WebEngage founder Avlesh Singh says clarity of problem, market, and domain understanding key for entrepreneurs

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Avlesh Singh, Founder and CEO of WebEngage, speaks about factors determining the success of pivots and entrepreneurial lessons learnt the hard way.

WebEngage’s tumultuous decade-long journey included “two paths pivots, five near death situations, and three buyout offers,” tweeted its founder and CEO Avlesh Singh in October 2021.

Started as a simple web engagement tool in 2011 in the early days of ecommerce in India, WebEngage initially catered to customers in the US and India, boasting $2.5 million of ARR during its peak. It later pivoted to a full stack marketing automation model. 

As a Software as a Service (SAAS) company, the pivoting experience was one filled with challenges and learnings because the focus has been beyond just building products. In fact, the company hit zero revenue and lost one of its biggest customers due to the pivot.

In a conversation with Siddhartha Ahluwalia, Founder and Host of 100x Entrepreneur, Avlesh said, “The reason why pivots are hard is because it’s not just about pivoting the product but everything around it. Your organisation, your people have to pivot faster than the actual product pivot for you to be market ready. A lot of times pivots don’t work because of these reasons and not the product themselves.” 

Over time, he figured that the only way WebEngage was going to make money on the new tool was to position it as a revenue making tool and not yet another marketing tool. 

Now, the company has an ARR of $15 million with more than 400 customers globally with half the businesses in India and the remaining in markets like Latin America, Southeast Asia, and a little bit of Europe.

“Most of our customers (80 percent) are in the business of doing online commerce, online travel, edtech, and fintech. A tool like WebEngage basically helps you get more conversions on your existing user base and the existing traffic that you get on your mobile app or website. These are very clearly demonstrated in the product and clearly attributed to WebEngage,” he said. 

The entrepreneur further emphasised on finding one’s niche in a crowded marketplace as well as “customer segment and their product needs they will stay true to instead of getting moved by what everybody else in the competition is doing.” 

Having raised foreign capital and funding from a few family offices last year, the company is now focused on its growth journey.

He added, “We have a very good degree of confidence that while the space of marketing tech is crowded, we found a very sweet niche for ourselves.”

Lessons learnt the hard way

Emphasising on the need to build strong foundations to build a large company, Avlesh said that he has learnt entrepreneurship lessons the hard way. 

“I feel terribly bad for everybody who got impacted because of it…I can’t go back and undo, and moving forward, I have learned to live with it…this is not something that will ever go away. But it’s okay. Mentally, I’ve become a lot more headstrong about all these things around business, my personal life, and personal choices…what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 

Advising other aspiring entrepreneurs, he said, “Things fall in place as long as you have a clear understanding of the pain point you are solving, understanding your market, the domain, and the landscape.”

To know more, listen to the entire podcast here.

01:45 – Intro to WebEngage

05:06 – “Marketing will only put a certain amount of value to the software, only if we are able to bring more users back to the platform.”

13:20 – Current scale in terms of revenue and customers

36:51 – Learnings from his experience as a founder  

Edited by Megha Reddy


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