VCs shunned this enterprise collaboration tool but the team marches ahead
Vicky Jain, Priyanka Bhor and Abhay Talekar founded Convergence Services in 2008, a website and software development company. Over time, they added different verticals like enterprise collaboration software and website maintenance services.
During the formative years of the company, some of their customers wanted enterprise social collaboration software for their organization with social media features like activity stream, profile creation, multimedia sharing, chats etc along with enterprise features like document management, knowledge management and project management integrated into it. Not finding a suitable out-of-the-box solution, they decided to build UKnowva which was launched in 2012. It has been three years now and the product has undergoing iterations and has just raised a debt funding from SIDBI to fuel their growth.
SIDBI typically gives funding of around INR 50 lakhs for about 1% in equity. Though terms of this deal were not disclosed, we spoke with the founders to learn more about the product.
YS: How did you sustain yourself till now?
CS: Convergence Services was bootstrapped but in due course of time because of our high quality services and robust online marketing we were successful in creating a niche for ourselves. We minimized our expenses, used open source software, priced our products and services competitively, worked with talented people, used home-grown software and nurtured each of our clients. All these factors helped us survive in the competitive market.
Though we were looking for venture funding from different sources nothing materialized. We came across Nasscom and SIDBI venture debt funding initiative last year and thought of applying for it. It took more than six months to get funding though the process was very well structured and disciplined but the paper work was overwhelming. Since our company’s fundamentals are strong a small venture debt is ideal for us. This way we need not dilute the equity at the same time we get enough fund to leverage our traction.
YS: What is the current traction, how many paid users?
CS: Uknowva enterprise collaboration platform has received a positive response from companies and currently we have 10000+ Uknowva users, including both on-premise and cloud based edition.
YS: What is the vision you're building towards?
CS: We want to be a global leader in enterprise software segment like enterprise collaboration, CRM and ERP. We want to take open source technology in the forefront and create world class products that help solves customers’ daily business problem.
YS: Tell us about the competition both in India and globally.
CS: Enterprise social collaboration is one of the fastest growing enterprise software segments globally. Market research firm IDC predicts it to become $4.5 billion market by 2016 with an annual compound growth of 43%. In India, not many companies offer comprehensive enterprise collaboration platform.
In India, our competitors are Mangoapps, Kreeo, Deskaway and other home-grown enterprise collaboration software companies. Yammer, Huddle, Jive, Podio, Asana are some of our global competitors.
YS: How big is the team? How is it structured? Where are you based?
CS: Convergence IT Services Pvt Ltd is based in Mumbai. We are a strong team of 25+ people, including developers, designers, sales and marketing team.