It was near the middle of March 2020. The clouds of a global pandemic were just beginning to loom large over the global economy. Entire industries came to a screeching halt as lockdowns went into place all over the world. All the positivity the year began with descended into businesses shutting down and abject fear stampeding through markets around the world.
As the CEO of a global startup, my first thought was, “Will we be able to survive this?”
I looked across the room at my colleagues. Predictably, this seemed to be the thought on everyone’s minds. Over the next couple of weeks, boardrooms across the world went into panic mode. Jobs were axed and vast swathes of employees were let go. The world as we knew it had ended. Well, almost.
In a shrinking corner of the locked down world, here we were, grappling with these same issues. Seeing a mid-sized company safely through this difficult time seemed like an insurmountable task. But there was one difference.
We fought every instinct to remind ourselves that we were different – we have a willingness to experiment and a voracious risk appetite that has served us well through the years.
So, we did what most would have thought unthinkable. We made a call and it turned out to be the best one we’ve ever made. The consensus was this:
”At Kissflow, we’re taking this storm head-on, and we will win. This might be the biggest risk we’ve ever taken, but it won’t be the first, and it certainly won’t be the last. If we expect to endure this at all, we can’t do what everyone else is doing. Because, clearly the others aren’t playing the long game. We make products that help businesses move their work to the digital space. This isn’t a problem. In fact, it might just be our biggest opportunity yet.”
At Kissflow, we believe our people are our biggest asset. We decided to stand by them and weather this storm.
While the instinctive reflex of companies across the world was to cut down on costs and let people go, try as I might, I could not imagine that as a way forward. Business was about to go up and I was betting on it happening. As CEO, one of my most important standing instructions was there would be no job cuts. In fact, I asked human resources to do the exact opposite. At Kissflow, we ended up hiring more people during the pandemic from the vast pool of talent coming off organizations that had let them go, to carry out our ambitious expansion plans over the next few years.
When all the chips are down, and the future looks bleak, we always tell our people that this is what they need — An eye for possibilities and an ear for opportunities. We never imagined we’d be on the user end of that quote someday.
Kissflow grew to nearly 300 employees over the course of the last year. And, we went on to do more exciting things like expanding our partner sales team from 4 to nearly 40 members just as we were closing in on kick starting our GSI partner program with a full-fledged team. We hired senior people for key roles to expand the company’s presence in regions outside India.
In the process of taking the pandemic head-on, at Kissflow, we have managed to accomplish something far greater than we set out to do. We have not just survived, we have thrived. We are now a far more agile and strategic organization with a formidable business unit structure at its core. And we managed to accomplish all of this during one of the world’s worst crises. It took a giant leap of faith. But that is a feat I will always be proud of.
2021 seems to be an exciting year at Kissflow. We have not only managed to grow exponentially within our existing markets across the US, Europe, Africa and South Asia, but we have also made deep inroads into an as yet untapped market for SaaS products geared at digital transformations. By establishing our first offices in Dubai, UAE and appointing a brand new sales team to lead our charge in this market, we have marked our presence and our willingness to provide products, skilled resources and consequently lead digital transformations in this exciting space.
With our presence in the Middle East being led by a senior sales leader with vast experience working with global brands, we have a solid presence and a customer base that is expanding with every passing day. We are currently looking at a bright future within this market as we move to consolidate our presence, test the markets, seek new alliances and bring the power of Kissflow’s products to customers in the middle east.
Does working remotely come naturally to a startup that built one of the world’s best digital workplace platforms?
One might think we’d have the remote work part sorted. As it turns out, using the platform and keeping it running are two very different things. As always, we turned to imagination to solve this problem.
After a few discussions with the leadership team, BU heads and employees, we arrived at a groundbreaking new work model that we called Remote+. This new hybrid work model was aimed at enabling employees to enjoy the benefits of both remote work and co-located, in-office work. We encouraged people from out of town to go back to their homes and we all decided we would work from the office once a week, in rotating schedules. The company agreed to provide accommodation for those who travel into the city during the one week of in-office work.
Our Remote+ work model didn’t put a stop to our innovation either. We realized that our newer products in the pipeline needed to be seen through to completion regardless of the uncertainties the pandemic created. So, instead of waiting for things to return to normal, we stepped up development and innovation. We developed and launched a range of cutting-edge SaaS products through the pandemic, each of them catering to a specific pain point or function or use case in the industry.
Half the game of progress is about how you’re perceived.
Now, the only thing left was to take our flagship product, Kissflow Digital Workplace and tell the world about it. Here’s how we created an unconventional, powerful and creative campaign for a product that is geared towards revolutionizing workplaces around the world.
In a sea of SaaS companies vying with each other to inundate the user mind space with increasingly complex technical terms, features and service offerings in a bid to aggressively position their products, at Kissflow, we decided to go the way only we know how to. We kept it smart and simple!
Shot in the Balkans, drawing on the purest form of simple, childlike awe and creativity, we created a series of three films that lead viewers into the simple, uncomplicated world of a child solving everyday problems. These films depict a simple approach to problems that can be uncovered with lateral thinking. It is our core belief that the easiest way to solve a problem is to uncomplicate it.
Over the course of these films, the child embodies the brand promise of Kissflow Digital Workplace – The Power of Simple. You can watch the first film in our series here.
We were never meant to be where we are. We always consider our present as a stepping stone to the future.
So, with growing business and a widening global customer base, a brand new office was our next logical step. So, again, we turned convention on its head.
As organizations worldwide were winding down their physical presence, giving up large office spaces, you could almost count on us to go the other way. When you’re building the future of digital work, you obviously need the best in technology and office spaces the world has to offer. That’s why we made the next big move. The brand new offices of Kissflow Inc. are located at the World Trade Center in Chennai, India. Within this gleaming grade A++, brand-new commercial development, is all the technology, scale, resources and efficiency we need to chart our path well into the future.
Most of the credit for our success goes to the people-centric culture we have built over the years. We could have taken the easier route any day, but we believe in our hearts that our people are our most valuable resource. We have always had their backs and in turn, our people have helped us get to where we are today.
You can have all the technology, skills, assets, resources and will to succeed. But when the chips are down and all you have to go on is hope, the people who will be courageous enough to walk with you on that journey are all that matters.