Freshdesk : The Fastest Growing SaaS company in India

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What Is Freshdesk?

FreshDesk is software-as-a-service (SaaS), the cloud-based company which helps customer support representatives from companies of all sizes, to respond to queries through online and offline services. Freshdesk has launched a Fresh service, an internal helpdesk.

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The Founder

Girish Mathrubootham is the founder and CEO of Fresh works (previously known as Fresh desk). He is 36 years old, married and lives with his wife and two boys in Chennai, India. This is the story about how Girish Mathrubootham quit his comfortable job and launched his own start-up.

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How Freshdesk Started?

Someday in the middle of the year, Girish Mathrubootham was reading an article on Hacker News. The article was about Zendesk(A Customer Service Software & Support Ticket System) raising their prices up to 300% and how their users were unhappy about it.

Girish Mathrubootham was just reading them as a news article and was browsing through comments below the article when a simple comment. One particular comment was like a slap on his face. There was an opportunity sitting right in front of him. He had the domain knowledge and he knew that a massive transition to the cloud is going to happen. The spidey sense in him told him that he should throw in his hat into the ring. That was the exact moment that he decided that he should build something in the customer support market delivered as SAAS.

The next few weeks were stressful for him, as he couldn’t sleep because of the excitement and the fear.(school fees, home mortgage etc.) He had not talked to anyone (not even to his wife) about the idea but he was trying to research all the companies in the space.

He actually read everything that was ever written on those companies on Hacker News. The Hacker News Search (yes that tiny little link on the bottom of every HN page) is in his opinion an entrepreneur’s best resource.

He zeroed in on some potential domain names and found that freshdesk.com was getting expiring in a couple of weeks. So he back ordered it on Godaddy and waited and waited. It was almost a month before the domain was officially transferred to him.

The Team Building

The time had come when he needed a co-founder. He spoke to his good friend and colleague of several years, Shan – who is a great techie and he immediately, agreed.

For a few weeks they tried working on weekends and nights but since both of them had families and kids it was obvious pretty soon that they had to do this full time if they were serious. They both resigned in October 2010. Now they have a big team of people working for them included developers, UI/UX designer, QA / Customer support engineer, the Product Manager and more.

US Company OR Indian Company

Freshdesk is based in India and Girish Mathrubootham couldn’t find any payment gateway provider offering recurring payment solutions in India. The best payment processors that they wanted to work with worked only with US bank accounts, so they decided to incorporate Freshdesk in the US. They used Fee Fighters to search for an affordable card processor and almost settled on Co-Card but instead went ahead with the more expensive Braintree as they had everything that Freshdesk needed and also had excellent reviews on Hacker News. Freshdesk also ended up registering a company in India as they were going to have employees, hire an office space etc.

Logo and Website

Fresh desk wanted a logo and a website and they did not have any designer in their team at that time. Girish Mathrubootham looked at several outsourcing options and again Hacker News gave him 3 excellent choices – 99Designs, Theme Forest and Sort Folio. Fresh desk liked the idea of 99Designs very much but they wanted a website design and a logo and found an Indian company on Sort folio called Getmefast.com who agreed to do everything for around $450.

Freshdesk Marketing

Fresh desk put up the website with standard helpdesk features and wanted to know if customers would buy what we were going to build. So they created a Wufoo form for beta signup and started advertising on Google Ad words, Face book and LinkedIn with $10 and $25 and $50 budgets. Fresh desk also wrote some blog posts which got some decent views. In all they have spent around $350-400 in advertising and got more than 150 valid signups.

Fresh desk started looking for patterns in our customer profiles and identified that most of our leads were from a few niche market segments that could market to easily.

Product/Market Fit

The company Fresh desk started engaging with prospects on what they were currently using and what problems they were facing. In many cases people were telling clearly what they really wanted to see in their customer support software.

They were surprised to see that a lot of what customers wanted were their core problems solved and not some fancy features like supporting customers from their Face book wall or converting tweets into customer support tickets. While understanding all that these were definitely the way of the future, many customers do not need this today.

Another important learning for the company was that customers did not want to be dealing with separate invoices for their helpdesk, their contact management software, for their customer feedback forums and customer satisfaction surveys. The customers of SMB wants one invoice and as much functionality as possible in the customer relationship management solution to solve their problem.

The Fresh desk also identified underserved market segments (companies with multi-brand support requirements) and segments which were getting priced out because the current solutions were expensive.

So they re-prioritized there feature set to what they thought is the ideal product/market fit for them. This means that things like Twitter and Facebook integration, which could wait. But things like multiple support emails or support for SLAs and Business hours were still coming each day.

Freshdesk Funding

Freshdesk has raised total of 249 Million dollars in funding in 7 different rounds. Freshdesk raises its first round of funding worth $1 million from Accel Partners in 2011. Later reshdesk becomes Tiger Global’s first investment in the SaaS space, and raises its second round of funding worth $5 million from both Tiger Global and existing investors, Accel Partners in April, 2012.

Series/Round Amount Raised
First Round of Funding 1 Million Dollars
Second Round 5 Million Dollars
Third Round 7 Million Dollars
Series D 31 Million Dollars
Series E 50 Million Dollars
Series F 55 Million Dollars
Series G 100 Million Dollars