The product catalyst

In April 2014, we attended an event called Intech50, organised by industry think-tank iSPIRT, where entrepreneurs from 50 promising Indian IT product startups got to pitch to the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of some of the world’s largest companies from many different sectors including FMCG, financial services, insurance, retail, technology and several others.

At the event, The Smart CEO got an opportunity to speak to over 120 product entrepreneurs (who were founders of these 50 companies) from India, to get a sense of why they decided to pursue opportunities in the IT products space, and more importantly, to understand why they wanted to build products for global companies. And we learnt that these entrepreneurs were trying to solve several major challenges faced by global corporations; from IT security and people productivity-related issues to creating more efficient customer support and market analytics data.

A quick survey also helped us gather statistical data on their challenges, marketing strategies and the critical success factors to win in the product space. Before we get into these details, we’d like to share an interesting observation. Over 78 per cent of the entrepreneurs who responded came from the IT Services industry. Several of them decided to start product companies not because they got tired of serving a global client, but simply because they encountered a major problem they wanted to solve. The passion to solve that problem, using a product rather than a service, pushed them towards entrepreneurship.

Here is a snapshot of the statistics we gathered:

Over 41 per cent of these entrepreneurs felt that the biggest challenge (at the ecosystem level) was talent availability. 18 per cent of the respondents also believed that there were not enough Indian customers for these IT product companies and dearth of exits were key challenges.

From a customer acquisition perspective, content marketing, blogging and direct sales stole the show. Majority of the companies we met agreed that content marketing was a key tool while direct sales was a close contender. Many others networked at industry events to clinch early adopter customers. Of course, unanimously, everyone mentioned that customer referrals and word-of-mouth were the most crucial but it was difficult to plan this methodically. Hence, content marketing and blogging played a crucial role in spurring word-of-mouth marketing.

As far as critical success factors for winning in the IT products space (in addition to the usual suspects of a great team, great product and access to capital) goes, most of them believe that the ability to sell globally, staying nimble and making product changes based on customer feedback will take them a long way.

Here is a quick peek into what some of the IT product companies are working on: 

1) ZipDial Mobile Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Uses the ‘missed call’ concept to help brands reach out to a wider segment of consumers.

FOUNDERS: Valerie R. Wagoner, Amiya Pathak and Sanjay Swamy

INVESTORS: Jungle Ventures, 500 Startups, Unilazer Ventures, Blume Ventures, Mumbai Angels and Times Internet

CUSTOMERS:

Disney, P&G, HUL, Cadburys, Cafe Coffee Day, Pepsi, GSK Eno, Kotak, Ebay, Shaadi.com and many more

Let’s get into some number crunching before we get started. One, the number of active mobile connections in India stands at 772 million, of which, almost 96 per cent is still on a prepaid mode. Two, in emerging economies, just one in three smartphone users have a data connection, and almost 65 per cent to 90 per cent of this user-base shops in road-side shops and mom and pop stores.

What does this data mean for marketers? That though mobile consumption is evolving at a rapid pace in emerging economies, this very consumer-base is invisible because there is no personal data available about them. Now, given that the advertising market in India is growing upto ten times faster, how can brands reach out to this unmapped user base?

Enter, ZipDial. Here’s how it works. First, it assigns a toll-free number to its client (brand), which is advertised to gain traction. Secondly, its user interface offers a combination of voice (calls, missed calls), text (SMS), and data, to help brands interact with its customers. Then, depending on the brand objective, ZipDial develops applications such as couponing, friend referrals, store locator, and social media integration. Lastly, its targeting and analytics platform ensures that the right message is delivered to the right user at the right time.

Three things the founders did right to keep ZipDial going:

As a technology platform, do not succumb to white labelling. That way, your brand pays-off multifold later.

Protect your users and your data for the long-term growth of your brand and business. It’s tempting to spam users or sell data for short-term gain, but you’re diluting long-term assets of user affinity and trust.

