to B2B

08:00 - Analysing TAM: Is it a feature or a Company?

14:00 - When an MVP is Not Enough

20:00 - Reducing the Time to Wow

25:00 - Building a Community as a SaaS Business

32:30 - Working with Industry Analysts

36:00 - 2 Books That Have Helped Sri as a Founder

Read the complete transcript below

Shripati Acharya 00:40

Hello and welcome to Prime Ventures podcast. My guest today is Srikrishnan Ganesan, Co-founder and CEO of Rocketlane. Really looking forward to this conversation with Sri, who is a SaaS veteran and has seen zero to one, one to 10, and to a hundred scale.

And it gives us an opportunity to really go through all aspects of the SaaS playbook and we’ll cover as much of it as we can in this podcast. So without further ado, welcome Sri to the Prime podcast.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 01:07

Thanks, Shripati. Thanks for having me on, and, look forward to the conversation as well.

Shripati Acharya 01:10

Absolutely. So before we get deeper into various aspects of SaaS and Rocketlane, tell me how did you enter the SaaS ecosystem, your brief journey, into SaaS.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 01:20

I think it’s not too different from a lot of other Chennai based startups, which interestingly start off as trying to build something B2C and then realize, you need to be very, very delusional to do that. Less delusional to go after B2B. still delusional though. And, so we end up pivoting into B2B.

So our previous startup was initially trying to take on WhatsApp and then, realized, okay, let's do something more sane and said, okay, let's power the messaging for other apps. so we worked with Swiggy, Zomato, BigBasket, Bankbazaar and a bunch of other popular apps powering the in app messaging, inside those apps. That was our first introduction into SaaS.

Shripati Acharya 02:04

So that was Konotor?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 02:06

That's right. Konotor got acquired by FreshWorks, back then Fresh Desk in 2015. It was still a pretty small startup. And Fresh Desk was also, I think maybe, part of the Fresh Desk journey from when it was like $18-19M ARR all the way to $50 million.So it was good to watch some of that from the sidelines and also build our own business inside.

Shripati Acharya 02:30

Wonderful. And then when did you start Rocketlane and how did you actually, before we get to that? How did you get inspired to do it?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 02:40

Yeah, so I think, our last two and a half years at FreshWorks 2017 to the end of 2019, we sort of had relaunched our product, and it had tremendous distraction. It became the fastest product in FreshWorks to hit various revenue milestones.

Shripati Acharya 02:54

Which product was it?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 02:56

This was Fresh Chat. so Konotor reborn, but the market was changed. It wasn't only mobile apps, now it was web and mobile. And that one change in market gave it a very different sort of inflection and it grew from zero to 12 million in two years and three months. So it was a fantastic journey for us, and once we saw what this momentum does for your team, how it pushes people to level up in different ways and take on more responsibilities, grow truly in their careers, we felt truly inspired.

We understood what the early Fresh Desk team would've felt like as well, and said, Hey, why not go out? We've learned a lot in four and a half years. Freshworks is almost like a SaaS school for us. Why not go out and do one more and this time optimize for momentum? So it wasn't like we first identified the problem and said, oh, we are so excited about the problem. Let's build it.

Rather we said, Hey, we want to do one more venture. We have learned a lot. We want to create more opportunities, like what we have seen FreshWorks do. So that sort of inspired us to go and form a new team, build a new business, and chase that momentum. The problem itself was something we experienced firsthand.

So we looked back at the journey and said, what was something very suboptimal in how we were going about things. We've identified a few of those, of course, but this one in specific, it felt like a lot of companies say we are customer centric. But in that very crucial first partnership that the customer experiences with you after a contract is signed, you're trying to work with them, get them to value. That's exactly where we stop being customer centric. We don't do things that impress the customer instead, we do things that often, show a sloppy side to our experience, damage the credibility or break the trust with the customer, and we don't even realize it.

Because it's all hidden in some spreadsheet somewhere, in an email, somewhere in a Slack shared channel somewhere. And we thought there must be a better way to do this, which puts the customer at the center of the experience optimizes for making the experience more professional, building the trust early, and also of course, you know, bringing in the right automations to help you scale, how you're doing those implementations and onboardings, that's where we really got started.

