You might have not heard of this Indian startup called CloudCherry.
CloudCherry was a Customer Experience (CX) startup that helped brands to understand their customers better and drive loyalty.
Because CloudCherry was recently acquired by global tech major Cisco.
Now you might have missed this news as well as there was little to no coverage of the acquisition in the media.
Nevertheless, CloudCherry’s exit is an important event for the Indian startup ecosystem and one that merits attention.
To understand why, we need to start at the beginning, rather than at the end, of CloudCherry’s journey.
From the C (Sea) to Chennai
Vinod Muthukrishnan, the CEO and founder of CloudCherry, is an unusual startup founder.
For one thing, he is a bon vivant. An unabashed extrovert.
For another, he used to be a sailor. At an age where his peer startup founders were burnishing their gilt-edged resumes at IITs and IIMs, Muthukrishnan was working on a ship transporting coal and iron ore out of India. Over a career spanning nine years, Muthukrishnan went from being a deck cadet to a navigation officer. He wouldn’t have even been a graduate if his father had not exhorted him to apply to an open university and complete a BBA degree through distance education.
In 2006, Muthukrishnan found himself on an unplanned three-month holiday in Chennai. On the advice of his cousin Sriram Subramanian, a professor at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, a well-regarded business school in Chennai, Muthukrishnan attended a casual meeting with the founders of a Chennai startup. His original idea was to spend three months there and then head back to sea, but that three month stint became a nine year sojourn over which Muthukrishnan morphed from a dilettante to a seasoned marketing professional.
In 2014, Muthukrishnan founded CloudCherry along with three other co-founders – Vijay Lakshmanan, Prem Viswanath and Nagendra C L. His cousin, Sriram Subramanian, got on board as a mentor and angel investor along with a few other folks who collectively pooled in around Rs 1 crore ($139,000).
At that time, the idea behind CloudCherry was fairly simple. Brands in India were waking up to the importance of engaging proactively with customers to drive loyalty and ensure satisfaction. CloudCherry would offer a tablet-based app that would let retail outlets, for instance, collect real-time customer feedback in stores and let them act quickly and intelligently on such feedback.