Noel Goggin, CEO and Culture Leader of Conga seems to be very impressed by the talent the city has to offer. They recently opened their fourth R&D center in Chennai and their most crucial center for AI-ML research and product development.
Conga’s Chennai Connect
Noel said, “Chennai is becoming very important for us in our expansion and our continued growth ever since we acquired Contract Wrangler. We were so impressed with the caliber of talent here that we have doubled our numbers in six months, since the last time I visited the city.”
In mid-2021, Conga acquired Contract Wrangler, a leader in applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand the terms and obligations in contracts that impact revenue, risk, and cost.
Contract Wrangler was founded by Chittu Nagarajan a serial entrepreneur, who has created a couple of other successful product companies in the legal-tech space.
Since the acquisition, Chittu has moved on to become Conga’s MD in India, and Contract Wrangler has been renamed Conga Contract Intelligence, adding to the suite of products that Conga already offers.
India - an equal partner
Speaking about Conga’s plans in India, Chittu said that the country is not an outsourcing location for Conga, but an equal partner in product development.
“India is not an outsourcing partner or an offshore partner. It’s like an equal partner (for Conga). We are doing a lot of things that are led from India,” she said.
Noel reiterated Chittu’s point, saying, “We do the entirety of our software development lifecycle here, from cradle to the grave. From product definition to design and development, to testing and release. The entire cloud operation is handled from India.”
“We already have R&d centers in Pune, Ahmedabad, and Bengaluru. But the Chennai center will focus more on the AI and ML space based on what Chittu has already built with Contract Wrangler. We will take that expertise and broaden it across all products that Conga makes across all other centers,” Noel added.
Chittu’s Vision for Conga in Chennai
A little background digging on Chittu reveals her drive for entrepreneurship and her love for Chennai. In the last 20 years, she has founded and managed several successful legal-tech startups in Chennai, like Modria and CREKODR.
Way back in 2004, before Conga or even Contract Wrangler came into the picture, Chittu founded ODRworld and ODRindia, India’s first online dispute resolution provider.
Chittu says that she always wanted to start her businesses in Chennai and nowhere else. “In my journey, I always felt that we have a lot of talent in Chennai. The people who come into any organization here, make the organization great.”
That’s why she plans to quickly scale her product team in Chennai from the current 45-member operation to 100 members. She says, “I feel that this (Conga) will be one of the success stories like Zoho, and Freshworks that operate out of Chennai. That is the vision we are seeing with us starting our operations here in Chennai.”
At present, Conga has global operations across North America, Europe, and Asia and has 11,000 customers spread across the world using its revenue management and legal tech products. It currently has 750 professionals in India and the company aims to increase it to 1000+ over the next two years.
Before we wind off
Chennai, also known as the Gateway to the South, is fast becoming a hub for product companies. The city is already labeled as the SaaS Capital of India, as it is the home to a number of successful software product businesses like Zoho (which just crossed $1 Billion in revenue), Freshworks, Chargebee, and Kissflow, to name a few.
For years, Bengaluru’s information technology hub has been compared to Silicon Valley in the United States for start-ups in the sector. Now, Chennai is attempting to establish itself as a product and SaaS hub. The fact that it is already a major hub for manufacturing is another story.
It is also aided by the recent efforts of the Tamil Nadu government which has allotted about INR 50 Cr to the Emerging Sector Seed Fund to make equity investments in state-based startups and also leverage capital from institutional investors.
The state government would set up an i-Tamil Nadu Technology hub at the cost of INR 54.61 Cr in Chennai and the central government would coordinate efforts to use technology to solve complex challenges in the state.
The Tamil Nadu Startup and Innovation Mission (TANSIM) would also set up regional start-up hubs in Erode, Madurai, and Tirunelveli to ensure the development of the start-up ecosystem in all regions across Tamil Nadu.
An iconic State Start-up Hub Centre with all facilities will be established by the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) at Nandambakkam, Chennai at an estimated cost of INR 75 crores.