A clear, albeit challenging, path to
“SaaS is eating software.”
While the transformative potential of SaaS was clear even before the pandemic, the global shift to distributed work caused interest in SaaS products to skyrocket as enterprises worldwide embraced digital and remote work processes. This phenomenon is global, but India has a unique opportunity to leverage its intrinsic advantages to win SaaS markets worldwide.
Entrepreneurs in India have founded 1000 funded SaaS companies in the past few years, creating ten new unicorns just over the course of the pandemic. A wake of brave young Indian startups are following exemplars like Freshworks, Zoho, and Eka to break new ground in terms of funding and market reach. Together, these Indian SaaS companies generate up to $3 billion in revenue and represent 1 percent of the global market. Impressive as this is, it is just Day One. By 2030, the Indian SaaS industry is projected to generate revenue of up to $70 billion and win 4 to 6 percent of the global market, creating $1 trillion in value, according to a report by SaaSBOOMi and McKinsey.
ENTREPRENEURS IN INDIA HAVE FOUNDED 1000 FUNDED SAAS COMPANIES IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, CREATING TEN NEW UNICORNS JUST OVER THE COURSE OF THE PANDEMIC.
A CLEAR PATH TO SAAS LEADERSHIP
There are some key growth drivers powering Indian SaaS’ “trillion-dollar tryst with destiny” by 2030.
THE GLOBAL PIVOT TO DIGITAL GO-TO-MARKET
In the post-pandemic world, enterprises are comfortable making decisions via Zoom. This embrace of digital go-to-market fundamentally levels the playing field for Indian companies in terms of access to customers and markets globally.
In the years ahead, instead of being hampered by a lack of field presence in key locales, Indian companies can drive digitally enabled marketing and sales with tailored vectors for target customer segments. We could now see as much as 80 percent of sales functions having a remote component. This will require a strong focus on digital marketing and product-led models, aspects that Indian SaaS companies excel in.
SUPERIOR BASE OF DEVELOPERS TO BUILD DEEP TECH OFFERINGS
With 3 million developers, India is home to the largest concentration of developers in the world. This privileged access to key market segments uniquely positions Indian SaaS companies to understand the needs of customers and build better products that can win the developer tools market, which could be worth as much as $160 billion by 2025 as per IDC.
CUSTOMER SUCCESS: INHERENT ADVANTAGE IN SERVING ENTERPRISES POST-SALE
Post-sales customer experience is the key to sustained revenue growth. Research shows that net retention rates of 120 to 130 per cent are critical to driving high growth. A study by the Temkin Group revealed companies can expect to net an additional 70 to 100 per cent of revenue on average within three years of investing in customer experience. Thanks to India’s legacy strengths in IT services and aided by a lower cost structure, Indian SaaS companies are in an advantageous competitive position to offer customers a winning combination of superior products and white-glove professional services.
CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME
The opportunity before the Indian SaaS community is real but realizing this potential requires overcoming some key challenges.
RAMPING UP THE TALENT POOL
Seventy-seven percent of Indian SaaS leaders say their biggest challenge is talent. Indian companies need to invest more in product management, R&D, sales, marketing, and services/support talent pools. To keep pace with global competitors, Indian firms must increase the size of these pools by three to six times. To match global SaaS organizations where product managers serve as “mini-CEOs”, Indian firms need to implement mentorship initiatives, industry-specific courses, and more inclusive recruiting strategies.
PURSUING GTM-CENTRIC GROWTH STRATEGIES
Indian SaaS companies with annual revenues of under $5 million are growing at a rate of 50 percent on average, compared to 150 to 200 percent for their global peers. Global SaaS leaders spend 90 percent more on customer success than Indian SaaS firms. To fix this underinvestment in a key GTM component, Indian SaaS firms must implement feature-rich analytics systems including sophisticated demand-generation engines to track ROI and identify high-risk customers. The future of India SaaS is bright, and while nothing is guaranteed, it is likely that India will take an even bigger place in that limelight. With the right approach, it won’t be long before the Indian SaaS community becomes a large-scale employer of talent, a significant contributor to India’s GDP, and a creator of unmatched products.