Software-as-a-service (SaaS) seems to have got Sequoia India hooked. The marquee investor has led a series A funding round of US$6 million into one-year-old #startup Zarget, which made the announcement today. Zarget’s seed investors Accel and Matrix took part in the round.
This comes just a day after India’s SaaS startup hero Freshdesk announced a US$55 million series F funding round, again led by Sequoia India. Both Freshdesk and Zarget are from Chennai, India’s SaaS capital. Interestingly, Freshdesk’s founder and CEO Girish Mathrubootham is also one of Zarget’s seed investors.
It’s unusual to have Sequoia, Accel, and Matrix come together to back such an early-stage startup. That could have something to do with the credentials of Zarget’s three founders – Arvind Parthiban, Naveen Venkat and Santhosh Kumar – who spent a decade developing products at Zoho, the pioneer of Indian SaaS.
It also has to do with the pace at which their startup has been growing since its product suite hit the market. “From the day we launched Zarget, we are seeing 200 percent growth month-on-month. Zarget has over 1,000 clients in 12 countries around the world,” Arvind tells me. Buscape from Brazil, Landesk from the US, and Biztalk360 from the UK use Zarget to optimize their websites.
Zarget’s biggest market is the US, followed by India and then Brazil. The startup, which has raised US$7.5 million in total funding, is eyeing China and Japan next.
A five-in-one solution
There are many good tools in the market for conversion rate optimization (which refers to increasing the chances of visitors becoming customers or taking the desired action). The problem lies in making these multiple tools from different vendors work together for optimal results. Zarget solves this by providing multiple functionality in one cloud-based product, which also works out much cheaper. It starts as low as 50 cents per day.
A/B testing, heatmaps, funnel analysis, polls, and feedback are all combined in Zarget’s single dashboard. This makes it easy for a small business owner to optimize his website to improve the conversion rate, without having to rely on a tech team for coding. Small and medium business owners rely on websites for their marketing, but can ill afford dedicating an IT team for it.
To make it even easier for businesses, Zarget has come out with a Chrome plugin that lets you make changes from within the browser for optimization, testing, or improvements. Apart from businesses, it is designed for marketing agencies that manage multiple websites of their clients.
Coming next: personalization
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are set to transform marketing with personalized experiences. For example, somebody booking a hotel would automatically get choices based on preferences captured by self-learning systems. Zarget wants to be at the cutting edge of this by investing in AI/ML tech and building it into the product over the next six to eight months.
“We would provide customized websites for each and every user based on where he is coming from, what kind of device he is using, and so on,” says Arvind.
AI has become a fad for many entrepreneurs, he admits, but Zarget wants to use it in a simple, realistic way. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. The technology for this kind of personalization is already there,” adds Arvind. “That’s why Google Now is able to tell you it’s time to leave for the airport. We’re just applying it to a different context.”
Shailesh Lakhani, managing director of Sequoia India, is on the Zarget board following the funding. “Zarget has a talented team of professionals who’ve spent the past 10 years developing business automation software that’s already in use by leading enterprises today,” said Shailesh.
Cloud-based software from India has been a focus area for the VC. Security startup Druva raised a US$51 million funding round led by Sequoia Capital a few months ago. Earlier, it had raised over US$50 million from Sequoia, Nexus Venture Partners, and Tenaya Capital.