Most importantly, keep innovating. There’s a greater likelihood of success when you do a handful of things 120 per cent right instead of taking up multiple tasks and doing them 80 per cent right.

2) Freshdesk 

SaaS-based customer support solution that simplifies customer support across channels – web, phone, e-mail and social channels

FOUNDERS: Girish Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnasamy

INVESTORS: Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management

CUSTOMERS:

Over 19,000 customers across e-commerce, education, publishing, and healthcare. Customers include MakeMyTrip, Stanford School of Medicine, Toshiba and UNICEF

At the very core, Freshdesk helps companies engage with and manage customer queries in the easiest way possible. First, its customer support software ensures that the mails sent by customers to companies is not lost in the woods. It is assigned to the right customer support representative and resolved in order of priority, while the customer is updated about the status of the query. Second, Freshservice, a cloud-based solution, helps companies structure and manage their internal IT support. Third, MobiHelp, the mobile software development kit can be integrated with the companies’ iOS apps, thus helping them deliver customer support through Freshdesk services.

Typically, Freshdesk builds an audience through a combination of strategies such as expanding into international markets, inbound marketing with a focus on SEO, SEM and email marketing, and growing partnerships through re-sellers, distributors, strategic product partners and such. For marketing, it largely relies on the now popular platforms such as blogging and content marketing.

Success strategy: Stay nimble and make changes based on customer feedback.

On a lighter note

Freshdesk is scaling up quickly. It has grown from 100 to 200 employees in less than a year and has shifted seven offices in the last three years. As a result, what seemed like an Olympic achievement for the team during the starting up phase is now routine. “A few months ago, our cricket team was sad because they lost a match. Funnily enough, I was thrilled that we now have a cricket team. Similarly, someone complained about getting too many invoice emails. I remember, there was a time when we used to celebrate every invoice that landed in our inbox!” recalls Girish Mathrubootham.

3) Talview 

Offers SaaS-based video interview solutions for companies that do bulk hiring for junior-level vacancies

FOUNDERS: Sanjoe Tom Jose, Tom Jose, Subramanian.K, Jobin Jose

Investors: Shravan Shroff and Ravi Kiran, founders of VentureNursery

Clientele:

Wockhardt, Renault, Singapore Airlines, JSW

In the process of finding the perfect candidate for a job, companies waste massive amounts of time and money in meeting prospects,who may or may not be a good fit. To avoid this, the company has developed a scalable mobile and video recruitment platform. Through its flagship product, the Automated Video Interviews, companies can prepare pre-recorded video questions and setup interviews, which can be taken by any number of candidates interested in the role. The interviewer can then view the videos at leisure and eliminate the unfit candidates, thus saving half the time spent during the first round of interviews.

The company largely relies on direct sales to market its product. Ironically, the biggest challenge it faces today is in identifying and hiring the right talent.

Success strategy: Agility in modifying its product

On a lighter note

If you happen to read about the founders somewhere, or even bump into them, keep in mind that though Sanjoe, Tom and Jobin share the same surname (Jose), they are not related to each other. Apparently, it’s their biggest pet peeve!

4) ShieldSquare 

Provides online websites an invisible and comprehensive protection from content theft

Founders: PavanThatha, RakeshThatha, VasanthKumar.G, Jyoti.K, Srikanth.K

Investors: Part of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator 2013

Customers:

Pilots in progress with multiple classifieds, ecommerce companies and other Internet portals

For online business, data theft is becoming a major concern. The data harvested through site scraping tools is used to illicitly publish valuable information, gain competitor business intelligence and also to undercut competitor’s prices. To tackle this, ShieldSquare’s Scraping Prevention Solution uses big data analytics to block bots or scrapers in real-time, thereby increasing customer traffic and revenues, while at the same time cutting costs in terms of infrastructure and resources.

The company primarily relies on email marketing to reach out to potential decision makers in its target market. It encourages them to subscribe for a free trial to evaluate its effectiveness, before opting for a paid subscription. From the beginning, the team has focussed more on customer development than on product development. It has spent a considerable amount of time interacting with customers and understanding their pain points, thus developing the right features that are customer-centric.

