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Bots are software created by developers that conducts automated interactions with people in real-time. A recent study showed that the number of users on messaging apps has exponentially increased. This is why more and more companies that are launched today are greatly relying on automated chats and chatting services to interact with their users or potential customers. This shift towards chatting indicates that the bot phenomenon is truly here to stay.
Every Fortune 500 company has a bot strategy. Gupshup is a bot-building platform that encourages the creation of advanced bots. Gupshup gives creators all the tools required in the bot development lifecycle. One can build their bots on the cloud and can deploy them in a single click into 25+ messaging and voice platforms including Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype, Line, Google Home, and more.
GupShup - Company Highlights
- Startup Name-GupShup
- Legal Name-Webaroo Inc.
- Headquarters-San Francisco, California
- Industry-Information Services, Information Technology, Messaging, Bot Development
- Founder-Beerud Sheth, Rakesh Mathur and Dr. Milind R Agarwal(Ex-Founding Executive)
- Founded -Jun 1, 2004
- Current CEO-Beerud Sheth
- Total Funding-$384.1 mn (2022)
- Annual Revenue-$93.36 mn (Rs 747.7 crore in FY21)
- Valuation-$1.4 billion (2022)
About GupShup and How it Works?
Gupshup, formerly called SMS Gupshup, is a messaging service and bot-development company that is operating in India, the US, and the UK. It provides a wide range of services including SMS, email, Voice, USSD, and IP messaging to banking, financial services, and insurance retail companies, and chatbot development to the leading retail and e-commerce companies.
Founded in 2004, by Beerud Sheth, Dr. Milind R Agarwal, and Rakesh Mathur, GupShup has extensive experience in building bots for companies such as Unilever, SAP, Tata Sky, TITAN, Vogue, and many more.
“Gupshup is simply a conversational messaging platform. When you book a ticket or buy coffee, you receive a confirmation SMS or a credit amount due to notification on your phone. We are basically the platform that facilitates that,” remarked Gupshup CEO and Co-founder Beerud Sheth in an interview.
The company provides a range of bot-building tools. The IDE bot developer gives all the features of a full-fledged development environment right in the browser of the users. It is built on NodeJS and has multifile support, a customizable UI, and also a package manager. This also enables the users to make HTTP calls to external services very easily. Each bot also comes with its own database and helps in storing and retrieving data. The most powerful feature of the Gupshup IDE bot builder is the bot scripting tool that enables the creation of bot conversations via a simple English script.
The users can also build bots without the need for any coding via the Flow Bot Builder feature. The Flow Bot builder helps them get a code-free way of creating structured bots via a graphical editor. Besides, the Bot interactions can be fully customized to involve users. One can even create structured messages and add media content with just a few clicks.
GupShup - Industry
According to recent statistics, over 91% of Indian users use messaging apps today. Furthermore, the premium messaging market, which was valued at around $54,579 million in 2016, is estimated to witness a rise at a CAGR of 5.4% and would be reaching $78,349 million by 2023.
Besides, reports say that the global customer service software market is set to grow at a CAGR of 20.4%, which is expected to reach $2.5 bn by 2025.
Since its inception in 2004, the company has experimented with a variety of business models in the messaging space, beginning with a consumer-focused community text messaging service, then a moment messaging app, and finally an enterprise messaging business that provides customer and brand communication solutions for developers and large businesses in a variety of industries.
GupShup - Name, Logo and Tagline
"Gupshup" as the name implies, is an Urdu term for 'having a conversation'. GupShup is a leading smart messaging platform provider that enables better customer engagement through conversational messaging
GupShup - Founders and Team
GupShup was founded by Beerud Sheth, Rakesh Mathur and Dr. Milind R Agarwal.
Beerud Sheth is the Co-founder and CEO of Gupshup. An alumnus of IIT Bombay and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Beerud was a Computer Science student. Sheth started his career working with Citibank, where he was the AVP. He then worked with Merrill Lynch with the same designation before venturing into the startup world.
When the internet was the talk of the town and names like Google, Amazon, and many more echoed in the room, Beerud decided to not miss the opportunity of doing something new. He then co-founded Upwork, where he was the Co-founder and VP. After he left Upwork, Beerud founded GupShup right in the same year.