Shripati Acharya 05:18

So why do you think this disconnect actually happens? Is it because it gets handed over fundamentally to a very different team, and so forth? Or is there something more? What are the underlying factors why this happens?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 05:30

It’s somewhere something to do with where things start. Like when you initially are just starting a company, the first few customers, probably the founder, gives their direct attention to bring them on board because you don’t want to mess up things. And then you hand off to someone else saying, Hey, you know, support team. Can you do this? pre-sales team, can you do the post-sale as well, or Hey, I’m gonna form a customer success team that’s gonna do the implementation before you set up a separate implementation team that runs things with focus, someone else is doing the job.

So that in itself means someone thinks they’re helping out. It’s not their KPI, etc. But even when it becomes like, okay, customer success owns this, needs to run it. There is no purpose built software for it. Unlike, the sales team has a CRM, support team has a help desk, everyone has the tools. By definition, the onboarding or implementation team has been using a hodgepodge of different tools today.

They’re saying, okay, let me do this Trello board plus an email status update, plus, slack share channel, which we communicate with, and that results in siloed conversations, siloed tracking of work. And all of that obviously means someone drops the ball somewhere. So, I think that’s one of the reasons, the second thing I would say is when people realize that, hey, this is important, is after the fact, after a few months when you find that, Hey, I’ve been dropping the ball on the right kind of attention needed in that initial phase.

Only when it comes to renewal, you realize, Hey, we never onboarded this customer well, and that’s why we are at a bad place now with the customer. So your customer success tooling, et cetera, comes much later. But what those tools tell you and what your renewal conversations tell you is very often you made a mistake at the beginning of the journey.

It was just something that I think people don’t realize when it’s going on. We think, okay, we signed the deal, happy, we got the customer in the bag. When marketing comes and says, can I do a case study with Nike? You just onboarded Nike. That’s when you realize that, yes, we onboarded Nike, but we didn’t really show them what is the value they’re getting.

No one’s able to define a number and say, Hey, this is the ROI for them. It’s just, okay, we got them live. Somehow we managed to scramble and get them live,

Shripati Acharya 07:55

So you find that there is a challenge here, but when did you get convinced that there’s actually company here? Because, it could be a feature in somebody else’s product and so forth.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 08:10

We looked at what is the breadth of the offering that is needed to solve this problem, actually, and it felt like you needed to actually unify a bunch of experiences. I almost think of Rocketlane as like Asana plus Slack plus type form, plus Google Docs plus Harvest, all put together and built for customer facing projects.

The way we think of TAM and the problem, though we started with onboarding as a beachhead from get go. We have been looking at it as, hey, customer facing projects have a problem. Onboarding is one kind of customer facing project. And we started our journey with positioning for something more narrow so that we can become the clear number one in that specific beachhead segment.

But, the way we thought about what’s the size of the market? Is there a company that can be built around this was to look at Asana, monday.com, Smartsheets, et cetera, and say, Hey, 50% of the projects that run on these tools are customer facing projects. So if we are purpose built for customer facing projects versus, stitching together experiences from regular project management tools, then we should be able to take a lot of share away from the regular project management tools.

And today these regular tools are being used as one of the tools that are needed in a customer project, like an onboarding project or implementation project. We are gonna instead try to build this all in one solution for it, which sort of, you don’t think of it as one more tool, but as the experience which is gonna drive your project along.

So that’s sort of where we felt, hey, this is important. and maybe onboarding alone can be a big enough category as well. We don’t know. we validated its importance by, talking to, Teams that were doing this, how are they doing this today? Talking to CCOs, talking to CEOs, talking to investors to understand if this was coming up in board level conversations, is time to value important?

Are companies struggling with this? Are they trying to do other things to solve the problem today? Are they hunting for solutions? Are they hacking their own solutions? All of these are signals that what’s out there is not solving the problem. You need something more purpose built. And once we saw like a few complex spreadsheets with macros, we were like, okay, this deserves a product.

