India is projected to capture 7-10% of the global SaaS market, according to an EY-CII report
Jaipur-based SaaSDekho provides assisted discovery and adoption of SaaS tools at a 30-40% discount
The startup has collaborated with accelerators, technology companies, angel investors and VCs as channel partners to attract early stage startups that need funding
In a digital-first, technology-powered business landscape induced by the pandemic, India’s SaaS sector is set to witness accelerated growth at home and abroad. Thanks to the large-scale adoption of techvantages by SMBs and enterprises across industries and the rapid rise of techpreneurs worldwide, the global SaaS market is projected to grow from $251.2 Bn in 2022 to $883.3 Bn in 2029. A Zinnov report also says that the Indian SaaS market is likely to cross $26 Bn by 2026 on the back of a 2.5x YoY growth.
However, India’s positioning as the next SaaS capital will also depend on the permeation of SaaS tools across every nook and cranny of its fast-evolving SMBs. This may not take a long time, as a Microsoft study shows that 35% of them are already spending more than 10% of their revenue on technology and plan to be in the cloud in the next two to three years.
The only glitch: The country still lacks a comprehensive SaaS discovery and buying platform to enable enterprise support for businesses of all sizes.
Consider this. There are thousands SaaS solutions/tools available in India, adding to that are the offerings galore from global tech companies and it becomes an arduous task to identify the best possible solutions for specific requirements. This is especially true for businesses opting for SaaS for the first time. Additionally, there is no universal platform for price comparison to help companies prevent unexpected costs.
As business owners new to the SaaS territory often require guidance and support, Prateek Mathur, an engineer and a tech enthusiast, set up SaaSDekho in 2022 to plug these gaps. The startup helps businesses explore, buy and manage SaaS tools by matching their requirements with the most suitable solutions available in the market.
To date, it has partnered with 5K SaaS companies worldwide, such as Freshworks, Google Cloud, AWS, Razorpay (for SaaS and IT) and HubSpot (for technology and SaaS), to provide cutting-edge SaaS tools to more than 750 businesses across 100+ categories, including sales and marketing, CRM and CDP, event management, SEO, ecommerce and more.
“When I realised the potential of SaaS solutions, I wanted to simplify discovering, buying and managing software tools for startups and SMBs. Our goal is to empower businesses with a comprehensive and user-friendly platform for exploring and evaluating a wide range of SaaS products before purchasing,” said Mathur.
The founder lauded iStart, the Rajasthan government’s startup initiative, for the success of SaaSDekho. “It has played a crucial role in SaaSDekho’s growth by providing mentors and connecting us with higher government officials in critical times,” he added. Mathur has also applied for an iStart grant to accelerate his startup’s growth.
Although he did not reveal the numbers (a 2022-born company seemed too young for that), Mathur claimed that the startup’s user base and revenue would grow by 70% and 50%, respectively, in 2023.
Help Businesses Adopt SaaS Solutions
Mathur was not initially bitten by the proverbial entrepreneurial bug. As a 21-year-old engineering student, he was passionate about technology but found it difficult to turn that into a substantial business concept.
“Maybe that’s why I found my startup FindFirms, a software outsourcing company for businesses, also my first venture, a daunting task. I was determined to make it work. I knew I had to be patient and persistent, as it takes time to build a successful business. And I had lucrative revenue numbers,” he recalled. But it did not align with his passion for SaaS and he launched SaaSDekho.
Meanwhile, there was more heartening news. India emerged as the second largest SaaS ecosystem, right behind the US, measured in total annual recurring revenue (ARR) of $12-13 Bn in 2022, according to a Bain & Co report.
The tech stack: Although the growth momentum enthused Mathur to push his second venture, the initial roller-coaster continued. Mathur and his team of 10 faced several challenges while curating a comprehensive catalogue of SaaS tools for 100 software categories. They conducted extensive research, sought user feedback and reached out to experts to ensure the catalogue stays up to date with the latest tools and quality.
Once the reference data was ready, SaaSDekho developed a four-step process for end-to-end customer enablement. (Refer to the snapshot)
SaaSDekho has also onboarded lenders to facilitate hassle-free payment options. “If a business opts for an annual subscription from one of the SaaS providers, we will help them pay via a 12-month EMI,” said Mathur.
