There are many messaging apps in Southeast Asia and most consumers prefer to use them over email when communicating with businesses. Respond.io serves as a central dashboard for major apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, Telegram and WeChat. The Malaysia-based company announced today that it has raised $7 million in Series A funding, led by headlines, 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.
Handling more than 140 million messages per month, the Respond.io dashboard consolidates all the messages a business receives, so the right person can see them. It also includes marketing, sales and support tools and can automate workflows such as building chat menus, drip campaigns, internal pipelines and external calls to action. One benefit of using a central dashboard is that administrators can quickly see whether or not a conversation has been deleted and can refresh it.
Respond.io has grown its revenue 25x since its last funding round in January 2020. The latest round of funding will be used to continue attracting large enterprises by further adding to its portfolio of integration capabilities and expanding beyond Asia into the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
Respond.io was launched in 2017 by Gerardo Saladra, Hassan Ahmed, and Iroslav Kudritsky to serve as an omni-channel messaging inbox. With its product-first strategy, Respond.io develops its platform using feedback from its customers. It has a public roadmap and hundreds of customers can vote on the features they want to see, helping Respond.io prioritize deployment.
For example, it recently localized Respond.io in Spanish because 30% of its customers are in Spanish-speaking countries and a large number voted to make the platform available in Spanish.
Another example is a contact integration tool. Because customers are often messaging from multiple channels, this means their conversations are being dispersed across multiple profiles on the platform, Saladra says. The contact integration 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 such as Runtastic (acquired by Adidas), Google and IBM. He found that marketing software like Hubspot and Salesforce were mostly focused on emails, with little support for instant messaging, even though that’s what many customers prefer to use.
At Runtastic, Saladra told TechCrunch, “When people contact us on Facebook Messenger with sales or support questions, we ask them to email us, but they get frustrated. As a consumer, I understand that I am in their shoes. I hate having to make a phone call to sort something out because I’m from a generation that instinctively doesn’t have that kind of communication.
Salandra saw the market for instant messaging for business, filling the gap left by marketing software like Hubspot and Salesforce.
When Respond.io was created, most messaging apps didn’t have APIs yet. The only channel that could connect him was Telegram. But we were sure this would change, we were 100% confident,” Salandara said. “We just needed a proof of concept.” So the team repurposed a popular messaging app without an API to connect to the Respond.io platform and sold it as a solution to previous customers, including a major conglomerate. Later, when messaging channels started launching APIs, Respond.io also integrated with them.
Respond.io’s competitors include MessageBird, SleekFlow, Trengo, Verloop, and Callbell, all of which consolidate messages from different channels into a single dashboard. Salandra says Respond.io is differentiated by its product-led growth strategy and content leadership. “Although they are more sales-driven, our focus is on our product and content. We do not copy existing solutions or sell run of the mill products.
Salandra also looked at the company’s pricing structure. Instead of charging by user or seat, it launched Monthly Active Contacts (MAC), so customers are only charged for the contacts they refer.
In a statement, Headline Partner Akio Tanaka said, “We are impressed with Respond.io’s growth direction, product-led growth strategy and organic marketing. We see great potential behind Respond.io’s technology and are proud to support the team on its way to transform enterprise customer communications across industries.