Vidya Santhanam, CEO of Fitbots, discusses how they grew to over 50 customers primarily using an inbound content strategy. She also shares insights into their journey from 0 to 1 and how she plans to grow her company with a focus on capital efficiency.
- How Fitbots helps companies track & manage OKRs to drive outcomes.
- How 20% of their revenue comes from the services layer.
- How they’ve grown to 50 customers across 5000 teams with around $6K ACV.
- How they got their first 3 customers from within their network.
- How almost 50% of leads are inbound through various content like blogs, podcasts etc.
- How their sales cycle looks like.
- Team, external funding & future vision
Yeah, so, so for us, um, uh, inbound is our main channel. Content is a strategy, is what we use. So we have blogs, uh, we, we have a bunch of eBooks. Mm-hmm. on OKRs and application of OKRs. Mm-hmm. Um, we also run our own podcast mm-hmm. Called the, um, OKRs, podcasts called Gold Letters. Okay. And along with that, we run a bunch of webinars and more mm-hmm. So there's, and the webinars are done along with experts across the.Upendra Varma:
hello everyone. Welcome to the p2 B SaaS podcast. Today we have Vidya with us. Viya is here, is the co-founder and c e o of a company called Fit Bots. Hey, Vidya, welcome to the show.Vidya Santhanam:
Thanks, It's wonderful being here. Thank you for inviting us.Upendra Varma:
Alright, so Vidya, let's, let's try to understand what your company does and why customers pay your money. Yeah.Vidya Santhanam:
Um, so I'm the co-founder of Fit Bots OKRs, and as the name goes, we are a SaaS product for objectives and key results for those who are new to OKRs. Ok. OKRs is a strategy to execution framework and we've built a product around it so that it helps teams track and manage their objectives and key results and drive outcomes for the company. Uh, so what we do is, uh, we do more than software in Fit Box. We not only offer the SaaS product. But along with that, we also help companies adopt Tokyos along with coaching and certifications.Upendra Varma:
Right. So, so before we keep diving into it, right, so how big component is this services that you're offering, right? So if you were to just put a number there, right? Is it 50 50 or is it 80 20? How does that number look like as of today in terms of revenue maybe.Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah, so it's about 60 40. Most of our revenue comes from software. Mm-hmm. The reason why we have the add-on of coaching and certifications is because, uh, we, we do believe that, uh, in order to build a successful company, it's not only about, uh, releasing a product and hoping that, you know, users adopt it, but it's about helping companies adopt it correctly. So hence we have the services along with the.Upendra Varma:
So, yeah. So help me understand who you, who you're trying to sort of sell it primarily to. Is it big enterprises? Is it SMB customers? Like how does your customer base look like today?Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah, so, um, you know, incidentally, OKRs is a horizontal play. It's adopted by companies both big and small. Um, so if you really look at it, um, from a product adoption perspective and companies which are as small as 20 members can start using a software and going all the way up to large, enter. From our customer perspective, about 80% of our customers are scale up. Their high growth organizations are scaling to the next phase of growth. And along with that, we also have enterprises who started adopting OKRs in order to innovate.Upendra Varma:
How many total customers do you have on your platform as up today? Yeah.Vidya Santhanam:
We have about, uh, we have close to 50 customer. More than about 5,000 plus teams in from the customer basis I was sharing about 80, 80, uh, about, you know, majority of the customers, about 80% of our customers are really high growth companies. Were scaling to the next phase of growth. GotUpendra Varma:
it. And how big are these deal sizes? Right. So I think, uh, so can you try, can you give us a sense, right. So how big are these teams who are using these OKRs? Are they tens, hundreds? Like how big are these teams on an average?Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, it really depends upon the kind of organization. So let's say we work with scale-ups, which are, let's say 200 members. All 200 members can get onto OKRs all at once. But when, say it's a large organization with, with lacks of people across the globe, then you typically have, let's say a 500 member strong group, which can come on two OKRs.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Uh, okay, so, so let, let me understand like how you're growing, right? So a year before today, where were you in terms of your total number of customers?Vidya Santhanam:
So a year before, uh, now? Yeah, that's a good question. If I just need to kind of raise back time. We were probably about 28 customers last year around the same time. Mm-hmm. got it. Yeah. So. So we've, we've kind of doubled in terms of our customer base over the past few.Upendra Varma:
Alright, so, so one, one last question right before we jump into how you're growing, right? So, so what, what does your a ac look like on an average? Are these, you know, thousand dollars deals, $10,000 deals, or a hundred thousand dollars deals? I mean, you know, you, you must have some extreme cases, but on an average, how does, where does that number set? Right? So is it, can you just put a number. Yeah, absolutely.Vidya Santhanam:
So the, a ACB on an average is around 6,000 U S D. Mm-hmm. So typically when we, uh, go into organizations, we have, let's say a hundred to 200 members who adopts and then they start adding on teams or individuals as we move through the year.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense. Alright, so now I want you to sort of go back right to where you began. Right? So when did it all start for you? Where did you start the.Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah. Um, so in fact that's right down Memory Lane Uh, so we started in 2018. Um, I had just come out of a fairly long corporate career. I worked for a billion dollar company named Mindtree. I was there for about 14 years. And then I wanted to set up Fit Bots because I was really, really passionate about people and data. My tech co-founder and I were colleagues in our previous company, so we said, Hey, if we need to combine the part of people and data, And help teams really get to the next stage with OKRs, let's build a SaaS product around it. So, long story short, we started in 2018, uh, and we launched the first version of our software in early 2019. We, we, uh, we started in the mid of 2018. Okay. So it took us about six months to really get. The problem statement, right. Speak to a lot of users. We built our first M mvp, which was actually, it was a disaster. And then we rebuilt it and then, uh, you know, the, and that's when we realized that it was adding value. Mm-hmm.Upendra Varma:
right? So, so when did that first dollar of revenue kick in?Vidya Santhanam:
So, uh, we were initially making revenues, but more from services. Yeah. Just so that we could keep the company going. Mm-hmm. And in 20, early 2019, that is January of 2019 is when we started making software revenue.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Right. So, so I want you to sort of, uh, recall, right? So how did you get that first customer? And I want to really understand the story there, right? So how did you go from that zero to like first couple of customers? So how did you know them? How did you sort of, what was that first start touchpoint like? How did you end up converting them? Can you just revisit, revisit and sort of walk through that story? Yeah. OhVidya Santhanam:
yeah, absolutely. Um, so the first three customers in fact came through reference. And, uh, the, the way, uh, so, uh, we le leveraged our networks to get the first customer mm-hmm. and leveraged again, our network to get references in order to get the second and third customer. So, um, the, the learning there was that, uh, we, we did want unaffiliated customers, but the initial journey was to get to people whom we know, who trust us and who were also ready to adopt the soff. And it was at a very early stage.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So, and, and what part of these were services? Like, were you sort of getting in there saying, Hey, we are gonna help you sort of, you know, nail your OK R thing properly by providing a bunch of services, and then eventually we'll sort of sell the software. Was it like that or were you directly sort of trying to sell your software and then add, you know, services later on top of it? Because especially during those beginning days. Right. So people like, I mean, how did it work for you at that point of time? Yeah, you know,Vidya Santhanam:
this is a, a really important question that you. Uh, if you, if you really look at our early days, uh, we did believe that software is the answer to all the problems, and we wanted to build a SaaS company, which we still are, but we only wanted to offer software. And then we quickly realized that when teams are very new and we were creating a fairly new category in 2018, it was less known in Asia. Cause OKRs is a very well known concept in other parts of the globe. But it was definitely a, uh, uh, you know, early stages of the category creation in, in Asia when we started and, and we realized that if we need to build a successful company, and a world-class product, we would need to help teams understand OKRs. And it was very similar to the early days of Agile where people need to know how to practice agile before, uh, adopting tools. Yeah, yeah. Uh, like Jira, et cetera. So, so that was, that was really the, the similar journey that we went through. And then we started adding on coaching and certification so that the product adoption also,Upendra Varma:
Got it. Yeah. Uh, so just to sort of understand more there, right? So how has this space evolved over the past four years? You must been, you must have seen it firsthand, right? So I guess four years before people didn't even know all of these things. But now, nowadays, I think a lot of people understand what OKRs are, how important it is for them to sort of adopt these. So how does your journey of, you know, sort of, uh, converting a customer right, changed during this past four years? Especially because you were sort of in that category creation market, right.Vidya Santhanam:
Correct. Correct. Um, so if I just, uh, look back at the last four, four and a half years now and, um, uh, from very new to OKRs, companies have gone to, through the entire journey of rolling our, uh, uh, adopting and sustaining OKRs for about three, three and a half years. In fact, many of our earlier, early customers are still with us and continue using Fit Bots and have seen the product evolve over the past. So, so the first learning was, um, from extremely nascent and being nervous at OKRs. If we kind of look at where we are today, we find that teams are comfortable with, they're speaking the language of outcomes and the language of outcomes is helping their businesses grow. So that's the transition that we've seen.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Alright. So I want you to sort of come back to today. Right. So, and just, just over the last 12 months, right? So where did you guess get those 22 word customers that you managed to sort of convert? So what was that primary acquisition channel that really worked for you? Where are you finding all of these customers?Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah, so, so for us, um, uh, inbound is our main channel. Content is a strategy, is what we use. Mm-hmm. And, uh, the reason why we use this. Um, many teams where are, are eager to know and users are eager to know as to how to, how to adopt objectives and key results the right way. So a lot of knowledge that we've been having through our network of coaches, uh, who coach teams, and then that's converted into high quality content and then we place it all on ourUpendra Varma:
website. So what sort of content is this? Is, is this pr, you know, blog articles? Is it like that? Or do you have more content than, than just that?Vidya Santhanam:
Oh, oh. We have a, we have a lot more content. So we have blogs, uh, we, we have a bunch of eBooks. Mm-hmm. on OKRs and application of OKRs. Mm-hmm. Um, we also run our own podcast mm-hmm. Called the, um, OKRs, podcasts called Gold Letters. Okay. And along with that, we run a bunch of webinars and more mm-hmm. So there's, and the webinars are done along with experts across the. So just like your podcast is one that we run as well. Yeah.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So I just wanna sort of quantify, quantify this, right? I mean, you've got a whole bunch of content here, right? So what's really been working for you, right? So is it, is it blogs? What is driving the most? If you, if you were to sort of pick one among all of these, uh, types of content that you created.Vidya Santhanam:
Oh yeah, absolutely. It's clearly the blogs and the channel of our distribution is LinkedIn, and that's how people are discovering us. In fact, 46% of our leads are inbound and the rest through other channels,Upendra Varma:
and all of 46% of majority of them are discovering simp simply from Google. Right. They're searching for you, searching for OKRs, figuring out, and then they're coming to you. Is that how? That's correct. That's correct. Okay. And, and, okay, so now talk about the conversion, right? So once somebody discovers you, right, what happens after that? So do you have any AEs sitting in your team who's, who's helping them convert them? Or how does that whole funnel look like? Can you just walk me through one of your examples?Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah. Um, so, so we've uh, in fact we've been experimenting a lot as to whether we're a product led company or is it sales led motion. And we realize that in our. It's a hybrid wheel in which we actually nurture and convert leads. So, so what do I mean by that? So people do discover us through our content. Mm-hmm. they come onto our website, um, they take a free trial, and once the free all, they, they have the option to book a demo. So we have both the free trial and book a demo option. Okay. The reason why we do this is because we find that user behavior in different countries is very different. So for instance, in Asia, there is still an orientation to book a demo. They do. Speak to a sales rep who's an expert in os. Yeah. Um, but in other, uh, parts of the globe where O OKRs is fairly mature and well known, uh, we have, uh, we usually find a lot of free trial users. Mm-hmm. So having said that, once we either get a free trial or demo, uh, then, um, our, uh, SD R team takes over, um, both from an inbound as well as. But I'll come to outbound in sometime. Sure. And then from there we get into, um, the sales cycle where if you have somebody from taking a free trial and is willing to also come onto a demo, or somebody who goes into a demo, then gets a call from our SDR and, and then the demo happens. Got it. I'm sorry. From the E and then the demo.Upendra Varma:
Demo happens. Yeah. Yeah. And how long is the sales cycle typically? I mean, for a typical $6,000 deal that you sell,Vidya Santhanam:
it takes approximately four to six. And usually what we do find is, uh, there are two or three stakeholders who do get involved. Mm-hmm. And an average of about three demos is what we see before a sale happens.Upendra Varma:
Got it. And how do you sort of upsell or cross-sell if you do any? Oh,undefined:
do. And, uh, the, the upsell is, um, well, I'll talk about, um, uh, uh, from an expansion perspective. Sure, sure. Yeah, yeah. Uh, or you know, mainly the cross-selling, right? Cross-selling happens across teams. Mm-hmm. the upselling is mainly from, um, let's say more teams want to get coached or certified. Yeah. And that's where our other offerings also steps.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So, so my question is, do you have any team in-house team who's, uh, literally working on these, you know, expansion, expansion part of it, right? So, I mean, you talked about having a services layer, right? So how are they different from a typical customer success, you know, team, if I were to say that? Yeah. For you. So,Vidya Santhanam:
And, and again, important question, customer success and especially in space like ours, uh, there needs to be a certain maturity in the customer success team cause you're dealing with founders, um, chief of staff, uh, senior HR leaders who are really looking at using o OKRs correctly to, to drive business growth. Having said that, Our customer success team is certified, our certified o r experts. Mm-hmm. and they really speak the language of business at the same time, the change management specialists. So they're able to have this dual specialization of customer success along with change management and o OKRs in order to, uh, expand teams as, uh, expand within the customer organization as well.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So, so with there, you mentioned something about outbound, right? I guess 50% of your new leads still come from your outbound channels, right? So what's happening.Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah. So I'd just like to clarify that, uh, while about 46% comes about mm-hmm. the remainder comes through reference. Okay. And probably about 30% comes through. Um, I, I would say it's probably about like a 50, 50% split between referrals and outbound. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, what we find in outbound is that, uh, we are still learning mm-hmm. and we do find that channels like LinkedIn, uh, is, is something that's working well for us. Mm-hmm. um, but we really need to test more as to, as we move forward.Upendra Varma:
Got it. And do you have any dedicated s g R team in-house to who's, who sort of running all of this outbound, uh, efforts?Vidya Santhanam:
Correct. Correct. A hundred percent. So we have an s d R team, uh, which is running these efforts.Upendra Varma:
Alright, so let's talk about the team as of today, uh, that you have, right? How many folks do you have and what do, what do they do? Right?Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah, so we, we have, um, 15 within Fit Bots. Mm-hmm. and we'll probably hire a couple of more, uh, um, it's almost, uh, like a 50, 50% split. Mm-hmm. uh, between customer success, sales, marketing, as well as product and engineering. Um, we, uh, started as a marketing led company because as, as I was sharing that inbound as a channel was a real source of lead generation. So in the early, at least in the first few years, there was an excessive importance to inbound as a channel. And we recently started getting outbound. Probably about eight to nine months ago is where we started putting an outbound team.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So any reason why you made that switch? Right. So typically it would be outbound then, and going back to inbound, right. So I mean, now you've got a great growth engine, I would say, right? That's driving tons of leads to your, uh, product. Right? So why outbound now? Is it because of the lead, lead, the type of leads that you're seeing there that, that, that aren't really qualified for whom you want to sell? Like what's, what's the reason?Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah. For us, um, it's, it's also about, um, uh, increasing the pace or the velocity Sure. Of Legion. Mm-hmm. uh, we do believe that probably one fighting through one gun may not be, um, best for the growth of Fit Bots. Yeah, that's right.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So with there, did you raise any external funding so far to build your company? Especially given that you, I think you met, you, you started in the category creation space, right? Four or five years ago. So did you raise any external funding so far?Vidya Santhanam:
Yeah, we have, and uh, we have raised a PC run from Business Angels. Um, but apart from that, the initial use was, um, we were, we completely bootstrapped, worked entirely on capital efficiency, uh, raised the three seed round to. use the money effectively in order to build a growth engine.Upendra Varma:
Got it. And after that, you, you stayed completely bootstrapped, right? And what's the plan going forward here? What's the vision? Yeah, I,Vidya Santhanam:
Um, most of our lead generation is through organic mm-hmm. um, and, and, and we find that that's very sustainable and at the same time it also helps us put money and efforts into the right area. So we're very mindful about as a sharing capital efficiency. Mm-hmm. it's about if, if we have a self sustained growth engine, we do believe that that's best for theUpendra Varma:
company. Yeah. Got it. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me with ya. Hope your scale, you know, fit Bos too much greater. Thanks.Vidya Santhanam:
Was wonderful being on the show, and thank you so much for all these great questions.