Shripati Acharya 10:35

That’s fascinating. So you actually looked at, from what you’re saying Sri, how large a pain point it is. And one proxy for that, as you said, is if the investors themselves are talking about it in their board meetings. That’s the level of visibility that this problem has.

And it’s probably in maybe top three problems. That’s an interesting proxy for that. So then tell me that then, was the TAM issue really, fairly easy to convince yourself and to your first investor saying, hey look, there are these bunch of things, we are just gonna put it all together and make it better, and hence we’re gonna get a cut off this aggregate market and hence, fund us. Or is it as simple as that, or it required a little bit more work?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 11:20

We did a lot of analysis, my thought goes back to our previous venture where I think we actually had a TAM problem, for the SDK play that we had for mobile apps. and I also, I think along that journey and after that we’ve had conversations with, Shekar Kirani from Accel, for example, who stresses a lot on this one thing about TAM.

Like don’t start scaling a peak before you identify if it’s the right peak, is the way he puts it. And I completely agree. If we are spending our best years of our life building these businesses, we’d better do the groundwork right on making sure we are building something that can be big, if that’s the goal, of course, if the goal is something else that’s different. But for us being a second venture, we were very clear, this is something we want to like, go big or go home, sort of a venture.

And, in that sense, we wanted to validate. We did some, top down, bottom up sort of analysis around the size of just onboarding as well as professional services automation, which is another associated category for the customer facing project aspect.

So we looked at both markets. We looked at studies that are out there about PSA as a category, much more established as a category. We looked at what tools were there, what gaps were there, why are smaller companies not using those tools? And of course, I mentioned 50% of projects that run on Asana, Smartsheets, et cetera, are customer facing projects.

All of that put together. We arrived at numbers that told us, Hey, this is big enough for us to go after. And I think sometimes you don’t even need to do the math to believe that the category is big. And for me, that moment is when you say, Hey, half of the project management space is actually customer facing projects.

That’s when you really say, okay, project management has so many big companies, which are making hundreds, like multiple hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Now, truly, if there is a product in that space which is more purpose built for running certain kind of projects, and those projects are let’s say 30% to 50% as a share, then I don’t need to go and even do the math at that point to say, okay, is there really a market, what I need to be convinced of is for that problem I can build a 5x better or 10x better experience than what people are cobbling together today. So I think that’s what we arrived at.

Shripati Acharya 13:45

So let’s talk about product then, how did you go about building the first version of the product,

Srikrishnan Ganesan 13:50

So we actually didn’t go the traditional MVP route with the product itself. We had seen this different approach work in Freshworks where when we launched Fresh Chat, it was immediately competing with the leaders in the space, taking share, winning mid-market deals, et cetera. And the combination that worked for us, I would say in a way it’s like founder product fit. It was mature and modern.

So for us, that’s the formula which I think we are comfortable with to say, okay, we’re gonna build something that has a modern experience, which people will want to use, like to use, but it’s not gonna be like an early stage toy. It’s gonna be something that is mature enough that a mid-market team can use.

At the same time also, simple enough that a very early stage team can use. Achieving that mix of can it work for a small company, can it also work for a decently sized company, is what our team has been good at from a product and design perspective. And so we opted to go that direction, which meant we couldn’t launch the mvp.

We also figured playing in a space where there are very mature individual tools in project management, in document collaboration, in conversation capabilities, resource management, time tracking, all of that has individual tools with a certain amount of maturity. So we can’t go with Hey, here is a unified product which does 30% of each of those, We need to be at maybe 75% of each of those. We needed to de-risk what we were building though, so we had a constant stream of conversations we were organizing with potential prospects and people who were passionate about the space.

We kept showing demos, prototypes, whatever we could at different stages to validate a) we will start obviously with more discovery and then we will also show them what we were building. Some of them have asked us the vision looks fine but what are you gonna launch first? And to which we had to tell them no, we are launching the whole thing however, unbelievable that might have been to some of them, especially I think folks from the US who are used to launching something smaller.

But our experience was that we have an advantage building from India where we can build more product for the same dollar. So, we wanted to take a product out that felt not like an early stage product but felt like a mature offering. Of course there will be some things we are blindsided to, which once we put it out there we will have to iterate a little.

