Whatfix: A New Breed of Global SaaS Start-up

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Enterprise SaaS has been a prolific sector for start-up creation over the last decade. Billions of dollars invested, and billions of dollars returned to investors and employees. Notably, almost all in the US. However, enterprise SaaS is becoming a global opportunity, both in terms of target markets and company creation. Through our investments teams across the globe, F-Prime and EightRoads are in the unique position of being at the forefront of investing in these global enterprise SaaS opportunities. We are excited to announce our most recent joint investment in Whatfix, a company we believe can become the next great global SaaS company.

The Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform

Whatfix, a company started in Bangalore, India, is helping define a new class of software user experience for customers across the globe. Historically, software user experience was mostly an afterthought; when the alternative is paper and pencil or spreadsheets, the bar for delivering a high-quality user experience is low. However, as spend on software by enterprises has increased, and the software is increasingly a key driver of operational excellence, there is an acute need to find better ways to drive digital adoption and to ensure employees are deriving full value from the software. Legacy approaches of off-line training, support desks, and help documentation were never very effective, and the ‘consumerization of IT’ means today’s employees expect software to be intuitive to use.

Whatfix helps solve the digital adoption challenge with their contextual, in-app support tools. Across any enterprise application, Whatfix’s product suite enables delivery of support at the exact time the user needs it and at the precise place in the application where it is needed. The support can also be personalized to the user’s past behavior (e.g., first time user) or to their role in the organization. In addition, product usage analytics enable Whatfix to help identify the most commonly used features and the most commonly faced issues to enable further improvement of business processes. Through this suite of capabilities, hundreds of Whatfix customers are already seeing significant uplift of employee engagement across their key enterprise software tools, including Salesforce, Oracle, and Workday.

One of the most interesting aspects of Whatfix’s product is they collect robust usage data across a suite of enterprise applications. Looking ahead, they expect to leverage this unique data asset to provide predictive support, anticipating challenges employees will face, and to automate much of the tedious work of accessing and maintaining data across these applications.

Building a global product business out of India

Whatfix is a true pioneer of the next generation of global enterprise SaaS companies from India. While the technical talent from India has always been world-class, building global product businesses has been a longer journey. However, the last several years has seen the emergence of several significant success stories, such as Freshworks and Druva. Given the best-in-class SaaS growth metrics and unit economics that Whatfix already enjoys, we believe they are well on their way to joining this elite group.

The path Whatfix founders, Khadim and Vara, took to build the company is one we hope many future entrepreneurs from India can learn from. Here are a few of the key decisions they’ve made:

Rapid product iteration and customer feedback: Khadim and Vara have personally spent significant time with their global customers to get feedback on early versions of the product and to ensure product market fit at every step of the product lifecycle

Hiring entrepreneurial leaders: recognizing the lack of experienced hires in India who have built global SaaS businesses, they prioritized hiring leaders with entrepreneurial experience, who bring not only a deep sense of ownership to their roles, but also a willingness to learn and innovate best practices

Building a low-cost inside sales team in India: capitalizing on the increased willingness of enterprises to buy products through an inside sales-led approach, Whatfix has continuously optimized the sales hiring profile, sales pitch, and lead nurturing process to successfully sell high five-figure and even six-figure deals out of India. This has been a critical stepping stone to eventually building a high-impact field sales team in the US

Setting up in the US in the early days of the company: early in the life of the company, once they validated product market fit, Vara relocated to the US and Vispi, an early investor, joined as head of sales, based in the US. Investing early in being close to the customer not only helped build credibility for the company with international customers, but it also tightened the cycle of product feedback

Continuously learning: Khadim and Vara have been true students of building a global start-up, proactively finding mentors amongst many of the leading SaaS entrepreneurs in India and also seeking out guidance from experienced global executives across every functional area

Whatfix is a remarkable company, both in terms of the value they bring to their clients and in their ability to chart their own path to building a global company. We are fortunate to be investors, and we are excited to partner with Khadim and Vara on the next leg of their journey!

Written by

Venture Investor at F-Prime Capital and Eight Roads Ventures

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