This makes Gupshup the tenth startup to enter the country’s unicorn club this year. Six of these did so in just the past week. These include social commerce platform Meesho, social network Sharechat, fintech startup Cred, online pharmacy PharmEasy and investment app Groww. Other unicorns of 2021 include insurance tech platform Digit, health tech platform Innovaccer, and Infra.market, an online marketplace for construction materials.
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This is Gupshup’s first financing round in a decade, having last raised Rs 50 crore ($10 million) in 2011 at a
valuation of Rs 1,000 crore (around $218 million at the time). It counts CRV, Globespan Capital Partners and Helion Ventures among its investors.
Gupshup chief executive Beerud Sheth told ETtech this financing is part of a larger round, with more investors expected to join in at a later stage, that could provide an exit to some of its existing investors. Gupshup has raised a total of $150 million to date.
Founded in 2004, the company has experimented with several business models in the messaging segment over the years, starting with a consumer-focused group text messaging service, followed by an instant messaging app, and later pivoting to an enterprise messaging business providing customer and brand engagement solutions for developers and large businesses across various sectors.
Gupshup’s current suite of solutions includes messaging APIs, a bot platform, bot building tools, a scripting engine, an omnichannel inbox, and conversational experiences among others.
“Banking and financial services is the biggest category for Gupshup, followed by e-commerce, education, travel and hospitality, consumer goods and so on,” Sheth told ETtech. Some of its customers are Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank, Ola, Zomato, and Flipkart.
Gupshup plans to use the new capital to scale its product suite and go-to-market initiatives across the world. “We are expanding to many countries. We’re already big in Latin America and are now expanding to Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, and so on. We are also expanding our team in India very aggressively,” Sheth said.
“Gupshup is already a profitable company and this capital just allows us to take a few more risks to invest ahead of the curve, which means we can have a ready solution even if the market is not ready and evangelise. It also enables us to do some selective acquisitions in adjacent areas,” he added.
More than 100,000 developers and businesses have built messaging and conversational experiences through its API, delivering over six billion messages on a monthly basis across more than 30 messaging channels including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, Twitter, Slack, Skype, Gupshup IP (GIP) messaging channel, Rich Communication Services (RCS) and text messages, the company said in a statement. Gupshup also said it exited 2020 with an annual revenue run rate of about $150 million.
“The growth in business use of messaging and conversational experiences, transforming virtually every customer touchpoint, is an exciting secular trend,” said John Curtius, partner at Tiger Global Management. “Gupshup is uniquely positioned to win in this market with a differentiated product, a clear and sustainable moat, and an experienced team with a proven track record.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, which has resulted in substantial growth for the company, Sheth told ETtech.
“We see a huge market opportunity with messaging and conversations. For opportunities of that scale, we really need to be more aggressive with our investments and global expansion, and build more products,” he said.
For Tiger Global, this is the firm’s second investment this week after
leading an $83 million funding in online investment app Groww on Wednesday. It also
led a $115 million funding in Innovaccer in February, a
$100 million financing in Infra.Market, and
co-led a $250 million funding in IPO-bound Zomato.