Meet F-6: A founders’ club to help India’s most promising startups become billion dollar companies

Pankaj Mishra June 2, 2016 2 min

It’s lonely at the top. Especially for the founders of low-profile but revenue-making, profitable enterprise software startups. These guys have, for long, been used to beavering away in their own domains. But now, they are beginning to realise the importance of sharing learnings in the peer group as they push to become billion-dollar companies.

Enter F-6 — a group of six entrepreneurs whose startups are already making over $25 million in annual revenues, and are hungry to learn from peers about challenges unique to their life stage: namely, hiring sales professionals for tapping global markets and avoiding the mistakes that others have made.

Leading the group is Manav Garg, founder of Eka Software, which has an estimated annual revenue of over $30 million. He says that unlike enterprise software companies in the Silicon Valley, who are able to achieve $100-$200 million revenue in 6-7 years and get valued at over $500 million, comparable Indian startups take more than twice that time.

“So, what’s their (Silicon Valley companies’) secret sauce? It’s the combined learning that’s shared. They learn from each other much better,” says Garg. “It took me 10-12 years to get here. I made mistakes that cost time.”

Apart from Garg of Eka, Girish Mathrubootham of Freshdesk, Anish Reddy of Capillary Technologies, Shashank ND of Practo, BrowserStack‘s Ritesh Arora and Shanmugam Nagarajan (Nags) of 7, are the other members of F-6.

“We have a burning desire to scale, and we can do that by learning from each other,” Garg says.

Amid India’s consumer internet boom and its startup Unicorns such as Flipkart, Paytm and Snapdeal, a bunch of enterprise software startups are quietly building their companies, away from all the glare. According to software product industry think tank iSpirt, the top 30 product startups in India are now valued at $10.25 billion, with nearly half of them bootstrapped.

For companies like Eka, it’s been a long, slow burn. But then, these startups are profitable and have some real revenues to show, unlike their consumer Internet counterparts, who are largely measured by the GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) they clock. Also, the risk capital or investor funding required for enterprise startups is not as high — and is definitely not used for funding customer discounts.

The group of six already had their first meeting last month, and they plan to meet once in every two months.

“We plan to bring out a book of failures detailing the mistakes we made, how we screwed up,” says Manav.

Image Credit: Nikhil Raj


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