A startup that began its journey in India 15 years ago, helping businesses reach and interact with users through texting, said on Thursday that it had achieved unicorn status and was also profitable.
San Francisco-headquartered 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 claims that 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 nothing short of extraordinary,” John Curtius, partner at Tiger Global Management, said in a statement.
“Gupshup is uniquely positioned to win in this market with an advanced product, a differentiated strategy with substantial barriers, significant scale with growth, profitability with expanding margins and an experienced team with a proven track record.”
Tens of millions of users in India, including yours, remember Gupshup for a different reason, however. During the first six years of its existence, Gupshup was best known for allowing users in India to send group messages to friends.
This model eventually became unworkable, Beerud Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Gupshup, told TechCrunch in an interview.
“In order 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 companies and airlines that need to send high profile messages and can afford to pay for it, ”he said.
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 commercials 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.
This is a developing story. More soon…