[00:00:02] Taylor Kenerson:
Hello. Welcome to the Hyperengage podcast. My name is Taylor Kenerson and I am here with my co-host Adil and a beautiful guest, much long awaited Ajay Chidrawar. Thank you so much, Ajay, for joining us today.
[00:00:18] Ajay Chidrawar:
Hi Taylor, and hi, Adil. Nice to be on this call.
[00:00:23] Taylor Kenerson:
We're so excited to dive. You're an OG in customer success. So before we dive into what you're doing at fundrise up, let us go back a little bit. I feel like you've been around customer success almost since before the term was given, since its inception. So kind of giving a brief for our audience. You've seen it evolve over time and really curious, what is your take on CS in the present moment and how do you think companies should view CS today in order to maximize value in the long run?
[00:00:58] Ajay Chidrawar:
Yeah, sure. So yes, you kind of called out my age here the fact that I've seen the whole journey firsthand. So yes, I have. Before the SaaS revolution, it was more perpetual software licenses. People would install client server software on their premises and so on. And then from there we moved on to hosted model and then from there to SaaS, meaning today nobody even questions SaaS, right? It's all in the cloud. 15 years ago, people would, you had to explain what cloud was and why their data is safe and all those kind of questions. But I think with this journey, there has also been a power shift. So in the pre SaaS world, the way people would perpetual license software would work is as a customer, you would pay a license fees upfront, which gives you the rights for that software lifelong. Right. And then you would pay a maintenance fee that included support and updates and upgrades and so on. And that would be separate and you had services engagement, so very different model. The power certainly was with the vendors, right, not the customers. Because once you get a million dollars for the software, your interests are different. Right. Move forward to SaaS. The power has shifted now to the customer. It's a utility, right? So I'm going to pay you monthly, I'm going to pay you quarterly or annual, whatever the frequency is. And you better make sure you are serving me well, right? I'm getting the value that I deserve, otherwise I'm moving to somebody else. Now, real life, it's not exactly easy to move from one solution, as we all know, with all the integrations and complexity that goes on in the technology world of any organization or company, that I would say is the major difference as software companies, as SaaS companies, you have to work hard. I call it stellar product, stellar service. That's how you are able to retain your customers, right? So the customer and the customer value comes first, everything takes second place.
[00:03:23] Taylor Kenerson:
It's the rise, almost, of the importance of the customer experience and how meaningful every single touch point is and how you're truly delivering value at each of those touch points. And that's what I find most interesting in this evolution is now more than ever, it's uber important to be listening to your customers and genuinely taking that feedback and being able to shape your future plans for that.
[00:03:46] Taylor Kenerson:
So really curious, just for a brief for our audience, what is the vision for fundraise up? Why did you choose going into a donation platform based on your previous experience? And what problems is fundraise up solving?
[00:04:02] Ajay Chidrawar:
Yeah, sure. So a little genesis of how this company was formed first, and then I'll talk about how I ended up here. So our CEO was trying to donate to some pretty famous charity. They have like annual walk, whatever, and he had a super frustrating experience trying to donate money, right? It was like an Aha moment. And so he called, there are three co founders, including the CEO. And so he called, one of the co founders said, I think there is a problem here, and maybe we could solve. And he's like, no way. In today's day and age, this should not be a problem. And then they did some research and they found that actually this was a problem, right? And so these three co founders, they started the company live in 2017. So it's been five, six ish years, and here we are. We are becoming the fastest growing leader in this space, right? There is a lot of established companies that cater to this space, so we are not the only one. It's a pretty crowded space, right? So how did I get in? So I've been fortunate. I started as a developer back in the day and moved on the sales side, product management, and then eventually settled down in the customer success go to market space. I've been fortunate to work in very disruptive, innovative technologies and across different solution areas, right? So when I met with these three co founders, I was super impressed. First of all, catering to nonprofits, right? So, look, I always say capitalism at its best, right? We are all trying to make a few bucks, but while you're doing that, if you can actually help, directly or indirectly, do some good out in the world, nothing better than that, right? And so that was certainly a big draw. Not the only draw, but a big draw, because every time we help UNICEF raise more money, that's going to children across the world, right? Every time we are helping rainforest trust raise more money, they are saving more trees and forests around the world, right? So that was a draw. But I think the second equally big was the wavelength matching with the three co founders, right? So that kind of jiving was super important for me. It's been almost two years now since I started with fundraiser. And everything I thought, or at least they sold me, has come out to be true or even better. So I can't complain. I think the space itself. So when I did a little bit of my research, I saw how behind the nonprofit space was, right. So if you think about the for profit space, you think Amazon, you think Shopify, you think all these ecommerce companies, but if you go back 1520 years, you still had Sears and Kmart and Macy's and the online versus brick and mortar battle, right? And as a technologist, I know that the writing was on the wall, but in the marketplace, it was being played out. But now fast forward 20 years and ecommerce has taken over the world, right? So I just know that this will play out and fundraise up is in the right place to take the nonprofit organization. Some, by the way, are 150 years old, right? So you can think about how slow they might be moving. Also, nonprofits goals, they have to spend most of their money towards a mission, right? So their operational costs and stuff has to be very low, which means that they cannot hire technology talent to the extent that for profit companies can, because partly affordability and so on, they just don't have the infrastructure.
