How this tier-2 city is running the show for upcoming Unicorn Draup
For a majority of tech corporations and soonicorns, building a marquee presence in tier-1 cities and global hotspots is a natural part of their development plans. The perceived availability of a larger and a more skilled talent pool means they lean towards setting up shop in such cities. But for Draup, an AI-driven SaaS platform, staying ahead of the curve and championing the arena of enterprise decision-making, with its unique talent composition, has always been a priority. The startup established a center at Coimbatore in 2018, being the first to recognize the potential of this tier-2 city much earlier than other major IT corporations.
Coimbatore, a vibrant city tucked amidst the mighty Western Ghats, has established its reputation as a major educational and manufacturing hub for decades. Despite the city housing a large university ecosystem that produces the highest number of graduates in Tamil Nadu, the number of global companies utilizing the same has just been a handful. Draup soon recognized this gap in operations, drew on the advantage of Coimbatore having a strong industrial and entrepreneurship ecosystem, and put its vision and commitment to action.
“We have been advocating the use of an indigenous workforce to scale up their talent capabilities to all our clients for the past 10 to 12 years. We have been very strong admirers of the talent available in the remote parts of India and believed their abilities to deliver results of exceptional quality. When there came an opportunity to walk the talk, there was no looking back”, states Vijay Swaminathan, CEO, Draup. Narrating the tale of passion and conviction in building Draup, Vijay mentions that, “the availability of fresh talent is one of the critical factors that supported the center’s growth, whereas the quality of talent being on par with, or at times superior to that of tier-1 cities is what defined our success story at Coimbatore.”
Setting trends and shifting perspectives
From giving opportunities to an underutilized -talent pool that is highly-skilled in new-age technologies to fostering gender equity at the workplace , Draup has been on the forefront in breaking the stereotypes and setting new trends.
With its focused training, knowledge enhancement, guided mentorship, and reskilling practices in place, Draup has established an efficient workforce culture at Coimbatore that enables them to experiment with newer challenges each day, truly embodying the startup culture. “We were able to upskill our employees at blitz-speed, which enabled us to scale our processes faster. Most of the team leaders engage or directly handle our global clients and the team works on global engagements, which is driving the Centre’s growth” states Vijay. From starting off as a 15-member team at Coimbatore, Draup now operates a 200-member strong workforce.
While most companies are weighing the options of remote hiring and operating with a distributed workforce in a post-pandemic world, Draup has not only facilitated reverse migration in the past year to its Coimbatore centre, but also has effectively hired, engaged, and leveraged talent from tier-1 cities across the country.
“With the pandemic in the picture, we have hired extensively at Coimbatore. Our workforce is enabled with all the necessary infrastructural and operational support to continue delivering cutting-edge work through our tier-2 centre, just as they would from a metropolitan city. The efficiency of this centre in handling global clients and delivering world class standards in the current day is substantial,” said Vamsee Tirukkala, Co-Founder and CCO, Draup .
The Coimbatore centre, in close collaboration with renowned educational institutions of the city, also provides internships to students. Speaking about how the SaaS startup worked with 300+ interns in the previous term, Vishnu BG, Centre Head, Coimbatore adds,
“It is not only about hiring and utilising an experienced talent pool. Interns are also provided with opportunities to work on critical components of every process at Draup. Some interns have also worked with our founders and our clients directly, and their work gets reflected on the platform on a real-time basis. “Thus, the internships are designed not only to engage fresh minds, but also provide the students with an exposure to our industry, the latest technologies and the corporate life,”
With fewer companies offering the culture of autonomy, continuous learning, and open innovation like Draup in Coimbatore, attracting the right talent, and moulding them to better their performance each day has not been a herculean task to the company. “I have had the opportunity to make complete use of the tools and frameworks that I did not get a chance to get my hands on during my Masters. I also enjoy the holistic growth that Draup has offered me. The efforts of the company towards keeping its employees happy and growing is very apparent” said Sangavi Loganathan, a Statistician at Draup,.
