There are multiple messaging apps operating in Southeast Asia and most consumers prefer to use them via email when contacting a business. Reply.io serves as the central dashboard for the largest apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, Telegram and WeChat. The Malaysia-based company said today it has raised $7 million in Series A financing 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 company receives so that the right person can see them. It also includes marketing, sales, and support tools, and can run automated workflows such as chat menu building, drip campaigns, internal pipelines, and invoking external actions. An advantage of using a central dashboard is that managers can quickly see if a call has been broken and breathe new life into it.
Since the last financing round in January 2020, Respond.io’s revenue has grown 25x. The most recent funding will be used to attract large companies by adding more to the range of integration opportunities and expanding beyond Asia into 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 omni-channel messaging inbox. The 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 would like to see, allowing Respond.io to prioritize deployments.
For example, it recently localized Respond.io in Spanish because about 30% of its customers are located in Spanish-speaking countries, and a large number have voted for the platform to be available in Spanish.
Another example is the Contact Merge tool. Because customers often send messages from multiple channels, that means their chats were spread across different profiles on the platform, Salandra said. The Contact Merge tool uses an algorithm to identify repeat customers, even if they change channel for messaging.
Before founding Respond.io, Salandra worked at software companies such as Runtastic (which was acquired by Adidas), Google and IBM. He saw that marketing software like Hubspot and Salesforce was mainly focused on email and offered little support for instant messaging, while many customers prefer to use it.
At Runtastic, Salandra told ukbusinessupdates.com that “when people contacted us via Facebook Messenger with questions about sales or support, we would ask them to email us so we could follow up, but they got frustrated and dropped out. As a consumer understood I thought I had been in their shoes. I hated calling to solve 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 didn’t have APIs yet. The only channel it could connect to was Telegram. “But we were sure that this would change, we were 100% confident,” said Salandra. “We just need a proof of concept.” So the team reverse engineered a popular messaging app with no API to connect to Respond.io’s platform, and sold it as a solution to early customers, including a large 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 also consolidate messages from different channels into one dashboard. Salandra said Respond.io differentiates itself with its product-driven growth strategy and content leadership. “While they are generally more sales-oriented, we focused on our product and content. We do not imitate existing solutions and do not sell everyday products.”
Salandra also pointed to his company’s pricing structure. Instead of paying per user or seat, it launched Monthly Active Contacts (MAC), so customers only pay for the contacts they talk to.
In a prepared statement, Akio Tanaka, Partner at Headline, said: “We have been impressed with Respond.io’s growth trajectory, achieved through a product-driven growth strategy and organic marketing. We see the huge potential behind the Respond.io technology and are proud to support the team in transforming business customer communications across all industries.