Business Today

Fresh Thinking

Freshdesk founders Girish Mathrubootham (right) and Shan Krishnasamy say they are looking at a NASDAQ listing three years down the line.
N. Madhavan | Print Edition: April 13, 2014
Freshdesk founders Girish Mathrubootham (right) and Shan Krishnasamy
Freshdesk founders Girish Mathrubootham (right) and Shan Krishnasamy at their Chennai office Photo: H . K . Rajashekar

In June 2009, Girish Mathrubootham, then working in the US with Zoho - a software as a service (SAAS) company specialising in business software - was on his way back to India. He booked his personal goods through an international shipper and insured them with the shipper's insurance arm. But when the goods reached Chennai, he found his TV broken. He wrote several mails to the shipper, but there was no sign of his insurance claim being settled. Frustrated, he posted his experience on the R2Iclub (Return to India) forum. Within a day, the shipping company resolved the issue. "This experience taught me that customers had the social power," says Mathrubootham.

The incident also brought out his entrepreneurial self to the fore. Mathrubootham started thinking on a customer support solution that could leverage social media. "When one thinks of customer support, irate customers and hassled service support staff come to your mind. And with the advent of social media, the challenges for companies have multiplied. I saw the opportunity to offer a solution," says Mathrubootham.

NAME: Freshdesk Technologies
AREA OF BUSINESS: Customer Support Solutions
COOL QUOTIENT: Has made customer support fun
In October 2010, he and his colleague Shan Krishnasamy quit Zoho and set up Freshdesk, a 700-sq-ft warehouse in suburban Chennai. After battling the Chennai heat and long powercuts the first version of the product was made ready and launched on a SAAS platform in 2010, where the customer had to pay an annual subscription. It provided desired solutions across email, chat, phone, Twitter, Facebook, mobile applications and websites.

Watch video:'Freshdesk Technologies has more than 17,000 customers'

In June 2011, Freshdesk bagged its first customer from Australia. In the same month, it took part in Microsoft's BizSpark Start-up Challenge and won it. The word spread and soon after, Freshdesk had over 400 customers across 23 countries.

In 2011, Accel Partners invested $1 million in Freshdesk, followed by another $5 million by Accel and Tiger Global Management in April 2012. The two invested another $7 million in October 2013.  "Today, we have 175 employees, four different product plans that suit different customer needs in 28 different languages and 17,800 happy customers," says Mathrubootham who handles the business, while his partner Krishnasamy takes care of product development.

Freshdesk has not only offered solutions to address customer satisfaction, but has also made it fun. And, that is what has makes it different from other companies. Its solutions have built-in games that enable support staff to compete among themselves to solve customer complaints effectively. Within the company, they promote four awards - Customer Wow Champion (one who earns customer love), Sharp Shooter (he who solves problems during the first call), Speed Racer (fast with solutions) and Most Valuable Player (the overall winner). Bonus and negative points are given based on how the staff handles and solves customer queries.

Freshdesk has launched its second product, Freshservice, in January 2014 - an IT service desk targeted at large companies for handling the in-house needs of its employees. "Investors are happy. Customers are happy. We are looking at a NASDAQ listing three years down the line," says Mathrubootham, over the din of some of his colleagues play foosball nearby.

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