Rakesh Mathur is an alumnus of IIT Bombay from where he obtained his Btech ME, after which he pursued an MS in Engineering and Operations Research from The University of Texas. Mathur has been a serial entrepreneur for quite some time now. He founded Armedia and Junglee, where he served as the VP of Marketing and the CEO respectively. Mathur then became the VP of Amazon but for a brief period post which he founded Stratify, SnapStick, and JustChalo, where he served several key designations. After this he became the VP of Rovi.
The entrepreneurial journey resumed again for Mathur as soon as he left his job at Rovi. He again founded a string of companies including Droptalk, InfoNam, GupShup, percipient.ai, and WhiteRabbit.ai. Along with being the Co-founders of a bunch of companies, Mathur always believes in taking up key leadership roles for the same. Besides, Rakesh also has been a notable investor in the startup ecosystem where he even led seed investments in many of them.
Dr. Milind R. Agarwal
Known as the Founding Executive of GupShup, Dr. Agarwal has Manipal Institute of Technology as his alma mater, from where he completed his BTech degree in Electronics and Communication after which he went for an MBA from Michigan State University and then a Ph.D. degree from the University of Mumbai in Indian Philosophy and Management.
Dr. Milind R. Agarwal, Ex-Founding Executive, GupShup
On the work front, Dr. Agarwal has been the Director of Sai Transport Corporation, after joining GupShup as the Founding Executive. He eventually left the company in 2013, after more than 7 years. He then became the Founder and National Coordinator and eventually the Member of the International Advisory Board at the Michigan State University. Quickwork was the last company that Dr. Agarwal founded in 2015, where he is still serving as the CEO.
GupShup has somewhere between 201-500 employees who work for the company.
GupShup - Startup Story
Beerud started a company named 'Elance' with his two IIT Bombay classmates before he was approached by Rakesh Mathur, who was an accomplished entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. Mathur and Beerud started a company named 'Webaroo' in 2014-15.
“Users could publish their thoughts like tweets, and people could follow them and receive messages,” Beerud explains. "Gupshup grew to 70 million users in India at a time when Facebook and Twitter had only one million users in the country."
The company that is currently a unicorn with its headquarters in the coveted Silicon Valley, was not a huge hit back then when it started its run. The startup was initially an SMS application, strictly, the business model of which revolved around subsidizing the cost of sending messages. Though the idea was successful, there were many regulations that prevented it from monetizing the application. This is why it hit a roadblock. Gupshup eventually changed its business model from consumer-oriented to enterprise-oriented, and since then, the company had to never turn back nor pause.
GupShup - Vision and Mission
GupShup' s mission statement says, "build the tools that help businesses better engage customers through mobile messaging and conversational experiences."
"Our vision is a world where it's as easy for consumers to interact with a business as it is to chat with a friend; where consumers can shop, buy, pay, book, learn, transact and interact with businesses through short, simple conversations," said Beerud Sheth, CEO and Co-founder, GupShup.
GupShup - Business and Revenue Model
Though GupShup was initially started with a business model that revolved around the consumers, the company eventually changed its business model to focus on enterprises. This is how the company operates now where the businesses use GupShup's application programming interface for customer interaction across more than 30 contact networks, including SMS. Developing chatbots, omnichannel inbox capabilities, conversational AI, and client-side apps to handle interactions are among the API services.
GupShup earns its revenues from mobile messaging services, and the facilities of mobile advertisement through text messages that it offers.
GupShup - Revenue and Growth
GupShup is growing at a steady pace and aims to grow more than 60% in annual subscription revenue soon, mentioned the co-founder in an interview in 2021.
Beerud Sheth said that “the company is growing at 60% year-on-year, and we are hoping to accelerate this growth. India comprises 80% of the business, and the US is the next big market with 10-15% share, but geographies such as Latin America and South-East Asia are seeing fast growth."
GupShup Revenue, Expenses, Profit/Loss, and Financials
GupShup claims an 80% revenue increase from pre-pandemic levels and has closed 2020 with an annual revenue run rate of around $150 million.
GupShup Revenue and Profit
Going by the GupShup financials in FY21, the enterprisetech unicorn has seen a 43% surge in its consolidated profit, which became Rs 52.5 crore in FY21, from Rs 36.5 crore in FY20. The operational revenue of GupShup grew 30% y-o-y in FY21, from Rs 568.6 crore in FY20 to become Rs 739 crore in FY21. This helped bolster the total revenue of GupShup, which rose from Rs 573.6 crore to Rs 747.7 crore during FY21.
