SugarCRM Builds Its Own Path to Ten Years of Success

In a space that many believe has been dominated by one player, SugarCRM is celebrating its tenth year as an innovative and affordable provider of CRM solutions. Now deployed by over 1.5 million individuals in 120 countries and 26 languages, SugarCRM was recently named as a “visionary” company for the second consecutive year in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation.

When he helped launch the company in 2004, SugarCRM Co-Founder and CTO Clint Oram focused on solving what he saw as a significant deficiency in the market. Sales and support teams were not comfortable using the CRM solutions available at the time and it was cost-prohibitive to provide access to every customer-facing employee. The company’s fundamental belief is that customer relationship management is more than marketing, sales force or customer support automation. Over the years, SugarCRM has continually shaped its product to empower people at every level of an organization to better understand and connect with customers throughout their entire lifecycle.

“From 2004 to 2008, the market for enterprise software was essentially dead in the water,” said SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin. “The experts saw no money in it and it took some doing to get the needed funding to get started. But all that has changed. Companies that were funded after the 2008 downturn are now maturing and there’s a hot market for enterprise software IPOs.”

“We’ve taken a different path than Salesforce,” he said. “SugarCRM brings together the simplicity, mobility, and social aspects of a consumer app with the business process optimization of conventional CRM. Instead of developing separate service and support platforms, we consider it a business differentiator that these capabilities are part of our overall system.” While SugarCRM has not exclusively promoted its robust support and service resource, Augustin believes that as the company grows, marketing investments in this area will increase.

SugarCRM offers a platform for the complete customer experience, including sales, delivery, support and maintenance. “Some of our customers report that 75% of their employees use our solution — salespeople, service personnel, project managers and accountants, even executives,” said Augustin. SugarCRM customer Redglaze uses the solution to give every employee instant access to critical information. This includes the ability to sort through the engineering, architectural and contractor service companys’ vast library of photos to send the right ones to partners and potential clients.

Augustin considers CRM solutions to be an ‘underpenetrated’ market. “Sixty percent of the prospects we talk to do not have a commercial CRM system,” he noted. “Ninety percent, including some Fortune 10 companies, do not have a global CRM across the organization. We see a lot of homegrown solutions and surprisingly, many companies still have their staff using spreadsheets. The flexibility and configurability of our product gives companies the confidence to implement a commercial CRM.”

While most of SugarCRM’s business is done with companies bringing in a system for the first time, others are looking to replace existing systems from competitors such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Salesforce. “We believe that the user experience is important,” said Augustin. “A solution needs to add value for the individual in helping get the job done. If enterprise software doesn’t help the individual, then it doesn’t work.”

How did the company come by its memorable name? “The founders were cyclists who had conversations about their aspirations during the long treks they took,” said Augustin. “When one of them looked down at his Gary Fisher ‘Sugar’ mountain bike, they started identifying their new venture as ‘SugarCRM’. It may have just been a place holder at the time, but the name stuck.”

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