Saravana Kumar on How to Scale from a One-Person B2B to Become an Enterprise

The dream of most small businesses is to scale up and become an enterprise. But going from small business to big business takes several small steps and some giant leaps.

Saravana Kumar started small — alone. And have since grown to an enterprise. Small businesses makeup 95% of all businesses and account for up to 70% of all employment.

Of that vast majority, only a small group will join the 5% of businesses that command 30 percent of the economy. In this interview, Saravana tells us his story of going from running a one-person business to commanding a global enterprise.

As you’d expect, success takes grit and tact. But where should you invest your effort? When and how should you invest it?

Let’s learn from someone who actually did it.

Scaling a One-Person B2B to Become an Enterprise

Scaling a one-person B2B to becoming an enterprise often requires organic growth. 

That is a step-by-step growth from awareness, pitching prospects and marketing on a larger scale.

You should;

  • Understand your business growth process.
  • Write a business plan to guide your activities.
  • Identify the market in the gap you are filling.
  • Make sure your solution generates revenue.
  • Build with a goal in mind.
  • Identify and celebrate milestones.
  • Deliver quality products and services.
  • Keep customers happy.

Like a newborn baby, your business needs all the attention it deserves.

To shed more light to this discussion, there is no better person than Saravana Kumar of Kovai.co, a founder with an excellent track record in building successful SaaS products.

In case you don’t have an idea about Kovai.co, it’s a premier enterprise software company offering multiple products at scale. It serves both in the enterprise arena and in the B2B SaaS space. Kovai.co is the parent company to BizTalk360, Serverless360, Document360, and Atomic Scope.

Key Takeaways from the Interview

  • Business ideas should aim at providing solutions towards a targeted market.
  • It’s more sustainable to grow organically. Make documenting your growth a priority.
  • Identify someone who is a step ahead and make them a role model. 
  • Innovate consistently. Be bold enough to take on opportunities when you identify a problem in your value chain.
  • Normalize feedback and prioritize customers’ happiness.
  • Build an organizational culture and make sure everyone understands it.
  • Create a community by positioning yourself as an authority, then sell to them.

This interview enlightens entrepreneurs on how to start and scale a business to become an enterprise.

My Conversation with Saravana Kumar 

Saravana Kumar, Forbes.

1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself and tell us about Kovai.co and a bit of its history.

My name is Saravana Kumar. I’m based in London, but originally from India. I moved to London back in 2000, so nearly 20 years now.

I come from a technical background and for the past ten years, I’ve worked as a consultant. I worked for companies like Microsoft, Accenture and other flagship companies where I specialized in a product called ‘BizTalk Server’.

Originally the product wasn’t Kovai.co, but ‘BizTalk360.’ Like most founders who don’t put much thought into the name of the company when they start out, we named ours after the product.

It’s a Microsoft product that large enterprise customers use. And I spent nearly ten years consulting on that particular technology.

While consulting for these large companies, I found a lot of gaps in their security monitoring. As of 2010,  I had no idea on how to build the company — it was more of a hobby.


I just wanted to solve a problem that a lot of these companies had. So, it started as a hobby, but when I published it, a lot of large companies got interested. And that’s how the company started in 2011.

Originally the product wasn’t Kovai.co, but ‘BizTalk360.’ Like most founders who don’t put much thought into the name of the company when they start out, we named ours after the product.

One classic example is Salesforce. Although they maintained the name, Salesforce is more than a CRM.

So, we did something similar. BizTalk360 was the product for five to six years. We just focused on one product and, organically, I quickly built a small team in London. 

Then sometime in 2013, I set up the first office in India — a small 20 seater office. And by 2015, it was certified for about two years. We were 20 people and one product. 

In 2016, we scaled the company to about 50 to 60 people capacity, but still the same single product. But since then we’ve realized other opportunities as well, especially with cloud computing coming up.

Then we found an opportunity to build another product called ‘Serverless360’ in 2017. Out of our own frustration, like writing documentation for this enterprise product, we found some gaps in building knowledge bases for software products. And that’s when the third product, Document360, came into the picture by 2018.

At this point, we were confused because we had too many products and we needed an identity. So, we thought some rebranding was required and we got the name Kovaic.co in 2018. 

Generally, we have three core products and then a couple of small products as well. And presently, the team is about 160 people.

2. Awesome Story! It’s interesting that you basically started up something from identifying the gaps. So, I’m curious. Who do you really listen to in your space? Who do you let in your inbox? Who do you want to hear from? Who’s your inspiration? How and why did you choose these people?

