Collaboration software disruptor Passageways impresses with rapid growth, high potential
What if the next ExactTarget, Interactive Intelligence or Angie’s List—the next big tech success coming out of Indiana—is a company that you’re not paying attention to or never even heard of? Is it possible? Can a company operating below the radar emerge as a global powerhouse and large, sustainable employer?
Paroon Chadha, co-founder and CEO of secure collaboration software maker Passageways, believes his company is already a global powerhouse and that conditions are right for his company to achieve meteoric growth reminiscent of the state’s most prominent tech successes. And based on the facts he laid out during our recent interview, he may just be right.
“Right now, the world’s largest companies, nonprofits, tech firms and Fortune 500 corporations are signing on as customers of our OnBoard board portal and OnSemble employee intranet products … and to be honest, we didn’t even know that some of them were in the sales pipeline,” Paroon said. “We have one of the largest addressable markets in front of us and we’re winning new customers at a rate of 40-50 each month.”
The large addressable market Passageways competes in is actually two different markets–the enterprise governance, risk and compliance market ($65 billion by 2025); and the enterprise collaboration market ($59 billion by 2023). That’s a total addressable market value of $124 billion in the near future. By comparison, the global consumer electronics industry is currently worth about $301 billion and the email marketing industry is expected to reach $22 billion by 2025. And according to research by Wavestone, compared to just five years ago, employees across markets are involved in twice as many teams and 80% of working time is done through collaborative work.
The customers Passageways is attracting and signing make for a wish list that any scale-up company would desire. Passageways portfolio of products includes OnBoard, a board of directors management solution, and an employee intranet product – both can be used in virtually any industry or vertical. However, Passageways does identify five key areas of focus: high tech and Fortune 500, higher education, finance, healthcare, and nonprofits. Customers include:
- High tech/Fortune 500 — HBO Latin America, Breitling, Flex (formerly Flextronix)
- Higher education — Ohio State University, Purdue University, Auburn University
- Finance — Banco Do Brazil, Emprise Bank, Teachers Credit Union
- Healthcare — Nicklaus Children Hospital, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
- Nonprofit — George Bush Library, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Newfields (Indianapolis Museum of Art), Wildlife Conservation Society
“With our 1,500+ customers we facilitated 34,000 board meetings on our platform last year and it will be 75,000 by year’s end,” Paroon explained. Passageways has doubled in size in less than a year, employing more than 100 people at its three locations in Lafayette, IN (50), Indianapolis (40), and London (7), along with a handful of employees who work remotely and internationally. Passageways’ next milestone is achieving $15 million in annual revenue, and they expect to surpass $100 million within five years.
The company took on investment capital late last year for the first time in its 16-year history. Five Elms, a private equity firm in Kansas City, Mo., invested $5 million that is being deployed to attract new talent for roles in customer success, sales and marketing, as well as continued innovation and engineering spending that will “keep the blood flowing” to the company’s healthy product development pipeline.
“One of the reasons I have such confidence in our business plan is because it would be extremely difficult to replicate not just the products and business intelligence, but the extraordinary teams we’ve built over the past 16 years,” Paroon said. “It may take a full year this time, but we will double in size again over the next 12 months.”
Employees who have been through the rapid growth stage before with another tech company are a top recruiting target for Passageways. Having spent 16 years disrupting and developing the secure collaboration market, the leadership wants to add to that some real-world expertise in building a great business and Indianapolis is proving to have exceptional people with those skills.
Passageways is mindful of how companies can change during times of rapid growth, so the leadership team spends a significant amount of time talking about culture and thinking through who they are and who they want to be as a company, as well as the impact of adding another 100 people to the operations, which will necessitate new, bigger office spaces. The Indianapolis office is barely a month old and the shared space offered to them by Lev at Regions Tower is already full.
“We are solving the collaboration problem for the world’s leading brands at a time when companies, more than ever, value the talent that they have fought hard to hire and must fight hard to keep, including top advisors like board members,” Paroon said. “Recognizing that opportunity is a very Indiana thing, a Hoosier sensibility, if you will. And our story is an Indiana story—we started at Purdue in Lafayette, most of our talent has come from here, our early customers who believed in us are here, and we plan to stay and grow here becoming that next great Indiana success story.”
1 $65 billion by 2025 according to Grand View Research
2 $59 billion by 2023 according to MarketsandMarkets