Entrepreneurship is a difficult and lonely journey—a truism if ever there was one!
Many of us wear our invisible scars acquired on the battlefield of entrepreneurship as badges of honor. This is such an intrinsic part of startup culture, all over the world and not just in India, that we never stop to question this assumption. We never stop to ask—does entrepreneurship have to be so tough? Isn’t there a way to make it easier, even if only by a bit? I asked myself that question and the answer is the book, India SaaS Story.
Opening up access to knowledge
I grew up at a time when information was scarce and access to useful information was available to a select few. This has shaped my journey, from choosing to go to REC because of a teacher’s suggestion to deciding to focus on becoming employable after graduation instead of entrepreneurship on my father’s advice. My story isn’t unique. Many Indian founders who grew up in small-town India will relate to my story.
When I started Eka in 2004 at the age of 30, I really was figuring out my path as I went along. There were very few examples to follow, fewer people who could give relevant advice or support. Remember, India was then an IT Services hub and there was no real product ecosystem to learn from or leverage.
How the world has changed since then! India is today a technology product hub and Indian founders have created products for the global market from right here. We have created the SaaS industry in just about a decade, with Indian SaaS companies generating $2 billion to $3 billion in revenue every year. The industry counts among its ranks a successful public listed company in Freshworks and 11 Unicorns. We are on track to unlock $1 trillion in value by 2030.
But, even as times have changed and opportunities have opened up, the script remains too painfully familiar. Most startup founders, especially first-timers, face much too many stumbling blocks along the way.
One of the reasons SaaS startup founders came together in 2015 to start SaaSBOOMi was because we saw we were all making the same mistakes in our own silos. We asked ourselves if we open up our playbooks, share the hard-earned lessons, and offer support and guidance, can we ensure the next generation of SaaS entrepreneurs do not make the same mistakes that we did?
We have seen how effective our Pay It Forward SaaSBOOMi community has been in the past few years. The knowledge sharing has been unparalleled. We can see for ourselves through the many SaaS success stories around us that this model of sharing openly is truly helping the industry and founders.
The time is now
When 2020 and the pandemic hit us all collectively, it had a surprisingly positive impact on Indian SaaS. The world had to embrace digital technologies and the remote model of working and Indian SaaS was in the right place at the right time.
The larger market reality is clear—organizations globally are embracing SaaS with a vengeance leading to more opportunities for Indian SaaS, if we are willing to seize it.
In the midst of the pandemic, we came out with Shaping India’s SaaS Landscape report, with McKinsey & Company as our Knowledge Partner. The report, which clearly showed that India could be on the cusp of unlocking a $1 trillion opportunity for SaaS companies, creating nearly half a million new jobs by 2030, also highlighted many of the steps all stakeholders in the industry need to take to ensure India SaaS lives up to its potential.
One of the challenges that still remains is the access to useful info. That seems counter-intuitive when information-glut is reality. Yet, how can a young, first-time founder sift through the tonnes of information all around them to find what’s relevant? While many of our top SaaS founders are surprisingly accessible, it is still not easy for newbie founder to get their time for relevant advice precisely right at the time they need it.
Yet, this wealth of invaluable real-life information that the top founders have created needs to be distributed. For, SaaS founders who launched their startups in the past decade have templates-that-work. Founders of tomorrow should not have to go through the learning process that I, and countless other SaaS founders, went through. Especially when momentous growth is within reach.
This is why I decided that the time for this book is now—when the confluence of talent, opportunity, and will is at its most potent, and with it the need for the right knowledge and support is at its greatest.
This is the reason I did not want the book to be based on just my experiences and what I have learned over the years building a product SaaS startup. That would have limited the scope of this book, for SaaS Founders can take multiple paths and different verticals may need different playbooks. I spoke to over 15 other SaaS founders, who represent the whole range of the Indian SaaS landscape, and I have included their views and their lessons to create a book that will act as a guide to founders who are at various stages of their SaaS startup journey.
The book covers every topic over which a founder could potentially agonize over, including co-founder agreements, first hires, fundraising, equity dilution, product-led growth, org structure, M&As, Board composition, and dealing with challenges.
While this book is relevant for founders of all SaaS startups, no matter the stage, I believe it is particularly relevant for founders who are in the first flush of entrepreneurship. They can use this book almost like a step-by-step guide and refer to it when faced with doubts or roadblocks during the course of launching and scaling their firm.
When I was working on this book, I kept the new entrepreneur in mind—the founder I was when I started out in 2004. I thought of what I would have found useful then, the resource that I would have loved to have all those years ago when I was a struggling startup founder. I believe the India SaaS Story book is that resource.
The India SaaS Story is also my tribute to SaaSBOOMi and to its Pay It Forward philosophy, which I have attempted to serve through this book. I hope SaaS founders find value in The India SaaS Story and the book helps India SaaS scale to even greater heights.
You can pre-order the book on Amazon by clicking here.