Web Spiders Global Journey: An Indian start-up success story India Inc. exclusive with Web Spiders co-founders
Siddharth Jhunjhunwala, co-founder & CEO, & Kavita Jhunjhunwala, co-founder & Digital Lead, of Web Spiders set up their start-up in Kolkata in the early 2000s with just two computers and now have over 300 employees around the globe, with a co-located HQ in Singapore as well as bases in the US and UK. The Jhunjhunwalas relive their fascinating journey with ‘India Global Business’.
Where and how in the value chain does Web Spiders (WS Group) add value to your clients globally? Give us some examples please.
The first generation of digital services revolved around basic online presence. Web Spiders began its journey at that point, educating clients on what is possible and how to market digitally.
Today, the perspective still continues in educating clients on what’s next, developing their online strategy and then creating the entire presence in the form that delivers the desired results.
To answer your questions, Web Spiders’ value is in the 360-degree services, which includes a wide smattering of creative ideas that stem from our team’s global experience and the continuous experimental attitude that has kept us relevant.
So who do we work for?
Some clients using Web Spiders’ in large-scale web presence include a UK investment destination organisation that does nearly 12 billion pounds in transactions per year. The marketing interface and the gateway are developed on Drupal and managed by Web Spiders.
We also develop and manage complete digital assets and marketing sites for our clients such as Europe’s No 1 Automobile company that manages all its digital assets across its network with Web Spiders’ solutions.
However, it is not just large enterprises that form part of our clientele. We have been the development partners of mobile-first startups and one of our clients went from inception to Osaka stock exchange listing while working with us. Another, based out of London, is on its B-series funding round. In both these examples, Web Spiders has been the key technical strategist and delivery partner.
Marketing does not finish at the web presence; in fact, it is just the starting point.
Content, conversations, social, zero moments of truth, client engagement, advocacy…. there is a lot that brands have to deal with online and learn rapidly from the ecosystem around us. Web Spiders experiences a lot of the cutting edge requirements with Kraft Heinz as it services their APAC marketing teams on social and content initiatives with a 24/7 responsive team.
War room services in social media listening for Singapore’s National Day Parade, Live event coverage across all online media formats for Singapore’s largest event, the Chingay Parade and extensive services in digital marketing for DHL, are examples of the 360 degree services developed by the team@WS.
So just services fill WS’s roster?
As a young ideating team, Web Spiders over the years has also bootstrapped a product that has generated a client roster in the US from its’ largest bank, to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, LGT Bank, one of the largest consulting companies in the world and so on. Event2Mobile, as the product is known, runs on a robust backend and is targeted to events and employee engagement via its various modules.
From 2 computers to over 300 people” with a global footprint. Web Spiders also started in an unlikely place for Indian tech start-ups – Kolkata.
Can you walk us through the Web Spiders journey from inception to now with your highlights?
From one seed, comes many a leaf. On the risk of sounding philosophical, that pretty much sums up our story. Web Spiders, was born out of Leo Compuware which was out first-garage-based hardware start up. Event2Mobile was born out of Web Spiders’ slightly better digs.
Kolkata was handed over to us as legacy. We started Web Spiders in our early 20s and we moved from the garage when one of Leo’s clients invested in us in 2000.
Y2K was a fun time. Of course, on hindsight, it almost sounds story bookish. When Khoj.com got acquired by Satyam for 500 crores, it created a gold rush for new Internet entrepreneurs overnight. We see history repeating itself today with the start-ups ecosystem.
Web Spiders became a preferred development partner with a leading ISP, signed a new dot com project every day, and had clients pitching ideas to us! We were literally the only game in town which could translate these ideas to digital plays and that set the stage for us to be established in the city.
To use one of the oft used terms today, Web Spiders was lucky to pivot quickly to an ‘outsourcing model’ within a couple of years and landed PWC UK as the dot com rush came down in a hurry. We took some crazy risks in marketing and luckily for us, they paid up.
Since then we have seen a three-year pivot cycle, which keeps us agile and relevant. Global expansion to London, New York and Singapore helped grow our mindsets and knowledge base.
What would you say were some of the key strategic challenges you had faced in your journey? How did you address them?
An entrepreneur is best defined as a person who can think when pushed to a corner. And his or her only thought is how to get out of it smelling of roses!
In dry terms, challenges came in long term and short-term forms. The short terms ones are building up things that you believe in whereas the long term ones are usually around strategic decisions of staying focused as your ideating mind seduces you with multiple ideas on a daily basis.
Addressing short terms ones are with sheer hard work and using all the insights you have collected into actionable items. The long term ones require some bit of market resonance and observing skill sets that put together enough information for your gut instinct to give you the right answers.
Was developing a global footprint a conscious decision or did it evolve?
Could you give us some milestones in that journey?
Honest response to this question is natural progression. As each market grew, we opened the doors a bit more with the localized offices. Client-driven, our UK office was incorporated as early as 2001. US a couple of years later and Singapore in 2010.
Singapore has become a co-location option for you, how has that experience been?
With a global footprint today, we end up spending 25% of our working time in Singapore, and the rest split over various activities in the US, UK and at the development centers in Calcutta and Bangalore. Singapore’s visibility as one of the best places to do business in Asia provides us with an additional Asian location, which has an interesting blend of Western and Asian business cultures.
Singapore has also been growing its market share in terms of roster of clients with a large number of Singapore Government agencies being serviced by Web Spiders, which acts as a significant trust-marker for the organization.
What’s next for Web Spiders especially within the context of Indian innovation as well as the next phase of tech growth?
It’s pivot time again.
IP-led growth in the product range, along with a robust growth in 360 degrees’ agency services which will be soon come from our 500-people development center in Kolkata from June 2016 onwards. The new campus has been designed with a combination of our experience in workflow as well as with an intention to provide brands and enterprises a single tech partner for digital marketing services.
Finally, your thoughts on India’s quest to become a successful & leading innovation driven start up ecosystem.
It’s already here. Indians are natural entrepreneurs. Add to it the knowledgebase of thousands of engineers, media exposure and funding and you have a product & services ecosystem, which is at an all time high.
India is also its own best customer. And the numbers are big. This empowers everyone to use their cultural mix, knowledge and funding to create businesses that can cater to the local audience. Add to it the current government’s initiatives such as #Startupindia, #digitalIndia and the global attention that the community is getting, there is no stopping India.