Finally, a dashboard for SaaS management: The startup has built a SaaS management platform, a dashboard for businesses to manage their SaaS tools. Besides, there is a discovery engine to help companies find and finalise their purchase with the assistance of an account manager.
“Moreover, our dashboard helps businesses customise and optimise their SaaS packs. We customise their package of tools based on what suits these businesses. Even if they have bought a package of 20 tools, chances are they won’t require half of that. Therefore, we will identify 10 useful tools, repackage them and sell them at a reduced price,” said Mathur.
The investment funnel: SaaSDekho has collaborated with startup accelerators, technology companies, angel investors and venture capitalists as channel partners to attract early stage startups that need funding.
“We are helping investors identify SaaS startups, especially early stage companies, for investment opportunities. This strategic move is also driving sales. We got our first 500 buyers through our channel partners,” the founder said.
The marketing & content stack: The platform also promotes SaaS companies through content, video and other engagement plans to enhance their visibility and connect them with potential buyers. Additionally, it features industry-specific content to improve SaaS understanding and generate overall demand.
The revenue model: SaaSDekho has adopted a subscription-based model for SaaS buyers, who account for 60% of its revenue. The rest comes from the marketing services extended to SaaS companies and advertisements.
Will Tapping Into Bharat Pave The Growth Path For SaaSDekho?
In the next three years, SaaSDekho will enhance its website by improving its recommendation and personalisation features, expanding its curated catalogue and adding more valuable content. It further aims to double down on SaaS communities in multiple cities to connect sellers and buyers via a digital marketplace and spread awareness through events and meetups.
These upgrades will further bolster its offerings and stay ahead as it locks horns with other SaaS discovery platforms like SaaSworthy, Techjockey, SoftwareSuggest and their ilk. Ultimately, the startup seeks to become the go-to destination for businesses looking for all things SaaS.
Interestingly, the startup’s targeted customer base currently covers companies from Tier II cities and beyond because Mathur wants to bridge the knowledge gap across non-metro markets.
According to Mathur, the growing traction around SaaS in Tier II cities has been triggered by the rise of startups and SMBs in these regions. Its adoption is irrefutable and the growth trajectory is promising, thanks to cost-effectiveness, fast implementation and reduced burden on IT.
The agile approach is just right for a fast-evolving techno-business landscape, providing instant access to advanced features and enhanced productivity required for scaling up. And the range is pretty wide – from core tech operations to customer management, logistics and other critical business functions, SaaS can be a go-to stack for every tech and non-tech business.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the SaaS industry has emerged as a bulwark for investors even during the ongoing funding winter. Consider this. In 2022, India SaaS startups raised $4 Bn across 303 deals, a YoY increase of 25% and 32%, respectively, according to Inc42 estimates. Mathur also believes there will be no downtime for the SaaS industry when it comes to investment and growth.
But that may not be strictly true at a time when the macroeconomic condition, massive layoffs and the recent collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank have hit an industry that rarely saw recession before. For instance, the ProfitWell B2B SaaS Index increased by 9.1% in annualised terms between 1-22 April, 2023, a significant dip from the 20.1% rise in March, per a Paddle report. For context, ProfitWell subscription indexes collectively aggregate monthly recurring revenue data from 33.6K companies on ProfitWell Metrics. Net new sales and revenue flow from new customers also slipped, which means Indian SaaS companies selling in scaled markets like the US may feel the pinch as well.
Indian SaaS players may also face growth obstacles due to the limited domestic market. According to industry reports, only 20% of their revenue comes from domestic spending, currently pegged at $2-3 Bn. In contrast, the US leads domestic SaaS spending with about $140-150 Bn, while the UK clocks $13-15 Bn.
Clearly, the rise and rise of the domestic SaaS market in India can be a game changer in these challenging times. It also justifies SaaSDekho’s granular growth strategy that delves deep into the Bharat market to raise awareness and push technology. This will create true value for all stakeholders instead of just equity value, leading to long-term investment decisions and sustainable growth.
Disclaimer: This article is part of Inc42 and the Government of Rajasthan’s initiative to shine a spotlight on the state’s emerging startups