India is home to 50 million SMBs, which are often called the backbone of the country’s economy. However, barely two million of these have an online presence and an even smaller number use a completely integrated suite of cloud applications – a necessity in today’s digital-driven world.
R S Maan realised that SMBs needed hand-holding to think cloud-first, which could help India leap-frog legacy applications.
In 2020, this thought led him to found IT services startup Codleo. The company, which has offices in Delhi and Delaware, US, offers a range of services, including cloud migration, digital marketing, data analytics, mobility solutions, and application development along with Salesforce CRM services.
“We are in the business of automating business processes, increasing the productivity of companies, and streamlining and easing their daily workflows, with the help of CRMs and other latest tech tools,” says R S Maan, Managing Director and Global Chief Revenue Officer of Codleo.
“Companies come to us with challenges and issues, and we solve them. We like to think of ourselves as catalysts of change. We have a couple of products designed/created for MSMEs to enable better and holistic HR, vendor, and project management in any industry vertical,” he says.
The idea of Codleo came about from Maan’s personal experience. He graduated with an executive MBA from IIM Calcutta and worked for a decade with tech consulting firm Bodhtree. He soon realised he could offer great customer service to Indian companies and “show them their journey to the cloud”.
Maan came up with the idea in April 2019, and along with his friends, Mohit Sharma and Rahul Ray, launched the company in 2020.
The three founders decided to build holistic solutions for customers, rather than consult and leave them with technology. “Currently, we integrate CRM-Salesforce for corporates and SMBs in India and North Eastern USA,” he says.
“Our products – basically apps for MSMEs – are created keeping their needs in mind. We have three products. They deal with vendor, project, and HR management and are created to simplify workflows, automate mundane tasks, streamline processes, and give 360-degree visibility into the lifecycle,” Maan says.
In two years, the Codleo family has grown from a three-member founding team to 60 members, and has clients in the education, healthcare, and NGO industries.
“We are an IT consulting company providing solutions, mainly to the education, healthcare, and non–profit sectors. We enable customers to better understand the requirements and issues of their clients and leads. This leads to an enhanced ROI and increased revenue for them. We work in the B2B domain and are focusing on MSMEs that have woken up to the need for tech and digital transformation,” he says.
Issues and challenges
Maan says varied industries in India have different issues and challenges, which need relevant and pointed solutions. For example, in the education sector, the issues are related to the admission cycle or counselling.
“We focus on relevant CRM solutions in different industrial verticals. The basic idea is to connect our customers with their customers. Our solutions also help increase employee productivity, streamline and automate processes, and give transparent and holistic visibility to their customers, prospects, and their engagement journey.”
Codleo’s first customer was in the enterprise space. The customer wanted to modernise applications and Codleo stepped in to build and integrate the processes. It was tough for a small IT services firm to gain trust and get businesses to invest their resources in a new player, But Maan and his team won more than 30 customers in one year.
“Tier 2 and 3 cities are hard to crack as most companies here (family-run or SMBs) still use legacy systems and outdated methods. But COVID-19 has forced them to relook at their strategies and requirements, and get a digital makeover to survive and thrive in the ‘new normal’. Hopefully, more will jump on to the bandwagon and get out of their comfort zones,” Maan says.
Business model and future plans
Codleo’s business model focuses on IT consulting ervices, which include CRM deployment, cloud services, digital and tech solutions, and makeovers. It is also diversifying from being a service provider to a producer of focused B2B apps. Revenues are based on payment for services and solutions provided on a case-to-case basis.
“As we deal with education and healthcare industry verticals, this year we plan to tie up with different universities and introduce CRM as a subject, especially under technical programs like B Tech and get them trained in Salesforce as a technology. In our product line, we are building products for MSMEs to manage Vendors and recruitment. These products will be an extension to our current product line of project management and HR management apps,” Maan says.
Codleo presently has 70 customers in the B2B domain, but the founders feel that some challenges persist. “SMBs in India are still warming up to tech and digital solutions, especially in smaller towns. They are cautious and still getting used to industry-focused tech solutions.”
IDC forecasts that the IT and business services market is expected to grow annually by 5.4 percent to reach $13 billion by December 2020. Of the IT and business services market, the IT services market contributed 77.4 percent in 1H20 and grew by 5.9 percent year on year in H120 compared to 9.3 percent growth in H12019.
The company competes with Evolut, Marlabs, and Appevolve, but believes its offerings differentiate it from the competition.
For the next 18 months, Codleo’s focus will continue to be on Indian SMEs, followed by the North American market. The startup also plans to open sales offices in Tier 2 cities. But Hyderabad and New Delhi will be the main market for now because of the number of large family businesses the cities are home to.
Maan says the company has no plans to raise funding this year and will “focus on running the business with the money we make from the IT services business”.