From a fund-raising perspective, the founders believe that the ability to raise money is going to be a key challenge, primarily because VCs haven’t seen enough exits in the sector. 

Success strategy: Building a product that can be sold globally

The belief: Industry experts believe scraping and scraping prevention are the virus and anti-virus of the future, thus re-assuring the team that they are on the right track!

5) Notiphi

Location-based mobile messaging and analytics platform that helps brands send the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Founders: Lennon Teng, Alok Mishra

Investors: Singapore-based angel investor

Customers:

Singapore-based travel, transport,

classifieds and entertainment companies

Getting an app installed is quite easy. What’s difficult is to stay relevant and engage with the users so that they don’t delete it within a month or two. This is where Notiphi comes into play. Using a combination of demographic and behavioural analytics, it helps mobile apps send timely, personalised messages to the right person at the right time. Here’s how it works. First, the company should integrate its app with the Notiphi software development kit, and upload the app on the app store. Then, as users begin downloading the app on their phone, Notiphi will start collecting the location history of users and tag them based on behavioural insights (for example; a frequent flyer or upscale banker). The companies can then use this data collected by Notiphi to direct push messages to the relevant audience.

In a year, the company aspires to be the de facto messaging channel for a variety of apps. In five years, it aims to be the one stop shop for apps in Asia Pacific and Africa, which want to bridge the users’ in-app behaviour with their real world for better user engagement.  The company typically markets its product through email marketing, inbound marketing, direct sales and industry event participations.

Success strategy: Don’t undervalue the power of focus and discipline.

The belief: Though mobile is touted as the biggest revolution, there is a big gap, particularly in the mobile app domain, where the mindset of mobile is not yet identified or fully leveraged by companies. For instance, on an average, a smartphone owner has between 70 to 100 apps on his/her phone at any given time. But, most of these apps have a shelf life of only one to three months, and just five apps are used regularly. This trend needs to change.

6) Sapience Analytics Pvt. Ltd.

Delivers the best work output capability of all employees, through automated work visibility.

Founders: ShirishDeodhar, Madhukar Bhatia, Swati Deodhar, Hemant Joshi

Investors: Indian Angel Network (IAN) and Seed Enterprises

Customers:

4 of India’s Top 10 and 8 of India’s Top 25 IT companies including Zensar, KPIT, BMC Software, Allscripts

Today, the IT industry is facing a triple whammy of low growth, reduced profitability and customer shift to value-based pricing. As a result, companies are looking inward to improve processes and enhance skills of existing employees, to achieve more with the same team. But, in companies where employees work extensively on computers, are distributed across geographies and have the option of ‘work from anywhere’, companies have no insight into how employees are working towards achieving their scheduled goals. It can only track the outcome, in the form of project deliverables, revenue, or profit, which is usually shown at the end of the delivery lifecycle.

This is where Sapience comes into play. Realising that improving employee productivity is critical to boost profitability, Sapience has developed patent-pending software that analyses and acts on the gaps between actual and expected effort, thus enabling employees to deliver better work output. It also monitors the time spent by employees on applications, activities and projects, thus ensuring efficient use of time in office for required activities.

Sapience has recently partnered with one of the world’s largest product distributor (name undisclosed), and will be singing up their select channel partners globally, thus, significantly multiplying its sales efforts and expanding into new global markets. Today, the biggest challenge the company faces is in the long sales cycles in companies. The founders believe that Indian businesses still don’t trust the Indian software products and are often unwilling to pay for using it.

Key focus: Develop a product, which has the ability to sell globally

In numbers:

When IAN funded the company in 2010, though the investors believed that the product was quite innovative, they warned the founders about the grave difficulties they’d have to face in selling Indian software to Indian businesses. Three years later, during a board meeting, they were proved wrong. Just to add some data to this story, in 2010 Sapience had only 1,000 users. But, by 2013, it had scaled up to 35,000 users and today, it has 75,000 users and almost all of them are in India.

