An Award-Winning Enterprise Software Product from Pune Entrepreneurs

Sapience AnalyticsBy working efficiently, companies can increase profitability. That is the philosophy Sapience Analytics follows. It is founded by four serial entrepreneurs whose previous ventures had successful exits to Symantec Corp. and Symphony Services Inc.

Sapience is an award winning and patent-pending solution. It was selected as a 2012 Top 10 ‘Made in India’ Enterprise Product Company by NASSCOM. It was also named as a 2011 Asia Top 100 technology company by Red Herring. Sapience has received $1.2M in funding from Seed Enterprises and the Indian Angel Network already.

The solution enables companies whose employees use computers, to achieve 20% or more gains in work output without putting in any additional effort. Organizations don’t need to change their processes or incur extra management overhead. Sapience deployment has a transformational impact on delivery capability and profitability, potentially delivering annual gain of over $1 million per 100 employees (US costs).

Sapience provides automated deployment and upgrades and integrates with the internal applications of the organizations such as ERP, HRIS etc. Organizations can get detailed analytical data of work time of various enterprise dimensions, roles, skills, locations etc. The application provides Automated Work Visibility across the enterprise hierarchy. And as it provides actionable advisories to employees and managers, work output can be enhanced significantly at every level.

Shirish Deodhar, the CEO and one of the co-founders, graduated from IIT Bombay and did his MS from the US. He worked in the US and India for several years before starting his own company Frontier Software in 1989. It was an outsourced software product development company. Frontier got acquired by one of its early customers, VERITAS Software which is now a part of Symantec. After scaling the VERITAS India subsidiary to 600+ employees, he joined another startup, In-Reality Software. This company had a successful exit to Symphony Services in 2004 after which they scaled the Pune operations to 700+ employees. In this company Shirish met the three other co-founders of Sapience. In 2008 they realized that product ventures were going to be the future of Indian IT industry. They decided to develop a solution to improve productivity of organizations that have remote teams.

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In mid-2009, Swati Deodhar, one of the co-founders and Shirish’s wife, came up with a prototype. This aggregated and analyzed data from different tools and displayed on a dashboard. They realized that it would be too expensive to build this product as they would have to support a large number of tools and applications from several vendors. However, the model offered them a clearer vision of what they actually wanted to create. It addressed a fundamental and universal issue – how teams would assign and execute their work.

With globally distributed teams, flexible work hours and work from home policies, visibility plays a major role when it comes to increasing work output and productivity because one can only improve what they can measure. When Shirish, Swati and other co-founders started Sapience there were no competitors at all. This helped them somewhat, but they also faced the challenge of creating the market and educating the buyers. As of now, RescueTime, ManicTime, oDesk, Cyclops 360 are their closest competitors. However, none of these products offer automated time and effort analysis on a dedicated basis. They offer time management as part of an employee monitoring solution and deliver limited insights about team efforts.

One of the primary challenges Shirish is facing is to underscore the fact that Sapience is not an employee monitoring tool. Sapience provides analytical insight into the quality and efficiency of collective effort. This helps organizations increase their work output gains significantly. Sapience protects individual’s privacy and masks all personal data on respective PCs. Above all, it does not force organizations to change their culture, but it adapts to diverse working cultures that prevail in the different organizations.

As a startup Shirish chose to focus on India to market the product and create initial traction. That kept their sales and support cost at a reasonable level. However, for a startup, selling ‘Made in India’ enterprise product to Indian enterprises was a tough call. Nonetheless, visionary customers adopted the solution, and today, business looks promising.

In late 2010, the first version was adopted by companies such as IdeaS (SAS subsidiary), Excelize, and EnVenture. These were all 75-150 user license deals. Then they decided to pursue larger 2500+ employee companies. In mid-2011, senior management at Zensar and KPIT gave them their initial breaks into the midsized enterprise segment. In early 2012, Sapience got their largest license deal with Tech Mahindra, one of the Top 10 Indian IT companies. A large order from another Top 10 IT company has followed since.

The market is big and growing; with $100 per user license pricing Sapience can have a $600 million market by 2015 in the IT sector. If the focus is expanded to BPO, KPO, Engineering Services etc. then the total available market will be $1.8 billion.

In 2012, Sapience crosses the elusive $1M mark, and is currently on a quarterly annualized run rate of $1.5M. For this startup, 2013 promises to be an exciting year!

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About the author

Sramana Mitra is the founder of One Million by One Million (1M/1M), a global virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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