Develop your product based on the market needs and not based on the competitors features
- Bhupendra Khanal
Bhupendra Kanal (Founder and CEO of Simplify360) comes with an analytics background . He began working in Global Analytics and after that he went to work with FICO as a marketing consultant. He then founded Marketeligent and was there for almost a year and a half before he founded Simplify360 in 2009 along with six other people Sweta Sharma, Binit Thapa, Rohit Gupta, Deep Sherchan, Laxmi Khatiwada and launched the product by Feb 2011 after building the product for 26 months. Simpify360 is a social business intelligence not limited only to Facebook but open to multiple forums.. The platform collects the data, mine the data and make it useful for the companies in two ways. First part is social media marketing on how people talk about the brand and also take some feedback from the customers . Second part is the Contact Center which is a direct solution that goes to the BPOs that solves complaints raised about the brand.
Bhupendra recollects when they started Simplify360 as a technology and an analytic dashboard in 2009 and began reaching out to customers. They had to show the demo to 100s of customers before winning the first client because they were not sure what they will end up building and they also did not know who will get excited and will buy the product. Bhupendra says that It is important to land prospects who will take the risks on you and that prospect will take risks based on 1) if they get equally excited about your idea 2) if they like you and want to try it out 3) They have an habit of adopting every single good idea that comes their way.
Finally with the efforts, they landed Coffee Day as their first customer by March 2011 after one month of launching they got excited about the product and its use in their business . It was also coincidental that Coffee Day became India’s best user of Social Media Marketing in 2011 and this anchor client became a great customer reference to win other enterprise deals. The founders utilized the money from this initial deal and used that to build the product for the next two years. In the meantime, they spoke so much to multiple people within the targeted companies on what those customers wanted and when they had built the social analytics platform which they thought will solve a small problem, they realized that they had actually built a social marketing suite which solved a very big problem and hence made them get access to a large market. He realized that his audience thereafter was not the Head of Analytics in companies, but the CMOs. They also realized that the platform was interesting to the BPO companies but did not know how to use it, but learnt it with time and with implementation.
They went to the markets and began pitching the features of the platform but no prospect was able to understand how this can be used. The later understood that they have to change the pitch to suit the clients requirements and changed the pitch to benefits and clients could easily relate to the product and began making purchases. They made a customer oriented pitch , went in well prepared as experts who knew the industry & social media and also had the proof to prove it. They also challenged the customers on them giving problems/situations and attempted solving those for the customers and got very large deals because of this. Bhupendra recollects a day when a client gave two celebrity names and asked Simplify360 on their analysis on who to choose for an ad campaign and the report that Simplify360 gave was filled with scientific data and was so accurate that the prospect signed up immediately and is now a big customer.
They learnt everything from the market and kept discussing on what the market needed as they did not have a luxury to look at the competitor’s products to learn. They thought that a complaint made by a person about a brand in social media was not just one person problem but late realized that this echoed many customers problem and every company wanted to know what is being spoken about them in multiple social media platforms and went about integrating all the four components such as Listening, Engaging, Running campaigns and Analyzing campaigns compared to the competing products from the western world which had one or two of these components only.
Bhupendra’s advice to Start-up founders – As a founder, you have to sell by having your feet on the street. You have to talk to as many people as possible and keep learning in every single conversation. Do not believe that you can start a company and have someone else to sell, which will not work because in the early stage, you will be the only one who will be convinced about the product. Bhupendra says that many customers will appreciate the idea but only less than 2% of them will take the product and hence you have to pitch to as many targeted customers as possible.
Simplify360 (www.simplify360.com ) , is now the world’s first Integrated Contact centre and Marketing suite and now has around 200 global brands across 50 countries out of which 9 are in the top 20 BPO companies. They are featured as leaders in analytics products by Frost & Sullivan and have also been featured as one of the top 10 software product companies in India by TechSparks. They have around 70 plus partners who contribute a good chunk of the business. They took an angel funding in 2012 and now are operationally profitable . Bhupendra says that this entire platform was built in 26 months flat. They have also been covered by YourStory as one of the best marketing start-ups in India.