7) Uniken Inc 

Enables organisations to deliver a threat-free digital experience to all types of users, through its flagship product, REL-ID

Founders: Sanjay Deshpande, Nanjundeshwar Ganapathy, Prakash Salvi, Nilesh Dhande

Investors:

Nexus Venture Partners, Gopi Gopalan, chairman, Uniken board and chief relationship officer, Ajay Dubey, director, product engineering, Uniken board

Clients: Axis Bank, Bank of India

Today, traditional technologies such as VPN, OTP, SSL and digital certificates require significant investments, demand high support costs, and are not scalable. As a result, these cannot be rolled-out to a large user base such as Internet banking users. This was the thought behind setting up Uniken Inc.

To address this challenge, the company has developed a flagship product called REL-ID, a secure digital platform for users. It operates as a plug and play solution, and helps business reduce frauds, thereby safeguarding them from reputation loss and customer churn. Moreover, the infrastructure costs, unlike for traditional technologies, is lower, and REL-ID eliminates the need to rely on third party tools such as browsers and digital certificates.

Best lesson learnt so far

When the founders, along with Dr. E.C. Subbarao, the former direct of Tata Research Center, were mulling over the role of scientists in India’s entrepreneurial landscape, they came to realise that unless scientists understood and created awareness about the importance of commercialisation of their innovations, as a country we would never capitalise on the vast intellectual human capital.

That thought led them to believe that the culture of innovation has to be built ground up and will be better served in a start-up environment. That is where they saw an opportunity and decided to start Uniken, a company that has its roots in promoting a sustainable innovation ecosystem.

8) Capillary Technologies 

Delivers intelligent customer engagement solutions for brick and mortar retailers

Founders: Aneesh Reddy, Krishna Mehra, Ajay Modani 

Investors:

Sequoia Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, American Express, Qualcomm

Customers:

Raymond, Madura Garments, Puma, Benetton, Pizza Hut

Today, an e-commerce company churns out tons of consumer data, analyses user-behaviour and makes recommendations to customers based on these insights. Essentially, it gives the consumer what he/she wants based on past searches or purchases. But, can the same strategy be adopted at brick and mortar stores? Apparently it can, thanks to companies such as Capillary Technologies, which have developed solutions to help retailers understand their customers better and then use that understanding to enhance their sales experience. Capillary’s Intelligent Customer Engagement Solution combines customer enrolment, back-end analytics, and campaign management, to drive customer engagement across in-store, mobile, email and social.

Today, the company serves over 150 brands and its cloud CRM collectively serves 100 million customers of its retailers. Yet, the biggest challenge it sees is in there not being much traction among Indian consumers. To tackle this, Capillary adopts multiple client acquisition strategies such as leveraging the enterprise sales team, and generating demand through marketing and channel partners.

9) Instaclique 

Aims to re-create the offline (brick and mortar) shopping experience, online, and help convert more casual browsers into buyers

Founders: AvinashShenoi, TriptiShenoi, AmolPotnis

Investors: Self-funded

Customers:

Satya Paul, Rudraksh, Luxurion World

You’ve logged on to an e-commerce site. You’ve chosen two pairs of footwear and remain undecided about which one to purchase. Eventually, you get tired and close the tabs, thinking you’ll come back later. Shopping alone certainly has its downside. When online, a tad bit more. That’s why Instaclique has come up a technology that re-creates the offline shopping experience, online. Firstly, it enables the buyer to log into the ecommerce site’s e-store through his/ her social networking site. Then, it allows the buyer to interact with his/her friends and family (in the e-store), share product information, and receive advice in real time. Thirdly, it allows the buyer to see permission-based shopping information about friends and family. Lastly, Instaclique’s actionable analytics provides real-time reports about buyer behaviour, thus helping clients understand their customers better, and deliver higher conversion rates.

Typically, the company acquires clients through direct sales to e-commerce stores, and through a live-demo, where the clients can experience  Instaclique on their own site by just entering their URL on its live demo link.

