Indian startups building global products will be a ‘big long trend’, says Girish Mathrubootham

Indian startups building global products will be a ‘big long trend’, says Girish Mathrubootham
Girish MathruboothamBI
  • SAAS startups have more than doubled in India since 2018.
  • Freshworks now has over 5000 employees around the world.
  • Startups should focus on hiring right and making the right decisions, Freshworks CEO explained.
The number of startups coming from India and building products for the world is set to be a “very big long term trend,” according to Girish Mathrubootham, co-founder and chief executive officer of NASDAQ-listed software-as-a-service (SAAS) company, Freshworks. Mathrubootham was speaking to Brian E Taptich, VP, Worldwide Specialist Organization at Amazon Web Services (AWS), at the SAAS Scions web series by Business Insider India.

“What we are seeing is how durable the Indian startup opportunity is,” Mathrubootham said, explaining the startup opportunity in India. Taptich noted that the country now has over 9000 SAAS companies, which is almost double the number of such companies that were present in 2018. Some of these companies, like Gupshup, have even achieved unicorn valuations.

“It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur in India,” Mathrubootham exclaimed. He cited a recent report by consulting firm Mckinsey, which said that over 450 different categories of SAAS software are up for disruption, which in turn creates more opportunity for SAAS companies in India to build new products.

Further, according to Mathrubootham, the growth of the startup community in India has been partly enabled by AWS, “which is levelling the playing field” in a way that anyone sitting anywhere in India can start working on a startup. That, combined with a “disruptive go-to-market capability” through online customer acquisition and “product-led growth” could be the secret sauce for startups to achieve success in India, Mathrubootham said.

But amid this growth phase, the other big worry that the industry is facing is talent acquisition. Mathrubootham noted that talent is the “number one challenge” for any CEO or team today, irrespective of whether they’re in India or the US or if they’re a startup or a full-blown enterprise business.


He advised younger entrepreneurs and startups to pay close attention to their hiring plans and who they are hiring. For Freshworks, he said that the company took advantage of the fact that AWS also allows firms to get rid of IT infrastructure costs and focus on building their core product.

The company collaborated with AWS when it had only six employees and has brought the task back in-house. Now that Freshworks has 5,000 employees around the globe, “We’re on a mission to make people love using their business software,” he said. “Our next frontier is to clearly break down the silos of sales, marketing and support,” he added.

For young startups, Mathrubootham said that it’s crucial to focus on the company’s ability to attract new talent rather than simply scaling internal employees. “I think founders should always think about the company two-three years ahead, and make sure that people you hire as directors and VPs will suit those positions even after you’ve grown,” he said. He advised against throwing large titles to attract talent and said companies should be setting expectations right; so employees aren’t disappointed later.

Lastly, Taptich and Mathrubootham discussed emerging technologies and how it is necessary for companies to experiment smartly. He said Freshworks breaks the company into a performance zone, an operational zone, an incubation zone, and a transformational zone, with the performance zone responsible for quarterly results, while the startup zone moves fast and experiments with new products.