What makes Whatfix a B2B SaaS talent powerhouse
Unlike many entrepreneurs, Srihari BT didn't have to wait too long to taste success. He launched his first startup while he was still in college in 2011 in Mysore. Offering mechanised cleaning services, the startup was clocking a profit within a year. The next time around he wasn't so lucky. His second startup leveraged Internet of Things to create smart home products, but failed to strike a chord with customers.
"The contrasting experiences got me thinking and I decided to work with a smaller company to learn the ropes of running a business," he explains. The next day he spotted a board of— a B2B SaaS platform offering digital adoption solutions — during his morning run. An internet search later, Srihari was intrigued by the company's growth journey and the co-founders even had their phone number listed on their website.
"I called Whatfix, Cofounder, Khadim Batti and told him that I wanted to work at the company. I went for an interview and got a job offer the same day. They knew that it was a huge risk to hire me, but still went ahead,” he says. Srihari started out as a sales executive in June 2015, went on to become the first sales manager of the company and is now based in London, helping the company explore new avenues of growth in his current role as Director of Strategic Accounts.
Whatfix helps companies undergo seamless digital transformations and make the best out of their investments in technology. The B2B SaaS platform enables companies to onboard, train and guide employees working on enterprise software applications in both remote and physical work settings in real-time, while driving digital adoption, optimising training costs and boosting productivity at scale
Established in 2014, Whatfix was founded by Khadim and Vara Kumar Namburu who sought out to build intelligence tools that could power business growth. More than seven years later, Whatfix has raised around $140 million in funding and has six offices spread across the globe. Given the rise in digital transformations due to COVID-19, in-app engagement among employees of Whatfix's customers increased by almost 150 percent every month, as compared to the pre-pandemic period. Additionally, the company also saw a 2X increase in its annual revenue and staff numbers in the last five quarters.
Looking back, Srihari, who was the second sales employee to be hired at Whatfix, says, “I started at Whatfix when there wasn't any specific playbook. We were giving sales pitches without any sales documents. However, both Khadim and Vara were always working closely with us. There was no micromanagement. It was a way of collaborating and figuring out the best way to build a solution for the customer.”
The brains behind Whatfix’s success story
A key pillar of Whatfix's resounding success in the B2B SaaS industry is its team of 630+ talented professionals that are spread across the globe. Be it sales, marketing or technical, these teams stand out because of their ability to create interactive product tours, step-by-step walkthroughs, onboarding task lists, and interactive guidance with no coding required.
An organisational culture that offers opportunities to learn and voice one’s opinion has motivated many Whatfix team members like Srihari — who were a part of the company right from the start — to stick around and grow with it. They joined Whatfix when it was just a small brand looking to make its mark and are still working to help it unlock new achievements.
Incidentally, Prakhar Jain, Senior Director of Global Sales at Whatfix was the first employee to be hired at the company.
“The one thing that has made me stay here even seven years later is Whatfix’s culture. I have always appreciated the freedom to experiment that I got at Whatfix. When I joined the company, there was no playbook. I could learn, fail fast and repeat experiments that worked at scale and that's what has led us to the phenomenal growth that we've seen in recent years,” says Prakhar.
An avid social media user, Prakhar believes in sharing his learnings with the community at large. “Whatever I've learnt over the past few years, I continue to share that on LinkedIn with the hope that it contributes to the Saas community. I get a lot of thank you messages and it also helps us draw talent,” he adds.
His thoughts are reiterated by Gokul Suresh, Head of Field & Growth Marketing, Whatfix who has been with the company for the last seven years. "It’s the people of Whatfix that make it an amazing place to work at. Our co-founders never forget to boost our morale when the going gets tough. Together, we have powered through many challenges and grown along with the company," he says. Gokul and his team are the brains behind the events hosted by Whatfix, its marketing experiments, social media campaigns and other influencer marketing activities.
“And the cherry on the top is a pantry full of goodies to eat anytime,” he jokes.
