A startup that began its journey in India 15 years ago, helping businesses reach and interact with users through SMS, said on Thursday that it had achieved unicorn status and was also profitable.
San Francisco-based Gupshup has raised $ 100 million in its Series F funding round from Tiger Global Management, which values the 15-year-old start-up at $ 1.4 billion.
The startup operates a conversational messaging platform, which is used by more than 100,000 businesses and developers today to create their own messaging and chat experiences that serve their users and customers.
Gupshup, which has raised $ 150 million to date and concluded its Series E in 2011, says its customers send more than 6 billion messages each month.
“The growth in the commercial use of messaging and chat experiences, which transforms virtually every point of contact with customers, is an exciting centuries-old trend,” John Curtius, partner at Tiger Global Management, said in a statement. “Gupshup is uniquely positioned to win in this market with a differentiated product, a clear and sustainable gap and an experienced team with a proven track record. In addition to its market leadership, Gupshup’s unique combination of scale, growth and profitability has attracted us. “
Tens of millions of users in India, including yours, remember Gupshup for a different reason, however. For the first six years of its existence, Gupshup was best known for allowing users in India to send group messages to friends. (These cheap texts and other smart techniques kept tens of millions of Indians in touch with each other over the phone ten years ago.)
That model eventually became unworkable, Beerud Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Gupshup, told TechCrunch in an interview.
“For this service to work, Gupshup subsidized messages. We were paying the cost to the mobile operators. The idea was that once we grew we would place ads in those posts. Long story short, we thought as the volume of messages increased carriers would lower their prices, but they didn’t. And the regulator also said that we could not put advertisements in the messages, ”he recalled.
That’s when Gupshup decided to pivot. “We haven’t been able to subsidize messaging or monetize our user base. But we had all this cutting edge technology for high performance messaging. We have therefore moved from the consumer model to the business model. So we started serving the banks, e-commerce businesses and airlines that need to send high profile messages and can afford to pay for it, ”said Sheth, who also co-founded the venue. freelance work Elance in 1998.
Over the years, Gupshup has expanded into new messaging channels, including chatbots, and also helps businesses set up and manage their WhatsApp channels to engage with customers.
Sheth said that many large companies around the world in banking, e-commerce, travel and hospitality and other industries are among Gupshup’s clients. These companies use Gupshup to send their customers transaction information and authentication codes, among other use cases. “These are not advertising or promotional messages. This is essential information about the services, ”he said.
The startup, which had an annual rate of $ 150 million, will use the new capital to expand its product offering and woo customers in more markets. Sheth said a similar use case with companies he saw in India a decade ago was unfolding in many emerging markets, paving a growth path for the enterprise messaging platform.
“Gupshup’s mission is to create the tools that help businesses better engage customers through mobile messaging and chat experiences. As we work towards achieving our mission, we are thrilled with this investment from Tiger Global, given its incredible track record of making big, bold and successful bets on innovative, category-defining companies around the world, ” did he declare.