Freshworks’ Journey from a Single Product to Taking on the SaaS Giants

Taking entrepreneurial risks combined with a passion for customer satisfaction is what Freshworks is all about.

Many of us face poor customer service regularly but how many of us actually do something about it? Believe it or not, it just took a broken television and a taxing customer service for two such heckled customers to end up with a start-up worth $3.5 billion! With the technological era already knocking at our doors, depending on troublesome manual software would be a less than desirable option. Hence, SaaS (Software as a Service) products come into play in the form of Freshworks. SaaS are a set softwares which do not require any manual downloading, setup or space on your device. All it requires is a stable device and internet connection.

What is Freshworks? Why Are Its SaaS Products Popular?

Distressed by the lackadaisical approach of customer service, founders Girish Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnasamy thought of working on a cloud-based system that did not require human intervention. Since it was cloud-based (using the internet), it cut out the long wait to get in touch with customer service and the time taken for their issues to be sorted out. The icing on the cake was the ease with which one could use it without human intervention. With this revelation in hand ‘Freshdesk’ was launched in Chennai in June 2010.

Girish Mathrubootham worked at Zoho Corporation (an Indian MNC providing web-based services), when he realised how its competitor Zendesk was on the brink of losing its customers due to incessant price hikes. Since he had the knowledge, an idea and a hunger to bring his idea to fruition, he, along with his colleague Shan Krishnasamy, sought to deliver SaaS products to customers in an entirely different way and at affordable rates. After resigning from Zoho, they started developing their idea and the foundation for Freshworks was laid. It was known as Freshdesk Inc. before it got rechristened as Freshworks Inc. in 2017 to incorporate various new services that they were set to offer. Freshworks is part of the infamous ‘Zoho Mafia’ since its founders are ex-employees of Zoho Corp. With a surplus of $500 million in revenue, this outfit has grown substantially over the years and Freshworks seems to be spearheading it.

After having successfully launched two of their initial products – video chat and co-browsing platform, ‘’ and ‘Freshsales’, a CRM product – Freshworks crossed $100 million in annual recurring revenue and launched Freshworks 360, a multi-product SaaS suite for enhanced customer experience.

This product lets businesses maintain a 360-degree view of relevant customer information internally at an affordable price. Freshworks 360 helps in customer integration, making it easier to generate efficient strategies leading to better customer interaction, engagement and retention. It is a market disruptor in every way because of its integration of various services, which were being offered by other companies separately and at higher prices. Other companies just brought in the existing services like sales force automation, call centre and marketing software directly to the cloud-based system. Freshworks, on the other hand, took a refreshing approach with its SaaS Business Suite product which combined sales, support and marketing software together while passing on customer history to the support team. This helped in keeping a 360º view of the customer data. Freshworks 360 provides Freshdesk, Freshsales, Freshmarketer, Freshchat and Freshcaller as its business suite services.


You can only build a successful company on the foundation of happy customers. Make sure to build awesome products which delights the customers!

The Freshworks Way of Business and Earning Revenue!

The Freshworks business model depends entirely on the ease of working with its web-based products and the integration of various services into one. Softwares, in general, are very difficult to manoeuvre around and use, on an individual level. When we talk about big companies using multi softwares, the task becomes even more difficult. What happens next is that technicians or other people with the requisite knowledge are hired, temporarily or permanently, who handle the softwares. This further leads to a never-ending cycle of dependability, accountability and the turmoil of getting work done. Add to it the fact that these softwares are very expensive and hiring technicians was never cheap as well.

Freshworks brings an organic turn of events with its business suite which has better deep-integrated cloud-based software, making the entire process very easy and affordable.

The company has stuck to its motive of keeping its customers happy, proven by its customer base of more than 40,000 regular customers. With $484 million funding by 6 global investors, Freshworks entered the Unicorn Club (start-ups valued at over $1 billion) in July 2018, becoming India’s first SaaS Unicorn.

Freshworks with Google: Strong Competition to Industry Giants

Headquartered in California, United States, Freshworks had been ambitious from the very beginning by setting up its start-up in an industry which was dominated by giants like Zoho, Zendesk, Microsoft etc. Presently, not only Freshworks is coming up with novel and innovative customer-centric products, but is also aiming to serve big-sized companies, including the SMB segment.

Since Freshworks has always been about better customer experience, it focused a lot on its digital marketing which coupled with its global inside-sales model, lowered its cost of selling. Aided by Google Search advertising, Freshworks quickly garnered interest and a strong customer base which was built across the United States of America and Europe. This only further aided in bettering its services in comparison to some of the biggest competitors of the industry.

Using other Google tools like Google Analytics and Google Ads, strategic campaigns were easily designed and targeted, which further helped its ranking through Google Search and aided its fast growth across the globe. Since 2016, Freshworks has also been using YouTube and Google Marketing Platform to strategize its branding.

