Knowlarity Acquihires Smartwards, A Customer Engagement Platform

Knowlarity has acquihired customer engagement platform Smartwards for an undisclosed amount.

Shantanu Mathur, founder of Delhi-based Smartwards will now head the India operations of cloud telephony company Knowlarity. He earlier worked with FashionAndYou in 2012 and then joined Smile Group’s India incubator as the managing director.

Ambarish Gupta, CEO and Founder, Knowlarity said, “We are thrilled to welcome Shantanu, Dhanraj and their team on board at Knowlarity. We look forward to working with the Smartwards team and utilize its expertise. Shantanu and Dhanraj are solid entrepreneurs who are early movers in the space and do not shy away from tackling complicated problems. We look forward to them driving the core communication business in India and utilize their experience in developing more analytical tools. We will continue to use acquisitions as a natural extension of our strategy to further build capabilities and acquire top talent”.

In his new role as Country Head, Shantanu Mathur said, “The Smartwards team is very excited and is looking forward to being a part of the Knowlarity family. We share the larger vision of tackling this unique opportunity, not only in India but world over. Our journey in building a strong B2B2C product has been quite fascinating. We realized early, that to make a successful product for the Indian customer, one has to solve the problem in-depth and at-scale. However, the SME is not an easy market to crack in India and thus we were looking to move to a larger platform. With Knowlarity, we get the freedom and agility of a start up in a well-established organization.”

Knowlarity was founded by Ambarish Gupta in 2009 and is backed by Sequoia Capital and Mayfield.

 

#IndianStartupData : Knowlarity Revenues Up By 78% In FY14-15; Losses : 52%

[Editor Notes : Nothing is as powerful as data and these articles are part of our coverage of #IndianStartupData – i.e. an overview of financial performance of selected Indian startups with a belief that it gives the audience a good picture of the companies and the ecosystem in general.]

Cloud telephony startup, Knowlarity recorded revenue of 36.1 crores*, as opposed to 20.5 crores last year. As far as revenue from operations goes, it stood at Rs. 22.6 crores (as opposed to 12.4 crores last financial year).

Having said that, the company incurred an expense of 53.5 crores, which has increased by almost 52% as compared to the last year.

* Important to note that Knowlarity is into several other telecom businesses especially providing VAS services for SMS/messaging and local, international calls.

As far as revenue split goes, revenue from products stands at INR 22.6 crores. The other big source of revenue is corporate cost allocation – which stands at INR 13 crores (no further details on this is known, but maybe intra group transfers?).

knowlarity-revenue

Knowlarity Shareholding Pattern

The two cofounders own majority of shares.

  • Ambarish Gupta  : 36.05%
  • Pallav Pandey : 34.58%
  • Progressvist Investment Capital Ltd : 8.35%
  • Mansi Singhal and Gaurav Chakravorty (qplum founder) : 7.41%
  • Ravi Prakash Shrivastava : 5.98%

As far as convertible preference share goes, the breakup is as follows:

  • Sequoia : (compulsory convertible shares) : 38.97%
  • SCI Growth Investments II : 61.03%

For an enterprise SAAS play, the numbers surely look very promising (esp the revenue/expense growth).

Knowlarity had raised $16mn in 2014 and has been following an aggressive sales strategy (sometimes, they went overboard which has pissed off its competitors).

All said and done,the numbers surely look very promising for an enterprise SAAS play – though there is an interesting story inside the numbers!

– Know the Knowlarity Startup Story.

What next? A comparative study.