On its part, Whatfix has been committed to ramping up its workforce to ensure that it sported both experience and fresh talent. While its policy of lateral hiring onboards experts from SaaS or product organisations, its campus hiring strategy is focused on recruiting fresh talent from premier institutions known for their specialisations in marketing. The twin policies have helped it avoid a critical talent management challenge that ails the SaaS industry. According to a SaaSBOOMi report, 77 percent SaaS leaders in India claim that their biggest challenge is ramping up critical talent, including product managers and lead specialists.
It won't be wrong to say that to attain growth, one needs a growth mindset. At Whatfix, that mindset revolves around building solutions that aim to achieve faster and efficient go-to-market strategies.
"At Whatfix, we aim at creating a work culture that thrives on innovation, experimentation and strong work collaborations across teams. We eat our own “dog food” – we use Whatfix pop-ups for critical messaging and nudges and flows to our own work to complete some of the internal tasks. For our new solutions, we sign up 3-4 of our existing customers, to be our innovation partners. We work very closely with them to elevate our solutions and also customer experience every day. In order to facilitate an innovative mindset, we are considering technologies such as innovation labs and ideation tools, collaboration platforms like Slack, Jira, Trello, etc. We also organise hackathon events and have a robust patent programme in place to encourage innovation.” explains Dattatri Radhakrishna, VP of Engineering at Whatfix.
Growing with a diverse and inclusive workforce
As an organisation that has always been committed to building a culture of innovation, Whatfix believes in treating its employees as an asset.
The digital adoption solutions company is constantly exploring ways to develop and equip its talent for future challenges. This includes setting skill frameworks for teams, mapping of competencies for roles to enable employees to bridge any gaps in skilling.
Take the case of Charvi Sardana, Manager, Sales Engineering. A software engineer by education, Charvi realised early on that she didn't want to code. When she got to know that she could switch to a customer service role at Whatfix without making a career change, she didn't waste any time in seizing the opportunity. It wasn't long before she was impressing her seniors with her skills. She went on to build Whatfix's customer success engineering team from scratch shortly after being hired in 2018.
Based out of London, she is currently managing the 10-member sales engineering department that she built from scratch. Ask her about what stands out about Whatfix, she says it's the founders approachability. "Despite having a packed schedule, the leadership is ready to make time for you. Also, the company has a culture where people are always ready to help out in case you are stuck in an emergency. And, that too without having to cancel any client calls or engagement activities," she adds.
Talking about how the company considers inclusivity as a core component of its organisational culture, Neelam Agrawal, Product Trainer, Whatfix says that an employee can never feel lost or irrelevant at the company. "The company is built on a great vision and each employee knows that they are playing their part in taking the company forward. It is truly an exciting and encouraging atmosphere," says the mother of two who joined Whatfix after an 11-year break.
“It's also one of the few workplaces in India which give you a chance to experience what work-life balance looks like," she quips.
In tandem with its vision for the future, it is in the process of designing a 'Manager Development Programme' that would enable managers to work more efficiently with Whatfix's teams.
To further strengthen its culture of development, it plans to roll out the 'Whatfix Mentoring' programme to encourage its employees to choose mentors and develop skills/potential through structured one-on-one interactions. At the same time, the Whatfix Educational Assistance policy enables its employees to upskill themselves by signing up for new courses and certifications.
The company has even introduced new relevant massive open online courses for its employees through partnerships with, and Learning. “Additionally, all our BU heads are equipped with approved programmes that would help their teams enhance their performance. A few of our teams are also leveraging the 'individual development plan' approach wherein an employee's development is prioritised as a goal and action learning projects are carefully designed to help the employee develop skills on the job," says Romita Mukherjee, Senior Director Human Resources, Whatfix.
Whatfix's journey started from a small office and is now evolved into an industry leader that's servicing a clientele of over 500 customers, many of which are Fortune 1000 companies. Given that 80 percent of its clientele is spread across the globe, professionals have the distinct advantage of working with Fortune 1000 companies right at the start of their careers.
Its focus on customer satisfaction has helped it stay ahead of competitors. Whatfix's modules are customised as per customer needs and are easy-to-understand with contextual guidance. When compared to other B2B and B2C brands, Whatfix gives its employees the unique advantage of working for an Indian company with a global exposure.