With $7 m revenue in a year, Hallwaze 'knowledge factory' starts with a bangTausif Alam
A great team is always an asset to an organisation. However, building a great one, unleashing its power and reaping the benefits takes some work.
The Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) platform Hallwaze acts like a smart leader who knows how to encourage effective collaboration in an organization, identify employees' skill sets, help in the exchange of ideas, put decisions into action, and produce a more satisfied workforce.
In April 2014, seasoned technocrat Saif Ahmad founded the company. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Delhi University, and over 14 years of experience in the IT Industry. More importantly, he has a vision of delivering world class technology collaboration solutions to business organizations.
Incorporated as a Delaware Corporation in Virginia, Hallwaze calls itself a single-platform solution to all organizational needs. It is the answer to challenges that a typical organization struggles with - of keeping employees together (connected and motivated) communication clutter, lack of fluidity and transparency, and inability to quickly identify growth potential.
It helps create secure online communities where employees, business partners, and even customers can communicate with each other by sending messages, updating status, sharing a progress report, or asking questions. Fellow participants can respond by replying or adding comments to these posts. These conversations then combine to form an activity stream or a feed for the organization.
According to the Hallwaze webpage, the network brings the power of social at the workplace. When asked about other similar platforms that are available for public use, Saif, founding CEO at Hallwaze Inc, says, “People have started hating complicated software and they run away from them. The beauty of this platform lies in its highly simple user interface. Other similar platforms have faced severe adoption issues owing to platform interface complexity.”
“Moreover, most ESNs focus on just content/stream creation; one click access to information is more critical. Our search engine indexes, catalogues, and tags every stream of information. It also searches for information based on metadata,” adds the Founder, who currently also heads global operations and sees India as a significant market opportunity.
Some of the features that set this ESN platform apart include: intelligent profiling, content feed, recommendations, and content integration with other social networks.
As per the Hallwaze website, the message to companies is: “This internal collaboration tool lets you engage employees, discover their multi-dimensional talent, and leverage existing human capital for new opportunities.”
On a similar note, the message to employees is: “Connect with your seniors, peers and colleagues across different geographical locations. Find experts easily with the intelligent profiling engine that can help you with your projects by resolving complex problems. Engage with your mentors and like-minded colleagues to easily track what they are up to.”
The venture was bootstrapped, with an eye on top leaders and the CXO community of medium, small and large enterprises: since they are the ones who want to bring about a cultural change in organizations.
Saif has been steering the growth ladder, being instrumental in implementing short-term and long-term business strategies, mentoring experts, and driving sales and customer acquisition efforts in multiple domains.
“We are a small team of multi-talented people. We all do - all what we like to do. We are a team of 60 employees worldwide, and are an organization dedicated to supporting the product," he says.
Explaining the business model, he says Hallwaze offers both a paid cloud subscription model as well as a free ad-based model of monetization. Launched just a year ago, the company, which has a 100 percent Indian subsidiary, has generated $7 million in this short time, and has recorded 10 per cent growth in revenue, year-on-year.
Greatly encouraged by the success, Saif says he is in the process of pitching to venture capitalists for more funds. He plans to expand in Europe, as well as worldwide. “We have started tapping into the North American and the South Asian markets. We have more than 15 organizations with at least 5000 users on the books,” he says, revealing that the company recently signed a deal with one of the largest digital broadcast service providers in North America.
Great response, a few challenges
The response from companies that have used the platform is very positive. Saif points out the advantages in engaging with employees via this platform: top leaders get visibility into ground-level work, gain the trust of employees and create brand ambassadors.
The main challenge is dealing with organizations that have a closed mindset. As compared to the US market where enterprises are keen on leveraging such social platforms to bring in transparency and build an open environment; the Indian market has a mixed mindset. "Leaders see value but also fear what unwelcome situations an open culture might surprise them with," complains Hallwaze's founder.
To overcome this challenge, Hallwaze has an advanced adoption team that is not only an expert on the product, but also has insight into handling behavioral and cultural changes. The key team is in the process of announcing new feature releases such as external groups and group chat. The platform is already optimised for extended use on desktops as well as mobile, and is available in different business and deployment models with competitive pricing and licensing plans.
With so many similar platforms, how tough will the competition be, one wonders. Saif admits it’s tough, but nonetheless he sees a huge market that is up for grabs. The addressable market is $840 million and is growing at about 13.4 percent annually - as per Gartner. IBM Connections is the market leader with 13-14 per cent share; Jive follows with 8-10 per cent marketshare; and Microsoft’s Yammer and Salesforce Chatter are the other top players.