How this bootstrapped startup found its sweet spot in customer success through e-learning

E-learning startup StratBeans offers learning and training products for enterprises to upskill employees, and achieve better customer success. The startup, which claims $1.1 million revenue in 2018, is aiming for $10 million in 2021 as it expands its product portfolio.

The future is digital. The co-founders of StratBeans Consulting, Sameer Nigam (CEO), Prasoon Nigam (CTO), and Pradeip Agarwal (VP–Marketing), knew this way back in 2009 and decided to start up with an e-learning startup that improves employee performance using digital products and solutions.

Ten years down the line, Gurugram-based StratBeans Consulting, a leading provider of customised e-learning, learning management systems (LMS), and marketing content, claims to have served more than five million users worldwide.

From left to right: Prasoon Nigam, Pradeip Agarwal, Sameer Nigam

And with today’s competitive business environment focussing on employees’ upskilling and its relevance to the overall growth of a business, StratBeans seems to be in the right place, at the right time.

Speaking of the problem statement, Sameer says, "A major challenge most companies faced at the time was to strengthen customer relationships, which involved a detailed process. The employees needed to continuously learn and evolve to deliver a superior customer experience, and lead to business growth.”

The three co-founders saw an opportunity 'to create a platform that provides a holistic digital strategy for enterprises'.

Stratbeans began life as a consulting organisation that aimed to nurture strategy for enterprises. Today, the startup, which has a strength of 55, offers learning and training products to enterprises to train and upskill their employees, with an end goal to help them achieve better customer success.

Sameer says the startup's automated learning framework is helping enterprises save time and cost while training new employees and upskilling existing ones, which has opened up new revenue streams.

The co-founders come from different professional backgrounds and met through common friends. Sameer worked with Genpact and TCS, while Prasoon led the R&D unit at Synopsys and built an image-based search engine that earned an award by TCS. Pradeip has 10 years of work experience in advertising and digital marketing.

The model

StratBeans’s mission is to empower enterprises through advanced digital learning and performance support solutions that help train employees for better customer engagement. The technology at the startup simplifies workflows by creating an automated learning framework, which helps enterprises save time and money in training new employees and upskilling existing ones.

The customer flow starts with a team of analysts gathering to understand the precise requirements with scenarios from the enterprise. Then, a multi-tangent analysis is conducted to identify the exact problem.

StratBeans makes money from two avenues: services and products. Under services, it offers various interactive forms of audio-visual modules for capability development. With the digital transformation products, it pushes out learning videos through its AI-based platforms and enhances employee performance through AI-based chatbots.

The products are completely DIY in nature, with control at the client’s end, divided among super admin and sub admins as per rights to access system, and users accessing it for consumption. There is little dependency on the StratBeans team, and clients can run the programme as per their business logic and strategy.

CEO Sameer says: “We spend maximum time in focussing on clients' processes to avoid back and forth at the time of implementation for targeted users. The quality team works throughout the process of requirement gathering, gap analysis, design, and configuration until we go live."

With both annual and one-time payment systems in place, the startup clocked a revenue of $1.1 million in 2018. Bootstrapped since inception, Sameer says the startup primarily use its funds in HR, R&D, sales, and marketing.

Market landscape and way forward

Having started as a sales-driven organisation, StratBeans acquired initial customers through direct sales. When the co-founders started researching the industry, they learnt that e-learning was a relatively new concept, and had to meet prospective and targeted customers on an ad-hoc basis to understand their requirements.

“We spent a lot of time in understanding different industry segments. Leveraging our own network was very helpful in two ways. One, we were getting quality feedback on our approach; and second, we got a lot of referrals,” Sameer says.

Beginning with one customer in 2009, Stratbeans claims to have enabled digital transformation for over 100 enterprises, including Tata, Genpact, Aviva, HDFC, and Aspen Pharma. The startup competes with others like Cornerstone, Talentsoft, Skillsoft, and Workday, which operate in the customer success domain.

According to Research and Markets, the global customer success platforms market size is expected to grow from $854 million in 2019 to $2,664 million by 2024, at a CAGR of 25.5 percent during the forecast period.

“Over the last decade, we have case studies including the likes of SBI Card, Tata, and Genpact. And we are certain to capture the market in a more specific and targeted manner in the years to come,” Sameer says.

“We are targeting $10 million in revenue by 2021. We are also planning to expand our product portfolio," he adds.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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