Ever since the WeWork fiasco last year that shook investors’ confidence in startups with shaky fundamentals (a culture they had promoted in the first place), there has been a recalibration towards software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies which are increasingly seen as a bastion of stability and healthy financials.
The shift is not limited to just investors as SaaS has also come to define the way businesses are managed. Be it the cloud-based point of sale systems, the human capital management software or the social media tools, these portals are now central to the very existence of the corporate world. At the heart of that prevalence lies collaboration, the ability to sync across platforms for better functionality. To simplify those integrations is a Pakistani startup trying to create a niche for itself.
Meet Integry, a startup that offers native in-app integrations to B2B software. The users of these SaaS can then bring data from their other apps and setup automation. If you’ve spent any time copying and pasting data between apps, this startup intends to free you from that drudgery.
Let’s say a company buys a subscription to a communications platform in the wake of Covid-19 and spends the next few weeks assigning credentials to all its employees. That’s obviously a lengthy process which adds to the complexity of not only the management but also the staff who would now have to remember different usernames and passwords. A better way to do this is simply integrating the existing human capital management software with the new app, and thus exporting the relevant details. Somewhat similar to how you add extensions in Chrome to have everything in a single place.
Now the way it usually works is SaaS companies spend a considerable time building integrations for a few popular apps or customising specific ones as per the user’s requirements, which sometimes adds to the cost. What Integry offers is like a plug-and-play integration that can be as simple as choosing an available software from their website, answering a few questions and having it up and running in three days.
As of today, Integry has over 200 apps live on its portal like Mailchimp, Slack, ZohoPeople etc and is serving a handful of customers such as the SMS marketing software Tatango or the survey platform GuildQuality etc, though the startup hasn’t been officially launched yet.
The idea came to Muhammad Nasrullah - who goes by Nash - when he was heading integrations at Convo, a team communications portal. “The customers were asking for too many integrations and it was a lengthy process. This is when we identified the niche and decided to pursue it,” he recalls.
A graduate from Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Nash already has an exit to his name: Pring, an SMS platform that was acquired by the job portal Rozee.
Along with him, other core members in the team including now co-founder Yasir Farooqui, also quit to start Integry in around June 2017 and joined the international enterprise-focused Alchemist accelerator. By mid 2018, they had also scored a small angel round worth $600,000 from a handful of engineering leaders, with Bilal Farrukh and Junaid Malik as founding investors.
Within the world of integrations, one company has made a big name for itself with not only its scale but achieving that without going for any mega rounds. Zapier, which was founded in 2012, has more than 2,000 apps live on its portal and makes an annual recurring revenue in excess of $50 million. What distinguishes the Pakistani startup from the US giant?
“Zapier, while working in integrations, has a key difference: they are targeting the B2C market. On the other hand, our focus is B2B,” says Nash. However, his definition of businesses and consumers are a little unique as by the former, he specifically means SaaS companies while the latter includes all other entities using software for operational purposes. Other than that, there are a couple of more players in the space including Tray.io and Workato, with each having bagged over a $100m in external funding.
The startup has a subscription model in place with pricing starting from $499 a month and goes up to an unidentified rate (upwards of $2,499) for the most premium package. There is an additional fee in case you exceed the given number of tasks alloted. In any case, the cost is considerably high compared to the price tag SaaS platforms usually have, roughly around $100 or so.
But the CEO disagrees. “Sales for enterprise SaaS are very complex with long cycles and thus have higher revenues. In fact our prices are quite low compared to the costs associated with hiring the technical talent, which would roughly yield a bill of over $400,000 a year to pay for four engineers, and still take a long time to build the integrations. Our solution comes at a fraction, both in terms of rates and duration.”
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2020