In the past few years, SaaS startups have grown exponentially to become an integral part of various industries, from BFSI to healthcare to e-commerce enabling businesses to streamline processes, improve efficiencies, and deliver a better user experience.
India has historically not been a big market for SaaS startups since many businesses tend to operate more traditionally but according to NASSCOM, SaaS startups in India will grow 3X between 2016 to 2020.
With India’s governance systems getting better and different states competing with each other for business, there is a wave of technology adoption that has already started and will continue into the future.
What is SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)?
SaaS or Software-as-a-Service is a model in which customers get access to applications hosted by a third-party provider over the internet.
Customers can also integrate SaaS applications with other software using APIs. In fact, many businesses write their own software tools and then integrate it with the SaaS solution. This allows them to have more customizations.
SaaS applications cover a wide range of departments and business processes ranging from email, customer relationship management (CRM), financial management, human resource management (HRM), billing, sales management, team collaboration, and productivity.
The evolution of SaaS startups in India
SaaS companies in India have been around for a while but have faced a major dichotomy when it comes to growth and expansion.
In spite of the huge domestic market in India with millions of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in dire need of the right solution, these SMEs were very price-conscious and hesitant to adopt new technology which made customer acquisition a long uphill battle.
Developed countries, on the other hand, had a market with companies willing to try new and more efficient solutions, which turned out to be an advantage for global SaaS providers like Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, Intuit, and SAP.
As a result, many Indian SaaS companies set up sales and marketing offices in developed countries and found a market there.
In recent years, however, the Indian Government’s push towards formalization of the economy has been combined with a robust startup culture and greater awareness among Indian companies.
SMEs in India are now much more open to adopting technology solutions and many major SaaS startups are now choosing to focus their attention on India as a market.
The top 6 SaaS startups of India
Here are the top 6 SaaS companies of India, who have been around for a while and have managed to establish a strong reputation and customer base, not just in India but across the world.
Freshdesk is one of the most popular B2B (Business to Business) SaaS startups to come out of India. In 8 years, they have managed to garner quite a reputation across the globe, especially in the United States.
Freshdesk enables companies to provide improved customer support by bringing various support channels on one software. These include email, phone, social media, websites, and mobile apps.
These include well-renowned brands like Honda, 3M, Hugo Boss, The Atlantic, University of Pennsylvania and Petronas.
It has a team of 500+ employees based in Chennai and San Fransisco and is backed by high-profile venture capital firms including Tiger Global, Accel Partners, and Google Capital. Its biggest competitor is NYSE-listed Zendesk.
InMobi is a rarity in the Indian startup scene— it’s a profitable unicorn. This B2B SaaS startup focusses on providing cloud-based intelligent mobile platforms for enterprise marketers.
It was founded by Naveen Tewari, Abhay Singhal, Amit Gupta, and Mohit Saxena back in 2007 and was known as Mkhoj in its initial avatar. Initially, it was an SMS-based search and monetization business.
It was only in 2009 that it pivoted to InMobi with a vision to change how advertisements are seen on mobile devices.
In the next couple of years, InMobi expanded to the European and North American markets where it managed to establish a strong customer base.
In 2010, it received its series B funding of $8 million.
In the past 7 years, InMobi has seen some major milestones, including a $200 million funding from Softbank and being recognized as a 2018 CNBC Disruptor 50 company and as Fast Company's 2018 Most Innovative Companies.
It also launched the world’s largest mobile native advertising exchange in 2014 and reached 1 billion+ unique mobile devices in 2015.
Zoho is one of the most comprehensive SaaS solutions available in the market. Over the years, it has crafted dozens of SaaS products that, when used together, can put any business completely on the cloud.
Their philosophy is to invest more money into making superior products and sharing them with users at a reasonable cost, rather than spending tons on sales and marketing.
It seems to have paid off well for them as Zoho is consistently counted among the best SaaS startups, not just in India, but globally.
In the last few years, Zoho has started to focus more on the Indian market. It believes that with the improved governance and the growth in Indian startups, the domestic market has become quite conducive to SaaS products.
In fact, Zoho estimates that India will be among its top two markets in the next five years.
Capillary Technologies is a B2B Saas startup that enables retailers to engage with customers using a number of channels including in-store, mobile, and social.
Capillary Technologies provides an entire suite of products for retailers to engage with their customers. The idea is to integrate online(social and mobile) experiences into any point of sale device.
It has operations in several developed nations including the United States, the UK, South Africa, and Singapore and has several well-renowned brands among its customers which include Pizza Hut, Peter England, Puma, Nike, and Marks & Spencer.
Hotelogix was founded back in 2008 by Aditya Sanghi and Prabhash Bhatnagar. It’s a cloud-based SaaS software that works as a property management system for hotels.
It enables hotels to efficiently manage a variety of functions including housekeeping, restaurant operations, and front-desk operations.
Hotelogix targets budget and mid-market hotels as well as larger hotel chains, boutique hotels, B&Bs, and serviced apartments.
The company has clients in over 100 countries including in the UK, the US, Australia, Thailand, Philippines, and Singapore.
It customizes its product to suit country-specific needs including taxation, language, and currency support.
Hotelogix is funded by prominent VC firm Accel Partners.
Chargebee founded by KP Saravanan, Krish Subramanian, Rajaraman Santhanam, and Thiyagarajan T in 2011 is a subscription management and billing intelligence platform. It helps scale and manage subscriptions, automate billing, and simplify accounting.
It even provides advanced analytics that helps companies spot leakages and engage with abandoned shopping carts.
In March 2018, Chargebee raised a series C round of $18 million from Insight Venture Partners. The round also saw participation from existing investors Tiger Global and Accel Partners.
Today, the startup has 135 employees across Chennai and San Fransisco.
India has always been home to some global SaaS startups. Most of these startups were marketing to customers in developed nations of Europe and North America.
In recent years, however, Indian companies have become more open to the idea of SaaS solutions and India is now emerging as a strong market for SaaS companies.
As a result, there are many successful SaaS products that have emerged in recent years. Many of these products have found acceptance both in the global and the Indian market simultaneously.
Gridle’s superior product, transparent pricing, and valuable integrations have given it the edge it needs.
With the recent growth in the startup industry of India, a number of new SaaS startups that cater to niche requirements have also emerged and the SaaS industry in India is projected to grow at a very healthy rate over the span of the next decade.
Do you know any other SaaS startups of India that have disrupted the market? Let us know in the comments.
And, if you too are planning to foray in to the world of SaaS, we can help you craft your idea into a demand generating product. Check out our SaaS service.