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Broken TV Customer Built ₹36k Crore Startup After Bad Customer Support

How a frustrated customer faced bad support from the company, read a simple comment on Hacker News, and got motivated to quit his comfortable, well-paying job to launch his startup.

By Rashaad Ather
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Girish Mathrubootham: Co-founder At FreshWorks

Girish Mathrubootham: Co-founder At FreshWorks

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Faith never guarantees success.

But it does guarantee struggle.

But what is success even without struggle? 

49-year-old tycoon Girish Mathrubootham grew up in poverty in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchi.

People laughed at him when he failed to clear his IIT entrance exam.

So, he lowered his hopes and joined the Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy near his hometown. 

Like every humbled middle-class family kid, he decided to join corporate life with an MBA degree from the University of Madras. 

But he didn’t even have money to pay for the course.

Leap Of Faith 1:

Here came his first leap of faith. He borrowed money from his relatives.

He was later rewarded with a position as a pre-sales engineer at Zoho Corporation.

Zoho kept him for 9 years with his last role as VP of Product Management at its ManageEngine division where he acquired a deep knowledge of on-premise helpdesk systems and the burgeoning cloud computing trend. 

You see success is just a byproduct of faith in a noble pursuit.

In 2009, Girish Mathrubootham had a terrible customer service experience when his TV broke and his insurance company was unhelpful, leaving him extremely frustrated.

Looking for solutions, he stumbled upon a comment on Hacker News.

The comment filled him with inexplicable joy. His life changed, right there.

The comment mentioned Zendesk's unpopular price hike, highlighting a gap in the market for a cloud-based customer support solution.

Girish was already familiar with the world of SaaS (software as a service) and saw a gap in the market. And his latest experience convinced him that existing customer service software was clunky and user-unfriendly.

He knew what followed. And it gave him nightmares.

He went to godaddy.com and bought the domain name Freshdesk for his startup.

All he needed to do was leave his lucrative VP role. Not that easy, is it?

Leap of Faith 2:

He took a leap of faith and left the role. Mind you, he was 36 years old and married with two kids to look after.

He chose to struggle over comfort. 

The startup was born in 2010, and co-founded by Girish and his tech-savvy friend Shan Krishnasamy.

Freshdesk aimed to be different. It was cloud-based, user-focused, and designed to be simple and intuitive. No more confusing interfaces or feeling like you needed an IT degree to use it. 

This was a win for users tired of the complex software often used by companies. Freshdesk put the power back in their hands.

They faced challenges with payment gateways in India, leading them to incorporate Freshworks in the US. They assembled a small, dedicated team and outsourced logo and website design to keep costs low.

By 2012, Freshdesk secured its first round of funding. 

Growth was steady, with the 30,000 customer mark crossed by 2015 (their first customer was even from Australia!). 

In 2016, they launched Freshsales, another product, and in 2017, rebranded as Freshworks. Freshdesk was just the beginning. Their vision was to map the entire customer journey, understanding how different parts of a business interact with customers.

It went public in 2021 with a market cap of $3.43 billion. The same year, Girish Mathrubootham became worth an estimated $700 million. 

In November 2022, Freshworks reached $4.35 billion. It raised $484 million in funding and acquired 13 organisations, including Flint in 2020. 

Today, Freshworks has 58,100 customers and is available in 120+ countries.