From Newborn to Unicorn: 5 Lessons in Scaling a Business

Some of you may have missed the global SaaStock CRM event and keynote given in March 2021 by Jose Morales, Chief Revenue Officer at Freshworks, Inc.  It was SRO (standing room only!)  Here is a helpful summary from Jose’s talk about scaling a business. You can find the video link at the end of the blog.

Listen, Learn, Adjust    

For those that are just starting up a business or for those looking to grow the business, often many executives seek outside coaching through investors, board members and partners to get the latest tips to accelerate growth.  

However, Jose tells us to be careful in following someone else’s playbook exactly.  He states,

It is important to listen and learn and then adjust your plan to the current market conditions.  What may have worked in the past for others, may not work exactly in the same way for your business now.”

Experience is the best teacher

And indeed Jose has experience in growing SaaS startups.  As Chief Revenue Officer for a number of different SaaS companies, Jose gave us a perspective on how Freshworks has grown from zero to $300+Million ARR and is on a pre-IPO trajectory. And he also provided context, from his tenure at a former company, where growth accelerated from $100M to ~$2Billion in 10 years.

What are five key lessons for startups?

1)    Just get started. Start the company anywhere in the world. In this era of remote work and work from anywhere, you can start a company in almost any region and expand to other regions as you grow. 

2)    Pick a huge market and take a small slice of that market. Nascent markets are not always winners and may be harder to get started. 

3)    Don’t be afraid of developing that 2nd product.  Many have been advised to develop and sell only one product. Having additional products to sell to your customers benefits them and allows for business growth. 

4)    Be customer obsessed.  Your customers are your biggest advocates.  Your maniacal attention to customers will help you win. 

5)    Focus on nurturing your workplace culture. Happy, thriving employees stay longer, collaborate better and delight your customers.

Tips and topics covered in the SaaStock CRM keynote

  • Solving for a current problem is often the best way to build a company that customers love. Often others are experiencing that exact problem and will want to buy that solution from you.
  • Work with customers to develop ideas and products. Really listen to the customers’ needs and wants. Be deliberate and responsive to their requests. 

 In the case of Freshworks, early customers stated they wanted an All-in-One CRM solution. Freshworks development solved that problem for customers with Freshworks CRM.


  • Create a great culture and business practices that customers and employees want to be around. Hire and promote talented people.

Freshworks has intentionally developed a culture and a mantra that starts with the CEO and is echoed by HR, the entire management chain and employees.  It is called C.H.A.T. standing for: Craftspersonship, Happy work environment, Agility through empowerment, True friend of the customer.

  • Build a CRM solution that meets customers where they are at – on the web. Sounds simple, right? However, becoming adept at effectively engaging customers digitally is more important now than ever.
  • Make a software solution such as CRM affordable, easy to use, and self-service based.  Build-in necessary tools such as email, chat, phone, web, SMS and AI as a part of CRM product.
  • Start your company with a good SMB inbound marketing plan and free trials of software that is easy to use and try.  Offer human assistance to customers where needed.  Some people may need help setting up a free trial!
  • Know that eventually you will encounter larger companies wanting to use your product! You will then need to grow the company’s development, sales, marketing and support team to support that larger segment.
  • Grow the company progressively in other regions to be located closer to your customer base.
  • In non-English speaking countries, partners are important to serve those customers in their native language and to help with more complex needs.
  • Often software development begins on a product-by-product basis. Soon it will become apparent that you are developing for people: customers, employees and partners. Solutions will become more persona-centric rather than just a novel pure tech play.
  • Lastly a sound platform development strategy will serve customers and partners in the long run by giving them the ability to extend the CRM solution to meet their specific needs.

To view original SaaStock video keynote with Jose Morales, CRO of Freshworks, Inc.
To get more information on Freshworks CRM

Lisa M. Schwartz is a Senior Manager, Global CRM Product Marketing at Freshworks, Inc.
Twitter: @leeza2020