Food Cafe: Focus on a constant stream of income
I’m looking forward to meeting Suresh Sambandam, Founder and CEO of Chennai-based OrangeScape Technologies, which provides disruptive SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions for workplace automation. OrangeScape is a cloud pioneer in India and was one of the top 10 global Platform as a Service (PaaS) companies that featured in Gartner and Forrester reports during its early years. Sambandam, a self-taught IT entrepreneur, started OrangeScape in 2003. Over the years, he has grown into one of the leading names in SaaS. Today, the company’s flagship product called KiSSFLOW has more than 10,000 customers in 121 countries, including 50 Fortune 500 companies such as Airbus, Motorola and Reckitt Benckiser. In India, Chennai is particularly strong in the SaaS space, with big names like Zoho Corporation and Freshdesk based in the city. OrangeScape is at number 3 and has found the place it wants to be. Sambandam suggested that we meet at Azzuri Bay, a multi-cuisine restaurant located in a relatively quieter area of Chennai. Although the restaurant is in the middle of multi-story buildings, there is a great view of the treetops from the place we occupied. He joins me in a few minutes and I notice how thin he is compared to the last time I met him. “I follow a paleo diet and this restaurant offers paleo-friendly cuisine. I cut out the carbs and the sugar, ”he says as we sit down. (The Paleo diet requires a predominant intake of foods believed to have been the only foods consumed by humans during Paleolithic times, such as meat, fish, nuts, certain fruits, vegetables, and seeds, but not modern foods like pasta, cereal or candy.) Sambandam skips the starters and immediately orders steamed sea bass fillets with lots of vegetables. I ask for mushroom soup.
OrangeScape is the only Indian company to have been featured with an elite group of 13 by Forrester, a leading US market research firm, as the leading provider in emerging markets of low-level platforms. -code for corporate developers. I ask him questions about KiSSFLOW, the product developed by OrangeScape. “It’s a cloud-based workflow automation platform for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that instantly builds highly personalized applications. It meets the workflow automation needs of every team, department and organization, and deploys the smartest business process management tools to “reduce chaos” and bring more efficiency, control and accountability ” , Sambandam says. He also tells me that KiSSFLOW? has a five star rating, excels in user experience, and is ranked # 1 on the Google Apps Marketplace. Sambandam believed in developing IT products rather than purchasing services. “I knew I was going to be an entrepreneur before I even knew what the term meant. He discovered computers in the small town of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu after graduating from college, and was fascinated and obsessed with what computers can do. He started a computer training center with some friends in Cuddalore when he was 19, and learned and mastered computer languages on his own by reading books. This eventually led to a job at Hewlett-Packard in Bangalore, and then going on his own in 2003 when he launched OrangeScape.
He tells me that many mistakes were made during the multiple phases of growth. “When we got started, I was an enthusiastic amateur. I thought it was all about the technology and had no idea about the market or the marketing. I was using my credit cards to the max and struggling to pay the employees. Then the cloud boom happened. Our problems required a solution like the cloud. We started visual PaaS, made a deal with Google, learned the basics of marketing, raised million dollar angel funding, signed some great deals, became active in the NASSCOM industry association, and were generally on a roll. He said. However, they came back down. “Google struggled with PaaS and the Google OEM deal failed. My co-founder is gone. We had used up all the funds raised and the investors were trying to take over the business. We got up again and made course corrections. I realized that marketing is everything and selling is a process. We had to choose the right product, the category and the right timing, which we did with KiSSFLOW, and we have a taste for success, ”adds Sambandam. While he doesn’t want to eat anything else, I ask for Thai green curry. Although it’s delicious, it’s a bit too spicy for me.
“I learned to be careful and not to indulge in stupid experiments again. In SaaS, if you do it right, your income comes from existing customers who need to continue to grow. This is different from business systems where new income has to be generated every year. Customers are able to create maximum value using KiSSFLOW. So they get attached to us. In the traditional world, you are looking for happy customers. We are looking for efficient clients. In SaaS, you have a predictable recurring revenue stream, ”Sambandam explains of how the industry works. He no longer wants to get into financing, but to manage growth through internal regularizations. Having managed to get out of the mess it was in, OrangeScape is now firmly on the path to growth. “The past year has been good for us. Our turnover increased by 220%. From 30 to 40 employees, our workforce has grown to 120. We are now recruiting from level 1 colleges and have set up an intensive four-month internal program. The idea is to create an OrangeScape University, ”he says.
OrangeScape has moved into a new office, which looks like a restobar. “It’s a nice place to work. We have an elongated dining table created from packing materials that we bought in kilos, ”he smiles.
At the same time, Sambandam works hard to create the perfect work culture. “We have one person responsible for organizational behavior who works to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a common sense of understanding. Zappos, an original American online shoe retailer that was acquired by Amazon, gave new meaning to the concept of customer service. If you order a pair of shoes from them, they will send you five pairs and the customer is allowed to return the four pairs that don’t fit. Our culture manager attended the Zappos workshop, came back so impressed that now the culture of the shoe retailer has become our benchmark, ”he adds. Sambandam no longer drinks coffee. We both end our meal with lemon tea. He says thoughtfully as we leave, “Little by little I’m getting a sense of satisfaction that a million people are using our software. I have had an eventful and exciting trip. Now I have to keep the pace. “