Anand Venkatraman, Vice President and Global Partnerships Head, Channel, Alliances and Market Place, Freshworks, spoke to Anuj Singhal to elaborate on their India plans and how channel partners are essential for their non-linear growth.
Can you please talk a bit about Freshworks and how have you architected your channel eco-system?
Freshworks was founded in October 2010. We provide software for customer engagement to make marketers, salespeople and back-office people engage and interact with customers in a much more compelling manner. We offer a suite of SaaS-based software products ranging from marketing automation, salesforce automation, internal IT, external chat, caller software to internal collaboration software.
This ensures that we are able to build touch points with our customers across their entire lifecycle. We help them build a 360-degree view of the customer with relevant information, which enables the sales people to have very compelling experience while they engage with their customers. We are backed by some of the top investors of the world including Tiger Global Management, Axle Equity, Sequoia Capital and CapitalG. Headquartered in San Bruno, US, we employ over 2000 people globally. We have international offices in India, UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and Australia. We have over 150,000 customers around the world.
Please throw some light on your customers for life campaign.
The customer for life campaign actually encapsulates what we believe we should be with our customers. We believe that our customers should not view us as consultants or vendors. Rather, they should be viewing us as their friends. That is the kind of associations we want to have with our customers. They can be honest with us. They can tell us where we are failing and where we are falling short. And as an organization, we believe it is our responsibility to work closer and take care of things. As an organization we will make sure that we step up, improve the experiences, better the products and be always with our customers. That’s what this campaign is all about.
Please talk about your partnership with AWS.
We have been with AWS from the very beginning and our partnership with AWS is two-fold. One is around business enablement. Our data, across multiple servers, are hosted by AWS, which means that we don’t have to build expensive infrastructure, maintain and manage it. We are able to derive an on-demand just-in-time capacity with AWS, which also helps us in getting a global scale. AWS has also been quite supportive in getting the geographies where data localization is critical.
The second aspect is the people engagement where AWS has proved crucial. We have a partner development manager, who helps us understand our product journey. They are out there to help us understand how we can work with them to get the maximum out of the AWS investments that we have made. They also help us understand the upcoming trends and lucrative areas for investment, including AI/ML and IoT. And there is lot of enablement support that comes from AWS.
What are your expansion plans across the globe, specifically in markets like Japan, Europe and the US?
We are a global company from day one. We have a lot of partners who are helping us drive business in Europe. In addition, we are making an entry into Japan through a distributor this year. And we are pretty confident that through this partnership, we will be able to work with lot of good system integrators, value added resellers as well as technology partners who can take our products to the relevant customers.
Besides, we are aggressively looking for partners in the US and the UK markets.
So, while architecting your GTM what kind of expectations do you have with the partner eco-system?
We have three kinds of partners in our eco-system. We have solution partners who do the reselling, consulting and provide customer support. Some of them are also into implementations and customizations.
And then we have another set of partners: ISVs. These are the partners who develop and offer applications on our market place. Eventually, we have built a strong portfolio of over 630 apps on our market place over the last 2.5 years.
In addition, we have system integrators who build solutions on our technology, which extends our technical reach to various industries with vertical-specific solutions. System integrators help us expand our total addressable market. Besides, we work very closely with few of the strategic alliance partners like AWS.
What are your India plans?
India is one of our critical investments when it comes to partner ecosystem. We want to make sure that we build adequate capacity to be able to serve such a large market that India offers. I can’t think too many countries which have more SMEs than India.
In India, we have partners in all the major metro cities. And we want to go a lot deeper in the India market through the partner network.
We believe that partners can offer us a non-linear growth. They can take us to customers far across in different verticals. And that is an area where we want to start. We want to go a lot deeper and dive deeper in the partner eco-system.
As per market reports, almost 75 percent of ISVs are concentrating only towards developing applications which help in improving the process. Rather, what I feel is they should develop applications which can enable the new way of working. So, are you working towards the new way of working?
Our investments are driven towards completely rethinking the way some processes are executed. For instance, while engaging with the customer, if you have complete context and knowledge about the customer you can engage in a new way. We enable those ways of working. We have smart automation systems, which can reduce lot of your mundane everyday activities rather than thinking of new processes.
When you have more details about your customer, you can design processes that are suited for you to be more optimum. For instance, when a customer has been browsing on your website for about five minutes on the pricing page, we can start a contextual campaign with the customer. We can pitch a particular product with a lucrative offer and ask if the customer wants to discuss and close the deal before the offer ends. Hence, the selling process has completely changed, and has become contextual. It is rightly enabled at the time when the customer has intent to buy.
Just to give you one more example, again from the sales front. During discussion on service renewal or renewal restructuring, it would be useful for the salespeople to get insights on whether the customer is unhappy due to large number of issues raised. So, it will enable them take a 360-degree view of the situation and first resolve the pending issues and then only approach for renewal discussions.