When it comes to product comparison, Freshworks CRM is preferred by the majority of customers over Zoho CRM because of the better quality, greater feature updates and roadmaps provided by Freshworks. Customer reviews have rated Freshworks’ CRM higher than the competition’s CRM due to its comprehensive, uncomplicated and integrated services with ensured scalability. Freshworks’ CRM is a guaranteed first choice majorly amongst consumers as compared to other competitors due to ease of use, contextual conversations, zero manual intervention and affordable rates. Consumers swear by Freshworks 360, in comparison to that of the other competitors in the market who are established giants, because of its modern and integrated services, affordability and ease of use. Additionally, Freshworks boasts of a range of 24/5 customer care services through call, mail, text and other mediums, suitable to their customers without any hassle. As observable, in an industry with such big competitors, Freshworks has managed to carve out its SaaS product niche by focusing on customer satisfaction and ease of operation and scalability. This has been their biggest plus point in taking over the industry and getting ahead of the competition in such a short time.


Data today is broken between several stakeholders of the organisation and therefore, they are not able to answer customer queries effectively and it is going to be difficult for the business to retain a customer once their query is not answered.

Freshworks v/s Zoho: Legal Battle and Consequence

Freshworks has been previously locked in a legal battle with Zoho corp. which filed a lawsuit against it, in the US District Court Northern District of California, for allegedly violating the Defence of Trade Secrets Act; the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act; the Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Relations; Conversion and Unjust Enrichment.

Founded in 1966, Zoho’s founder Sridhar Vembu and Tony Thomas in the company’s original lawsuit allegedly claim that “it is using Zoho’s confidential customer and competitive marketing information, planning press releases to coincide with Zoho’s undisclosed product launch dates, and pressuring Zoho’s business partners to divulge confidential customer information.”

Mathrubootham and Krishnasamy had previously worked in Zoho and were allegedly privy to confidential information like Zoho’s product ideas, financial status, business partners and prospects, customer information etc, which were non-public information, as per Zoho. So, instead of filing this court case in Chennai, Zoho decided to approach US court since there exist no trade secret laws in Indian courts. On the contrary, it was beneficial for Zoho to approach the US court since, under the DTSA law, trade secrets can be safeguarded against breach of information. Further on with their allegations, Zoho said that Freshworks had also been involved in poaching its customers by using sensitive private customer information of Zoho and presented email screenshots as evidence. As the primary response to the allegations, a Freshworks spokesperson said, “it looks forward to its day in court where we will address and defend against Zoho’s claims.” Additionally, Freshworks has been complying with the court proceedings and later on, in another response alleged that Zoho had been “expanding on one alleged incident into a case of trade secret misappropriation.”

Even though both the companies are at loggerheads due to the court case, they haven’t let it affect their customers in any way. They continue to be goal-oriented and strive to serve their customers with better services.

Girish Mathrubootham – Freshworks Founder

Freshworks Promises an Innovative and Fresh Future!

Not only did Freshworks take over the SaaS industry in a major way, but it also did it with a bang with its innovative strategies and products which would never fail to capture a consumer’s attention. One of its competitors has been SalesForce, which patronised the industry for a long time. During its annual customer event ‘Dreamforce’ on 25th September 2018, Freshworks literally gate-crashed the event with a blimp with the words “#failsforce” printed on it. The idea behind this massive strategic campaign was to make people aware of the disadvantages of investing in bloated software like SalesForce. Not only did they become viral on Twitter for this stunt, they got covered by reputed publications like Forbes, Adweek etc.
Freshworks has also used the Internet to its maximum to spread awareness and gather a bigger consumer base. With regular virtual events, podcasts, webinars, targeted SEO strategies and investments in influencer marketing, Freshworks has literally left no stone unturned as a potential avenue for growing their company more. They have even managed to drive in much traffic by launching free tools like ‘Freshstatus’ and ‘Freshping’, which offer great web monitoring services to their users for no cost at all! Their trend of offering high positions to ex-heads of their competitors, like John Crosson and Stacey Epstein, has only helped in increasing their authenticity in the industry.

When experienced veterans join an already promising company, it only builds the customer’s trust further.

With innovative strategies, the company has impressively grown from $1 million in revenue to $100 million within five years. The future for CRM customers and the SaaS industry, under Freshworks, looks to be all about ‘wowing’ their customers regularly with predictive and collaborative contextual engagements for companies, in an integrated way, while also catering to the audience that gives them that validation.

For more inspiring stories like this check out our Inspire section!

Aparajitha Nair
Aparajitha Nair
Aparajitha is an intern with Dutch Uncles, her stints include PTI, TPCI and DRDO. She is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Journalism from Delhi School of Journalism, University of Delhi.

Your View Matters

  1. As a professional who uses Zendesk, Zoho and other solutions for his product this article gives a very detailed insight into the market and provides a very unique perspective into the solutions provided by these companies.

    Nicely written. Really impressed!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by columnists are their own, not those of Dutch Uncles

If you wish to contribute or have a story suggestion,
email to [email protected]

Also Read

Mastering Impactful Communication: Essential Skills for Aspiring...

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful organization,...

Navigating the Path to Impactful Leadership: From...

In the ever-evolving SME/Startup landscape, the distinction between managers...

B2B Aggregators Disrupting the FMCG Distribution

The independent grocery store colloquially known as the Kirana...