Freshdesk Raises $5M To Expand Online Help Desk Tool

Online help desk tool Freshdesk announced today it has raised $5 million in funding from Tiger Global Management and existing investor Accel Partners. Started in 2010, the SaaS customer support tool launched to the public in June 2011, and raised $1 million in funding from Accel Partners in October 2011. They have tripled their customer base in the last quarter, though didn’t comment on how many customers they have to date.

Freshdesk founder Girish Mathrubootham said this is Tiger Global’s first investment in the SaaS space, as they have typically focused on investments in ecommerce companies including Warby Parker and One King’s Lane. “Obviously they see a lot of value in what we are doing in terms of social customer support,” he said in an interview. “Most of these ecommerce companies realize the importance of not just traditional customer support through email or phone, but also the capability to do social customer support. What we are doing is combining the aspects of a traditional support solution and the social aspects.”

Freshdesk provides website, email, phone and social media support to companies of any size. It turns any support questions – whether on social networks, via email or over the phone – into tickets, which are managed by an internal ticket manager. Company agents can reply to tickets with canned responses, view suggested solutions, and automate tasks. The platform also gives customers forums where they can discuss issues, as well as a knowledge base that helps companies manage their official solutions. The company also offers additional features like time tracking, CRM tools, and reporting.

Companies get access to Freshdesk’s services for their first support agent for free, and there are three subscription plans available – $9 per agent per month for companies only looking for email and phone support, which has no monthly billing; $16 per agent per month for phone, email and social media support and $19 monthly billing; and $25 per agent per month for enterprise-level support, with $29 monthly billing. Each plan also offers companies the ability to add occasional agents to help out for a set price per day. They also offer special pricing to startups and bulk discounts for enterprise. Mathrubootham said that though they cater to companies of any size, their “sweet spot” is SMBs.

Though the company has a focus on mobile availability, they don’t offer native apps, rather they will be releasing an HTML5 site in the next few weeks that will work across all mobile platforms. Agents can currently reply to tickets on their smartphones or tablets through email. “When you are mobile all you need to do is get a quick answer to your customer, and that is possible today with your email itself,” he said.

Freshdesk is far from the only company offering online customer support. GetSatisfaction, UserVoice and Zendesk all offer online support solutions that allow for customer forums and social media monitoring, and companies like Olark and WalkMe offer customer support on a company’s homepage. Mathrubootham noted that while GetSatisfaction is focused on customer forums, Freshdesk’s tool provides a more comprehensive solution. He said the idea of customer support isn’t new, but he believes Freshdesk stands apart because it takes advantage of three trends in online support – SaaS, social media, and the rise of mobile.

“Those are the three main trends which are redefining customer support, and we are one of the early innovators in terms of building a truly mobile, social SaaS-based customer support platform,” he said. Other online solutions are also increasingly focused on social and mobile support though, so Freshdesk’s pricing structure and features will need to stand apart in order to sell potential customers.

The company will be using the funding to expand their team, and devote funding to marketing. They will also grow their global presence, and they currently have headquarters in California, and a development office in Chennai, India. The funding also gives the company access to Tiger Global’s list of portfolio companies, which include growing ecommerce companies and social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, which could help their client list grow. Regardless of which online support system companies turn to, the notion of call centers is quickly being replaced by these cross-platform online solutions. As Mathrubootham noted, “today the idea of customer support being in a big call center with hundreds of agents with headphones on their desk is dead.”


Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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