This is the story of how a simple comment online (Hacker News, Zendesk’s pricing policy) on expensive and poor quality helpdesk services inspired a man to launch something in an effort to provide better services at a low cost.
In his role as VP of product management at Zoho Corporation for several years, Girish Mathrubhootham built several successful products in the IT management domain. He has over 13 years of experience in making and marketing IT management products. At Zoho Mathrubhootham realised there weren’t many customer service providers. In June 2010 he launched Freshdesk with partner, Shan Krishnaswamy with an initial investment of `35-40 lakh and a loan of $50,000 from friends.
Freshdesk is a cloud-based online customer support software/platform. “The year 2010 saw a paradigm shift in customer support, where customers could learn and share experiences with other customers. The social aspect, ie, expressing feedback openly required that we change the traditional support software. We needed to track all incoming enquiries via the phone, e-mail, etc, and automate responses. In addition, idea sharing, problem management and engaging with
customers became pertinent,” adds Girish.
Thus, they manage customers across multiple platforms. Although initially they had to make do with a pay cut (40 per cent of their last pay) and a smaller working space in Keelkattalai, Chennai, winning the Microsoft BizSpark Challenge in 2011 (out of 468 companies from India) as the best startup of the year brought $40,000 in cash. They used these funds for marketing and other puposes. Investment of $1 million by Accel Partners in 2011 also helped boost their efforts and helped them aim for a bigger office space in Chennai, expanding as they went along.
Today, they have close to 2,650 cutomers from around 70 countries and operate out of the swanky IT corridor in Chennai with 60 employees. Companies like Naukri, Makemytrip, IndiaMART, Zovi, Stanford University, Pearson Group, Movember, etc, are all supported by Freshdesk.
Choosing their software can be advantageous because of help desk activity streams, integrated account and contact management, customer engaging platforms, etc. But most importantly, they aim at providing good software at affordable prices. They are also one of the first companies to adopt SAP.
While he believes in delivering a good product, customer satisfaction is paramount. “Good customer service is good business”, remains their motto, even if it implies several sleepless nights. He also believes that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. “Successful entrepreneurs are usually very passionate people, who find creative ways around obstacles and are not easily discouraged. Perseverance is also a key trait,” he says. “Successful startups are portrayed as a David v/s Goliath story. In reality, it is more like a commando operation against a sleeping army. My advice to freshers would be to work for a few years, gain experience and startup when they are fully equipped,” he adds.
He is an example of an entrepreneur who is truly addressing customer needs and also making it a lucrative option. With a BE in electrical electronics from SASTRA University, Thanjavur, and MBA in marketing from The University of Madras, this 37-year-old is calm and confident, but also has a fun side to his personality. He is a movie buff, a Rajini fan and a chess player. One of his favourite activities remains training, an activity he started years back when he taught people Java. Ask him where he sees himself 10 years down the line, he replies without missing a beat, “As a successful entrepreneur with happy customers and richer, of course!” For more on the venture, log on to www.freshdesk.com.