But I would say we got a lot of things right, very early. We were able to win a lot of good deals from our first month itself. So it took more than 11 months to probably get from, Hey, here’s the idea, here’s like the initial mocks to launching a product.

But when we launched, it already had a certain breadth and depth in terms of the feature set, which helped us look bigger than where we are.

Shripati Acharya 16:50

So it is certainly not minimal viable. That’s what you mean by saying it was not an mvp. It was pretty much a reasonably featured product, especially because you’re bundling many of these things, it’s probably a much longer list of features, which you had to put together. So how big was your engineering team at this point? I mean, for that first year.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 17:10

I think engineering, product design put together was like 12 people at the time. It’s all experienced people who have built SaaS products before. We picked the team a certain way and I think we had the right team assembled to launch that product.

Shripati Acharya 17:25

So we talked about what inspired you for the product, the product market fit, building of the product itself, and the TAM. But what about the business model? So were you just looking at the price points of the competitors and you came up with something which was a value proposition? So you know, from a price point below that to start with? Or did you actually experiment with various things before firming up on your own pricing plans?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 17:50

We spent one month with a strange pricing model, which made sense in our head, but did not work for our customers, which was, we said, we’ll charge based on the number of active projects that you’re running because every project is where we are adding value. But we figured that customers did not like to predict what that was gonna look like. Especially we started working with some slightly bigger customers from the get go. The smaller ones had no idea how many customers they’re gonna be onboarding or implementing in the first year.

The bigger ones had some ideas, but they weren’t sure how the pricing would work. should they share that upfront? Should they give a completely different number? Should they buffer? And all of that was leading to a lot of confusion and we felt. teams will also probably start thinking about, Hey, should I bring this project on Rocketlane or not, because it’s gonna cost me.

We felt, maybe that’s not the right way to approach this at all. So we went to per user pricing, but we said we won’t charge for the customer side users. Only for internal users inside the company we’re gonna charge. And, we then looked. what the alternative was today.

People are using Asana, Smartsheet, et cetera to do this. There are direct competitors as well, but they weren’t big enough for us to base our pricing on what they have priced at. So instead we said we are better. whether it’s 5x better or 10x better, we don’t know, but we’re better than using a regular project management tool for running these projects.

And we don’t charge for the customer side, so let’s charge more than what these products charge. We can actually demonstrate value where we are able to accelerate these projects because of the visibility that we are bringing, because of the automation we are bringing and how we are helping you have that more, professional front presenter to the customer, which forces them to sort of mirror that back to you. Exec visibility that this creates. So let’s charge, I would say a premium on what a regular project management tool charges, and that’s how we sort of arrive at our pricing.

Shripati Acharya 19:45

The idea here being that in total while you perceive pricing might be higher, the idea here is that in total, not only do you have a better experience, but it’s cheaper effectively with. Is that a fair way to put it?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 19:57


Shripati Acharya 19:58

Okay. And, this is something which, I find a lot of SaaS founders struggle with, which is they have a value proposition, but they feel that the time to wow, if I would like to put it that way, like where the customer gets that feeling is uncomfortably long, and that makes them very vulnerable, not only, once they’re deployed or when the conversion from, you know, trials to paid and and so on and so forth. So did you think about that aspect?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 20:23

The question you asked is, did I think about that for ourselves or as a problem to solve for our customers?

Shripati Acharya 20:30

Yeah. Well, I guess, it's really for yourselves because if your customer is not able to realize or experience the value proposition, which makes it distinctly better than their existing solutions. They might not be convinced of Rocketlane's product.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 20:45

Yeah, I think, one of the things we did focus a lot on is, depending on the size of the customer, What is that initial value going to be? So for a startup, for example, let's say a seed or Series A startup that's selling to a mid-market customer, they just want to look more professional from early on, And when we do our demo, we focused even at the demo stage on, Hey, for you, this is the value we're gonna provide. Using our product with the customer, we have something called a presentation mode, which helps them sort of see step by step how the project is gonna, how the journey is gonna unfold in an animated way.

