I love doing stories of entrepreneurs who are long-time readers of the 1Mby1M blog. Kovai CEO Saravana Kumar is one of them. This is a wonderful story of how he is scaling a SaaS company from Coimbatore!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. Where were you born and raised? What kind of background did you have?
Saravana Kumar: I was born and brought up in India. I was from a city called Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. After finishing my master’s in 2000, I got an opportunity to work in London. I took my exam on a Friday and I got the job on Monday morning in London.
I came here when I was about 22 years old. I started working for various consulting companies for about ten years. I worked for Accenture and Fidelity Investment for some time. Until 2010, I was doing consulting work.
During that time, I was specializing in a specific technology from Microsoft called BizTalk Server, a middleware product. I was consulting and building solutions using the technology for various clients. That is when I identified a pain point for large enterprise customers. This was a potential opportunity, and I started building some solutions just as a hobby and then it turned into a business that started in 2010.
Sramana Mitra: Tell me a bit more about the specifics on how you got the company off the ground.
Saravana Kumar: I was working for Fidelity from 2007 to 2011 when I came across this opportunity. Around 2010, I started building this part-time in the evenings and weekends. After about a year, I went to a manager and said, “I want to do this.” I was dealing with some of the critical parts of the business in Fidelity, so they couldn’t let me go straight away.
We came to an agreement that I would do part-time work where I’d work three days for them. I spent two days building this project for almost a year. I built version one of the product and launched it in 2011.
Sramana Mitra: What was in the product?
Saravana Kumar: I was watching BizTalk, and I identified a lot of gaps. Microsoft is good at building platforms, but there’s always a gap in terms of the pooling and how people can use their technology. If you look at the servers, for example, there’re a lot of partners building solutions on top of it to make it better.
With the BizTalk technology, nobody was building any solution on top of it, so I built some enhancements like security, governance, auditing, and monitoring. I built those kinds of offerings on the BizTalk server. This is an original product and it’s called BizTalk 360. That’s how the company got started.
That is our core product. We got about 700 enterprise customers for that and that is how the company got started. Microsoft is our biggest customer using the product now.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to 2011. You were still working part-time and bootstrapping with the paycheck. You launched the product while you were still working part-time for this other company?
Saravana Kumar: That’s right. I launched it while still working for Fidelity. I sold it to Fidelity as well because they were also using BizTalk Server. They were one of my early customers.
I built the product while working part-time for them. In six months, from mid to end of 2011, I found my first five enterprise customers. Until that point, I was still working for Fidelity under the same arrangement.