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Founding Elance, then Webaroo: Beerud Sheth’s Entrepreneurial Journey (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Feb 22nd 2015

Sramana Mitra: What apps are getting you in the door at the enterprises?

Beerud Sheth: I think sales usually is the biggest because these are decentralized teams. Real-time information has a huge impact on sales performance. If they are behind target, they can react to it in real-time.

Sramana Mitra; Who’s buying in the sales organizations?

Beerud Sheth: Usually, the Head of Sales sees the value immediately. Of course, the execution happens with Sales Ops. These are line managers where the problem is the most acute. The senior executives get aggregated data. They don’t care.

Sramana Mitra: This $2 per user per month supports unlimited number of applications?

Beerud Sheth: Yes, it’s per user.

Sramana Mitra: One of the things I’m seeing in a lot of the Indian technology companies trying to break out into a global company is exactly this. It’s to validate and get the beta user base going in Asia and then moving to the North American market. It’s not just India. It’s happening all over the world. There are a lot of companies doing the same thing in Europe. It’s a strategy that seems to be an interesting strategy right now. You have a foot in both continents but it seems like Indian companies are starting in India but they’ve decided that they need to come to Silicon Valley to grow. Is that something you’re hearing in your network?

Beerud Sheth: It depends. Every company has a different strategy. We don’t see ourselves as an Indian company. We’re a Valley company that happens to be in India. I spend almost all my time in the Valley. I think it depends on the business.

Sramana Mitra: If it’s an Indian market facing business like e-commerce or travel portal, yes.

Beerud Sheth: If it’s enterprise software, it depends. Sometime they’ll even say, “We’ll go to emerging markets. Why bother? US is a very expensive market.” It really depends on the product. There is certainly a lot of thought leadership coming out of the Valley.

Sramana Mitra: What we’re seeing is more of companies coming here to scale from a management talent point of view. It’s mostly on the go-to market side. Also, financing. Indian financing is still an inexperienced financing.

Beerud Sheth: Except for a few sectors like e-commerce.

Sramana Mitra: Yes.

Beerud Sheth: For enterprises, you’re right. Quite a few companies have done that and continue to do that.

Sramana Mitra: What else is interesting that you want to talk about?

Beerud Sheth: At a high level, when we think about what we’re doing with Teamchat, there are some fascinating concepts. If you step back and look at the last 40 years of technology-enabled messaging, this problem of large group messaging has remained virtually unsolved. If you think about it, it started with mailing lists. All you need is a few Reply All before people get annoyed with it. Then we moved to bulletin board systems moving it out of the Inbox. Even there, a few trolls can ruin the conversation. The one good idea that we collectively had is a blog where one person controls the narrative. Comments are on the side and you can have a discussion. Blogs became micro-blogs, which led to social media in many ways. It’s still very cluttered especially in a business context.

Sramana Mitra: Blog is not an app. It’s content.

Beerud Sheth: When you talk about large groups that need to operate in a coordinated way and form an opinion, there are no tools for that. We believe structured messaging solves that problem.

Sramana Mitra: You call it structured messaging but what this reminds me more is of the whole composite app we saw around the 2001 to 2002 timeframe. At that time, I was with various VCs. This composite app business plan showed up all the time.

Beerud Sheth: I guess it’s timing.

Sramana Mitra: Obviously, there was no smartphone yet. It’s a similar concept but on a smartphone. Interesting. I’m glad we connected.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Founding Elance, then Webaroo: Beerud Sheth’s Entrepreneurial Journey
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