Srikrishnan Ganesan, Director Products of Freshworks, says the key to building a great product is validation, which will eventually build the sales and marketing expertise.
Srikrishnan Ganesan, one of the founders of messaging app Konotor, realised very early that building a product for use at a global scale would be the only way he could gain respect as a product engineer. In 2015, this was validated to an extent when Konotor was acquired by Indian product ‘unicorn’, Freshworks, for an undisclosed amount. It was the platform Konotor needed to gain the global traction it was meant to have.
Srikrishnan and his team were building an in-app chat for customer engagement. It started off as a B2C product in 2012 before it pivoted to becoming a B2B-focused company in the span of a year.
Speaking at the second edition of YourStory’s Future of Work conference, Srikrishnan – now Director Products at Freshworks, said,
“We always built for global scale. That's what a product manager has to think about. One of the key factors is that you have to be cognizant of is the market that you launch in and be ready for failures if the market does not accept the product.”
He further pointed out, “All entrepreneurs have to make luck work in their favour when all odds are stacked against them.”
Marketing and sales organisations will fall in place once the product fits the market. Freshworks won clients purely through search, their customers would look for a help desk software, they would come online, click on Freshworks and come to the startup’s landing page. What happened then is that the company got to understand its customers and began to reiterate its website constantly. This was how it wowed customers.
Srikrishnan says, “As Konotor, we were hustling to meet customers while Freshworks kept winning global customers. Although we had the likes of TaxiForSure and BigBasket as customers, the company kept winning customers from new markets with very little spend."
He then went on to outline a few lessons from his own journey:
- Learn to win the next 100 customers. Don't be happy with a set few that you have won through references.
- For a global scale, target every vertical. Keep reiterating the product as more and more people discover it.
- Always overcome what you think is right. Focus on customer feedback and move fast.
- Always focus on increasing the success of the product by focusing on the commodity tech market global and offer better services than others.
- The product should be beautiful by offering great UI, value for money and be easy to use.
“Validation of the product is key for everyone, if you are not focused on that then the product won't succeed,” he said.
Freshworks is now a global powerhouse because it offers everything from sales to chat to help desk, no wonder it raised close to $250 million dollars in funding. This makes them the right company to advice aspiring Indian engineers to go global with a product mindset. Srikrishnan is clearly spot on when he says, think global.
Also read: Product evolution: how can you get it right?