On a lighter note

As is the case with any startup, hiring the right resources poses as a big challenge for Instaclique. In fact, one of the hires lasted in the company for just five hours!

10) Flutura Decision Sciences & Analytics

Provides transformational solutions to problems at the intersect of Men, Machine and Big Data Analytics

Founders: Krishnan Raman, Derick Jose and Srikanth Muralidhar

Investor: The Hive

Customers:

More than ten customers across the U.S., Europe and Asia in the industrial manufacturing and oil and gas sector, leading facilities maintenance player

Flutura means Butterfly and is inspired by the world’s greatest transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Flutura helps its customers dramatically unlock efficiencies and contain risk, by operating at the intersection of men, machine and big data analytics.

The company’s patent pending product, Cerebra Signal Studio, helps provide these solutions in a rapid manner to unlock dramatic operational efficiencies and helps contain risk primarily in the manufacturing, utilities and oil and gas sectors. The big value in the solution is the non-exhaustive Cerebra Vector dictionary and the expansive list of algorithms in the Cerebra Algorithm libraries that help automate Intelligent Machine learning led-Solutions. Being an enterprise solution, the challenge for the company is to scale globally to large international customers and mentorship for sales at a global level.

Two great lessons so far:

1. Sales: There is no entrepreneurship without it. A sale is the single most important activity in a budding organisation.

2.  Focus: As a product startup, it is important to remain focused on solving a few problems for your customers better.

On the lighter side

When the promoters met Kanwal Rekhi, an investor and also the founder of TiE Global, at the beginning of the journey in a TiECon event, he told them, “Entrepreneurship is about ‘high-highs’ and ‘low-lows’ and how you are able to tackle it.”

After two years of entrepreneurship, the promoters realised what he meant or probably missed mentioning was that…”entrepreneurship is a lot of ‘low-lows’ with a few ‘high-highs’ here and there and how you tackle it.”

The high-highs like winning great customers, chosen as TechSparks/InTech 50 winners, identified amongst Top 20 Most Promising Big Data organisations etc., more than make up for any low-lows that they have gone through.

11) TouchMagix, interactive ad communication 

Aims for people to play, touch or feel the ad or communication they are part of

Founders: Anup Tapadia

Investors: Self

Customers:

Airtel, Google, E&Y, American Idol, Tata, Guinness, and 200 more

How to get people really into a piece of communication and not just consume it or hear it or see it passively – TouchMagix aims for people to play, touch or feel the ad or communication they are part of. The technology is viable to customers due to its proven high rates of conversion, which lead to direct increased marketing ROI.

The company aims to partner with advertising and event agencies to help bring them on its platform and enable them to use interactive technology as part of their campaigns and develop content on it. TouchMagix wants to train as many agencies to think about using this platform as well. Content marketing and blogging are the two marketing strategies adopted by the company.

One of the challenges for IT product companies is that there are not enough exits yet, to attract the attention of VCs (Series-A, later stage funding).

On a lighter note

Tapadia believes that people like surprises. Build surprises for them and they experience joy which fills their heart. There is no better value creation for consumers! 

In one of its earlier installations where the company made a bar table interactive, there was a bug. The effect on the table was that when a person puts a glass on the table, virtual fireflies would cluster around the glass. The bug was that when two people put their glass on the table, the fireflies clustered around only around one glass.

And to the TouchMagix team’s amusement, it started getting really passionate complaints from other guests around whose glass fireflies were not clustering!

The bug was fixed but the team had learnt something valuable – how much interactive technology was being built affected people emotionally!

