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We Kept Pushing Our Targets: Girish Mathrubootham Recalls Freshworks’ Early Days

We Kept Pushing Our Targets: Girish Mathrubootham Recalls Freshworks’ Early Days

He talked about the journey of Freshworks and emphasised that dreams happened in instalments

Mathrubootham talked about how he was questioned on building a helpdesk when they were launching

He reiterated the need to hire new people and build talent

“When I started Freshworks, I dreamt of having $10K monthly revenue so that we can be profitable” — Girish Mathrubootham, CEO, Freshworks

Speaking to one of India’s biggest SaaS industry gatherings, Mathrubootham was revisiting the journey of his billion-dollar business, Freshworks.

At SaaSBOOMi in Chennai on Saturday (January 25), the Freshworks founder talked about the journey of the SaaS unicorn and emphasised that dreams that he had for the company did not come true overnight.

Instead, it happened in phases. “When we hit $1 Mn revenue, we targetted to have $5 Mn revenue, which seemed impossible and experts had said we could reach around $2 Mn-$2.5 Mn. But we aimed higher and we achieved it. And we have continued to do so. When we hit $100 Mn ARR in 2018, we aimed for $200 Mn ARR next year. Within 18 months of that, we achieved this,” Mathrubootham said.

Freshworks CEO also told the audience that the company has already set up a chart in the office to achieve $1 Bn revenue soon and has even decided where it will celebrate the achievement. But the path for the milestone isn’t clear yet.

Coming on to the product side, Mathrubootham talked about how he was questioned on building a helpdesk when they were launching. He shared that in his mind, he thought what else would he do as he had left his job and already hired two to three people.

“There is a market for everything. People want Apple, but still, OnePlus and Xiaomi are thriving,” he joked.

Investor Vs Entrepreneur

Mathrubootham recalled how Accel had given the company a $1 Mn investment in 2011, following which Shekhar Kirani, partner, Accel had taken Mathrubootham to Silicon Valley and introduced him to an investor.

At the time, Freshdesk already got some amount of money and was building Freshmarket. The investor told Mathrubootham that if he launches Freshmarket, it would look like a pivot and would confuse any investor.

Girish said that he understood the issue and decided to drop Freshmarket. But soon the company decided to launch Freshservice, another helpdesk product.

“You have to understand, investor vs entrepreneur never happens because investor can’t win unless entrepreneur does. It is important to not make this about you vs me,” he added.

Moonshots, Growth Mindset And More

Hailed as the demigod of the Indian SaaS industry, Mathrubootham has gone on record saying it is “a heart-driven company and not a mind-driven company, so you need to be able to speak from your heart and connect with people.”

He also recently talked about the need for a culture of growth and cheerleading the employees.

He has also been vocal about building the talent in Chennai. This time, Mathrubootham again said that he never wanted to hire people who already have the been-there-done-that experience. “In the US, there would be talent based on special demands from inbound marketing to influencer marketing and more. At the time in Chennai, finding marketing talent who had worked with SaaS was a big deal,” he added.

The Freshworks founder reiterated the need to hire young people and build talent in the direction needed. He emphasised that Freshworks has a growth mindset and the will to learn, adding that even if people know something might not work, they need to look for other ways of achieving it. Talking about the team he said, “You have to build with the team you have and learn from that.”

Mathrubootham also urged entrepreneurs to take huge moonshots saying that audacious returns call for audacious risks.