“Starting Up Is Like An Acid Bath” : Ambarish Gupta On Handling Startup Failure To Building Knowlarity

Ambarish Gupta, CEO and Founder of , talking about the failures and successes in his startup journey, says that every firm starting up is a story that teaches a lot of difficult and easy lessons.
15244440015_395bbf448a_zAmbarish’s first startup was an online real estate brokerage portal named Inventica that started back in 2004 in Bangalore.  Ambarish recollects it as the time that saw the rise of dotcom bubble in the USA and India lagging far behind, did not find any investors for Inventica.
He explains that learning from IIT Kanpur and working in countries like the US, UK and Australia had taught him how to own a company and create a product; but one also needs to learn how to create the right product for the company, to create the right team of hardworking people, to lead the team of employees, to find the right VCs at the right time, and to sell the product which are very practical knowledge that is learnt on-the-go.
Ambarish says that founding a startup is like an acid bath because by the end of it, you would be much different from the one who went in. A startup journey takes off everything from you other than your solid determination. You need to engage with the reality – the practical world, to be successful in your startup.
The most important and difficult learning is that you cannot move things unless you face the real harsh truth. Inventica’s failure made Ambarish go back to the USA to pursue his MBA. He had also promised himself to not startup ever again.




As fate would have it, the MBA and his ambition to be independent brought Ambarish back to India in 2009 to startup with his safest billion dollar idea – Knowlarity. This was when consumer telephony was at its peak in India.
Ambarish started with enterprise telephony but found that it was difficult to make consumers pay for a service. Since telephony was the big thing then, it was the best option for Ambarish to find a way to cash in on it. It was also at the same time as the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and none of the VC capitalists were interested in funding new ventures.knowlarity-logo
Odisha’s Navin Patnaik who was competing in the elections then used Knowlarity’s Enterprise Telephony for their campaigns and promotions. Knowlarity earned INR 70 lakhs for calling up all of the 70 lakh people in Odisha asking them to vote For Patnaik.
Recollecting these times, Ambarish says that it is always better to work with the industry that is growing because it gives a lot many opportunities to move up the ladder even when you are at your worst. He also advices to keep looking for that one thing which would lift up the business, to mix creativity as much as one can to improvise in the best way to find a fighting chance. One needs to be flexible with their plans to accommodate all of the possible revenue sources.
Lastly, he also adds that while creating a product, one needs to know the kind of market and consumers that they cater too. In emerging markets, people are satisfied with less value at a lesser price and hence it is always better to simplify things than to over engineer them.

Knowlarity Replies To Exotel : “We Look At Our Competitors As Fellow Entrepreneurs”

[Editorial Notes : We earlier published Exotel’s email to customers talking about their shutdown rumor and importantly, taking a potshot at competitor, . Below is Knowlarity’s response.]

“We are surprised by the mass emailer sent by Exotel to their customers and what seems like everyone in the Indian startup community. We look at our competitors as fellow entrepreneurs excited about the same business. We even lead a Cloud Telephony Consortium and helped Exotel present to government bodies and influence TRAI regulations. Clearly that spirit is not reciprocated.knowlarity-logo

As stated by Exotel in the mass-mailer, the market rumour has been around for some time about the difficulties they are facing and the “shutdown”. We do not know or care if that is true or not. We had been doing this business for two years before Exotel was born. We have always focused on customers and technology rather than competitors and that’s what makes us the market leader.

Like all companies, some of  Exotel’s customers are happy and many are not. They look for alternatives and we happen to be the oldest, largest and most scalable one. Many customers choose to be with us. We do not have any policy about responding to market intelligence but we are not surprised if some customers care about this and one salesperson (out of 450 employees) furnished this information.

As for the recording, we fail to understand the connection with us. The only “Anurag” we have in Bangalore is notoriously bad at Hindi. We are still searching for this elusive “Anurag”.

We are sad that we have to be engaged in such a duel. We have documentary evidence of Exotel copying our product features, poaching our customers and now this slander. Publishing it in the media is a waste of energy. We chose instead to focus on building our business. We will continue to do so.” Ambarish Gupta CEO, Knowlarity.

Exotel Breaks Silence. They Are Not Shutting Down. Takes A Shot At Knowlarity

There were rumors of shutting down (started on the Secretly app) and while the team didn’t react to it, they have now sent an email to users clarifying the situation. And not just clarifying, the company has taken a shot at its competitor, Knowlarity (which recently raised a massive $16mn funding  round).

Below is the email from Shivku, Exotel founder and CEO.


