The sales-tech startup trying to usher in a new era of tech entrepreneurship in Kerala

Corporate360 offers SaaS based marketing cloud software while creating job opportunities for women and youth in rural Kerala.
The sales-tech startup trying to usher in a new era of tech entrepreneurship in Kerala
The sales-tech startup trying to usher in a new era of tech entrepreneurship in Kerala

When Varun Chandran and Demy D’cruz were working on collecting marketing intelligence data in their previous jobs, they realized that a lot of time gets wasted in collecting this data. The process of training, onboarding salespersons and working with third party list vendors was tedious, yet not efficient enough.

That’s when Varun and Demy realized that many companies spent a lot of time and money on this, and they wanted to use data science technology to automate the sales data development processes. 

They quit their jobs and began working on building the product. With a perfect combination of the technical background Varun had and a marketing background that Demy had, they started Corporate360 in November 2013 in Singapore.  

Varun and Demy started off as a two-member team with some freelancers working for them out of Philippines and India. With a website and blog in place, they started reaching out to people from their networks to get feedback of the tool and launched a campaign to reach out to potential users to demonstrate their product and receive feedback. This helped C360 to not only shape up the product but also got them their first set of clients. 

Varun Chandran and Demy D’cruz

So, what do they do?

C360 is a sales-tech software company which offers a SaaS-based marketing data cloud software to companies to help them discover sales leads, ideal buyer contacts, technology installations and even competitive intelligence. 

Most often, marketing agencies and corporates rely on transactional data and external marketing lists to execute ad and marketing campaigns. Most data vendors too, sell crowdsourced data that often gets outdated and requires repetitive sourcing.

So, what C360 does is, it uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing combined with human intelligence to give its customers access to real time data with additional sales and social intelligence for timely campaigns. This automated data mining process gives its customers meaningful insights from large amounts of data.

The idea is to help B2B sales representatives close deals faster, accelerate their pipeline creation, maintain customer relation management (CRM) data accuracy and beat competition. Business subscribe to C360 sales data platform to access marketing campaign data for an annual fee.

C360 has so far filed for around 5 trademarks and patents for its algorithms and has over 300 clients from across 20 countries. These include some big names like Google, IBM, Cognizant, Oracle and HP. It invested over $1 million which was bootstrapped and turned profitable by January 2014.

The differentiating factor

When they realized that that their product needed a human element to it to help with data tasks, they decided to hire – but with social impact. 

This is what differentiates C360 from any other IT, software company. To start with, C360 developed a web platform called SmartWorker and hired remote workers from around the world who could log in from anywhere and perform simple data tasks. They then wanted to replicate this model in India and hire educated youth from smaller towns, who otherwise wouldn’t have access to working with a multinational company.

And for this, Varun chose his hometown Pathanapuram in Kerala and set up an office here. Starting with operations in a restored tourist home facility, the five-member team has now grown into a 40-member team with employees across five countries. 

What lies in the core of its business model is a focus on digital skill development and job creation in villages, small towns and low income segments in Asia. “We have distributed over half a million dollars in wages and impacted over 600 families from rural villages of Kerala,” Varun says.

The company also recently launched its latest version of the SmartWorker platform. This is also a SaaS-based marketing cloud software. The idea here is to employ women and youth from low-income and physically challenged backgrounds and train them in simple digital tasks such as internet research, data formatting, data sorting, removing duplicate data, contact discovery, data correction, data enrichment, data privacy compliance verification and email campaigns. 

In fact, C360 opened Kerala’s first rural IT Park owned by a startup in Pathanapuram in February. “By opening the offices in tier-2 town, we are promoting Impact sourcing that benefits in meaningful job creation and digital skill development among educated youth from rural areas. Graduates from rural areas will no more need to move to the big cities for meaningful IT work or startup incubation. It will lead to distributed and balanced developments over small towns and villages in our country,” Varun says.

This facility also has a dedicated space for aspiring entrepreneurs from rural Kerala, making it the first co-working, co-living startup ecosystem in Kerala. “Our new facility has 100 co-working seats and co-living space for 30 entrepreneurs. Those selected will have access to internship, mentoring, ideation work-space and seed funding. We also conduct hackathons, student seminars and digital skill development programs for youths,” adds Varun.

With the new facility, C360 aims to grow into a 100-member team this year. And what’s interesting is that 70% of C360’s team comprises women. 

C360’s aim is to continue to innovate its products and build its team globally, thus expanding its market reach. And all this while creating maximum social impact.

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