12) Perpetuuiti Technosoft Pte 

Provides business continuity and disaster recovery solutions

Founders: Rohil Sharma, Sundar Raman, Prashant Kakde

Investors: Intel Capital

Customers:

Vodafone Essar Limited, Idea Cellular Limited, Bajaj Finserv, Edelweiss, Tokio Life Insurance and First Gulf Bank

Perpetuuiti’s ‘Continuity Platform’ provides a centralised console to allow real time visibility, preparedness, management and execution of business continuity processes and IT disaster recovery automation. Automation of the BC/DR Orchestration removes dependencies on people, process and technology through single click over a Smartphone or Tablet. Continuity platform eliminates delays in executive decision by providing real time visibility and confidence for disaster recovery readiness. It extends huge cost savings by giving insight into the integrity of DR infrastructure and business continuity readiness helping organisations from over engineering or replicating. The platform helps organisations reduce their RTO and eliminates single point of failure through patent pending technology “Parallel Recovery Engine”.

The solution is platform agnostic allows end-to-end automation and all vendor APIs are available in the product as libraries, making the workflows easy to execute and user friendly. It is cloud-ready.

Perpetuuiti uses a mix of direct sales and marketing, industry forums and events, social media tools and industry analysts to disseminate knowledge regarding the issues that need addressing and by providing the tools to address these issues for building business resiliency. One of the key learnings has been that there is no alternative to continuous innovation. The greatest challenges are sales and not enough Indian customers. To create a winning product company, designing a product roadmap to scale into multiple products is the key.

The belief

According to a report by Symantec, in 2008/2009, the United States suffered a major financial meltdown, one with an impact that many economists have estimated at US $1.8 trillion. While we intuitively understand the consequences of a loss at that scale, most of us fail to recognise the extent of a “silent” IT disaster unfolding under our virtual noses. According to IT complexity expert and ObjectWatch founder, Roger Sessions, organisations in the United States lose US $1.2 trillion from IT failures every year. Worldwide, the total comes to US $6.2 trillion. Although Sessions’ numbers have been challenged by other economists, their calculations remain sobering, concluding that threat worldwide is “only” US $3.8 trillion!

The most notable aspect of Session’s math is this: the overwhelming majority of the annual US $1.2 trillion loss is not caused by the low probability/ high-consequence catastrophes that capture attention, but by high-probability/low-consequence events that occur frequently, such as software bugs, hardware failures and security breaches. Worse, as applications become more complex, involving an ever-larger tangle of codes, data nodes and systems networks, the exposure to these “smaller” events becomes more frequent and their impact more costly.

13) Kreeo (i-nable solutions pvt ltd), collaboration tool 

Enables organisations to unify information inside and outside the enterprise, and make it easier for employees to discover relevant information and collaborate effectively.

Founder: Sumeet Anand

Investors: Piyush Singh, F&F

Customers:

Standard Chartered Bank, Aditya Birla Group – Swiss Singapore, InTech50, Neiil Education, Australian Startup

Despite decades of enterprise technology evolution, employees still struggle to find relevant information and collaborate effectively for knowledge and thus become more productive. Moreover companies end up using multiple silo tools and software to solve the information discovery and collaboration challenge. 

Kreeo enables companies to unify the various silos of information inside or outside the enterprise and makes it easier for employees to discover what is relevant for them and also collaborate effectively.

Kreeo, unlike other products, is a platform which can be quickly customised to deliver point solutions to specific challenges of an enterprise.

Enterprise software sales to large enterprises require high touch and long sales cycle.  So Kreeo sells through direct sales model and uses tele-marketing to generate leads. Besides this, it also sells through partners like Red Hat and Zensar Technologies.    

Never startup without having a sales guy in your founding team and give utmost importance to UX, this is one of the prime learnings for Kreeo. Technology can be made by many but what makes sustainable companies is the ability to sell.  One can even sell a mediocre product with good UX and sales capabilities.

One of the biggest challenges that an IT product company faces is not enough capital (early-stage funding).Ability to sell globally is one of the factors to building a winning products company.

Fun fact

The first large enterprise customer was signed up after a 30-second elevator pitch made to someone who was just casually introduced by a friend at an event.

14) SatNav Technologies 

Helps small teams manage large facilities, day-to-day administration and help-desk activities

Founder: Amit Prasad

Investors: Sequoia Capital & BCCL

Customers:

IBM, Cap Gemini, Wipro, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Ericsson, United Healthcare Group, ISB, Star India etc

A-mantra solved the problem of small teams managing large facilities, day-to-day administration and Help Desk activities. The solution handles property lease payment and expiry tracking, space utilisation tracking, optimisation and charge back, providing asset management and maintenance management cycles.

