Sri Ganesan of Rocketlane
Want to know what it is really like to start a company? In our Founder Spotlight series we have candid conversations with real founders about the good, bad and ugly of getting your hands dirty and building a business.
Meet Sri Ganesan of Rocketlane. Rocketlane is a SaaS platform on a mission to help businesses accelerate time to value, and deliver a transparent, consistent, and delightful customer onboarding journey, every single time. We had the opportunity to speak with their founder, Sri Ganesan, to learn more about his journey, his philosophy on team member success and his love of badminton. Learn more about Rocketlane, their team and how they can make your onboarding journey delightful every single time.
What’s your story? How did you get here?
This is my second time building a business. I founded my last business in 2012 in the messaging space to help businesses message back and forth with their customers through a mobile app. That business was later acquired by Freshworks, and we continued building there for a few more years. We experienced great momentum and success at Freshworks, which inspired us to think about building one more start-up, optimizing for growth and momentum.
What problem are you trying to solve?
When we look back at our journey we try to think of what were the areas that were problematic for us and what were the problems that sort of felt unresolved from our previous journey. One of the areas was the implementation and onboarding process.
Implementation and onboarding teams were trying to launch these large customers, but they were not able to standardize the experience and processes, or bring the right visibility internally and externally. They were at the mercy of a bunch of tools that they were cobbling together – like slack, emails, project tools, spreadsheets, documents, etc. It was difficult to collaborate and be on the same page, as both the work and communication were siloed across them. These tools weren’t built for customer-facing projects. This is what we started out to solve with Rocketlane.
If you really wanted to run customer-collaborative initiatives or projects like an implementation project, then it was hard to collaborate and hold customers accountable, and that turned out to be a very important problem. That is one of the things we validated very early in the journey. We talked to founders, shops and leaders, and they knew that onboarding is the most important part of the customer journey – where if they do a great job with that initial partnership during onboarding implementation, the customer is able to trust and do more with you. If you launch the customer faster, the revenue recognition happens faster too!
On the other hand, if you do a crappy job, they’re looking for the first opportunity to get out of that partnership. That’s what led us to pick this problem.
How many pitches did you give to get funding?
At our seed round we did 7 pitches. At our next round we did 10 pitches – so maybe 20 pitches in all.
What keeps you up at night?
Rocketlane is a leader in its category, customer onboarding. We are rated number one, but there is a lot more to do to champion and build this new category. We also need to work hard to make every team member at Rocketlane very successful in their role. And that pursuit is what keeps me up at night. It keeps me thinking about what more we need to do to help each team member grow to be the best version of themselves.
What is your favorite beverage?
I love fruit and yogurt smoothies. There is also this drink called Bovonto that has been available in the smaller towns of South India for a long time, and now available in the whole country. So I try to enjoy it when I’m in India 🙂
Are you a risk-taker or how did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
I don’t see myself as a huge risk taker. I tend to think about what is the worst that can happen, and then I make my decision based on whether I can stomach that downside or risk. So I am looking at the downside, and if I understand the downside well and there is a good upside then I’ll go for it.
Have you had to pivot since your initial idea?
Yes, we did explore a few ideas before we got started. We landed on this idea of how we can help streamline customer-facing projects, and help teams deliver a better experience. But we haven’t really pivoted after we got started. There are minor changes in the order in which we built things. For example, we had to accelerate building out the time tracking and resource management capabilities for professional services teams, to help them understand what they’re spending time on, and automate how they do their resource allocation. That’s one thing that we have thought would come later in our journey, but we pulled it forward.
What is something that fits into the “If I knew then what I know now” category?
Demand generation. There has been a lot of learning on our side, but if we had learned more on the demand generation side of things earlier, we could have benefited sooner. Using our amazing content for demand generation is something we weren’t thinking through well enough, and has proven to be an effective way to create demand.
What do you do outside of work?
I play badminton with my friends every weekend. It is an important time for me as I am immersed in the game and I can turn off the undercurrent of thoughts tied to Rocketlane.
What is one thing people don’t know about being a founder?
The number of ups and downs and daily stress that founders face. Team members may not see that stress as founders tend to show a calm exterior. I also believe that team members don’t always know how much we want them to be successful. They may get critical feedback or feel they are being challenged a lot, but it is because we want them to be successful and keep growing.
What advice would you give someone starting their own business?
I’d say picking the right market is the most important thing about starting a business. I’d recommend you also focus on really defining what will be your wedge into the market. It should be a market overall, even if you want to identify one niche within the market that you would nail first. Work to understand that market. Do teams get a budget for the problem you are trying to solve? In the B2B world, this is key. You are spending the best years of your life building a product – what can you maximize so it is a win for that market and you as well? Are there ways to maximize your chances of winning? These are things you should focus a lot on early.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
In the startup community, along with the broader community, we have been dealing with a lot of things. First it was COVID, travel restrictions, team members and family getting sick and recovering. Then it was how startup valuations are determined and then banks collapsing. A lot of startups used Silicon Valley Bank and now they need to find ways to make payroll.
If you decide to build something, launch a startup, I recommend you spend your time on solving problems that are worthwhile as the outside problems will always be there. Enjoy the challenges. I have the growth mentality as a founder as well as a team member to look at everything as a positive challenge. Any hard situation that you need to tackle will make us stronger and it will make you more mature for your next challenge.
The Founder Spotlight Series focuses on the entrepreneurial journey. At Buzzy Rocket we are passionate about helping entrepreneurs share their vision. Interested in participating in the Founder Spotlight Series? Contact the Buzzy Rocket team.
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