The Million Dollar Club

1/23/13Follow @sramana

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chosen bundled services. Through SBOeConnect, this bootstrapped company generates an average of two new leads per day, and revenue already exceeds $500,000.

In 2013, the Million Dollar Club is well within reach.

Freshdesk

Completing our list of soon-to-be Million Dollar Club members is a finalist in the Microsoft BizSpark India Startup Challenge: Chennai-based Freshdesk. The company was founded in 2010 by CEO Girish Mathrubootham and CTO Shan Krishnasamy. After a series of successful products in his work as a technical architect, Girish was inspired to start Freshdesk by a posting in Y Combinator’s Hacker News. Learning that a major company in the customer support software industry had raised its prices, Girish and Shan set out to create an affordable alternative.

Freshdesk is a SaaS company providing customer support software to small businesses. It combines a back-end helpdesk system of ticketing and knowledge management with a front-end online social customer portal. Social CRM is a clear trend in the industry, and Freshdesk is well-positioned to lead the pack.

The company stands apart from competitors ZenDesk and Assistly as a cutting edge solution at a significantly better price. Plans are flexible too, ranging from $9 per agent per month to $49 at the highest tiered option.

Following their launch in June 2011, Freshdesk had five paying customers within the first week—and 100 in almost exactly their first 100 days. Beta signups continued in the hundreds and by the time they went out to raise money, all validation points—customer interest, business model, pricing model, customer acquisition strategy—were nicely articulated.

Freshdesk won the $40,000 2011 Microsoft India Startup Challenge grant, followed by Series A funding of $1 million from Accel Partners. Subsequently, they have raised another $5 million from Accel and Tiger Global in 2012, and should comfortably stride into the Million Dollar Club in 2013.

Conclusion

I know many of you are struggling to figure out how to put one foot before the other in your quest for a successful entrepreneurial journey. I also know that many of you are continuously chasing investors over customers.

Stop doing that. Do the right thing in the right order. Customers first. Investors later.

Bring customers, revenues, a validated investment thesis, business model, pricing model, and market sizing model to the investors.

Chances are, you will get funded.

And if not, your customers will help you become a sustainable, profitable, successful business.

Isn’t that the point?

Sramana Mitra is the founder of One Million by One Million (1M/1M), a global virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Follow @sramana

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