My line of work has transformed in the past 10 years. Initially, it was that of a single founder that was technically focused and following other technically focused people. But over the years, it’s a stage-by-stage growth, right?

When you’re a 10 member startup, you follow a bunch of people who have done it at that stage. And you read a lot of books that inspire you. As you continue to grow, I think your challenges also increase.

The rule I follow now is not to think too much ahead. For instance, you can take inspiration from Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, but that’s not really going to help you in your day-to-day life.

So what I do is, if we’re in a million dollars revenue, then follow somebody who’s doing a 5 million range. You keep watching them until you get to their stage. At that point, you look at someone in the 20 million range and keep increasing it as you advance.

So today, I follow a bunch of founders with companies that have a similar model as mine.

You might know Freshworks, a company in India. The founder, Girish, is a good friend of mine and I follow him closely. Zoho is another company that I follow. As you know, we’re based in London and sell to global customers. But the majority of our tech footprint and tech people are in India.

So the cultural things are all pretty much aligned. Hence, I follow people who I can learn from and adapt our own needs basically. 

3. Awesome. I like how you address this. You basically identify someone who is just a step ahead, not too far away. Somebody who’s relatable and once you get to that stage, you target someone who’s slightly ahead again. Now, I see that Kovai.co recently acquired Cerebrata. How does this acquisition fit into your plan and help you become a better company? 

We’ve known the company for quite some time. Even though they’re not a direct competitor to us, they’re more of a complementary product to one of our products. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re a multi-product company.

One of the products we have in our portfolio is Serverless360. It’s a monitoring management solution for Microsoft Azure. And we target larger teams.

Both Kovai.co and Cerebrata complement each other, and we can serve the same customer base and one could become like a channel for the other product and vice versa.

Let’s take a company like Shell or Boeing that’s running their application in Azure. If they have a team of like 20 or 30 people supporting that, we have a product that will help them manage it.

Cerebrata, on the other hand, focuses on a different audience. The customer persona is different, but the domain is the same. They go for individuals that want to be productive or want better tools for Microsoft Azure — whether they’re part of a large company or not.

So, we see the synergy. Both products complement each other, and we can serve the same customer base and one could become like a channel for the other product and vice versa.

The other important aspect is bringing their technical team as well. Because finding tech experts who are skilled in Azure and cloud is quite hard, especially in India. It’s a complementary product we can acquire because the team will add to the capacity of our existing tech team.

Revenue wise, it will also help us add about 10% to 15% to our top line. It’s okay to say multiple factors contributed to this position.

4. That’s interesting! Let’s take a step back to what you said about building your business to solve the gap you identified. Some members of our audience want to scale from a one-person B2B business to an enterprise-scale business. Please, simplify how you went from a single person who identified this to eventually scaling into a big enterprise company like you are right now?

It’s a kind of organic step-by-step growth.

To give you a brief history of how the company has grown, in 2010, I started off on my own. Like I said earlier, I didn’t plan it at first, I was a hardcore tech guy. As of 2004, I was writing some deep technical articles on my blog.

This was 15 years ago. People today spend a lot of marketing budget on content writing. But since 2004, week after week, I was writing some deep technical articles on this specific subject called the BizTalk Server.

The first customer came all the way from Hong Kong. I had no connection with them apart from the blog they read.

They asked me to show them a demo and they became customers.

In six years, I had about 15,000 followers for my blog. This is a significant number, given the niche market that particular product is solving because Microsoft themselves got only about 10,000 to 12,000 customers worldwide.

So, when you say I have 15,000 followers, pretty much the entire market is actually watching what I’m writing. So that helped for the initial traction of the product. And the moment one of the products was ready, I had blogs to reach out to the audience.

The first customer came all the way from Hong Kong. I had no connection with them apart from the blog they read. They asked me to show them a demo and they became customers.

That’s how I acquired majority of the early stage customers. Then gradually, stage by stage, we ramped up our marketing efforts. We started doing events.

Even today, we do the annual event which brings about 600 people from 50 different countries every year to London. It’s a physical event, although we didn’t do it last year.

In six years, I had about 15,000 followers for my blog. This is a significant number, given the niche market that particular product is solving because Microsoft themselves got only about 10,000 to 12,000 customers worldwide.

People fly out from all over the place and that helped us to build a brand as well as acquire customers for some of the products. So that’s how we acquired customers step by step and then scale the product.

