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Bhupendra Khanal, InRev Systems – Harnessing the social media revolution with Simplify360, a social CRM product

Tuesday March 22, 2011 , 5 min Read

Bhupendra Khanal
Seth Godin, the American entrepreneur and best-selling author, once famously remarked that marketing was less about the stuff being sold and more about the stories being told. In a world that is in the middle of a social media revolution, what he said is even more relevant. And taking advantage of this opportunity and helping companies find a method in this madness is InRev Systems, a product tech company which has created a social CRM platform called Simplify360. In this exclusive chat with YourStory, Bhupendra Khanal, CEO of InRev Systems, speaks about their business idea and how the size of the opportunity is much larger than predicted.

If someone asked you to tell them about InRev in about three sentences, what would you say?

InRev is a technology product company which has emerged out of a big vision of facilitating the social media revolution. We help companies go social and take advantage of this new digital opportunity. We are experts in analytics and it can be seen in all out product features.

How is InRev different from other social media marketing agencies?

At one level, we’re completely different. We are a product tech company building a specific social media CRM tool. Social media marketing agencies are our clients or partners.

How did the business idea for InRev come about?

As the name suggests, InRev stands for ‘information revolution.’ We saw an opportunity in integrating global data and making the best use of the huge volume of data, coming from social media and smartphone applications.

I always wanted to start my own company and when I met Rohit (my CTO), I found the technical person who could productize my idea. That was the starting point.

Tell us about your background.

I am essentially a data person. I am fascinated with data and numbers. After my engineering in Computer Science, I worked in Global Analytics building predictive models and designing decision management systems. Then, I moved to Fair Isaac (now FICO) where I worked as a marketing analytics consultant.

After Fair Isaac, I began walking on the entrepreneurial path by starting Marketelligent as founding member in 2007. The company grew very fast and turned profitable in the very first year.

In late 2008, I left Marketelligent and started InRev. We started this company with the idea of entering into the product technology space.

Do you have any tie-ups? Is there acceptance for your concept?

We have marketing partners in India and USA and most of the deals have happened because of our product vision. They see us as a value player which is helping them to win their competition. That is exciting. We are yet to announce these deals and I would like to keep it that way till we formalize agreements.

InRev Logo
Where do you see social media marketing and InRev five years from now?

Social media is going to replace corporate communications and PR functions in many companies. Companies will be forced to use social media for external communication and that is going to be more engagement and listening-focused rather than the campaign-focused approach that exists today.

Social media marketing is growing fast and Forrestor puts the number at $3.1 billion by 2014. Other research studies show even bigger numbers. My feeling is that this social media revolution is being under-rated. I think that it will be much bigger than predicted. InRev will be one of the top players in this space and we aim to acquire around 10% of global market share in five years.

What is InRev's revenue model?

Simplify360 is our social CRM product. It is a SAAS product, which is sold to companies on monthly subscription basis. Clients and partners are using the tool for various purposes like online reputation management, campaigning, product launches, hiring, customer service etc.

As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?

As an entrepreneur, I enjoy doing big things and remaining ahead of the competition. I hate following others. The biggest challenge that I face is in acquiring resources to make these big things happen.

We don’t have a good product ecosystem here in India and people don’t believe in that concept here. Investors and partners always look at the clients and the revenue numbers. To have more product innovations coming out of India, this has to change going forward. I had to fight a long two-year battle to overcome this challenge and now, I am happy to have crossed that stage.

How big is the InRev team? Are you looking at hiring?

We have 15 people now. There are 8 people on the technical side and 7 people on the business side. Technical people have expertise in RAD, Scripting and Web Technlogies. They have a combined experience of around 25 years, working with companies like Cisco, Fidelity, Aricent etc. The business folks have expertise in social media research, analytics, data mining, blogging and internet marketing.

We are looking to hire few technical guys and also, a few people on the business side. We want technical folks with expertise in Java programming, testing and database management. On the business side, hiring is for social media research, business development and sales.

Let us know about your expansion plans.

We are starting our US operations very soon. It will be based out of the Greater Seattle area. This office will be more of a marketing/sales outlet for the company. The next branch will come up in Mumbai. This is in line with our strategy of targeting US and India as primary markets. We are also very close to closing an investment round now. Currently, we have 10 clients and 5 marketing partners. The plan is to hit half a million dollars of revenue this year.

We at YourStory would like to wish Bhupendra and the entire team at InRev all the best. To know more, check out http://www.in-rev.com/. Also, do let us know what you think of this story. You can write to us at [email protected].

Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 22nd March 2011 | Bangalore