Winning business: Faster decision-making on tech deals in Dubai, CEO says

Indian SaaS firm Kissflow’s founder Suresh Sambandam on a hiring spree for MEA expansion

By Megha Merani

How many sales prospects does your tech business need to win a deal in Dubai?

About half the number of leads you would need to generate in India, according to Suresh Sambandam.

“In the Indian market, people keep exploring and trialing [and] we have no idea whether they’re going to buy or not,” Sambandam, CEO of Indian software-as-a-service (SaaS) company Kissflow, said.


“Generally, in the US we say you need to generate five opportunities if you have to close one deal. In India you have to generate 11 to close one. The UAE is more like the US in that regard.”

The CEO added that customers in Dubai “window shop” less and move faster on closing business – and so it comes as no surprise that Kissflow is chasing rapid expansion in the UAE and wider Middle East and Africa (MEA) for its low-code no-code platform.

The Chennai-headquartered global company – which competes with the likes of Microsoft, Salesforce, Zoho, Mendix and Airtable – inaugurated its Dubai office in 2022 and expects to grow its headcount in the UAE by close to 30% over the next 12 months.

Founded in 2004, Kissflow provides a low-code work platform for enterprises to fast-track digital transformation of their business operations by enabling every user to build and manage apps, processes, tasks, analytics, integration and collaboration, in a single unified platform.

Low code platforms help make applications through visual environments, with little requirement of coding.

Hundreds of global and Fortune 500 brands such as Airbus, Pepsi, McDermott, Comcast, Olympus McDermott, Reckitt Benckiser, Bank of the Philippine Island, Olympus and Danone, rely on Kissflow to simplify their work.

Around 92% of the company’s customer base is global with close to 10,000 customers and a million users across 160 countries.

The MEA region currently contributes to 15% of Kissflow’s revenues.

In addition to Dubai, Kissflow has offices in the US, Latin America and South East Asia.

In 2022, Kissflow announced it had earmarked more than $10 million for global expansion.

“We are continuing to invest in Dubai because the opportunity and the pipeline is very strong,” Sambandam said, adding that emirate offers advantages in terms of close physical proximity and time zone.

“Another advantage we see with Dubai is the opportunity to spread out to European markets. It’s also a different sales approach than it is in India. Though that the enterprise sale process by and large remains more or less the same globally, in India it’s a little bit more price sensitive when compared to UAE, because the currency strength here is stronger.”


As part of its MEA expansion, Kissflow also introduced a new Partner Program, which includes unique incentives such as earning a Tesla Model 3 upon achieving a sales goal of $1.2 million in a 12-month period.

The company, which is privately owned with no external investors, claims it is also the only vendor that offers commissions not only at the time of initial sale, but also for annual renewals.

Sambandam, who last year made headlines for marking the company’s 10th anniversary by giving out brand new 5-Series BMW cars to senior executives, said in a statement: “At Kissflow, we have an unparalleled appreciation for our employees and partners and have therefore shattered the restrictive structure of traditional partner programs. Following meticulous market research, we have designed our new program to maximize partner profitability by offering the region’s most lucrative rewards.”

But even as the company looks to aggressively grow its share in the $50 billion low-code market, Sambandam is adamant that Kissflow’s values come before its market share and are not up for negotiation no matter size of the deal.

It’s why he won’t hire just anyone, irrespective of how talented they might be.

He’s on the hunt for a workforce that is “culturally aligned” with his way of doing business.

“Do not underestimate the cultural integration of satellite teams that are working far away from the mother ship,” the CEO said.

“The number one thing would be to make sure you hire people who are not just talented, but also those who are culturally aligned. In fact, I would be willing to go one level lower for talent and one level higher for cultural alignment but not the other way around because even if someone doesn't have some knowledge, they can learn and will have the right attitude.”

Kissflow currently employs more than 400 people worldwide.

‘All for One’ is among Kissflow’s top values, which reflects that each team member is dependent on the other to meet their goals.

“When I say culturally aligned, I mean aligned with company values,” Sambandam said.

“For example, ‘win at any cost’ could be a value for a heavily sales focused organization that is very competitive, very cut throat, and they basically just move mountains to make sure to win a deal. If that’s your company culture, you find people who are going to align with that. For us at Kissflow, winning at any cost is not okay. It’s winning as a team that is important. We want everybody to work together because in a complex sale enterprise it is not the salespeople alone who make the sale. They have to collaborate with marketing, pre-sales, solutions implementation and so on, which means that collaborative working is more important for us to succeed.”

A report by Fortune Business Insights said that the global low code development platform market is predicted to grow to $94.75 billion by 2028.

According to a McKinsey study, the global low-code development platform market could generate a revenue of $187.0 billion by 2030.

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