You present that at a meeting before you close a deal or at kickoff. That in itself is enough value for that company to say. Look, I know my process. I’m mature. I'm using software to run my implementation. So, that was like something we focused on and on enabling them. So we said, Hey, it's not just product, we have a community that we run. We learn from the community. We are gonna share our best practices with you.

So all of that put together makes the small company already realize that, hey, this is a level up for me. And it's gonna add value because my customers are gonna trust me more. They're gonna find me to be a credible partner.

So that's one. I think for the mid-market companies are slightly larger companies that are running things on spreadsheets, just ensuring that all the projects get created on Rocketlane and give that unified visibility. That in itself seemed to be an early win for them. And so we focused on making sure that all the larger companies that have a certain pace at which they close deals, have an automation turned on where all their Salesforce closed won accounts are automatically turned into projects on Rocketlane. So nothing slips through the cracks, and you can have great visibility as a leader into what's happening across all of these.

You don't need to ping someone and ask them. There's a beautiful dashboard where you can see things, and by virtue of those projects getting created and people keeping those updated, it enables next level of value, which is the project are created, you're sharing with the customer, and, you are turning on these automations around follow ups internally, externally, status updates getting published, and all of that is visible to the leadership now on how things are going.

What's the CSAT on, on a project is the customer sentiment good? Which are new things. Like no one has today, like a CSAT around the project in the regular project management world. But we sort of built this capability where we said, Hey, customers can rate the experience they had at key milestones. So you get to know the customer sentiment as well, in addition to the progress you're making on those key accounts that you're closing.

Shripati Acharya 23:33

It sounds like, I mean, were you selling to a CXO essentially in your customer organization who was making the buying decision.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 23:40

Sometimes in early stage companies, it's probably the CEO who's deciding, in later stage companies, it could be a VP of customer success or a CCO or a VP of professional services who's the buyer. Of course the decision maker or the influencer could be head of implementation, head of onboarding sort of person as well in, in a company where it hasn't truly matured into a larger PS team.

Shripati Acharya 24:08

And sounds like, from the way you're describing that value proposition and as demonstrated in the demos, you found to be good enough to actually convince a customer that this is something which is worthwhile, which is great, which I think is a, indication of the level of pain that the customer feels on this particular aspect, at this point of time.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 24:25

I think one of the things we've noticed is the smaller customer saying, Hey, I'm going to onboard this large customer who we are about to close before then I wanna set this up because it's like a trigger moment for them. I closed this large deal. I know implementation is gonna be hard and it's gonna be draining on my team, et cetera. I at least wanna make a good impression from the get go. That's a great trigger point for them to invest in a tool.

Shripati Acharya 24:50

Very good way to put it. So, moving on to customer acquisition, and you briefly mentioned communities there in your response, that is very unusual, right? As a SaaS company, looking to build a community per se. So how was that thought process in your mind, and how did it really turn out?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 25:10

Yeah, I think one of the first things I did, when we decided this is what we were gonna build, and that the first beachhead was gonna be customer onboarding, which is sort of a new category, is I read this book by Anthony Kennada, who’s the ex CMO of Gainsight about category. And I actually followed a lot of things to the T from there in terms of, writing like what are the chapters of a book we will publish about customer onboarding, identifying those topics, writing blog posts for each of those, et cetera.

But one other thing which resonated really with me was that bringing together people in this new space could be valuable. And hence, the idea around, hey, there was no other community around customer onboarding. And we had the unique opportunity to be the enabler over there. and it’s not about trying to ping those people about, Hey, do you also want to buy Rocketlane or, here’s an offer, but just purely as a way to be an enabler in a new space.And play the long game.

I think eventually people will realize that pre-flight, the community is run by Rocketlane. I don’t think we’ve done a very great job of associating ourselves with the community. We point to the community from our website, and so people landing on our website, checking us out, know that we run a community, they look at us as a more credible company than they would have otherwise.

But, there’s also people who find the community first from an event we are doing. And, they may not know that Rocketlane is behind this. We believe they eventually will figure it out. But it’s just been rewarding also because we learn so much from the community, all the events we do, Initial days, we were doing two events a month where we just brought people from the community to say, Hey, do you want to share your journey of how you’re maturing your customer onboarding?

