How Hyderabad-based Spoors built the world's first DIY enterprise data and workflow management platform
Ramakrishna Chiniarlapalla, then a Director at Microsoft, had just returned to India from the USA. While setting up the house, he faced challenges when the field employees of different product and services businesses didn’t turn up on time. Many times, the work wasn’t up to the mark. “Connecting to the field workforce was a challenge both for us as customers and the brand as employers. They often didn’t have visibility into their movements or couldn’t monitor their workflows,” says Ramakrishna. The personal pain point led to him to take the entrepreneurial plunge along with his friend, Tirumala Rao Bokka, who at that time worked with Software Technology Parks of India, a science and technology organisation by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
From people-focused to process-focused solution
Ramakrishna and Tirumala startedin 2013 to provide a technology solution to enable visibility of field employees to customers and employees. “In the beginning, the platform was built to answer three critical questions - where the on-field employees are, what they should do and the tasks they have completed,” he explains. With time, the platform slowly evolved adding more features to address challenges related to workflow optimisation for the on-field workforce, the sales and the business development teams.
“The platform went from being people-focused to process focused. And, there were tasks that saw a need for digital solutions to enable faster and efficient completion of the assigned work. These tasks could be bucketed under four key processes - approval, action, checklist and handling,” says the CEO and co-founder. “Today, with the expansion of the scope of the platform, we are able to provide visibility in terms of who is handling the tasks, steps that the employee needs to follow to ensure that the assigned task is completed, monitor if the right steps were followed, guidelines for doing a particular task, among other such questions,” says Ramakrishna.
The Hyderabad-based SaaS company provides mobility and workflow solutions. Its flagship product, Effort, is a cloud-based DIY workflow and workforce management platform that makes it super easy for businesses to build mobility solutions themselves.
With over 50,000 users, the solution is being used by 150+ customers across 10 countries. “Everyday over 2 million activities are being performed on the platform. Our clients have seen a 30 percent improvement in workforce productivity and operational efficiencies with our workflow and workforce management platform,” says Ramakrishna. He explains that the AI, IoT and voice-enabled studio provides a highly configurable and no-code agile platform that digitises activities and processes in seconds, thereby transforming business processes almost instantly.
Tracing the growth journey
Spoors has witnessed an average of 25 percent year-on-year growth, in spite of the founders being tech-focused. “The only weak point probably is our marketing and sales strategy,” says Ramakrishna. The startup clocked an annual revenue of Rs 9.3+ crore in FY 2019-20, but it dipped to Rs 7.9 crore the following year due to the pandemic. However, this year the startup is well on its way to clock a higher revenue than it did in 2020. “We have onboarded Maruti as a key client. And, we continue to work with some of the existing clients,” he reveals. Spoors’ clientele includes Mahindra Finance, L&T Finance, PhonePe, MakeMyTrip, Siemens, Home Credit in addition to numerous smaller brands and businesses.
There are many reasons why businesses, from some of the biggest in the industry to small brands, have leveraged Spoors’ workflow and workforce management platform. One, businesses can build unlimited processes to manage the workflows and thereby the workforce. Secondly, Spoors is one of the few platforms that creates offline workflows. “Businesses can configure workflows and allocate the tasks enture offline on the mobile phone without the need for internet connection,” explains Ramakrishna. And, this translates into an advantage for businesses as they can access the workflows on all channels, be it the web, the app or offline on the mobile. Thirdly, the platform’s DIY nature makes it a hit with small businesses and brands. “Because it is a no-code platform, customers with limited tech expertise or knowledge can come onto the platform, go over the documents and start building their own processes relevant for their business operations. There is no dependability on us,” he says.
The startup has been enabling businesses in their digitisation efforts since its inception. Today, end-to-end digitisation in many ways has become non-negotiable for businesses. “And, if you deep-dive further, there is a lot of emphasis on enabling non-touch interfaces in digitisation efforts. This is where we are seeing a big opportunity,” says Ramakrisha. He explains that they are working on features that will enable workflows to go digital. “Earlier, one had to fill up physical forms to raise tickets. Today we are building features where one can just scan the form, fill in the details, which then automatically gets converted into tickets. We’re building interfaces that will digitise this entire process - right from filling in the data to receiving customer feedback post the resolution of the issue,” he shares.
Why a .in domain extension worked
Interestingly, as a technology company, Spoors opted for a .in domain. “When we started, we were building a product from scratch. And, at that time, our primary target market was businesses based in India. So, it made business sense to register the company website on the .in domain,” says Ramakrishna. Given that they were building a product that wasn’t widely used in India, having the website on the .in domain helped to build trust in the market, says the entrepreneur. He says, “When you are trying a new product or new solution, one of the primary concerns is accessibility to the solution provider. With a .in domain, we were establishing that we were based out of India. That helped to win the trust of the early adopters of our platform.” Onboarding some of the biggest brands across sectors helped them to establish themselves in the Indian market. Today amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, once again ‘accessibility’ has become pivotal to businesses. “With cities and countries going in and out of lockdowns, businesses in India are looking to work with companies that are available to them in their own geographic market,” says Ramakrishna.
The website presence on the .in domain has also helped the startup explore opportunities in the African, Middle East and Southeast Asian markets. “Price is one of the decisive factors when businesses are looking to explore a new product or solution. They want a good product that doesn’t burn a hole in their pockets. With a .in domain, they know that the price point is affordable unlike those from the competing global markets,” he says. Today, at least 20 percent of Spoors’ clientele are global customers. “We expect this traction to increase in the next few years,” says Ramakrishna.