Nassim Khadem Reporter

Nassim covers the accounting and tax rounds for BRW, as well as general business news. She previously worked for The Age newspaper covering general news, state politics and economics.

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Zendesk eyes Fortune 500 as it hits over 30,000 customers globally

Published 26 November 2013 08:46, Updated 27 November 2013 16:39

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Zendesk eyes Fortune 500 as it hits over 30,000 customers globally

Zendesk’s Morten Primdahl and Michael Folmer Hansen. The company takes expensive and bulky on-premise customer support software into the cloud.

The founder of start-up Zendesk, a cloud-based customer service software provider, says the company is targeting Fortune 500 companies in a bid to more than double 30,000 customers within the next few years.

Currently, more than 30,000 companies using Zendesk’s software, paid via a subscription service that varies depending on the level of service. There are 4000 organisations in Asia-Pacific alone. That has led to more than 200 million people worldwide – 6 million in Australia – using Zendesk’s web-based customer service software since it launched in 2007.

The business, which started in a loft in Copenhagen, now has 500 employees worldwide, including 100 engineers. As well as having a team of 30 in Melbourne, Zendesk also has offices in Copenhagen, London and Tokyo, and a data centre in Dublin.

Zendesk’s three founders, Mikkel Svane, Alexander Aghassipour and Morten Primdahl, started the business based on a plan to take expensive and bulky on-premise customer support software into the cloud.

Visiting Melbourne this week, Primdahl told BRW that over the past six years their growth has come from small to medium-sized businesses using their services.

While the company still wants to target SMEs, he says the next growth phase will come from getting more Fortune 500 customers. “There’s a very clear revolution ahead of us,” he says. “We now have a sales team that allows us to target a more mature audience. These will be Fortune 500 companies and those types of businesses.”

Primdahl will not reveal the company’s revenue, or its targets, but the founders have raised funding amounting to almost $90 million from leading Silicon Valley investors including Charles River Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Matrix Partners, and Redpoint Ventures.

Zendesk sees big growth in APAC

Since setting up operations in Melbourne in September 2011, Zendesk has seen a leap in customers in the Asia-Pacific region. It now has almost 3000 customers in Australia and New Zealand, including Lonely Planet, the REA Group, LJ Hooker, Tourism Australia, Forever New, Cotton On and Kwik Kopy.

Melbourne is the hub of its Asia-Pacfic operations. In September last year Zendesk opened its first development centre in Melbourne’s CBD, with an aim to attract 20 to 30 software developers and engineers, who will work in sync with the US team on new products.

Zendesk’s Asia-Pacific managing director, Michael Folmer Hansen, says the decision to set up a development centre supports Zendesk’s growth strategy for the Asia Pacific region.

He says big and small organisations are increasingly realising the value of customer service in real time and through new technologies.

“Australia has been a great place for us to grow,” he says. “We are attracting about 10 new customers a day – it’s a mix of company sizes. Customers pay us a subscription fee to use our software.”

He says growth is coming from word-of-mouth referrals. “People sign up for a trial and the vast majority stay,” he says.

Companies are realising the value of letting customers interact with them the way that they want, whether that be contacting the company directly with a phone call, going to Facebook or Twitter to lash out or jumping on company’s website and making a query.

Hansen says they have a high number of customers in retail and financial services industries, as well as companies who have heavy business-to-consumer communication, such as online retailers and online accommodation providers.

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