The Indian SaaS Juggernauts

The new darlings of Indian tech have been disrupting their U.S. counterparts with similar or better offerings at lower prices.

Varsha Bansal

March 25, 2020

The Indian SaaS Juggernauts
Zoho headquarters in Chennai, India (Samuel John)

Last week, Girish Mathrubootham, the chief executive of Freshworks, an Indian startup that provides customer and sales support software, posted a 10-minute long video titled “Operation Covid-19” — on how tech companies could deal with the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We have moved to cash conservation mode. Expect funding to be hard because the environment is so uncertain,” went the sage advice. Shot against the virtual backdrop of a beach with waves crashing on the shore, the video was an attempt to help fellow Indian SaaS entrepreneurs get ready for the long winter.

India’s tech ecosystem, until now, mostly consisted of consumer internet companies — such as e-commerce platform Flipkart (acquired by Walmart), ride-sharing service Ola, and hotel startup Oyo — hogging the limelight (and funding). But over the past three years, Chennai — home to two of the most successful business-to-business (B2B) SaaS companies from India, Zoho and Freshworks — has emerged as the SaaS capital of India. And investors are finally noticing, helping shift the perception that India is no longer a call center or IT outsourcing country: it’s building products that gain global traction.