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'Be like Rajnikanth': 700 sq ft Godown to Billion-Dollar IPO, a Look at Freshworks CEO's Journey

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Over the years Freshworks has rapidly become a well-known name in the start-up world of India. This is in no small part, thanks to its founder Girish Mathrubootham. In founding this company, he has readily displayed a very forward-thinking perspective in terms of execution and establishment. However, Mathrubootham’s journey actually begins elsewhere. Born and brought up in the Trichy, Tamil Nadu, Girish began his educational career as an engineering student as is the norm for a large majority of aspirants in India.

Early on, he discovered a knack for learning things his own way and eventually landed himself at the University of Madras, undertaking his MBA in Marketing. Though he had somewhat of an average start to his professional career, the defining moment would be when he joined the Zoho Corporation as the Director of Product Management. After a two-year stint in that role, he found himself taking on the role of Vice President for Product Management in the company.

After around half a decade with Zoho, he went on to establish his own company, which was initially known as Freshdesk. This was established as a solution to the pre-existing and cumbersome business softwares that were prevalent in the industry. Mathrubootham wanted to create a cloud-based client service software that focused entirely on its customers. He went on to do exactly that. In June of 2017, the company was officially re-branded to Freshworks, a name that would become a core member of the infamous ‘Zoho Mafia’.

The company saw such exponential growth under this business titan that it became the first Indian software maker to list on Nasdaq after it raised over $1.03 billion through its initial public offering (IPO). It also managed to record a market capitalization of around $10.13 billion. Driven by strong investor sentiment, the Freshworks company’s share price shot up by as much as 33 per cent to $48 in the initial trading on the Nasdaq. This brought the market capitalization to nearly $13 billion.

Fair to say, that the CEO has more than fulfilled his duties in terms of seeing his dream succeed. It could be said that he is a man who still remains true to his roots. The decade-old idea that he needed to bring something to the table that catered to the customer reflects even today as he continues to play an active role in the development of his company and his employees. Speaking of which, thanks to the massive IPO and the Nasdaq listing, the employees who hold shares in the company have seen robust returns. Around 76 per cent of the company employees hold shares, as a result, over 500 of them have essentially become crorepatis, with around 70 of them being under the age of 30, Mathrubootham told Money Control in an interview.

After the listing on Nasdaq, Mathrubootham took to Twitter to thank his employees, his investors and customers for bringing the company as far as it had come. The tweet read, “Today is a dream come true for me – from humble beginnings in #Trichy to ringing the bell at @Nasdaq for the FreshWorks IPO. Thank you to our employees, customers, partners, and investors for believing in this dream.”

Mathrubootham is a millennial crorepati in every sense of the word. How an engineering student from Trichy wound up establishing such a massive enterprise is anyone’s guess, but one thing is evident – his business-savvy approach. Even in his early days when he was in the fetal stages of establishing the company, he knew the approach he had to take. Software as a Service (SaaS) was a rapidly emerging market at the time in the early 2010s and Mathrubootham knew to take full advantage of it.

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