It started with one founder saying, Hey, I brought down my implementation projects from six months to six weeks and I’m willing to share how we did that. So those kinds of things, they generated a lot of interest. People wanted to listen to other folks’ stories. And they also figured that the area of focus, like what each company was doing was very different.

Someone was figuring out, Hey, for enterprise I need to do this steering committee and that’s gonna help. Someone else was saying, Hey, we made something visible to the customer, a tracker that helps. Someone else said, Hey, we gamified how they will do their initial adoption and that helped onboard them faster.

So there’s so many different areas where there were things to learn and we were pretty sure that one company hasn’t cracked all of it. So there’s a real opportunity to learn from each other. And putting them together in a Slack channel. It was not anything fancy, it was gonna just spur some conversations.

We also knew that it’s very hard to make a community active. The first thing I told the team, we had one intern and our marketing lead working on this with me, was that, Hey, it’s gonna look shameful for the first few months, but let’s keep at it.

Shripati Acharya 28:10

So how many resources do you still have on managing the community? Or is it pretty much, self-managing at this point?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 28:15

No, we have one community manager. I almost think of her as a community success manager because I think the idea is how do we make community members more successful?

How do we play a role in their success? It could be in their learning, it could be in helping them get a new job. It could be in, helping them showcase what they’ve learned or done. Each of them may have different goals, but how do we help each of them with getting to their goals? So I think that’s something that we have actively thought about.

And, of course there’s interest groups, and so on as well. So we have one person full-time actually an ex entrepreneur who is making this community bigger and successful.

Shripati Acharya 28:50

So do you reckon that any SaaS company, which is in a new category or category creation as you mention it, should think about creating a community, like the one which Rocketlane did?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 29:05

I think if you’re a first mover to create a community there is definitely some edge to it as long as you persist and don’t give up based on early signals, which tend to be people join, they don’t do anything, et cetera.

So, yeah, I would definitely say it’s worth it because if you have the audience, you can do more with the audience in the long run. And it adds a lot of credibility to what you’re doing and your team and yourself can learn so much from it.

Shripati Acharya 29:35

So I’m thinking that if you think about from a go to market point of view, community building is really more, a more a brand building exercise, Not directly lead gen into Rocketlane. What are your main acquisition channels which work for Rocketlane?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 29:50

We’ve had a few, me as an SDR in a way, I’ve brought in a bunch of logos just through hustle. It’s like everyone we talk to, I make sure that I tell them about Rocketlane, ask them for an intro, et cetera, as something that we do not skimp on. Even when I’m talking to a vc, so after this podcast recording I’m probably gonna reach out to you saying, Hey, which portfolio companies can we help? So those are things we have done very consistently and seen rewards from. We invested early on in making sure we had a decent presence on G2, so we pushed all of our early customers.

We can’t control what they write, but we pushed them to give us G2 reviews. and that definitely helped because the category was new. There was one other player who had like a bunch of reviews, but we have long overtaken them as the leader in the category. We have the highest ratings. That definitely helps from a lead gen.

And, I know a lot of people who just search online for a category they may not even know G2 or TrustRadius or any of those, but they land on one of those pages and they’re gonna look at who are the top two and then come from there. We have invested a lot in content, but I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily working yet.

We may have some SEO optimizations to do. We invested a lot on thought leadership content, not on keywords based content. And I think we have also spent on SEM. So that’s another area where we have been running experiments, not just SEM, I think other kinds of marketing campaigns as well where we feel it can bring in, bottom of funnel sort of leads for us.

And events. I think we’ve been putting ourselves out there quite a bit because it’s a new category. So we go to adjacent category events like customer success events and we present over there. We have been doing that from even before when we launched the product. I think I even like socializing it with as many people as we can online.

Ensuring that we are meeting enough new people all the time, even before launching a product, showing early demos and so on, with the influencer network in roughly this space, like customer success leaders, PS leaders, et cetera. We’ve been actively doing that. and I don’t know if we can attribute how much we can attribute to what comes our way from there, but it’s something that we’ve constantly done.