The company uses a partnership model to go to market. Partners could be complementary product/solution sellers or any software or hardware product re-sellers.

The company believes that their product offering should target the problem or pain in any business and give both tangible and intangible benefits. For that, it is most important to get navigated to the CXO at the earliest in the sales cycle for a quick decision.

The company networks at industry events to create awareness and meet prospective clients. Staying nimble and making changes based on customer feedback have been its key to customer satisfaction.

15) Ilantus Technologies, providing Identity and Access 

Provides identity and access management solutions

Founder: Binod Singh

Investor: Intel Capital

Customers:

Select India Customers (Godrej, Gujarat Gas, Madura Garments, iGate, Quattro, Royal Sundaram), select customers from the U.S. (California Edison, Allied Buildings, Stephens Inc, Coach, FBL)

The 80s was the age of work-life separation, the 2000s saw talk of work-life balance with introduction of mails and work getting intertwined. However, with BYOD and remote workforce etc. the current phase is that of work-life integration. In this age of work-life integration, application and device proliferation is a reality. Businesses today are faced with user inconvenience, increasing productivity losses due to forgotten passwords, URLs and helpdesk costs due to interruptions pertaining to logins and passwords. Analyst reports state that up to 30 per cent of helpdesk costs are password related and by 2016 each person will bring in up to 3 devices to their workplace.

Unified Sign On was designed to address these challenges by increasing user convenience and productivity by having users sign-in once to access all their enterprise and personal applications and not having them type user-id or password multiple times. By means of password management it also helps in reducing help-desk calls related to password resets and account unlocks.

Ilantus provides its customers seamless and secured access to all their plethora of business and personal applications wherever it lives – on premise, cloud, smart phones or tablets.

The company builds and leverages its parent company’s strengths and the credibility that it has created over the past 13 years in a niche domain like Identity and Access Management. By catering to existing services customers and acquiring new customers – 20 customers in the past 6 months – the company has been able to strengthen its base.

One of the learnings for the company has been that the initial phase product development is like running an orchestra – turn your back on the naysayers, focus on the product development, do not deviate from chosen path that you know intuitively will work. There will be resistance to new ideas which are disruptive. But focus on getting the prototypes and then iterate to better the product.

While content marketing and blogging have the primary means of building visibility, Ilantus believes in staying nimble and making changes based on customer feedback.

16) RippleHire 

Helps motivate employees for successful implementation of employee referral program for recruitment.           

Founder: Sudarsan Ravi

Investor: Self

Customers: One fortune 100 company and global brands with solutions centres in India.

Employee referrals are the best way to hire but the best way to hire does not result in enough candidates. Most organisations look at social recruiting as the answer to the problem of referrals. The challenge is not that people don’t have access to their social connections. Most of them don’t care about mining their connections for your job openings. RippleHire believes that motivating an employee is crucial to the success of an employee referral program. A motivated employee will go mine his connections to get organisations the right hires.

Ripplehire helps organisations pump in more money resulting in better retention and ultimately benefitting the employer brand. Employees respond positively because Ripplehire helps them help their friends find jobs while making money in the process. Value is best seen in the form of clear tangible business results. Customers get the opportunity to delight and transform their employee experience first. When their employees love the product, RippleHire has a happy paying customer. 

If you are genuine and passionate about making a difference, people will make the time to help you do so. Over 80 industry stalwarts have contributed to RippleHire to get it to where it is today. People have made time to discuss ideas, critique our product and share their challenges.

Sudarshan believes the biggest challenge in the IT Product ecosystem is lack of access to capital. However, he does agree that with a few more exits and more companies scaling up globally, angel and venture capital funding will be easier to come by. He believes, as of today, RippleHire’s USP is the ability of its founders to sell globally.

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