Pune Inc: After becoming a centaur, Icertis heading towards making it bigger globally

With some of the world’s top organisations, such as Microsoft, Airtel, Genpact and Google, as its clients, Icertis, which is based out of Maharashtra’s Pune and Bellevue in Washington, rose to centaur (a firm with $100 million in annual recurring revenue) status this year. The firm became a unicorn (a private company with a value of over $1 billion) in 2019. Icertis has been growing at 50 to 60 per cent year on year for the last three years, and raised about $220 million in seven rounds.

Icertis, started by Monish Darda and Samir Bodas in 2009, provided contract management services at a time when the term was known only among a few. “Before, when you signed the contract, you put it in a cupboard and, only if you ran into trouble or somebody sued you or you had a dispute with the vendor, supplier or customer, you drew it out. Otherwise you didn’t care,” says Darda, the chief technology officer (CTO).

With an AI-powered platform, Icertis “turns contracts from static documents into strategic advantage…that defines how an organisation runs”. “Contracts are not just legal pieces of paper; they materially affect the business. We manage the lifecycle of the contract. One way to control a company’s cost is to make sure that their contracting process practices are good,” says Darda.

For instance, when it was invited by a German auto giant in 2015-16, the officers said that one of their problems was that building a new model for a car became a three-year project, and they wanted to reduce it to 18 months. The contracting process alone for a single component took six months, which they wanted to be reduced to less than a month.

“They were thinking of contract management to change how they actually produced great cars. If they could make the contracting process better, their procurement would improve and they could get more value, do things faster and create an important impact on their business,” says Darda. “In the first phase, which took about a year-and-a-half, we could shrink a six-month process to about three months, and now it is about 18 days. They would have saved many hundreds of millions of dollars in the last four years,” he adds.

Today, anybody looking for contract lifecycle management will find Icertis as one of the top names. One of the ways they have maintained their place is by having the biggest number of engineers than almost anyone else in the world. “We have 2,600-2,700 engineers worldwide, out of which about 2,000 are in India, about 400 in the US and the rest are worldwide, including Europe and Australia,” says Darda. Additionally, the company has a high retention, with 20-30 people staying on for a decade.

While an Initial Public Offering (IPO) is not on the cards at present, the company wants to maintain the growth rate. For the next two-three years, Icertis will also focus on making the system more intelligent to bring decision making and decision support to their clients. “We want to be a big company out of India. I think that is a worthwhile dream as an entrepreneur,” says Darda.

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