[00:08:09] Ajay Chidrawar:
And so what I saw is Fundraiseup is helping those organizations leapfrog into the modern AI driven, data driven, e commerce kind of. And you know, another thing, I connect back to our CEO, when he was trying to make the donation, he was getting frustrated. Think about it, right? If you, Taylor or Adil, you want to make a donation to an organization. So you are saying I'm going to entrust this or you to take my money because I believe in your mission and do work on my behalf. That's the message, right? Indirectly. And if you can't even take my money quickly, easily, securely, then how do I trust you with anything else about the mission, right? It's literally like the first interaction with the. And that has to be better than what it has been in the past, right? Just to give you a perspective, even now, majority of the nonprofits, they have these long form, donation like donation forms, which are very long, right? So it's first name, last name, email address, phone number, physical address, this, that your interest, like, dude, in today's world, people's attention span is very short, right? The dog is barking, a text message comes up. You're going to forget about that donation. The whole concept is when somebody's emotional brain is engaged, maybe they saw an ad or a TikTok and they got moved and they want to make a donation. You want to grab that donation before the rational brain sort of starts taking over. I mean, this is not in a bad way, right? Again, you're helping them give to the mission that they believe in, right?
[00:10:00] Adil Saleh:
[00:10:01] Ajay Chidrawar:
It's a long response. So there are different factors that went into me being super intrigued about the opportunity and the potential for growth here.
[00:10:13] Adil Saleh:
Amazing. While I first looked at fundraiseup, I was more thinking about what kind of customer success organization you might be working, especially in the smaller NGOs. It's not just about big NGOs, of course. You're trying to enable these smaller NGOs as well. I was thinking that as a chief customer officer, how you're laying down the foundation for a data driven customer success model. Could you touch just a little bit more on what kind of CF organization you're building at EP fundraiser to help enable and empower these smaller organizations to have even better seamless donation experiences and simply collect more donations for their humanitarian causes, which is something that I definitely care about as a business. Also own a business. We have a smaller percentage of revenue. It's been always intact for these kind of charities. So also touch us a little bit about, are you thinking of maybe onboarding some businesses that have these standardized donation percentages annually going out to these humanitarian causes? Maybe you can get them partner up with one of your customers or these NGOs and communities that are the second part.
[00:11:32] Ajay Chidrawar:
Can you explain that, please?
[00:11:33] Adil Saleh:
The second part is, let's say I have a business, and annually I have like 5% to 7% going out to charity. Whether whatever charity calls that I found, I need to make sure that it's mandatory for my business to give out 5% every year going out to different instrumentary causes. I have two options. Either I go out and get someone to find out some cause, maybe something going on internationally to get to GoFundMe, or these kind of platforms that I can use, or maybe you can use experiences that will be seamless for us to do it automatically to any cause that's there at that point of time, and it can disperse 5% to 7% annually from my behalf as a business automatically. So these are two elements.
[00:12:25] Adil Saleh:
First, you got to talk about a little bit about the customer success operations for smaller NGOs.
