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Suresh Sambandam, CEO of KissFlow has a virtual sit down with not one but two co-founders, who also happen to be a married couple. Besides finding out about how they set out on founding their respective companies, Suresh also explores their unique working dynamics and relationship, the ups and downs of doing business together, the pros and cons of operating out of a Tier 2 city and of course their secrets to building a successful business model with CallHippo and SoftwareSuggest. Enjoy this first of its kind episode!
5:13 – CallHippo business model
7:10 – Inception of CallHippo, founder story and current revenues
11:18 – Global customer segments
12:44 – Impact of inbound marketing, how to manage your budget for Inbound Marketing
15:05 – SEO strategy
19:15 – Exercising patience to see SEO results
21:57 – Optimizing for humans not Google
26:20 – Traffic to sign up rate
32:23 – Tactical hacks for increasing sign up conversion and churn rates
34:59 – Marketing to Sales funnel – Handling different ticket size customer segments
41:48 – Hiring strategy in a Tier 2 city
45:24 – Pros and Cons of operating out of a Tier 2 city
50:33 – Spouses to Co-Founders
53:52 – Developing the culture at CallHippo
1:01:32 – Vision for CallHippo
8:08 Avinash Raghava
8:30 Girish Mathrubootham
32:05 Mail Chimp
Ankit and Suhasini run two products under their umbrella company, AppItSimple.
Customers for both products are global, not limited to India, and include the UK, Canada, and Australia. Interestingly, most of their revenue comes from on-premise software.
Focusing on CallHippo, the company was built around digital marketing and inbound marketing. The key insight was that telephony typically requires a more hardcore engineering skill set, which is not something that we, as non-tech founders, possess. Therefore, it was not one of the push points.
CallHippo started after Ankit met Girish of Freshdesk and realized how much value could be gained from building a SAAS business globally, which is why he left his family’s pharmaceutical business. Overall, what he learned was that there was high reward and less risk, especially with the insight that the call market was much bigger than CRMs.
Employee Count: 75 employees, 12 in Tech, 10-12 in Marketing, 25 in Sales, and 10-12 in Team Support (HR & Finance).
Revenue Figures of Kissflow: 40% in the US, 20-25% in Europe, and 20% in Asia.
Revenue Figures of CallHippo: 40% in the US, with the rest in the UK, Canada, Australia, and India being our top markets.
Across all products (KissFlow, SoftwareSuggest, and CallHippo), SEO is fundamentally a slow game, which may take from 6 months to one and a half years or more for you to see actual results.
On Churn Rates:
KissFlow experienced a high churn rate, which led them to start bucketing customers into paid trials instead of paying customers. Some customers assumed they would only receive certain features and support when they pay, so they ended up paying for the service despite not being ready to become full customers. They found a solution by isolating these customers into paid trials and not measuring churn until after they have used the service for a certain period of time.
CallHippo doesn’t consider churn in the first 90 days and has a separate category for large customers with low churn. In non-account management customers, which are called Velocity sales, the company has a high churn rate of 3.5% month on month. Moving to an annual model protected CallHippo from churn as customers pay for the entire year upfront. They resolved the issue of some customers paying for features they are not yet ready to use by bucketing them into paid trials.
Customer segments are categorized based on ticket size: 1-2 users, 5-6 users, and more than 50 users.
Early financial constraints forced CallHippo to be frugal, which led to growth by focusing on hiring in tier 2 cities.
Tier 2 cities like Ahmedabad offer good work-life balance and less traffic compared to Tier 1 cities like Bangalore and Mumbai.
To go deep into the details and figure out how to nail your SEO or lean into hiring talent from Tier 2 cities and more, check the full episode out here.