There are many 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 largest apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, Telegram and WeChat. The Malaysia-based company today said 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 that the right person can view them. It also includes marketing, selling, and support tools and can automate workflows, such as creating chat menus, drip campaigns, internal pipelines, and implementing external actions. One benefit of using a central dashboard is that managers can quickly see if a conversation has been abandoned and can revive it.
Since its last round of funding in January 2020, Respond.io has increased its revenue by 25x. Its latest funding will be used to support large enterprises by adding more to its suite of integration capabilities, and to continue to expand beyond Asia into the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
Respond.io was launched in 2017 by Gerardo Salandra, Hassan Ahmed and Iroslav Kudritsky to serve as an omni-channel messaging inbox. Its product-first 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 the features they want to see, helping Respond.io to prioritize deployment.
For example, it recently localized Respond.io to Spanish because about 30% of its customers are in Spanish-speaking countries, and a significant number voted for the platform to be available in Spanish.
Another example is its Contact Merge tool. Since customers often send messages from multiple channels, it meant their chats were spreading to different profiles on the platform, Salandra said. The Contact Merge tool uses algorithms to identify returning customers, even if they start using a different channel for messages.
Prior to founding Respond.io, Salandra worked at software companies such as Runtastic (which was acquired by Adidas), Google, and IBM. He noticed that marketing software like HubSpot and Salesforce focused mostly on email, providing little support for instant messaging, even though many customers prefer to use it.
At Runtastic, Salandra told TechCrunch that “Whenever people reached out to us on Facebook Messenger with sales or support inquiries, we would ask them to email us so we could follow up, but they would get frustrated and leave.” . As a consumer, I get it, I was in their place. I hated making phone calls to resolve something because I’m from a generation that doesn’t instinctively communicate that way.”
Salandra saw a market for business instant messaging, filling the gap left by marketing software like HubSpot and Salesforce.
When Respond.io was created, most messaging apps did not yet have APIs. The only channel he could connect to was Telegram. “But we were sure this was about to change, we were 100% confident,” Salandra said. “We just need a proof of concept.” So the team reverse-engineered a popular messaging app without an API to connect to Respond.io’s platform, and sold it as a solution to early customers, including a major group. Later, as messaging channels started launching the API, respond.io was integrated with them as well.
Competitors to Respond.io include MessageBird, SleekFlow, Trengo, Verloop and Callbell, all of which consolidate messages from different channels into a single dashboard. Salandra said Respond.io differentiates with its product-led growth strategy and content leadership. “While they tend to be more sales-driven, we focused on our product and content. We do not copy existing solutions or sell run-of-the-mill products.”
Salandra also noted his company’s pricing structure. Instead of charging by user or seat, it launched Monthly Active Contacts (Mac), so customers are charged only for the contacts they talk to.
“We are impressed by the growth trajectory of Respond.io achieved through a product-based growth strategy and organic marketing,” said Akio Tanaka, Headline Partner, in a prepared statement. We see the huge potential behind Respond.io technology and industries. We pride ourselves on supporting the team to transform enterprise customer communication.