Shashank Dixit is the Founder and CEO of Deskera. Deskera is a leader in Enterprise Cloud. Deskera has transformed itself from a modest accounting software on cloud to be Asia’s top enterprise cloud company. The company, which started from a University dorm, today has offices across the globe and calls Singapore as its headquarters.
Shashank attended IIT Kanpur (India) where he majored in Mathematics and Computer Science and started Deskera in his senior year, in 2005, along with four other institute mates — one of whom was his childhood best friend.
While working from his dorm room, sleeping at airports for days at a stretch, walking door-to-door to sell his software to SMEs and hearing a ‘No’ because the owners didn’t believe in technology or found the software inadequate – Shashank’s story of his early days as an entrepreneur, has all the ingredients of a bestseller.
Despite the initial setbacks, Shashank was adamant on changing how SMEs did their business. The SME sector was in a dire need of an enterprise software that would help them run their business end-to-end – not just do one thing, but ‘Run the business’.
He found that while Singapore had a first world economy, many SMEs still used paper and pen based processes, which weren’t any different from how the sector worked in China or in India. Educating the SME sector was the key. Each time, they said Deskera couldn’t do this or that, Shashank went back to India and developed them. He had to build up the program one function at a time.
Today, Deskera has close to 90% of processes one needs in a company – any company – from book-keeping and stock-checking to payroll and human resource management. It lately added a Big Data Analytics tool, which provides prescriptive analytics with “advanced mathematical, statistical and algorithmic models” for accurate capturing, processing, curating, and managing of data.
Deskera can also file IRS Board-approved taxes, manage employees’ appraisals as well as company projects. By using Cloud solutions, enterprises are spared of licensing and application installment hassles. Deskera solutions are plug-and-play and devoid of hardware complexities such as upgrades and breakdowns of physical servers (can scale from 1 to 1,000 users easily in a flash).
Deskera now has country-specific GST services and language-specific functions. In addition, the company partnered IBM, Hewlett-Packard and NEC to provide more complete solutions to customers.
But what makes Deskera lucrative to the Asian SMEs is its affordable price of US$65 (S$91) per-user-per month price tag. Its customers include Sushi Tei and SATS Creuers, as well as MNCs such as Intel, Google and Starbucks. Deskera also has a partnership with Singapore’s largest ISP StarHub to provide an enhanced delivery for customers.
Today, if words like ‘entrepreneur’, ‘startup’, ‘investment’ seem sexy, Shashank had started out at a time, when parents insisted on their children to look for ‘secure government jobs’ and investment money was hard to come by.
For six years, Shashank lived without a salary. He survived on with help from family and friends. Persistence, coupled with hard work and ‘faith’ and improvements in the product, finally paid dividends. Investors began showing interest in Deskera about three years ago. That was about the same time Deskera could do most things SMEs wanted and sales quickly hit a sweet spot.
Last year, Deskera raked in revenue of $14 million. This year, it is expected to bring in more than $30 million. It has also more than 80,000 users globally. The company employs more than 200 people all over the world with offices in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and has presence in 8 major Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune.
Shashank’s next mission is to turn Deskera into a global enterprise software brand to be reckoned with. One way to achieve that is going for an IPO. The purpose, Shashank feels is not to raise funds, which he has enough of, but to increase the mindshare amongst the SME sector.
Deskera will be investing S$50 million over the next three years to build a wholly owned cloud data centre in Singapore, which could be one of the biggest SaaS centres in Asia. The investment will mainly be in software, equipment and staff capabilities. About 50 employees will operate the new data cloud centre. These will include engineers in the fields of data analytics, software, network design and telecommunications, and business development managers.
The Deskera suite is also getting bigger. A Big Data Engine too is on the works. The engine will deliver real time reports (health of SMEs). Till now it’s been the big players who have reaped the benefits of Big Data. The SMEs have been laggards in adopting Analytics for the very fact that it escalates their costs. Coupled with Deskera’s competitive pricing and its own SaaS centre, Shashank feels that he can be the game-changer here too. He can help move costs Southwards and bring on the SMEs on to the Big Data and Analytics bandwagon.
Shashank believes in the motto of ‘small is powerful’ and that strengthens his belief in the SME sector. The SMEs put together are larger than the big players in the market and bring in the volumes. It’s the SMEs that bring in innovations and create new jobs and build economies. Shashank wants to strengthen this sector. According to him, Deskera is a long-term player. He believes that building an enterprise software company is a marathon as opposed to a sprint, and Deskera is just doing that.
On the personal front, he is an active member of The Singapore Indian Development Association, and volunteers with the entrepreneurial community. Shashank loves spending time with his beagle ‘Tinku’ and contributes to pet causes.