The Gupshup expenses also went up in line with its revenues, which were registered at Rs 518.4 crore in FY20, and rose by 29% to become Rs 671 crore, primarily due to the rise of the costs of the materials consumed.
GupShup - Funding and Investors
GupShup has raised a total of $384.1M in funding over 7 rounds. GupShup is funded by 8 investors. Tiger Global Management and CRV are the most recent investors. The recent funding of GupShup came from Fidelity Management, Tiger Global, and others, on July 28, 2021, where it successfully raised $240M. The Beerud Sheth-led conversational messaging platform has disclosed its plans of making a Pre-IPO round of investment possible, which would range between $100 - $200 mn, as per Sheth's statements dated April 5, 2022. Beerud also revealed that the company will list in the US market, and the IPO might be later this year or in 2023.
The last round that GupShup saw was the Series F round on April 18, 2021, led by Tiger Global Management, where it raised $100 million and thereby, entered the unicorn club of Indian companies.
With its new fundraising round, the company has mentioned plans to use its funds for upscaling its go-to-market initiatives around business-to-consumer communications (B2C) all around the globe. Furthermore, the company has also mentioned in a press release that it will use the latest funds it received to buy secondary shares from current and former employees and prior investors.
GupShup - Competitors
Top competitors of GupShup are:-
- Yellow Messenger
- IBM Watson Assistant
GupShup - Acquisitions
GupShup acquired OneDirect on June 2, 2022. The customer engagement platform that is powered by AI was acquired in an all cash deal, according to which the founders and employees of the company will also be joining GupShup.
This acquisition of OneDirect marked the 4th acquisition of GupShup in 2022, which acquired AskSid, Active.ai, and Knowlarity Communications earlier in the same year. OneDirect, has offered services in over 10 languages and has served 1 bn+ customers to date. Indian Railways, Myntra, KFC, Indigo, and Airtel are some of the distinguished customers of OneDirect.
Knowlarity was acquired with an undisclosed amount on February 2, 2022, after which it acquired Active.ai on April 5, 2022, in a deal that involved mainly cash. Active.ai is a Conversational Banking as a Service (CBaaS) platform, headquartered in Singapore, which aims to make client communication easy with the customers.
The enterprise-tech unicorn has acquired 5 companies so far in its journey. Here's taking a quick look at them:
GupShup - Challenges Faced
When GupShup (formerly called Webaroo) launched in 2007, mobile was the only means to communicate with many people. At that point (which was before the smartphone era) everybody used to use feature phones. The sole way to reach people on feature phones was via SMS.
GupShup developed a really noteworthy idea of an SMS application but that was found to be increasingly difficult to monetize back then. “We could neither subsidise nor monetise. The platform was great; the scale was engaging, but we could not afford the model,” he shares. This is the time when the company changed its business model and began to build an enterprise-oriented model, and success followed.
GupShup - Future Plans
As per the reports of July 28, 2021, the company's co-founder and CEO, Beerud Sheth stated that the company is looking for a US listing in the forthcoming year. He has further mentioned that GupShup will be buying back shares from its employees and early investors. Fast forward to April 5, 2022, after it acquired Active.ai, Beerud stated that the company would most likely be launching its IPO later in 2022 or the next year. This will make the company build an enviable track record, which will lead to building relations with the marquee firms.
What does GupShup do?
GupShup, formerly called SMS Gupshup, Webaroo, is a messaging services and bot-development company operating in India, the US, and the UK providing SMS, email, Voice, USSD, and IP messaging and chatbot development to many Retail and e-commerce companies.
Who are the GupShup founders who founded Gupshup?
GupShup was founded by Beerud Sheth and Rakesh Mathur.
What companies do GupShup compete with?
GupShup's top competitors are ServiceNow Now Platform, IBM Watson Assistant, TARS, ManyChat, Qualified, Rulai, e-bot7 and LivePerson.
Is Gupshup a unicorn?
Yes, GupShup a unicorn, which entered the unicorn club of the Indian companies on April 18, 2021.
Is Gupshup India a listed company?
The Gupshup Company is not listed but is aiming to launch an IPO soon in 2022 or 2023, and would likely list in the US market.