Freshdesk is trying to make waves in cloud customer support. Launched in June of last year, the young company is on a mission to help businesses of all sizes manage customer service through both traditional channels, like email and phone, as well on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Earlier this week, Freshdesk added to its customer support suite, launching support for private customer messages via the new Brand Pages Facebook launched back in February. This means that, using the new Pages, customers can initiate private conversations with brands, with the ability to share the kind of sensitive information they wouldn’t post publicly on Facebook or Twitter, like passwords and credit card numbers.
Freshdesk said that it’s the first customer support platform to offer this kind of integration, a shot across the bow of its two largest and well-established competitors, Zendesk and Salesforce’s Desk.com. To compete, the startup is making a push to differentiate its platform, adding private messaging via Brand Pages on top of what it believes is its core differentiator: Allowing its customers to support and manage multiple products and brands from one simple web interface.
In less than a year, Freshdesk has already raised $6 million in venture funding from Tiger Global and Accel, and, though it believes that the biggest market opportunity down the road will be in offering its brand of cloud customer support to theh enterprise, Freshdesk wants to entice (and give back to) the little guys as well.
That’s why the startup is today announcing the first phase of its “Future Fund,” which will provide customer support services to 501 startups and early-stage businesses through a $10 million “fund,” which includes free support for one year. Freshdesk has teamed up with incubators and angel funds, like YouWeb, Tandem Entrepreneurs, Internet India Fund, 500 Startups, and Proudly Made to begin giving their early-stage businesses customer support tools so that they don’t have to worry about allocating their own money to CRM tools at those critical, early stages of growth.
Not unlike any other fund that provides growth services, value, or support to young businesses, Freshdesk is looking to give startups a painless way to start generating customer love early on in their growth.
So what does the Future Fund offer? Qualifying startups (any company that has under $1 million in annual revenues is welcome to apply, it’s not limited to the accelerators we mentioned earlier) will get up to three full-time customer support agents free for an entire year as part of Freshdesk’s “Garden” plan. The plan includes multi-channel support, which startups can use to support customer relation management through email, phone, their website, Facebook, and Twitter from one dashboard.
This means that they can view and manage queries, lead or sales questions, ticketing functionality, as well as community management capabilities that allow teams to engage customers in discussion forums and let early adopters suggest and vote on ideas. Startups with multiple brands or product lines can support their brands through a single account.
Freshdesk is supporting the fund from its internal revenues, and although it’s not disclosing rev growth, the team did say that it was supporting 700 companies as of April, which has doubled since February. With its Future Fund, Freshdesk believes that it’s doing a community service by way of a free service that lets young businesses focus on their product while maintaining quality customer support, but this is also very much an initiative that it hopes will introduce SaaS support to a new generation of companies, which it will try to convert to paying customers when the year of free service expires.
Like others, Freshdesk is free to start, with a tiered pricing scheme that escalates based on the number of agents and customization features a business needs. More on pricing here.
For startups looking to participate in the Future Fund, check out its landing page here.