My career as a VC started with early investments in Freshworks (FRSH) and Chargebee, it was a great time for me, as none of the other VC firms were interested in this unique category. In addition, with more SaaS companies happening in Chennai, I started participating in several pay-forward SaaS community programs. It was a great place to interact with many budding SaaS founders and build my understanding of founders and markets. In 2017, spotting Facilio was a great outcome of these visits to Chennai.
Before each trip to Chennai, I would call Girish (the founder of Freshworks), and he would suggest which hotel to stay at. In one of my 2017 trips to Chennai, Girish recommended ITC Grand Chola as he wanted me to experience the grand hotel. I had called Prabhu and Raj to come to the hotel for a 9:00 AM meet-up, as I was meeting another founder at 8:00 AM.
It was already 9:15 AM, and Prabhu and Raj weren't there. I continued to chat with the founder, but I got antsy that Prabhu and Raj hadn't informed me about their delay. Not a good sign for the first meeting. Finally, at 9:30 AM, Prabhu called me and said they had been waiting in the adjacent waiting area from 8:30 AM and didn't want to walk in as the other founder I was meeting knew Prabhu and Raj. Also, they were not ready for the world to realize that they were starting a startup and meeting VCs yet. Well, I got the hint and quickly closed the meeting, and in 30 seconds, I saw Prabhu and Raj walking in. As they say, all the great first meetings always have some memorable moments!
Within the first 30 min of the meeting, I knew I needed to invest in this company. Both Prabhu and Raj knew everything about real-estate operations. They briefly explained the challenges faced by operational folks in managing real-estate buildings. They had done their market size analysis and why the timing is right for them to take advantage of this opportunity. They were well-versed with the unit economics real-estate operations. Their product ideas were sharp, and they could explain why they would win in the market against the existing legacy players. They wanted to reimagine real-estate operations. They had done homework on not only the category, and it felt they had read me well and were answering all of my questions even before I could ask. After 30 minutes of conversation, I switched to selling mode about why they should partner with Accel and me.
Several years after investing in them, I found out that they had practiced a mock pitch with Girish, and Girish had played Shekhar on them in asking all my favorite questions, starting with "Who is your customer?".
The journey with the Facilio team has been incredible. Their SaaS product is amazingly well-crafted with delightful UI, unlike the existing legacy products in the market who generate more than $500M+ in annual revenues. They invested in digital marketing and created a buzz about this new category. The team created a product that would work with most IoT hardware and BMS (building management systems) in accessing data. They have referenceable customers now in ME, India, Australia, Europe, and the USA. Their product has started saving $s for their customers by helping them reduce energy consumption and improving the operational efficiency of the buildings. They have customers in all types of large buildings - commercial buildings, grocery-store chains, hospitals, and educational buildings.
This week is an excellent week for the team at Facilio. Congratulations to Prabhu, Raj, and the entire Facilio team in raising their next round of $35M as they are at the cusp of scaling their deployments across the globe. It is great to have partnered with them even before setting up their startup. It is an exciting time for all of us to work with Facilio in their journey of reimagining one more gigantic category by building an exceptional software stack that adds value to the environment and the bottom line.
This blog was originally part of the newsletter by Shekhar Kirani on Linkedin. You can check the newsletter here.