YourStory recently spoke with Girish Mathrubootham, founder FreshDesk, on a better way to manage customer support.
Tell us a little bit about Freshdesk.
Freshdesk is an on demand customer support software that allows companies to support customers across their traditional customer support channels like phone, email, chat etc. and also through new social channels like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
How is FreshDesk different from other customer support software/online help desks?
Freshdesk offers these main advantages:
Help desk Activity Streams
Integrated Account and Contact Management
A platform for engaging customer communities via idea management, customer voting on ideas, etc.
And most importantly Freshdesk has the most affordable pricing when compared to other online help desks offering similar features.
How did the idea for FreshDesk come about? How much capital was required to implement the idea?
Sometime last year I read an article on Hacker News about how the leading cloud customer support software provider hiked prices by 60-300% leaving their customers very unhappy in the process. A commenter on that discussion stated that most of the other options available were also not that good and there was space in this market for someone who comes in and does a good job. I had the exact same feeling and that comment was the trigger for me to decide to become an entrepreneur. See here for more details. In terms of capital required we would have spent around 12-14 lakhs to get the product to private beta.
Tell us about your background. I am an Electrical engineer and an MBA in marketing. In my last role, I was VP of Product Management at Zoho Corp in the ManageEngine division. I have created several successful multi-million dollar products in the IT management domain.
Let us know about the tie-ups that you have (if any). Is there acceptance for your concept? Can you give us some incidents to illustrate the same?
We do not have any specific tie-ups. But we integrate with Google Apps, SnapEngage and Olark for live chat etc. We have had tremendous response for our app. We have move than 400 companies who have signed up for our Beta.(with very negligible marketing spend) We have more than 100 customers who are using the private beta and the overall feedback has been very positive. Customers love the product, the user interface and of course the price!
Where do you see online helpdesks, the customer support space and FreshDesk five years from now?
Five years from now all customer support helpdesks will be on the cloud, and a good portion of customer support will happen on the walls of the company’s facebook page and also through Twitter. Today the marketing team owns the Facebook page and the Twitter account - this will make way to customer support people owning these accounts as supporting customers on social networks.
What is FreshDesk’s revenue model? Have you been funded? If yes, can you throw some light on how the funding came about and from whom?
Freshdesk has a simple pricing model where customers pay a fee per support agent per month. There are no hidden fees and no contracts. Customers can cancel anytime they want. Till now I have invested my savings to bootstrap Freshdesk and one of my friends has invested $50K as a small angel investment. Another friend has committed to invest 25K.
As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?
The biggest joy as an entrepreneur is the joy of creating a product and bringing it to life. The challenges are of course the sleepless nights(due to the excitement and anxiety) and the lack of quality office space at affordable rates for startups in Chennai.
How big is the FreshDesk team? Tell us a little bit about your team. Are you looking at hiring?
Right now we are 6 people in all. I take care of Product management, marketing, UI prototyping etc. My co-founder Shan is the CTO and technology architect.
Kiran and Shihab are Senior developers. Parsuram is the web developer who works on all the CSS and UI/UX stuff. Vijay is our customer support and presales specialist who also doubles up as QA. We will be hiring a rails developer and a web developer in a few months after our release.
Let us know about your expansion plans.
Right now the plan is acquire customers and round out the feature set to offer complete and compelling feature set. There are no major expansion plans. Initially we wanted to build the social features into the product but the early feedback from our user community was very clear - they needed more core features like multi-product support etc. before they worry about social support features. We quickly re prioritized the feature set and now have an exciting customer pipeline.