Darwinbox, one of Asia’s leading enterprise HR technology platforms announces the closing of its 15MN USD funding round led by Salesforce Ventures with participation from existing investors, Sequoia and Lightspeed. The company has grown 300%+ since its last round of funding in 2019.
The company shared that with the new funding, the company plans to accelerate its expansion in Southeast Asia, onboard new partners, drive product innovation, and significantly grow its team in the region.
Sharing more about the funding and future plans, here is a quick look into Darwinbox’s growth and future plans shared by Chaitanya Peddi, Co-founder and Product Head at Darwinbox, in this exclusive interview with People Matters:
Q: How are you feeling about the recent funding? What will be your immediate steps and plans on leveraging this funding?
Salesforce is the father of SaaS. This funding really validates the product and the work we are doing in the HCM space. When we entered the market five years back, the market was really cluttered and we knew this isn’t going to be an easy journey. Our customers have motivated us and helped us build our products, especially our early clients who showed trust in us. We now want to scale up on the journey. We are planning to expand into new geographies and hire great people to execute new plans and journeys and invest a lot in the product. We also plan to replicate our product into new industries and new markets. One thing I want to add here is that we are a product-driven company which means that the product has always been the heart of our company. So, we will invest a lot in our product and help more and more customers to get great services.
Another focus area would be continually investing in customer experience and hence we are also going to focus on new technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots, data science, etc. We are currently investing a lot in data democratization which will help not only leaders but individuals in different layers of hierarchy to make data-driven decisions.
This is our focus for the next three-four years.
Q: So, let’s go back to the start – from setting up Darwinbox to adding over 500 clients. How has the journey been?
HCM is a very complex product, in fact, more complex than any other enterprise product. So, when we started, while we were aware of the complex nature of this product, we really got a clear picture when we entered the market. Not getting disheartened, we ensured we caught up with the market expectations really fast. Not compromising on employee experience was a challenging task. Another challenging task was getting the product out in the market, taking it to the clients, making them understand the value of the product, getting their confidence, and making them shift from the existing HCM they were using to Darwinbox. The process in itself was very competitive and hence, it was critical for us to build that sales and marketing engine and build a brand. It took us a while and People Matters also helped us a lot in building that brand. In India, we are one of the top three HCM brands in terms of market share. Third, in order to ensure the customers receive value out of the product, we hired a great team, set up a customer success domain, and ensured that while we scale the product and company, customer experience is not impacted negatively.
Today we have 500+ global enterprises with 1 million+ employee spread across 60+ countries. Several leading companies like JG Summit Group, Zalora, Zilingo, EM services, Fave, Tokopedia, SPI Global, Inmobi, Indorama, Alodokter, Funding Societies, 99.co, Mekong Capital, and global brands like Nivea, Tokio, Puma, Axa, WeWork in the region who have digitized their HR with Darwinbox.
Q: What do you think is your USP? How has Drawinbox been able to attract so many clients and fundings?
I believe a lot is contributed to the organic way of developing the product. We built the entire product and all the modules in-house. We did a lot of research and built an understanding of market expectations and dynamics. We emphasized a lot on communication and feedback that we received from clients and their expectations and challenges. Understanding the market and the client was the first step. The next step was to identify and analyze the problem statements and act upon them to offer features and services that accelerated the adoption and client experience. Some of the features that we focused on while building our product include:
- End-user experience for better adoption
- Mobility as SEA and India are among the regions with the highest mobile users. We needed to offer each employee the flexibility
- Self-serviceability to empower clients to use the technology as they want; they can scale the services and features themselves with minimal reliance on the tech partner
- Local context as to cater to the personalized activities of the regions
- It is not only about building a great-looking screen and user-interface but about how you engage with the end-users.
Q: When we talk about HR and WorkTech, what do you think is missing in terms of product, tech, experience, or adoption?
The first focus is getting the heart or the core of the product right. If the core is not right, the end product will not be able to create value for you and to the customers. One needs to spend a lot of time building the core or as I often say, the heart of the product. More appreciation is required in the market to ensure you build a robust system in place which can handle the core of technology or digitalization needs of HR.
I also see the opportunity to do a lot more great work in business intelligence for the HR function. In other functions, be it finance or supply chain, these domains are already in that stage where decisions are driven by data. One of the reasons why there is a delay in HR adopting and leveraging data is because of the broken ecosystem - people doing multiple activities on multiple systems. What it means is we need a unified system where we not only get entire data in a uniform manner but also one that allows different data to talk to each other. For example, co-relating data of performance with attrition data gives you an insight into the number of high-performers who have left your organization.
During the interaction, it was also shared that Darwinbox, as a company, witnessed a massive surge in adoption during the pandemic. “Over 180 implementations were done remotely just during the lockdown, and a record high revenue growth was experienced,” shares Darwinbox.
Commenting on the funding, Alex Kayyal, Partner and Head of International, Salesforce Ventures, shares “Cloud adoption in Asia is growing at a monumental pace and the pandemic has only further amplified the importance of going digital." He further said that Darwinbox is delivering innovation for Asia’s leading enterprises and has emerged as a top platform of choice. We are excited to be a part of Darwinbox’s journey and support them in their mission.
Asia is home to the world's largest organized workforce and cloud (including HCM technology) adoption rates in the region are the highest globally. "We strongly believe that Asia, with its millennial heavy population and a high affinity to mobile-first products, has requirements that western products are unable to serve. As Asian conglomerates, governments, high growth businesses, and MNCs operating in Asia witness digital transformation, Darwinbox has become their preferred Human Capital Management solution," said Dev Khare, Partner, Lightspeed India.
“75 percent of the workforce globally will be millennials by 2025. This young workforce wants to be enabled and empowered with the best technology. The most progressive companies understand this and consistently pick Darwinbox for their innovation and product leadership. In a highly competitive world for talent, Darwinbox has set the bar for what best-in-class HR software looks like,” said Harshjit Sethi, Principal, Sequoia Capital India.