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The Dialogue | Horizontal SaaS And The New Digital Enterprise Opportunity

The pandemic brought a lot of changes for businesses and startups from across sectors in India. While some shut shop, the ones operating without technology or digital tools were forced to adopt them quickly, in addition to moving to remote operations. A lot has changed for SMBs in particular and consequently expanded the market for horizontal SaaS startups. 

Last year, in one of the best years for enterprise tech, startups in this sector bagged total funding of $1.03 Bn, out of which horizontal SaaS startups contributed $809 Mn — along the way, the sector also gained two unicorns in the form of Druva and Icertis. So there was great reason for optimism in 2020 to begin with and the rising tide of digitisation thanks to the Covid-19 impact has lifted horizontal SaaS startups. 

While till 2019, horizontal SaaS giants such as Zoho, Freshworks, Deskera and others had built their businesses around international clients, the focus is now on Indian SMBs and startups. There is thus an immense opportunity that exists for horizontal SaaS companies as more traditional businesses from India’s Tier 2, 3 and 4 markets bring their businesses to the digital fold. 

We are decoding this new burgeoning opportunity and the challenges that it will invariably bring. How will SaaS models have to adapt to this spring and how critical will a product’s agility be when catering to such an evolving market. Inc42 in association with tech giant Microsoft launched The Dialoguehas already delved into the future of agritech, healthtech and fintech, and now it’s time to look at the horizontal SaaS market.

The last episode in this four-part series — ‘Horizontal SaaS For India’s Next Billion: Tapping Into The New Digital Enterprise Opportunity’ — saw stalwarts from the Indian SaaS ecosystem dive into this hot sector. 

The Dialogue: Horizontal SaaS For India’s Next Billion

Moderated by Inc42 cofounder and CEO Vaibhav Vardhan, the discussion hosted chief operating officer of Microsoft India, Rajiv Sodhi, Locus CEO and cofounder Nishith Rastogi, Blume Ventures cofounder and managing partner Sanjay Nath and inFeedo founder and CEO Tanmaya Jain.

The discussion elaborated on and provided insight into various aspects such as:

  • Impact of Covid-19 on horizontal SaaS landscape
  • Tapping into the new wave of SMB digitisation 
  • The new horizontal SaaS playbook
  • Value-added services to upsell free platform
  • The role of data centre tech in lowering horizontal SaaS costs


BrandLabs, is the brand solutions arm of Inc42 Media and combines Inc42’s unique editorial perspective and the content consumption patterns of its audiences to create compelling stories for brands partnering with it.