[00:12:31] Ajay Chidrawar:
Let me give you a little sort of explanation of what fundraisap is, right, so we are an online donation platform, right? So it's all related to digital online donations. There are a lot of different ways nonprofits get grants and they can do walks and runs, and a lot of different functionalities are there for. Our focus is on the online donation platform. So I would urge you to go to any of our customers website and click on the donate button. When you click on the donate, the checkout that comes up, that's our invention, right. In terms of being super smart. So we use AI. So, for example, a deal, you are in a different location than Taylor. It's actually going to pick up the location, it's going to pick up your device, browser, Mac versus windows, time of the day, even down to the battery power on your cell phone if you are looking at it from yourself. And then it's going to recommend different donation values. It will also pick up currencies because you're coming Adil from a different international location, right? And so every step of the way we try to use AI to have these nudges and maximize the amount of donation. Or for nonprofits, the most important thing is recurring donors. Somebody who gives month after month after month, right. Very valuable. So we can actually upsell to those. Somebody's giving $200. Hey, would you like to do $40 a month? That's longer term. That's much more valuable for the organization. Again, we can talk all day long about how all the features set and what we can do, but the reality is we have one platform, okay? We take a pretty strong stand in terms of not creating forks and different versions and subversions, because it becomes technical debt, it's hard to maintain. One of our biggest positives is we are extremely reliable, right? So for nonprofits, for example, giving Tuesday is one of the largest giving days, right? And we have heard horror stories of some of the competitors actually going down on giving Tuesday, right? So we never go down. We have fine tuned the engine to process lots and lots of transactions. Some people do some events and such. So all that can be done only if we adhere ourselves to strict standards and don't just start customizing bespoke.
[00:15:24] Ajay Chidrawar:
Having said that, going back to your question, though, so the same platform is used by the smallest nonprofit or like a global behemoth nonprofit organization, right? So we segment our market into SMB, mid market enterprise, those sort of the broad segments. Our go to market is fine tuned towards those different segments. We are looking at very small, almost lower than SMB. And for that market, we are right now in the process of working on a product led growth model. So that's still being figured out. We do not do any contracts, which means the customer can actually walk away whenever they want. Right. And we take a lot of pride in that because as I said earlier, it's teller products, teller service, that's the only way you are going to be able to keep your customer. Right. So constantly create value, remind them of the value you are creating, and innovate rapidly. Right. So 70% of our team is in R and D. So AI software developers, UX designers, all of those things. Right. And we cannot stay static. We are constantly innovating. Of course, from a customer success perspective, it gets more and more white glow service for the larger customers versus the lower, smaller customers. But we do a lot in terms of webinars, email updates, bespoke training, whatever that customers need. Also, it's a very easy to use product. So literally a nonprofit organization can go live in 30 minutes. We have done that. Right. You don't need a rocket scientist to implement solution. Is this answering your question?
[00:17:23] Adil Saleh:
Yes, pretty much.
[00:17:25] Adil Saleh:
This leads me to the next question, like post onboarding, what kind of experience that you are defining for the smaller NGOs you're talking about? Because that's going to be your win. You're making smaller NGOs bigger over time, over the years to help them with these donation experiences and consistently sitting on top of their usage into the platform. So how you're ensuring success? By navigating through their usage and of course their success. Their success is your success. So what kind of initiatives are you taking as a CCO right now? I'm sure that you're trying to build it up. So what is your model for the SMBs or even smaller organizations, as you mentioned?
[00:18:05] Ajay Chidrawar:
Yeah, so I'm going to focus more on the accounts where we have CSMs assigned. Right. And that goes SMB and up. There's the other model, which we are figuring out is for the PLG model there. It's going to be a lot more self served.
[00:18:22] Adil Saleh:
That's going to be more self served? Yes, that's going to be more self served.
[00:18:24] Ajay Chidrawar:
So for the CSM led, basically right after launch, by the way, we don't charge for implementations, we don't charge SaaS fees. We don't charge any maintenance or support fees. The only fee we get is a transaction fee at source. So when a donor donates whatever, $100, then we are getting a small transaction fee and on an average, we have seen more than 90% of the donors cover those fees. So practically, for the organization, it's a free solution, right?
