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Founding Elance, then Webaroo: Beerud Sheth’s Entrepreneurial Journey (Part 6)

Posted on Saturday, Feb 21st 2015

Sramana Mitra: These are large enterprise deals essentially.

Beerud Sheth: Yes and no. They are large enterprises but selling to them is quite easy because we designed the product to be very simple. The app is a freemium product available in the app store and in the cloud. You just download and can get started in less than 30 seconds. It’s as easy as any messaging app. It’s freemium, so there’s no contract. People can pilot it and when they’re ready to scale it up, it’s a very simple self-serve payment model. It’s a pay-as-you-go model for $2 per user per month. What I mean is there is this huge trend of consumerization of the enterprise. We built our software to be really simple. In many of these cases, it usually just takes two to three meetings. Many organizations are just comfortable running it themselves.

Sramana Mitra: You have thousands of user accounts?

Beerud Sheth: Yes. It starts with a few people. Some of the largest are over a thousand members. The engagement has been very good as well. We track the daily active users and monthly active users.

Sramana Mitra: In terms of deal sizes, you’re doing what?

Beerud Sheth: We are in the early stages, but as I’ve said, it’s a per user pricing model. Organizations pay. Sometimes, we offer volume discounts for large organizations as well.

Sramana Mitra: The reason I’m asking you these detailed questions is I’ve seen a company here. In terms of business model, it’s very similar to you. They’re called Expensify. They’re an expense reporting app. They have exactly the same behavior as you’re describing. People just find out about the app on the app store. They start using and then they go to their manager. That’s how they upsell to the larger deals. It does scale very well. For them, it’s scaling very well. It sounds like you have done your first accounts mostly in Asia?

Beerud Sheth: Because our engineering team is there, it’s easy to support these customers. In this day and age, the bar is really high when you release a product. It has to be really well-polished. We’ve done that in partnership with the beta customers. It looks really good. One big part of the innovation is we’ve exposed APIs on the back-end. All the data that comes in could be integrated into your existing ERP and CRM systems. Better still, people can set up custom workflows. You can just set up a simple rule engine, which says, “When you receive this message, the system can send another message to someone else.” I’ll give you a simple example. When somebody requests an expense request, it goes to the manager, HR, then finance. These are actually messages going from one place to another, triggered by each action.

Another example is in hierarchical sales teams. As individual sales people submit their data, you want summary reports going to the area manager, regional manager, or the zonal manager. These are all automated messaging workflows built on top of Teamchat. We have companies who are using it in very interesting and very advanced ways. One of the companies started with sales reporting. They capture the sales data. As the data comes in, they create an automatic leader board, which means they know on a daily basis which sales people are doing well. At the end of the day, the winning salespeople would actually receive a gift voucher through the app itself. If you think about it, from sales tracking, contest to reward and recognition, the whole thing was automated. It really energized the sales team, driving performance and visibility across the whole organization. People were excited. So much so that sales people who usually resist new technology were jumping up and down saying, “How do I download the app?”

This segment is part 6 in the series : Founding Elance, then Webaroo: Beerud Sheth’s Entrepreneurial Journey
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