Mumbai-based CloudFronts is implementing Microsoft cloud-based products across Indian SMEs, leveraging the fundamental shift to cloud-based SaaS.
Not every startup needs to create an original intellectual property to succeed. Sometimes, you can take an existing IP, disseminate it and enable several small businesses to use it. SaaS startup CloudFronts was founded on this very premise. The company became a cloud-first IT services company by implementing Microsoft’s cloud-based products across Indian SMEs. In 2011, founder Anil Shah was working on Microsoft technologies in New York, when he witnessed a fundamental shift from traditional software to cloud-based software as a service (SaaS). He realised that there are more than 50 million SMEs in India, many of which are eager to explore these solutions.
Cashing on this opportunity, Anil returned to India and set up CloudFronts in 2012. For the last six years, the company has been enabling the rapid adoption of cloud-based SaaS across small businesses. Anil graduated from D J Sanghvi Engineering College in 1999, before he moved to the USA to work in several companies in the CRM space.
CloudFronts took six months to land their first customer. They were virtually unknown in 2012 and Anil had to convince Microsoft to be their partners. The company now works as a gold partner for Microsoft office solutions across SMBs. CloudFronts’ first order did not happen in India. “It was a small international order from a customer in the US, but it was the most exciting thing for us at that point. We have never looked back since. From just one person to a team of 50 today, we pride ourselves in ensuring our people come first,” says Anil.
The founder claims that the revenues of the company are well over $1 million, and that has become possible because of the support of his team and family.
CloudFronts deploys business empowering solutions for customers around the globe. Its key source of revenue is from deploying and configuring services for SMBs. “Driving customer success is how we sustain ourselves,” says Anil. For example, if a retailer wants customisation on top of a Microsoft CRM offering, CloudFronts can bring in elements of analytics tools and manage the scale of the application on the cloud.
“We look forward to engaging in complex projects across India and other markets and enabling our customers to get the most out of their business solutions. From a revenue standpoint, we expect to double our monthly services revenues,” he says.
Like any other business, the first three years of CloudFronts was all about trying to win businesses. The revenue was not more than a crore. There were many small victories, but none of them were steady clients. Anil says that since 2016, enterprises wanted IT to be deployed faster. A couple of clients from the agriculture and manufacturing space signed up with CloudFronts. In a matter of weeks, Anil and his team delivered IT for these clients, who loved the pace of adoption. Since then, the business has begun to grow.
The business is built on delivering products over the cloud and a lot depends on the company’s ability to market Microsoft products over email and social media. CloudFronts has 50 clients, who pay them an annual maintenance and integration fee. Its engineering team helps the clients with the sign-up process and only engages when customisation is needed. The company’s business model is a cost-plus one, where a customer has to pay a services element offered by CloudFronts in addition to the cost for the Microsoft solution.
The founder says that from Rs 3 crore a year, he is now expecting Rs 12 crore revenue in FY2018. On a monthly basis, this financial year, the company has clocked revenues of Rs 1 crore a month. The company hopes to hit Rs 50 crore in five years.
As a gold member of the Microsoft Partner Network, CloudFronts offers the following services.
According to Gartner, the worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 21.4 percent in 2018 to total $186.4 billion, up from $153.5 billion in 2017.
The fastest-growing segment is the cloud system infrastructure services (IaaS), which is forecast to grow 35.9 percent in 2018 to reach $40.8 billion. Gartner also says that SaaS as a market opportunity will grow from $73.6 billion in 2018 to $117.1 billion by 2021.