This article is sponsored by Qualcomm Ventures
In the retail industry, it goes without saying that the customer is the king. Companies have learnt that just offering an amazing product or solution is not enough to give the customer complete satisfaction. A 360 degree positive experience during customer engagement, as well as an excellent post sales experience is important.
Capillary Technologies is a leader in the business of providing cloud-based software solutions that help retailers engage with customers through mobile, social media and in-store channels. Capillary’s clients have been able to successfully leverage this kind of end-to-end customer engagement. Capillary’s solutions are being used by more than 100 major brands, thereby serving 100 million consumers across 20 countries.
Headquartered in Bengaluru, and founded in 2008 by IIT Kharagpur alumni, Krishna Mehra and Aneesh Reddy, Capillary Technologies is a startup that has grown by leaps and bounds in the last seven years.
Recent developments in product portfolio
Krishna says that last year, Capillary has seen a lot of traction in the area of mobile marketing and analytics. Capillary helps their clients engage with their customer base by sending marketing campaigns through SMS, or supporting interactions through the mobile web, mobile app or tablet-based devices. Capillary’s professional analytics services team has experience working with some of the world’s top retail and consumer firms, and they work closely with each client to understand the trends revealed by the numbers in their industry and revenues, and help them strategise and perform better.
- QPrize was a huge milestone. Capillary Technologies won the Qualcomm Ventures international business plan competition QPrize India in 2009, receiving $ 100,000 as seed money (read Capillary’s experience with QPrize). There was a big spurt in their confidence level post the win and the mentoring they received from Qualcomm in those early days were also immensely helpful.
- Series A funding from prominent venture capital investors, including Sequoia Capital, Norwest Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures was another milestone in their growth journey.
The firm has made inroads into American and European markets. The team found that problems of retailers were different in these countries as compared to Asia. Customer engagement platforms in developed countries are quite complex and therefore very expensive for smaller retailers to use. Capillary technologies is actually known today as an example of the rare trend of reverse innovation, that is technologies born in emerging markets like India and adopted by developed markets. Therefore, Capillary achieved the distinction of being picked up by ‘Harvard Business Review’ as a case study.
In USA, since digital marketing and online customer engagement is more established, retailers have been comfortable with the digital platform for more than a decade whereas in India, smaller businesses are still getting used to deploying technology for customer engagement. Technology in B2B sector in India is still in its early days and so the processes are not very structured. But the positives are that there is more risk taking and creativity in India whereas abroad it is more restrictive and formal.
Capillary has recently expanded to China and Eastern Europe. Their expansion has been very organic. Their client Pizza Hut had suggested they expand to China. Capillary’s total employee strength is at around 400 today. When they move to new geographies, some local hiring is done. But there is also training conducted for their staff to get them on par with the new area, where process and technology can vary, if they are to be moved there.
Though they have had quick growth, they have ensured their human resource addition is gradual and steady. Krishna and Aneesh realised over time that rather than huge addition to the team, training for increasing productivity is more important. They focus on hiring skilled people, and further invest in updating and improving employee skillsets through training and development. This has resulted in their revenue per employee going up by 3x.
There is a conscious effort to retain the work ethos and passion of the core team by organising team building exercises and ‘TGIF’style get-togethers for the staff, which keeps the atmosphere informal and allows new entrants to the team to get integrated easily. Flexi-timings and a comfortable work environment are other factors that make Capillary staff feel taken care of.
Advice for other B2B businesses
Focus on employee productivity and building your reputation.
Revenues and client base
In the span of the last one year their revenues have increased by 100%. Capillary’s experience in the B2B business is word of mouth is very important. One of their earliest clients, a leading menswear retail giant, was bowled over by their passion and chose to work with them despite their lack of experience.
Today, leading brands like Marks & Spencer, Nike, Raymond, Peter England and Lifestyle and food chains like Pizza Hut and Faaso's are their clients.
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