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Girish Mathrubootham’s Playbook For SaaS Startups Looking To Build The Next Iconic Company

SUMMARY

India is home to 17 SaaS unicorns, of which six entered the billion-dollar valuation club in 2022

SaaS startups in India have emerged as VC favourites and are expected to raise $6.5 Bn in funding in 2022, up nearly 55% YoY

Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of Freshworks, decodes what it will take to build the next iconic company

The Indian startup ecosystem has witnessed a remarkable surge in the past few years, with SaaS companies taking giant strides to emerge as investment favourites among VCs. Are you wondering why? It probably has something to do with the coveted unicorn status. India boasts 17 SaaS unicorns, of which six entered the billion-dollar-valuation club in 2022. Despite the pandemic headwinds, the SaaS juggernaut may not be slowing down anytime soon. 

According to a report by Chiratae, Zinnov, SaaS companies in India are expected to raise $6.5 Bn in funding in 2022, up nearly 55% YoY. Globally, the SaaS market size was nearly $144 Bn in 2021, and it is expected to reach $720 Bn by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 25.9% during 2022-2028. These optimistic estimates have led SaaS players to believe India will soon surpass China to become the second-largest SaaS nation, behind the US. So, what can the homegrown SaaS startups do to retain this momentum and grow in sync?

To help navigate this along with charting the future roadmap — towards profitability, scalability, IPO and more — Inc42 partnered up with LogiNext for its new series ‘Masters Of SaaS — Learnings From India’s Leading Tech Founders’.

The first guest in the series is the SaaS maestro, Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of freshworks, India’s first SaaS company to list on NASDAQ. Mathrubootham in a free-wheeling chat with Dhruvil Sanghvi, CEO of LogiNext, reveals some gems on Freshworks’ path, from launch to IPO and beyond. 

“Listing on NASDAQ was a phenomenal moment. It felt like all of India and the startup ecosystem was celebrating it as if it was India’s IPO,” he recalled. “The IPO feels like a wedding while trading publicly feels like being in a marriage, complete with increased compliances, greater governance and transparency,” he added with a laugh.

Regulatory compliances can sometimes be cumbersome, but these are vital for the greater good of the startup ecosystem. “Just like star athletes, you can’t be world-class without training and discipline. As startup founders, you want to build the next iconic company. Processes and compliances are part of it.” 

Mathrubootham further revealed that he thinks early-stage founders should not focus excessively on numbers. Instead, they should look at customers, the areas where they see good positive momentum and what they can do to amplify it. Furthermore, he elaborates on how getting the team right is essential for building the next iconic company. 

“It’s the founder’s job to field the best team,” said the Freshworks founder. But it typically involves choosing between the ‘been there, done that’ professionals and young people with potential. What would be his pro tip regarding the right hire?

“Startups must think two-three years ahead while hiring. For example, if you have 1 Mn customers, hire someone who has seen 1-10 Mn customers,” he said. “All this is connected to the dream of creating world champions from India and delivering on the dream of India becoming a product nation.”

Watch Dhruvil Sanghvi, CEO of LogiNext, speak with Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of Freshworks, about the latter’s journey to IPO, core learnings and his vision for SaaS startups and India.

The future seems bright for SaaS companies as the sky’s the limit. Inc42 & LogiNext’s Masters Of SaaS series aims to cut through the noise and deliver actionable insights to early & growth-stage SaaS startups looking to capitalise on the $720 Bn global SaaS opportunity.

Up next: Conversation with Ritesh Arora, cofounder and CEO, BrowserStack. Stay tuned!

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