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Conversational engagement platforms: Commerce is taking a chatty turn

San Francisco-based Gupshup aims to make business-to-consumer communication as easy as texting a friend, benefitting both trade and customers

Beerud Sheth
Gupshup works with upwards of 45,000 customers in over 40 countries and powers over 7 billion messages every month.

Do you often engage with your favourite brands on any of the digital channels? Chances are a smart chatbot might greet you by your first name and talk to you like a friend. It might inform you about a new product based on your purchase history. Or even offer an instant deal on your next transaction. That’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered conversational engagement for you.

Brands want to engage with consumers one-on-one, in a more contextual way – anytime, anywhere, across any channel or device. But doing this at scale is a challenge. That’s why they are relying on conversational engagement platforms like Gupshup. “We are changing the way businesses connect with their consumers by enabling better user engagement”, says Beerud Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Gupshup, the leading conversational engagement platform in India and other emerging markets.

Richer conversations

“It’s time to imagine messaging apps as the new browsers, and conversational experiences – delivered by brands via messaging channels – as the new websites,” he says. For consumers, the messaging app becomes a ‘super-app’ of sorts to connect with every business, replacing several single-brand apps. WeChat in China is a great example of this phenomenon, shares Sheth.

Exponential growth in offing

Gupshup is betting on conversational experiences becoming the norm in the next few years, if not months. “The conversational AI space is close to reaching an inflection point, so there is tremendous potential”, believes Sheth. He even suggests that a decade from now, people would look back and wonder how anyone did business without conversational messaging.

Gupshup’s growth story

Gupshup works with upwards of 45,000 customers in over 40 countries and powers over 7 billion messages every month. According to Sheth, thousands of large and small businesses in emerging markets use Gupshup’s enterprise-grade platform to build omni-channel conversational experiences. The firm has seen triple-digit business growth. It works with leading enterprises across sectors in India and claims to be the market leader in the conversational platform as a service (CPaaS) segment. Besides, Sheth says, 80 of India’s 100+ unicorns are using Gupshup’s platform.

Investments in product-led growth

The company’s top four industry verticals are BFSI, retail and commerce, travel and hospitality and education (EdTech). With four acquisitions in under nine months, it has been augmenting its product stack as well as vertical depth. The San Francisco-headquartered unicorn has raised $390 mn in all through six funding rounds.

“We are looking at another round of fund-raise in a quarter or so, leading up to an IPO in the US later this year, subject to market favourability”, discloses Sheth. “Gupshup is one of the very few profitable unicorns around,” he adds. Looking ahead, the MIT and IIT-B graduate says, “I am super excited about the role Gupshup can play in shaping the future of business-to-consumer relationships – through conversational engagement, commerce and support worldwide.”

The journey so far

Company: Gupshup
Headquarters: San Francisco, US
No of employees: 1,200+ (most of them are based in India)
Annual Revenue: over $250 million
No of customers: close to 45,000
Countries/Markets present/operating in: 40+
Valuation (as per last fund-raise): over $1.4 billion
No of companies acquired: 4
Companies acquired:

  1. Dotgo (leader in RCS)
  2. Knowlarity (leader in voice communications)
  3. Active.Ai (leading conversational AI platform used by BFSI companies)
  4. AskSid (leading conversational AI platform used by retail/ ecommerce/CPG companies)
    No of funding rounds so far: 6
    Total funds raised: $390 million

QUOTE
We are changing the way businesses connect with their consumers by enabling better user engagement through conversations”
Beerud Sheth,
Co-founder and CEO, Gupshup

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