Right from the time the web emerged as a hub for most professionals, whether startups, SMEs, or large-sized enterprise workforces, telecommuting has drawn millions of people and solved a lot of problems that were previously difficult to manage.
At the same time, it has provided a great opportunity for developers to create solutions that revolve around the challenges that keep cropping up when it comes to resolving productivity. Yes, there have been many products out there that have given these solutions, and time and again, we've found ourselves adopting them as well. One of the best things to have happened is the emergence of the cloud to collaborate with ease of use, and it has become quintessential for most professionals. That's where this Bangalore-based startup, CollaborateCloud, comes into the picture; it touts itself as a "social work management platform".
Interestingly, this journey started when Sagar Babber, founder and CEO of CollaborateCloud, realized there was an opportunity to improve productivity and operational efficiency within its own previous business.
"We were using multiple different tools for different business functions. And emails were the main medium to communicate and collaborate among our team. It was very messy and unorganized, with hundreds of emails pouring in every hour and no tracking of tasks or responsibilities whatsoever," said Sagar.
Also, with its data spread across multiple tools and systems, it involved a lot of overhead and pain to collate and report on or create a streamlined process. With its experience in working with other SMEs, it realized that most of these companies had similar issues, and were mostly relying on emails and spreadsheets to get most of their work done.
That's the time, in April 2012, that CollaborateCloud was formulated by Sagar and co-founder Gagan Babber. A year down the line, in March 2013, they got their first private beta customer, Titan Helios, and subsequently launched their product in August 2013.
Essentially, CollaborateCloud is a social work management platform that allows organizations to communicate and collaborate internally with the team managing its entire workflow. It replaces the traditional email and spreadsheet mess, which SMEs typically use for communicating and managing all of their work. It brings together people from different levels in an organization to a single platform, enabling them to connect and work closely.
This game isn't a new one, and that's a given. There are probably quite a few products like this in the market. Sagar admitted that it is competing with the likes of Yammer, SharePoint, Huddle, and Google Apps; however, none of these help streamline the entire workflow in a complete sense, he added.
While Yammer provides a communication platform, it doesn't innovate beyond that aspect, and CollaborateCloud actually lets you collaborate and manage your entire work on the platform. SharePoint is heavyweight, expensive, and difficult to implement. Huddle is more of a file-sharing collaboration service, and it won't let you create workflows or organize your business data. Google Apps is very much disintegrated, and doesn't provide a single seamless platform for your entire workflow.
What makes CollaborateCloud stand out is that it is powered with an app store, an app builder, and a workflow designer, and it enables organizations to automate their internal processes, set up their own custom workflow, and effectively collect, organize, and work with their business data. It replaces outsourced IT by allowing non-technical business users to quickly create apps on the fly using its simple drag-and-drop interface.
At this point, it is targeting SMEs globally across different verticals. According to Sagar, its product is adaptive and allows businesses from different industries to make use of it by creating apps specific to their functions.
"We have successfully implemented CollaborateCloud in IT, retail, real estate, and consulting segments, and they have all been able to gain huge ROI through the product. We have already seen businesses save 30 percent more time, use 45 percent less email, and resolve issues 70 percent faster," Babber added.
Another interesting aspect that Sagar spoke about is how the company built traction even before it started marketing its product. It signed up four companies for its paid plan, and has about 145 paid users from them. He also added that it has about 200 companies signed up on its free plan from across the globe. The traction so far is purely organic. Moving forward, it is looking to enhance sales and marketing efforts through various channels.
While some of the features, like document collaboration, collaborative blogging, tasks, and events, are essential ones that are needed by most products such as theirs, the interesting aspect of its product is its app builder and workflow designer, where non-technical users can create apps using this feature to build business forms and workflows. They no longer need to depend on IT vendors to customize their tools for changing business data. It is most definitely a feature that reduces time and helps bolster productivity and customize workflow for a lot of SMEs.
Now that it's out there, the bigger challenge is to focus on how it markets itself in an existing clutter of competition. What do you think?