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Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later: Senraj Soundar, CEO of ConnectLeader (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 21st 2017

Sramana Mitra: What year did you start building this product?

Senraj Soundar: In 2008. It took several years to get it right because there’re a lot of moving parts. You have to seamlessly optimize your calling agent’s time. The calling agents are navigating the call. While they’re navigating the call, you have to show the sales rep what is going on. Sales rep has full visibility. The sales rep can tell the system, “Do not call this particular individual in the list.”

It’s not like a list you upload and you do not have a choice of making changes. Our system allows the sales rep to make a change on the fly. It’s very dynamic. That’s why it was difficult to build. Once the call is transferred to the sales rep, the system immediately notifies all other agents saying, “Please wind down the call because the sales rep is busy.” The coordination is complicated. We did write a very good system. We have about five or six US patents awarded for our platform.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back a little bit to the chronological progression of how you managed to do this. The first thing I’m very curious about is that it took you three or four years to build the product and get it right. How did you finance that phase? Is it because you had a previous company that you exited and got money out of and you were able to bootstrap based on that?

Senraj Soundar: Yes, the initial few years were all shareholder funding. By the time 2011 came, revenues started coming in. This product is a high-value product as well as a high-revenue product. We were able to very quickly show customers return on investment. Since we are helping them delegate 90% of their non-productive time to someone else, they are able to pay for it and their revenue was rolling in. We were able to use our own cash flow to keep bootstrapping the company.

Sramana Mitra: When did you get your first client?

Senraj Soundar: It was towards the end of 2011.

Sramana Mitra: Who was the first client?

Senraj Soundar: We were showing it to multiple call centers. We were deploying to a handful of early adopters.

Sramana Mitra: Whoever that was, what kind of deal size were you able to get for that early batch of customers?

Senraj Soundar: Our typical deal size was $50,000 per customer. Now price is starting to come down. We are able to optimize how our software uses resources and what not. Now we are deploying to multiple places. We have many other products. We pretty much expanded into a platform. I can tell you about all the related tools that we built.

Sramana Mitra: You got your first customer at the end of 2011. 2012 was the first year of selling this product. You were operating with an average deal size of $50,000. Is that accurate?

Senraj Soundar: Right.

Sramana Mitra: How many customers did you get in 2012, and what kind of revenue level did you manage to hit?

Senraj Soundar: In 2012, we were close to a million dollars in terms of revenue. In terms of number of customers, I would say probably around 35.

Sramana Mitra: How did that evolve in 2013?

Senraj Soundar: In 2013, we kept increasing the client count as well as the revenue. We continued the same in 2014.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later: Senraj Soundar, CEO of ConnectLeader
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