A typical problem scenario: IBM or for that matter any other competitive company wants to find out how much are companies like Dell, Oracle and HP are pricing their products in Singapore; and what are the promotions that they running currently. IBM would be manually scanning the web to keep itself updated, which not only is a tedious and time consuming task but also is not comprehensive.
So what’s the solution? Singapore based startup, Corporate360, claims to have the answer. Its technology scans more than 11 million web sources using keywords and patterns using its algorithms. The information can be localised to specific countries, and can be used to identify current and future trends.
According to Varun Chandran, CEO and Founder, Corporate360, business intelligence has traditionally been internal through customer relationship management (CRM) programmes or other SaaS (Software as a Service) applications; and companies spend much of their marketing budget on purchasing lists that have little return on investment. “These tools are best efficient when fed with the right data sets” he says.
In opposition to SaaS, Corporate360 uses Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) that removes the need for businesses to hire market research companies or staff in order to gain competitive intelligence. Instead, it relies on in-house algorithms to filter relevant information from the web. “Unlike traditional algorithms, which bring in generic data indicators, we bring industry specific sales relevance to the customer. This enables them to create highly targeted sales campaigns to the right people at the right time with the right messaging,” adds Chandran.
How to become a millionaire?
The CEO claims that Corporate360 has filed for 15 trademarks and patents for its algorithms and has some of the world’s largest IT-companies — Oracle, HP and Dell — and tech startups as its clients.
Founded in 2012 in Singapore, the company claims to be the first in Asia to offer a marketing data platform at a global scale – exclusively designed for the tech sector – and has gone from US$500 to US$1 million just in two years in revenue generation. Besides Singapore, the company has offices in India and Manila too.
So what’s the secret behind Chandran’s success? It’s his understanding of the culture of the different markets. He has mainly focussed on the Western markets. Ninety per cent of the company’s revenues come from North America and European markets. According to a Singapore-based venture capitalist, valuations in the US are generally much higher than those in Asia. Secondly, the nature of doing business in US is different from that in Asia in regards to SaaS. In Asia, customers would want to meet in person and discuss quotations. However, in the US, sales can be conducted over the phone or e-mail without having to meet face-to-face.
Chandran concedes that it was harder to make sales in Asia quickly. But targeting the Western market had its own set of challenges which included different time zones and and follow ups on email and phone calls. However, when it came to closing the deals, the Western markets operated faster than the Asian market.
Giving advice to other SaaS startups that are currently based in Singapore, the CEO states that they do not have to bind themselves to geographic boundaries. “If they have a relevant product, they can go anywhere and sell (their product), he says, adding, “Once they are more established in the market, they can always ask for references for clients.”
He is bullish about the European and American market, where he hopes to have a sales team soon. He hopes that he will be able to take the company’s valuation above US$10 million by 2017.
Revenue model and future plans
Besides a perfect market segmentation, Chandran has also been able to segment the product’s pricing well. The platform is available as a subscription model with real-time data refresh and data maintenance support.
Pricing the software is based on modules, regions and technology install based. There are also different packages for startup companies and more established firms. According to Chandran, startups usually would have to pay around US$3,000. However, the prices for established companies could go beyond US$20,000 US, due to a much larger install base.
The Founder intends to enhance the product and extend the product beyond the IT sector. The Life Sciences industry is on the immediate radar.
The startup story from humble beginnings
Chandran has more than ten years of experience working in the technology industry under the area of enterprise development. An interesting aspect of his personality is the need to experiment. Even when on the job, questions like “How can I make this process more efficient” would come naturally to him.
While working, he started developing applications to help him make better sales. Through positive feedback from his peers and superiors, he saw an opportunity is experiments and decided to quit his job to focus on developing the idea of a market intelligence software that could help the IT companies make better sales.
The startup was self-funded by Chandran’s own savings, as he channelled his salary from his job to put into the business, which today, as said earlier, has generated more than US$1 million.
He has no plans as of now to make a sale-exit and cash in the profits. He feels that he and his staff are enjoying what they are doing currently. “The team developed the software from the bedroom on home computers with a couple of hundred dollars and got too busy building the product completely based on their passion,” he adds.
However, the firm is looking for mentors to assist in its growth in the future.