[00:18:57] Ajay Chidrawar:
Just wanted to get that out of the way. Big tool is quarterly account review. I do not like to call it Quarterly Business Review, which is what the SaaS term is, because we are dealing with nonprofits. So we call it quarterly account reviews. I can tell you just again, working in the industry for so long, most of my prior experiences, about a third of the quarterly account review call would go in. Why we had issues. Why won't those issues happen again? What was the root cause? Ra and so on. Right? Like at fundraiser, I've been fortunate and privileged that we practically never have any issues. Meaning, yes, one Z, two Z. But I can't even recollect. Right. So the half of the meeting is about how the value we created and how did we create it, right? Remember, because there is no contract. So sometimes people are busy, right. And I also urge my team to bring in leadership from the organization to those meetings once a quarter. You're having a huge impact on their financials. So typically people will show up, right, VP or C suite, those type of people. So you communicate to them the value and how you are getting the value. And the other half of the meeting is about all the new innovations we have and how they can turn those on and what are the benefits of those capabilities. So you need to sort of nudge and upsell them. Again, there is no additional SAAs fees, most of the feature they just on or start using, and they will see an increment in their revenue. So quarterly account review is a huge tool. Weekly check ins, as I said, webinars, a lot of them is around campaigns. So, for example, now you have the Middle east conflict, right? And so they're like, who are doing a lot of work and they need help, right? Like in terms, hey, we want to quickly launch this appeal or campaign. I need help, right? So we are always there to support them in whatever they need.
[00:21:08] Adil Saleh:
Okay, that makes sense. And also, as from my understanding, I was thinking that for the smaller NGOs, that, that you have assigned CSMs for maybe one CSM, taking care of ten or 15 NGOs, maybe more, and your success would be to get them recurring donors. So to optimize the experience as much as you guys can as a product, applying all these AI powered tools and all these strategies, taking some information knowledge base from during these quarterly account reviews and how many of them are able to successfully get to that mark and just trying to figure out the success in a ballpark, let's say 50 of these smaller organizations, they are able to attain this percentage of recurring donors over the period of six to eight to year, six months to eight months to a year. Can you just give us a ballpark of the success around this metric which matters? Yeah.
[00:22:10] Ajay Chidrawar:
So the two metrics we talk about, like actually three conversion. Right. So conversion rate, somebody clicks on your. So if 100 people show up on your site, seven people will click on the donate button and then historically one person will donate. Right. So we can double that to two people. Okay. So that's, again, on average, every customer is going to be slightly different and on the recurring donor. So that means that your one time donations, we can double typically in the first year of deployment and recurring, we can triple in the first year.
[00:22:47] Adil Saleh:
Okay, so recurring, meaning just to help you understand, the monthly returning donors. These are returning donors. These are the same donors coming subscriptions, right.
[00:22:57] Ajay Chidrawar:
I guess like if you donate $10.
[00:22:59] Adil Saleh:
Got it. I got it. So you're making them subscribe to a smaller amount of donation that will go automatically out and it stays as a recurring.
[00:23:08] Ajay Chidrawar:
Those we can triple.
[00:23:11] Adil Saleh:
Love that. So just one last thing. We are pretty much on the time Tillers also. She has a meeting. You have a meeting.
[00:23:16] Adil Saleh:
So one last question. As a CCO, working with these NGOs and making this transformation for smaller NGOs to enable them, what is the biggest take for you as a leader towards this cause and how this technology can empower on a very large scale outside North America as well? And what are the key challenges that you have faced to be able to come to the point that you are right here.
[00:23:46] Ajay Chidrawar:
Given the time? I'm going to answer the first part. I think from a smaller NGO perspective, the fact that they are getting access to the same technology, the same advanced stuff that some of the largest nonprofit, global nonprofits are leveraging should be a welcome. It is as easy for them. They don't need an army of people to deploy this solution or maintain or whatnot. In fact, anything. It is going to free their time up for other things. Because smaller nonprofits are very lean on staff. They don't have the resources. Right. And so one thing out of their way, latch on to fundraise up and you will start seeing the results pretty much immediately in days or weeks. You're going to see the benefit of this robust platform.
[00:24:32] Adil Saleh:
Absolutely. It was kind of really inspiration appearance that you had for you and getting to know fundraiser and all of your advancements that you spoke about today. Thank you very much. Ajay. For the time and for your insights that you shared with your audience.
[00:24:49] Ajay Chidrawar:
Thanks, Adil. Thanks, Taylor.
[00:24:51] Taylor Kenerson:
Have a beautiful day.
[00:24:53] Ajay Chidrawar:
[00:24:53] Adil Saleh:
Have a good rest of your day.