Retaining users and driving engagements are key for online businesses as they directly impact scale. While some companies look after these two aspects themselves, a major chunk of businesses rely on marketing automation SaaS platforms like MoEngage, Lead Squared, Clevertap and WebEngage.
With the increasing emphasis on retention and engagement from businesses, WebEngage’s scale grew 35.7% during the fiscal year ending March 2021, according to its annual financial statements filed with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
The Mumbai-based startup provides marketing automation services to consumer internet companies to make user engagement and retention simplified and effective. Its entire revenue came from these services which stood at Rs 49.11 crore during FY21 from Rs 36.16 crore in FY20.
The full-stack marketing automation platform claims to have more than 400 million monthly active user engagement and claims to have served its clients to help them generate additional $10 billion in revenue.
Besides operating revenue, the company has recorded Rs 84 lakh as finance income and other non-operating revenue during FY21.
On the expense front, server hosting charges emerged as the largest cost center for the company contributing nearly 32% of its total annual expenditure. This cost rose 43% to Rs 18.51 crore in FY21 from Rs 12.95 crore in the preceding fiscal year (FY20).
WebEngage hired more resources to push business activities which resulted in 58.8% rise in employee benefits expenses. This cost stood at Rs 14.72 crore during FY21 contributing 25.4% to the annual expenditure.
Technology costs including software expenses shot up 3X to Rs 10.32 crore in FY21 from Rs 3.37 crore in FY20 whereas advertising & marketing expenses jumped 2.4X to Rs 3.35 crore. Legal and professional charges jumped 61% to Rs 1.03 crore during FY21.
In total, the annual cost of the firm went up around 60% to Rs 58.04 crore in FY21 from Rs 36.31 crore in FY20.
Due to a significant jump in expenditure, the startup slipped into losses and posted Rs 9.53 crore loss against Rs 4 lakh profit in FY20. The firm’s cash outflows has improved and stood at Rs 41 lakh as compared to Rs 1.62 crore in FY20.
On a unit level, WebEngage has spent Rs 1.18 to earn a single rupee of operating revenue in the fiscal year ending March 2021.
Its EBITDA margin worsened to -2.08% during FY21 as compared to 15.09% in FY20 which can be attributed to the sharp rise in IT cost which includes server hosting charges and other software development.
The Ankit Utreja and Avlesh Singh-led startup has raised $11.5 million to date. In December 2021, it had raised funding of $5.14 million in pre-Series B led by Blume Ventures, Indian Angel Network, and IQ Fund.
One would have to guess that the fundraising efforts caused at least some of these cost increases, especially legal and business expenses, besides perhaps a shift to more ‘dependable’ premium servers. SaaS firms in the business typically have a strong core product, which demands only incremental changes rather than wholesale development efforts. That would explain business costs staying ahead of technology development costs, even as the latter seems to have been influenced by the salary boom in technology recently. Expect this to temper down by the next FY, going by current trends.