scorecardGirish Mathrubootham, the son of a retired bank officer who built a $13 billion company in just 10 years
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Girish Mathrubootham, the son of a retired bank officer who built a $13 billion company in just 10 years

Girish Mathrubootham, the son of a retired bank officer who built a $13 billion company in just 10 years
LifeThelife4 min read
  • Girish Mathrubootham is the star of the Indian startup scene, transforming the lives of hundreds of his Freshworks employees who are now crorepatis.
  • Mathrubootham says he did not start Freshworks to buy a BMW, but so that his employees could.
  • He also has an immense interest in sports and started FC Madras, a football training academy, and hosted the Trichy Premier League in his hometown, Tiruchirappalli.
It’s the age of unicorns in India, but seldom does a decacorn emerge that wows the world. Enter Girish Mathrubootham’s Freshworks, which had a blockbuster listing on Nasdaq, going from a valuation of $3.5 billion to $13 billion.

In the process, Mathrubootham helped 500 of his employees turn crorepatis, with 70 of them aged under 30 years.

In startup parlance, a unicorn is a private company valued at or more than $1 billion and a decacorn is one worth more than $10 billion.

"I feel like an Indian athlete who has won a gold medal at the Olympics. We are showing the world what a global product company from India can achieve,” he added, in an interaction with Moneycontrol.

Shares of Freshworks were up by over 33%, trading near $48 with a market capitalisation of nearly $13.4 billion.

‘I’m starting this company so everybody can buy a BMW’

Mathrubootham is the son of a retired bank officer. He founded Freshworks in 2010 along with Shan Krishnasamy.

“I’m not starting a company for me to buy a BMW, I’m starting this so that everybody (employees) can do that,” he told his wife at the time of starting the company, as he reveals in a freewheeling chat with Indian cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin.

The birth of Freshworks – customer complaints on social media!

The idea to start Freshworks was simple, says Mathrubootham. In the past, before the explosion of social media, customers used to simply call the customer care centre to raise an issue or inquire about something.

However, the arrival of social media has changed all that, with customers raising issues and posting queries on Twitter and Facebook – this is something that most of us have done at some point.

This requires companies to address customer complaints across different channels, and so, having their information like account details, plans/services subscribed to, or payment information, in a quickly accessible manner becomes important. This is where the idea for Freshdesk, the company’s flagship product, was born.

Then known as Freshdesk, the company rebranded itself as Freshworks in 2017. It now has tools for sales, marketing, information technology (IT) service management and human resources (HR). It claims to have over 52,000 customers and counts Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital and Accel amongst its investors.

That is an amazing feat for someone born in the temple town of Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, going on to launch a billion-dollar IPO in the US.

Looking beyond business and addressing the sporting needs of youngsters

India is a country of over 1.4 billion people and this leads to a scarcity of many things – including good schools and colleges, and subsequently, jobs. This forces parents to force their kids to study well and land a good job. In the process, the other aspects of a child’s development get ignored.

In Mathrubootham’s case, he tried to address the sporting needs of youngsters by organising events like the Trichy Premier League, a minor cricket league played with tennis balls.

“We’ve been an opportunity-scarce country for a long time, but not anymore. So, with that mindset, we made education an enemy of sport,” he said, explaining that we appreciate students who get 100 in math, but not if they are good at football or cricket. “A champion should be celebrated, be it a scientist or a sportsman,” he added.

To that end, Mathrubootham’s Freshworks has also started FC Madras with an intention to promote grassroots football in the country. FC Madras has a residential academy and offers free scholarships to talented young players.

“The whole idea is to create respect for sports people and celebrate our champions, these children who pursue the sport should be able to succeed as well-rounded human beings even if they don’t become champion footballers,” he said in an interview with YourStory.

WATCH: "Someone said I am good enough to be a rickshaw puller," shares Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham in a candid chat

A candid conversation with Freshworks founder and CEO, Girish Mathubootham

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