Shripati Acharya 32:15

Have you also, put resources on analysts, like talking to industry analysts and trying to educate them on this category since they’re a new category, you know, thinking about a magic quadrant or whatever have you, creating it in the first place to focus on it.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 32:25

Yeah, so I did reach out to analysts. We got covered by Gartner as a cool vendor earlier this year, which was great, I think we are the first product in this space to get covered by them. So that was good. And I think we managed to impress the analyst with that. likewise we’ve had coverage in, a couple of other, research outlets as well, and more coming soon.

So I wouldn’t say we put in a lot of effort around those. We’ve made it like every quarter, let’s give Gartner an update on what’s happening with us. Like we just scheduled for that analyst briefing and walked them through what cool stuff we are doing and, what logos we have won recently and so on. And I think it lends a lot of credibility to what we’re doing.

Shripati Acharya 33:12

How long before you’re actually covered, how long were you talking to them just to get a sense of the level of engagement required here.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 33:20

Two conversations, two demos actually.

Shripati Acharya 33:23

So maybe like three, six months by the time they got familiar with it.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 33:26

Yeah, so once a quarter, so I think six months is what it took, in reality for them to, and we weren’t expecting that we would be featured in a report, but they reached out saying, Hey. Can you do a fact check on this before we publish?

Shripati Acharya 33:40

Oh, wonderful. So, lemme ask you a different question. So if you know what you know now, what would you do differently?. What is your advice to a new founder who’s on a zero to one journey in SaaS out of India selling to our global markets, particularly US. How would you think about it?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 34:00

Yeah, I would say definitely, focus on investing in the right sort of product that inspires credibility and trust, from the moment you start showcasing it. I think one of the things that helped us was we use this jobs to be done framework to build product, and that really lends itself well to how we can showcase the product demos as well because we understand, what is the job that the person is doing on the other end and how this product is really gonna benefit them in their daily, roles.

And secondly, I would say, make sure you up yourself as a credible player in this space as well. Invest enough in having a kickass website, in creating the right kind of resources that you link from your website, et cetera, which shows that you’re not just yet another product with some checkbox features in that space, but rather you are a thought leader in your space.

You are someone that companies would want to partner with, So create that image around yourself, as a company that’s what I would suggest. And then of course, keep figuring out channels that could work for you. I think it does vary from founder to founder, what channels you’re going to find as a fit for what you can make successful. but I think, pursuing all of that with a learning mindset, helps. That’s what I would share.

Shripati Acharya 35:30

What I take away from this is that the fit and finish of the product matters even for SaaS products. It’s not like it’s just for the consumer products out there. And that combined with every other touchpoint that the company has with the customer in total, is the brand image of the company.

And even as a startup, you have to give that image because the customer is comparing it to other existing products who have that kind of credibility. So being a scrappy startup is not exactly the way you want. go even for your very first version of the product.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 36:05

Absolutely. That’s sort of our formula. I’m sure there are many formulas that work, but this is our approach to it.

Shripati Acharya 36:12

So Sri, in closing, you look like you read a number of books. What book or books would you recommend, a must read for a SaaS founder?

Srikrishnan Ganesan 36:20

I’m gonna rewind back to 2020. I think recently I haven’t read too many, but, couple of books from 2020 early in our journey that I think have been invaluable. One is leadership and self deception, and I think it’s not about business really. It’s about how to work with people. And I think reading that has made a difference in how I’ve dealt with relationships at work and otherwise.

And I think we are on a long journey together with our co-founders, with everyone around us as well, while building the business. So I think this is an invaluable read. And the second one, I would say is made to stick because, as founders we need to communicate our ideas in ways in which other people carry those ideas with them, whether it’s customers, whether it’s our team members, et cetera. And I think, this book sort of gives you ideas on or frameworks on how you can better communicate your ideas so they stick with people who you’re sharing them with.

Shripati Acharya 37:20

Very good. Thanks Sri for this and for taking the time on the wide region conversation on all aspects of building a business, I very much appreciate you being on our podcast and all the best.

Srikrishnan Ganesan 37:30

Thank you so much Shripati. Thanks for having me.

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