From experimental to exceptional
Given that Draup’s Coimbatore centre is the house of exceptional talent, the startup has installed teams exclusively for handling key functions like Pre-sales and Marketing, ROI, ML Research, Statistics and Math here. “All these teams were started as an experiment,” shares Vamsee. The major objective of setting up these teams at the Coimbatore centre was to tap into the fresh talent pool, which has a greater affinity to explore, experiment and excel. Today, these teams play a crucial role in the various components and contribute heavily to the growth journey of the organisation.
The Braindesk team, which is the largest team at the Coimbatore centre, is a strong consulting wing of Draup that delivers syndicated industry reports to their clients. The team builds 80– 90 percent of its sales reports, which are an integral part of end-to-end client engagements. The team is engaged directly with many Fortune 500 clients of Draup.
The ML research team builds and verifies new age models and works closely with the Data Science team in Bengaluru, while the Math team builds statistical models for the processes across the product. “I am thrilled to be part of an ecosystem that deals with newer problem statements and objectives every day,” mentions Sangavi. The ROI team builds hierarchical models that assist in identifying the digital engagements and assess their impact across the traditional business models.
Draup’s Coimbatore centre also houses the pre-sales and marketing function that acts as core processes in the growth and sustenance of Draup’s client base. Vishnu BG shares that “The team’s major contributions involve setting up the sales campaigns, organising workshops and conferences to generate potential leads for Draup’s client expansion”.
Even with such diverse teams and functions coming together in one centre, the hallmark of Draup’s culture continues to be ‘belongingness and camaraderie’. “I enjoy working at Draup mainly because of the work culture and the entrepreneurial nature. I have always seen the same positive energy and excitement at the management level. It feels like being part of a close-knit family,” said Mahalakshmi S, Senior Research Executive II.
The values of kinship are evident in the way Draup employees celebrate festivals like Pongal at the office or how they are given personalised goodies that are crafted according to their interests. The various facilities of the micro hub such as game rooms, cafeterias etc create a positive and vibrant work environment, and gives plenty of room to unwind, recharge and return to the task at hand with a new zeal. The flat hierarchy offers more direct communication and makes provision to contribute innovative ideas for product development.
Women at the forefront
Fostering a gender-inclusive culture has been one of the hallmarks of Draup’s core values. Women hold several leadership positions at Draup’s Coimbatore centre, and the senior management can’t stop praising their innovative work. “Their dedication and commitment levels are highly impressive. A lot of innovation from the centre is driven by female talent,” says Vamsee.
The same is reflected through the journey for Mahalakshmi S, whose rose from Research Executive to Senior Research Executive II, a jump in 3 positions in just 2.5 years. She currently leads a team of 25 members in Coimbatore. “Draup is completely transparent in terms of business operations. All the individuals in the organisation will get to know or ask, ‘What Next?’ irrespective of their positions, and management always hears the views of their employees”, she shares.
Draup also upskills employees to grow in leadership positions and the senior management plays a supportive role in their growth. “I have to thank my superiors who trusted in my abilities and provided me with a strong forum to communicate with different people across Draup and it gave me an expanded space to improve my leadership skills,” says Priya Dharshini J, Senior Research Executive II.
The way forward
Draup is planning to expand and create more opportunities for growth by adding talent to the existing teams at the Coimbatore centre. It aims to hire 400 employees by the end of the year, effectively doubling the size of the existing workforce. “As we grow exponentially, we are also laser-focused on ensuring the high quality of services for the customers we cater to. Our thorough training modules and brainstorming sessions across cross-functional teams help us to come up with many innovative solutions”, says Manikandan Parthasarathy, Associate Director - Customer Success.
Draup is also planning to expand its Engineering team footprint in Coimbatore. If you are interested to work on cutting-edge problems in the field of Data Science, Big Data and Application Development, do check out their website by clicking here.