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The Week

September 6, 2015

By Lakshmi Subramanian

CloudCherry lets businesses grow with instant customer feedbacks

You go to a watch store. The person at the sales counter doesn’t attend to you. You turn to leave, but decide to write down your feedback. You look for a book, but find a tablet instead. No sooner than you rate the (poor) service, than the store manager is by your side, leading you back towards the counter. That’s because the moment you filled the form on the tablet, the manager’s phone pinged and he received your complaint instantly.

Gone are the days of paper forms and the custom of managers meeting once a month to evaluate feedback. In the digital age—when a customer can do all the damage in no time through social media—restaurants and stores are not too keen on conventional feedback forms or books. This is where Chennai-based CloudCherry Analytics comes in. “We are in the business of capturing customer feedback real time,” says S. Sriram, director of CloudCherry.

Any business can download CloudCherry’s app, customise its content and get real-time feedback. At a time when the economy is booming and every other business are looking to invest on customer experience, no wonder, CloudCherry is in great demand. “The relevance and timing of what we are doing is probably flawless,” says Vinod Muthukrishnan, cofounder and CEO of CloudCherry.

So how does it work? The customer data gets stored to a cloud, which is accessible to CloudCherry employees. The data is then analysed and sent back to the client, who would further work on improving customer relations. For instance, if more than 20 customers rate a restaurant less than five out of ten in terms of service, this data would be made available to the HR manager who can try to improve the service. Or say, in a watch store, customers rate the ambience less than six out of ten, then the interiors can be renovated. “In a few clicks, one can check what people are appreciating in a store, what has helped push up sales, and that can be replicated in their other outlets,” says Vinod.

In just two years, CloudCherry has had more than 23 clients and at least a dozen more ready to sign up in the coming months. For instance, Titan has 300 watch stores, including 110 showrooms of its Fastrack and World of Titan brands, linked to the CloudCherry app. CloudCherry has clients across sectors like banking, finance, insurance, food and beverages, hospitality and health care. Apart from Titan, CloudCherry serves as an analyst to Cinnamon Grand hotel in Sri Lanka, Zaica restaurant group, Qatar Airways and Edcon Limited. The company is now working on bringing a big fashion retailer on board.

What works in its favour, among other things, is the real-time analytics that fall on the client’s dashboard. “The app has a delight meter on the dashboard, by which clients can judge instantly if a business is doing well or not,” says Sriram. The revenues are based on the number of feedback received from customers and clients. “We charge a fee per feedback,” says Vinod.

But money came much later, first came the idea. CloudCherry was conceived by B. Hariharan, director of Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, in 2013. Vinod, who was then in the merchant navy, ditched the sea for terra firma and joined a startup called Markets Simplified as vice president, global sales and strategy. But he wanted to be part of the initial launch madness and joined Hariharan and Sriram, also executive director at Great Lakes Institute of Management. Thus, CloudCherry came into being, with an initial capital of Rs3 crore and software as a service model.

CloudCherry boasts an advisory board comprising academicians such as Professor Bala V. Balachandran, founder of Great Lakes Institute of Management who is an investor in CloudCherry, Jagdish Sheth, professor of marketing at Goizueta Business School of Emory University, who helps the firm with data interpretation, and Seenu V. Srinivasan, professor of management at Stanford Graduate School of Business, who is helping the startup with research and analytics.

Despite all this, it was not a smooth ride. One fine day in October 2014, Vinod walked into their 15,000-square-foot office at Thiruvanmiyur and told his employees that he had no money to pay their salaries. He expected walkouts and resignation letters. Instead, he found he had a dedicated team that worked overtime to achieve better targets. “Nobody was from a financially secure background, where a month’s salary won’t make a difference. Everyone has bills to pay and EMIs to honour. We ultimately paid salaries mid-month. But walking in every day and seeing an office full of energy and people going about their work like nothing had changed taught me what a startup culture was all about,” recalls Vinod.

The hiccups are behind them; they look forward to hookups now. Recently, CloudCherry got a funding of 06 crore from The Chennai Angels and IDG Ventures India. “We see tremendous potential and are sure of the impact of the product,” says Ranjeeth Rathod of The Chennai Angels. But Vinod says the money will be primarily used for scaling and product development. He says: “We want to have a big presence in the Indian market in the next one year.”



A goof-up
An avid cricketer, I have been playing cricket since my merchant navy days. In one tournament, I dropped a catch, and that unfortunately was caught on camera. Since then, I have been the butt of all jokes whenever someone drops a catch

On speed dial
Wife and office colleagues; friends have been wiped off from the list

Childhood dream
I wanted to be a bus conductor till I turned ten. Later, I dreamed of joining the Army like my father

First office
Our first rented space was quite small. I started looking for a new place on the first day itself

Top on to-do list
Go to Antarctica