Today is the public market debut of Freshworks, a company that only ten (long or short?) years ago was an unknown, fledgling endeavor in Chennai, India, and admittedly a longshot candidate to compete for the mantle of global SaaS leadership.
Today marks a series of incredible accomplishments for the team and also an inspiring outcome for entrepreneurs anywhere that dream about building world-class companies.
The story of Freshworks started with a non-obvious entrepreneur, in a non-obvious location, solving a painful and obvious problem: poor customer support experiences for consumers and inadequate tools for the agents serving them. Girish Mathrubootham, after one of those typical terrible experiences, decided to take a “fresh” approach to address this, and Freshworks was born.
We first met Girish and Shan Krishnasamy (co-founder and CTO) camped out in a small home converted into an office in a suburb in Chennai, India.
From our very first meeting, we were compelled by Girish and Shan’s unique, differentiated, and unconventional approach to everything about the business. The team had strong conviction and perspective on things like value pricing, social product features, high-velocity go-to-market, and most importantly, design. Freshworks at the core is about building products that reset the bar in terms of craftsmanship, finish and ease of use. And up to this point, this is not something we had ever seen coming from India.
Accel led Freshworks’ seed investment in 2011 as the first investor in the company, and participated in or led every subsequent round. Today, Freshworks is a global business with more than 50,000 customers, revenues in excess of $300M, and serving a market opportunity of more than $120B.
In our journey together with Freshworks over the last decade, we have grown to admire and appreciate how special a founder Girish is. Known as G, Girish is the type of entrepreneur you hope to work with but rarely see; someone who has the innate ability to inspire with his vision, chart a course on how to get to the destination, persevere with positivity along the way, and bring along everyone else with a special camaraderie forged by purpose, all while remaining true to himself with authenticity, humility, and real generosity.
Up until now, India’s tech exports have largely been associated with offshore outsourcing and IT services. However, with an immense pool of engineering and product talent and an aspirational eye to entrepreneurship, India is a region that can also be the founding ground for world-class technology product companies.
Today, Freshworks is the torch-bearer as the first SaaS company of Indian origin to list on a US exchange. We are eager to see who will now follow, and from where they may emerge.
And we are excited for Girish, Shan, and the Freshworks kudumba for all they have accomplished to date, but more importantly, for what they will do starting tomorrow as the next chapter of the FRSH story is written.
- Shekhar Kirani and Sameer Gandhi
You can listen to Girish and Accel Partner Shekhar Kirani discuss Freshworks’ early days in Accel’s”First 500 Days” podcast series here.