But today, if you look at the new products, like Document360, you’ll find that the scale of the company is different now.

So what worked at the very early stages were not scalable techniques, but today we go full stream on all the digital marketing. And there’s a bigger budget on marketing and branding and you know, like a typical SaaS marketing cycle.

So to answer the question, it was a stage-by-stage growth at different phases of the business.

5. How does Cerulean complement Kovai’s Serverless360? And what other improvements are you making at the moment for Kovai’s customers? How do you determine what to work on per time?

Scale from a One-Person B2B

The challenge with a multi-product company is that every product has different strategies. And that includes everything basically. The technology, the marketing, and sales.

So, I spent most of December setting the vision and focus for each of these products depending on their stages. For example, Document360 is really a hard roadmap of about 80 to a hundred features.

What we wanted to do, was build up the product. In a similar way, other products will also have a roadmap.

So the thing is, once you reach a certain stage, bringing clarity to the team is very important. Because when you have 150 to 200 people, if you don’t have clarity, then people will go in all different directions.

Bringing clarity to the team is very important. Because when you have 150 to 200 people, if you don’t have clarity, then people will go in all different directions.

So December and January is pretty much an extremely busy month for me and the management team. We set the clarity for everybody to go on and build.

Generally, we use a framework of the EOS — the Entrepreneurial Operating System. It’s similar to OKR. A lot of people are aware of OKR, but the EOS is a similar methodology. So we’ve followed that quarterly targets and drops and objectives in the things we wanted to achieve.

6. Users of BizTalk360 think it’s a great tool with wonderful features. Albeit, the con that seems to be commonly agreed on is that the alarm system isn’t intuitive, and managing multiple alarms is a chore. Is there an easy way to go about it that they might be overlooking?

Scale from a One-Person B2B

What I’ll say is that BizTalk360 is a niche product. A lot of people won’t even be aware of the product. So, only customers who are using the Microsoft BizTalk server will understand the pain points and the value of the product.

So maybe your audience is a more generic one that uses various SaaS products. I think Document360 will be a very good discussion point. It’s a knowledge base product. 

If you look at any SaaS product, you’ll realize the need to have a knowledge base. A good example is Zapier. They need to have a really solid product knowledge base to help their customers work well on their products.

That’s a problem that Documentary360 can solve. We started by looking at what’s in the market and we couldn’t find a solution for that. So, that was when we decided to build it in 2017.

7. What’s the future for Kovai.co? What are you looking at doing next?

That’s a pretty simple question to answer. All our products are in a scale stage at the moment. All of them are having great rating and we have a considerable team setup.

Some of the main objectives for the next couple of years say two or three years, are basically scaling the product in terms of customers and also enhancing, building and, making it richer.

Those are the two core objectives. And also, being a multi-product company, we experiment with new ideas maybe two years ahead. We may not start something immediately because starting a product requires a lot of thinking and commitment.

…Being a multi-product company, we experiment with new ideas maybe two years ahead. We may not start something immediately…

For a new product, this can take between five to seven years to make something meaningful out of it. So that’s how the company’s working now.

So, scaling and acquiring more customers for our existing products, working on and maturing some ideas, and performing Research and Development on the future products.

8. What’s the best thing anyone ever told you about your business? What was the best thing any customer or any buyer ever said to you?

We generally get a lot of positive feedback. We’re a relatively small company when compared to a company with thousands of employees. 

As a company, we’re obsessed with our customers’ happiness. So anything at all, whether it’s in our products, customer support, or sales, we really focus on making the customers happy.

We understand that it’s important to keep the existing customers happy, especially in a SaaS business. As you know, the cost of acquiring a new customer is 10 times more than preserving your existing customers.

We understand that it’s important to keep the existing customers happy, especially in a SaaS business. As you know, the cost of acquiring a new customer is 10 times more than preserving your existing customers. So that’s a kind of a culture within the organization.

And, the entire company culture is how we can ‘Wow’ the customers basically. So in that aspect, we continuously take the extra steps to make sure the customers are happy across all the products.

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Nicholas Godwin

Nicholas Godwin is a technology researcher who tells profitable brand stories that tech buyers and businesses love. He covers technology topics on his website TechWriteResearcher.com, and has worked on projects for Fortune 500 companies, global tech corporations and top consulting firms, from Bloomberg Beta, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte to HP, Shell, and AT&T.

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