The internet is ablaze with news about start ups succeeding in raising funds. Whether they succeed or not is a different story. In the midst of all this, we seldom come across companies that made it big without banking on investor’s money. One such company that has a unique story is Keka – a Hyderabad based tech start up that achieved a rare record of bagging 450 clients in just one year.
Started in 2015 by Vijay Yalamanchili, Keka is a cloud based HR and payroll management software. From the very beginning, the team at Keka always focused on understanding the pain points of the HR community and creating a brilliant product to address them. Such deep emphasis on achieving the highest standards in product design has helped Keka attain a satisfied clientele that includes names such as Godrej, Saavn, Honda, UpGrad and ClearTax, among others. Apart from bagging the Hottest Startup of Hyderabad award, the Make in India initiative has also declared Keka as best of the best technological initiatives being undertaken in the country.
How Bootstrapping Worked for Keka
With the success of Keka sans funding, one might wonder what is it that sets it apart. The team gives the following reasons.
The team at Keka has always been obsessed with user experience. This drove the team in creating a product that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also extremely relevant and coherent to human behavior.
“At Keka, we work very closely with our customers. We continuously learn from their behavior and feedback. This deep interaction with our customers helps us in discovering what they really want and value.” ~ Vijay Yalamanchili
Customer Retention is Key
The usual route taken by companies after product launch is to think of ways to boost sales and get more clients. However, Keka focused on retention rather than sales. They spent time with existing customers and tried to understand their needs. This helped them refine the product and make it more relevant to market needs. They believed that this would help them create a strong foundation for scaling. And the belief seems to have manifested itself into reality with a client growth rate of 400% over the last year.
Most of the players in the market focused on building long list of modules. They saw it as an easy way of acquiring customers. In the haste to grow business, majority of the companies resorted to building half baked features. The team at Keka never succumbed to this pressure.
Elaborating on this Vijay says, “Most of our competitors focused on building a laundry list of features. We never wanted to launch a range of products solving various problems in one go. Instead, we took one problem at a time and provided high quality features that solves the problem. We lost many prospects since we did not have a performance management software, but that didn’t deter us from focusing on fundamental pain points.”
Any HR software has very sensitive and confidential information about employees. Safeguarding critical data has been one of the highest priorities as a product feature at Keka.
“When we started off with the product, we gave security requirements the same priority as the functional and target segment of the product. We understand the importance of securing applications, which hold critical information about organizations. Leakage of information can have catastrophic implications. Keeping security measures in the foreground, we managed to eliminate the risk of poor software development, integration and deployment through our technology. Customers trust us with this,” says Vijay.
The way ahead
The newest addition to Keka’s product umbrella is a performance management module that aims at nurturing talent through features such as 360 degree reviews, continuous feedback and goal management. By the end of this year, they also plan to launch their recruitment solution, which will enable recruiters to gain advantage from collaborative hiring and applicant tracking.