There are several messaging apps active in Southeast Asia, and most consumers prefer to use them over email when contacting a business. Respond.io serves as a central dashboard for the biggest apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, Telegram, and WeChat. The Malaysia-based company today announced it has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Headline, with participation from AltaIR Capital, Smart Partnership Capital, Sterling Oak Group and Calendula Ventures.
Respond.io is currently used by over 10,000 companies including Klook, Decathlon, Abenson, Yoho, Roche, ShareChat and Bigo.
Respond.io’s dashboard, which processes more than 140 million messages per month, consolidates all the messages a business receives, so the right person can see them. It also includes marketing, sales, and support tools and can run automated workflows, like creating chat menus, drip campaigns, internal pipelines, and calling external actions. One of the benefits of using a central dashboard is that managers can quickly see if a conversation has been dropped and relaunch it.
Since its last funding round in January 2020, Respond.io has grown its revenue 25x. Its latest funding will be used to continue attracting large companies by adding more to its suite of integration capabilities and expanding beyond- beyond Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
Respond.io was launched in 2017 by Gerardo Salandra, Hassan Ahmed, and Iaroslav Kudritskiy to serve as an omnichannel messaging inbox. Its product-driven strategy means that Respond.io develops its platform using feedback from its customers. It has a public roadmap and hundreds of customers can vote for features they’d like to see, helping Respond.io prioritize rollouts.
For example, it recently localized Respond.io to Spanish because around 30% of its customers are in Spanish-speaking countries, and many voted to make the platform available in Spanish.
Another example is its contact merge tool. Since customers often send messages from multiple channels, that meant their chats were scattered across different profiles on the platform, Salandra said. The Contact Merge tool uses an algorithm to identify returning customers, even if they start using a different channel for messages.
Before founding Respond.io, Salandra worked at software companies like Runtastic (which was acquired by Adidas), Google and IBM. He saw that marketing software like HubSpot and Salesforce focused primarily on email, offering little support for instant messaging, even though that’s what many customers prefer to use.
At Runtastic, Salandra told TechCrunch that “every time people contacted us on Facebook Messenger with sales or support requests, we asked them to email us so we could follow up, but they were frustrated. and gave up. As a consumer, I realized that I had been in their shoes. I hated making phone calls to resolve something because I’m part of a generation that doesn’t instinctively communicate that way.
Salandra saw a market for professional instant messaging, filling the void left by marketing software like HubSpot and Salesforce.
When Respond.io was created, most messaging apps didn’t have an API yet. The only channel he could connect to was Telegram. “But we were sure that was going to change, we were 100 per cent confident,” Salandra said. “We just need a proof of concept.” So the team reverse-engineered a popular API-less messaging app to connect to Respond.io’s platform, and sold it as a solution to early customers, including a major conglomerate. Later, as messaging channels started to launch APIs, Respond.io also integrated with them.
Respond.io competitors include MessageBird, SleekFlow, Trengo, Verloop, and Callbell, all of which also consolidate messages from different channels into a single dashboard. Salandra said Respond.io differentiates itself through its product-driven growth strategy and content leadership. “Although they tend to be more sales-oriented, we have focused on our product and content. We don’t imitate existing solutions or sell mundane products.
Salandra also noted her company’s pricing structure. Instead of charging per user or per seat, it introduced Monthly Active Contacts (MAC), so customers are only charged for the contacts they speak with.
In a prepared statement, Akio Tanaka, Partner at Headline, “We are impressed with Respond.io’s growth trajectory, achieved through a product-driven growth strategy and organic marketing. We see the huge potential of the Respond.io technology and are proud to support the team in their transformation of communication with enterprise customers across all industries.