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How to Build SaaS for India?

Founder’s notes from Kalaari Capital’s #SaasTalks event that happened on Apr 6, 2017 in Bengaluru.

The Winds of Change: Mega-trends in the Software Business

-Kurien T.K, Managing Partner, Premji Invest and Ex-Vice Chairman, Wipro

Today’s disrupters get disrupted tomorrow.

Service Bureaus were the SaaS of the 60's.

Virtualization tech was the tipping point for the current SaaS wave.

Enterprise Software starts as a ‘System of Records’ then evolves into ‘System of Differentiation’ and then into ‘Systems of Innovation’.

Today, customers buy into a (SaaS) platform for a relationship.

Every day a SaaS customer comes back to the platform, they should get something new in value.

Value of the network co-relates to the value provided by the SaaS platform. (Metcalfe’s law on value of network).

Till now, IT service businesses made money by deploying people.

The value of SaaS solution comes from end to end business process integration.

(SaaS innovators should) Choose a niche which is neither too narrow nor too broad.

In India, SaaS unit price can either kill you (SaaS Provider) or make you efficient.

On Chief Info Officer of the customer.

More and More CIO roles are now run by Business guys. (in the context of CIO being the decision maker)

CIO is more a cloud brokerage advisor for the company.

A CIO is concerned about Data Security, Democratization of data and on-premise availability of solution.

Use your (customer’s) business user to fight and battle out the (customer’s) CIO.

Partnering with Big IT: Relevance of SaaS models in Global IT Landscape

-Krishnakumar Natarajan, Executive Chairman and Founder, Mindtree

Technology is the business itself.

IT service business was an order taking industry.

We haven’t talked about CMM (to the customer) in a while now.

IT service industry has to move from transactional to co-creating and co-innovating along with the customer.

Business beyond Borders: Global Enterprise Sales/GTM from India

-Manav Garg, Founder and CEO, Eka Software

Your first five SaaS deals will tell you where you will land.

Be smart about how to open (part of) your product to generate leads.

Hire head of sales when you have $2 mil in bank to spend on it.

Look at competitions sales hierarchy to build your sales organization.

Is your sales guys paid commission on collection or is she/he paid upfront?

Its all about pipeline, pipeline and pipeline.

Every sell should have a reference customer.

Always stay cashflow positive.

Finding Your Sweet Spot: Lessons from the Capillary Journey

-Aneesh Reddy, Founder and CEO, Capillary Technologies

Key to startup success — Find 5–6 things that work for you and do them again and again

We (in India) have a shiny object problem.

Which sector to work on?

Chose a sunrise sector which is unsexy and largely fragmented where customers have a non-powerful IT team.

What product to work on:

Product that helps cuts costs or increases revenue or increases quality (tough to get indian business wallet share just in quality)

Product with an easy measurable ROI for the customer.

Beware of the Indian yes — Always build on payment.

Build the product with a customer.

How to price?

Consider option of Enterprise license v/s per unit per month pricing

Consider value down pricing v/s cost up pricing

Consider monthly vs annual payments (monthly payments will have less churn rate)

Which market to sell in?

Your customers (with global brands) help you go global.

Until 3 successful pilot customers in a new geography don’t hire field sales.

Pick reasonably deep, less-crowded market.

Whom to hire?

Run it yourself (RIY) before you hire anyone so that you know what to solve.

Hire with a 18 month horizon (Author note: Capillary is a VC funded startup. Please take this advice with this context)

Hire someone for their work in (n-1)th job (i.e. the job they did prior to their previous one).

Vertical SaaS: Win in India and Scale Globally

-Shashank ND, Founder and CEO, Practo

Practo followed a 10-sec rule of instant gratification to grab attention of docs.

Initially, do things that don’t scale (Practo’s first 1000 customers were got through feet on street(or field) sales team)

Grow your software footprint along with the growth in your customer base (Practo calls it the Hyperloop strategy)

Think of adjacent problems that you could solve besides the main one.

Document everything. (Author note: Check Gary Vaynerchuk’s Document v/s create )

We are in the trust business. (Practo is a healthcare SaaS)

Vertical SaaS: Monetizing in India

-Amit Kapoor, Founder and CEO, AirPay

Think of monetization from day one.

Stats say that only 5% of your free users will moved to the premium tier.

Build product for a larger customer base.

Build a ubiquitous product.

Reduce entry barriers for the customer.

Ensure the customer is also invested (time, resources or money) in the product.

Mine customers data to build additional revenue streams.

Building It Right: Product Best Practices — Part 1

-Mohan Kumar, Co-Founder and CTO, Shopalyst

Make it extremely easy (for the customer) to start.

Make it easy (for the customer) to see immediate value.

(Like slack search) show what is possible and this is what they need to pay extra for.

Design for value (to the customer).

Be aware of how your customers are using your product.


(Product) security has two dimensions to it. Everyone does the technology part. You have to manage the perception as well.

Get Audits and Certifications done well ahead.

Talk about the security aspects of your underlying iaaS too.

Never use live customer data as your demo data.

Standardize the process to access data.

Implement self-service features as much as possible.

Product Roadmap:

Features requested from your existing paying customers should also be better prioritized to manage the relationship better.

Always plan ahead for infrastructure scaling , performance and maintenance of the solution.

Building It Right: Product Best Practices — Part 2

-Tanmai Gopal,Co-Founder and CTO, Hasura

Choose a technology that has large community supporting it (for e.g., nodejs, python, php, java in the same order).

Use container technology (docker etc) as they give you easy packaging and deployment options that lead to automation (of testing and deploying productive instances).

Use microservices which will foster code reuse.

Kstart is also inviting applications from Indian SaaS companies to apply for their program. Application deadline is 30th April 2017.

Sunil is the IdeaMani at Whenda, a Fixed Asset Management SaaS built for India by India. It’s right now in Beti (and not Beta or Private Beta:-). #MakeDaMost is the documentation of Whenda’s journey. Do you want to join us on this journey?




This is the official blog outpost of Whenda Asset Management SaaS (Whenda.com). Here you will read all news, views, tips about your fixed assets and how Whenda could help you run an efficient business. Happy Reading!

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Sunil Prabhakaran

Sunil Prabhakaran

Products | Startup | Writer | Reverse Engineer

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