We last covered SupportBee when the customer support startup set up a popular new service over a single weekend, and it has developed some way since then, September 2012. For one thing, it upped sticks from Vietnam, returning to founder Prateek Dayal‘s home country of India, where it is now among the second batch at the Microsoft Azure accelerator in Bangalore.
Now the team of four (soon to be five) is bringing a new sense of direction to its product — which rivals Zendesk, Freshdesk, Desk.com and others — with the introduction of a reporting platform, which comes complete with a dedicated API.
Dayal tells TNW that, although dedicated reports are very much a standard (and much-requested) feature for customers, SupportBee is introducing the feature with a degree of flexibility and creative license thanks to the API.
“We launched support for HTML5 last month and now want to add reports to help customers keep up with what’s going on more easily,” he explains to TNW, pointing out that reports are critical for high volume customers.
Beyond offering a standard overview of customer service activity and performance. SupportBee’s reports are widely customizable and such advantage allows customers to be very precise and creative with the types of data that they monitor.
“While you can already sort through the console to find information, you can use the API to see graphs, charts and data based on labels — such as country, agent, department or any other tags that customers want to use.”
In other words, there’s plenty of scope to create customized reports based on very specific parameters and requirements.
SupportBee offers a platform for developer apps, and Dayal says that the API will be opened to apps in the future. That move, once done, will enable developers to build extra features and apps dedicated to reporting. That could help go beyond the standard analytics that Zendesk and others offer, letting customers work with historical data, assign tickets to agents based on rules or other possibilities.
The company is carving out a niche as an alternative to the popular Zendesk solution, which counts Twitter, Tumbltr and Pinterest among its customer base. SupportBee’s progress has come at very little cost, with almost no marketing or advertising spend to date.
Instead the team has focused on delivering a quality service to encourage word-of-mouth references. It has honed its search ranking — it is currently ranked second for a Google search for “Zendesk alternative” — using SEO and blogging and content strategies. Activities like the AboutMyBrowser hack have also helped raise awareness.
The company has been entirely bootstrapped to date, with Dayal revealing that he turned down a potential seed investment in favor of continuing on independently, for now.
“We’re bootstrapping by choice because it has lots of advantages,” he explains. “It makes it easier to find and hire passionate people, rather than those that are driven by salary, for one. We’re committing the next 6-8 months to expanding our team and developing product, after which time we may seek capital.”
As it stands, SupportBee is bringing in enough in sales to break even. Revenues are growing 30-40 percent per month, and more than 90 paying customers are on board, that’s up from 30 at the beginning of 2013.
Dayal says that customers value the service’s flexibility and its usage-based pricing, which charges customers based on ticket volume. There is an initial a 14-day introductory trial without cost, but Dayal says that the offering is so targeted at its rivals’ pain points that Zendesk customers, for one, “tend to skip the trial and sign up and pay within a few hours”.
He has positive praise for the Microsoft Azure indicator which, though not providing financial investment, does bring startups in contact with mentors, speakers and other influential figures who impart advice and wisdom. That’s, of course, on top of providing office space, goodies like Xbox consoles and general assistance.
“Every week they ask you how they can help, whether you want legal advice, assistance with press or other things,” he says. “We really appreciate these efforts, money is just one part of the equation.”
Money is definitely not the sum of all things for SupportBee right now. Having been in Chile, Vietnam and other places, the startup is progressing nicely in India.
Headline image via Aubord Dulac / Shutterstock