Startup Circle: How is Whatfix leading digital transformation across enterprises?

By : |November 16, 2020 0

Before founding Whatfix, Khadim and Vara started out with an idea to support marketing for SMBs. In 2011, they created SearchEnabler – an SEO platform for SMBs. The solution would crawl across the interwebs for data points, analyse it and identify marketing recommendations, especially in social media. The solution was successfully able to help onboard 100 customers over a year. But customers required instruction and support is leveraging the solution. This led the founders to pivot the product to the current interactive guidance platform for enterprises – Whatfix.

Whatfix’s platform provides product adoption, user onboarding, employee training, self-service support and performance support for companies using enterprise web applications. The platform allows SaaS application users to create interactive walkthroughs, or in-app guidance flows that can lead users through a task on the application. Read Khadim Batti, CEO and Co-founder talk about the startup.

What is Whatfix about? Tell us about the team.

Whatfix is a Digital Adoption Platform that helps with user onboarding, employee training, self-service support and performance support for companies using enterprise web applications. The platform allows to create interactive walkthroughs, or in-app guidance flows that can lead users through a task on the application. These are customized in consultation with each of our customers to make the most use of their existing tech stack. The more sophisticated the platform or application, the more valuable we can be.

Whether it is providing step-by-step instruction on walking through your CRM system, or onboarding an employee rapidly on a critical tool, Whatfix can be there to ensure the process is smooth, fast, and efficient. We cater to a wide variety of organizations in industries like BFSI, high tech, automobile, etc. Currently, we are one of the leading providers of digital adoption for enterprises across the globe.

Whatfix was founded by Khadim Batti and Vara Kumar. Previously, the two founders had worked together at Huawei, which helped them realize that they could work well as a team to start a new venture. Khadim is the CEO and co-founder of Whatfix. He has over 20 years of experience in leading technology teams and has worked at Kenexa, Applabs Technologies and CMC Limited in the past. Vara Kumar is the CPTO and co-founder of Whatfix. Prior to co-founding Whatfix, Vara spent nearly 9 years at Huawei in various roles from Software Engineer to Systems Architect.

How did you come up with the idea?

The Whatfix journey began in 2011 where Khadim Batti and Vara Kumar who worked together at Huawei decided to start their marketing DIY product called SearchEnabler, targeting SMBs. SearchEnabler basically crawled interwebs for data points, crunched the data and showed recommendations for marketing on what could be optimized. While SearchEnbler got good traction and the duo was able to gather about 100 customers, they faced a newer challenge – most customers on the product wanted extensive support and hand-holding. That core pain-point became the inception for Whatfix since 2014.

Once the direction changed towards Whatfix, they were very clear on what they wanted – build what was required for the market rather than validate a solution after building. So, the first step towards growth-hacking Whatfix was the creation of its community. They cold emailed SMEs to announce the Whatfix community, which was open to all to use, integrate – only catch – the content was public. The idea was to keep engaging the customers on the community as well as on the web for the first 30 days till the product acquired some polish before formally rolling it out.

The community and the initial evangelism led to our first few paid customers. Every software organization solves for product and feature adoption, even the largest in the world. So we reimagined the product to the current interactive guidance platform for enterprises it is today. We now play a significant role in the digital adoption process, while still allowing our customers to learn and adapt to digital transformation at their own pace. Currently, we have focused on the enterprise segment catering to many Fortune 500 customers globally.

What is the significance of Digital Adoption Platforms (DAP), especially in the current remote working scenario?

Industries are at the cusp of a paradigm shift. Remotely, every company is facing challenges in onboarding new employees and ensuring existing ones are up to speed on the tools at their disposal.  In a Forrester study before the pandemic, organizations attributed the lack of CRM adoption to people-related obstacles. 49% of this attributed it to slow user adoption. In a business environment characterized by remote work, this is not sustainable. As organizations deploy more software than ever before, digital adoption becomes key. Built from the ground up, Digital Adoption Platforms guide users through the usage of sophisticated tools and make the most out of enterprise-grade software.

With $431 billion spent on enterprise software in 2019, over 50% failed digital transformation and change management initiatives, according to Gartner. It is evident that now more than ever, it is critical for the organizations to provide the right set of tools to the employees to enable them to use the enterprise applications and realize the maximum value of the technology investment and build a truly modern digital workplace. Whatfix is supporting this effort by helping businesses drive digital adoption and elevate user experience across enterprise applications

What sets you apart from your competitors?

Whatfix offers a unique Digital Adoption Platform — in-app walkthroughs, videos, and guides for using new software solutions and features. In a world where CRMs, ERPs, HCMs, and/or other sophisticated software requires significant training and time before it can be used properly; we enable faster, more efficient onboarding and usage for all types of organizations. The platform is designed such that customization and authoring of outflows is one of the easiest.  Recently, Whatfix has been featured in the LinkedIn Top Startups India 2020 list. It showcases how the company has emerged as one of the leaders in the industry digital adoption solution category.

What challenges did you face while starting up? How did you overcome them?

We are building a new category — Digital Adoption, and have been very successful in doing so. Many understand the problems we solve but don’t necessarily understand that there is a solution available to them. That is the task we are currently solving. Gartner recognizing our category – Digital Adoption Solution – last year has positioned us as one of the pioneers in the space. Since then we have been recognized by Deloitte and Everest Consulting as well in industry reports regarding the category.

What is your business/market growth?

As most businesses continue to operate with a remote workforce, clients are choosing Whatfix’s SaaS offering that increases the output of companies while reducing the costs of tech enterprise tools. In the current remote working scenario, Whatfix is helping companies remotely onboard and train their employees on new software and processes.

As the world shifts online, companies need to avail the full potential of enterprise technology and tools they have already invested in. Whatfix is supporting this effort. We’re a leader in our space, and our growth has been on a strong upwards curve. A key highlight of 2019 for us was that we increased our total revenue by 300%.

The pandemic has affected every sector. How are you coping?

The current global crisis has accelerated the pace of digital transformation across industries. A huge portion of digital transformation is the adoption and optimal utilization of critical platforms and tools. Whatfix plays a significant role in ensuring that your enterprise onboards the entire employee base. It also helps effectively use the tools at their disposal. In remote working environments, users no longer easily reach out to a colleague to walk through sophisticated solutions like their CRM instance. Thus, it is critical that we enable independent production. This makes everyone more efficient to sustain business momentum in these tumultuous times.

What are your Post-Covid plans?

Whatfix has a great fitment to help enterprises accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. While many organizations focus on a particular region or industry; one can integrate our solutions with almost any form of application, including desktop apps. We now have the capability to focus not just on our existing customers; but also expand the scale of our offerings to provide our services to enterprise organizations. We already work with a significant portion of the Fortune 1000 and we believe it’s time for the rest of them to come aboard as well.

Please share the funding details.

So far, we have raised $50 million. In February this year, we raised $32 million in Series C funding. It was led by Sequoia Capital India. Existing investors Eight Roads Ventures, Cisco Investments, and F-Prime Capital also participated in the round.

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