Exotel's Shutdown Rumor
Exotel’s Shutdown Rumor

Exotel was the topic of quite a few discussions on social media these last few months.

There was talk that our employees were leaving us and that we were shutting shop. My favourite is the one where someone said that I was being investigated for stealing money from Exotel. We didn’t want to dignify these comments with any response. Hiding behind a so-called secret app (the one where you sign up with your phone number, lol!) made everyone’s true character shine and we wanted to leave it at just that.

But, our lack of reaction was mistaken for apathy by our competitors.

Knowlarity, another company in the business of cloud telephony used these rumours to create panic among our customers. A few of our clients received emails from Knowlarity claiming we were closing down.

Taking this a step further, their sales reps even called our clients claiming to be someone from Exotel to try and poach them.

Apparently, we’re not the first competitor they’ve tried these tricks against!

When I wrote to the CEO of Knowlarity about these emails and phone calls to Exotel’s clients, he suggested that these were merely the result of us “competing for the same customer base.”

The reason I’m writing to you today, is to let you know that Exotel is in a wonderful place! We’re growing at a rapid pace. Our revenues and customer base are growing. Our churn rate is at an all-time low. We’ve rolled out some really cool features like an all new dashboard with unparalleled search features, priority SMS, bulk SMS etc.

Exotel Shutting Down? No
Exotel Shutting Down? No

If you have also received any such calls or emails, please do not believe them and let your account manager know about it.


Exotel founder, Shivku has also shared the below screenshot (of Knowlarity trying to poach Exotel customers) and this call script.

Knowlarity Sales Email to Exotel Customers
Knowlarity Sales Email to Exotel Customers (click for high res)

All is fair in love and war?

PS : Here is Knowlarity’s Response On This Issue.

Knowlarity Raises $16mn Series B Funding From Sequoia Capital And Mayfield; To Expand Internationally

Cloud telephony company Communications has secured $16 million in series B funding from Sequoia Capital and Mayfield. The funding will be used to invest in R&D and to expand internationally.knowlarity.jpg

Knowlarity claims over 6500 paying customers worldwide, ranging from startups to large blue-chip companies.

Knowlarity earlier raised ~$6mn in Series A round in 2012 and recently acquired Unicom Techlabs.

Knowlarity’s flagship products, SuperReceptionist and SmartIVR, can process over a million calls an hour. Headquartered in Singapore, the compay have offices in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore.

What’s interesting is that in international markets, Knowlarity will compete with RingCentral which is also a Sequoia portfolio company.

Cloud Telephony Startup Knowlarity Acquires Unicom Techlabs; Lays Out Inorganic Growth Plan

Cloud telephony startup Knowlarty seems to be getting aggressive on its inorganic growth plan. The Sequoia backed company Communications has acquired Unicom Techlabs, a cloud telephony startup based in Delhi.

Knowlarity had raised Rs 35 cr from Sequoia Captial in January 2012.

Shruti Agarwal, CFO of Knowlarity hinted at more such deals in 2014. She said:

…It is also a great learning experience for all the consequent deals in the pipeline for 2014 which will take us further towards our goal of market consolidation.

She’s even extending an exit option to startups in the space. “Knowlarity is more than willing to help startups looking for an exit options in a fast consolidating market. We have more acquisitions planned in the coming year,” she said.

Other cloud telephony companies like KooKoo & Exotel are also doing well in the Indian market.

Forum Roundup: Knowlarity Exposed to Multiple Vulnerabilities & More

nextbigwhat-forum

NextBigWhat forum witnesses great discussions among entrepreneurs and the geek community. Here’s a quick list of interesting topics from this week.

Knowlarity – Multiple Vulnerabilities Exposed DB and File System Data: Early morning today we found out multiple vulnerabilities on knowlarity systems, resulting in server compromise. A mail was dropped to Knowlarity founders and VP, alerting about multiple vulnerabilities exposed on their commercial product sites. But Surprisingly, No response has been received yet inquiring about the loophole or acknowledging the fix.

Best places/ways to approach SMEs for a SaaS product: We came out of closed beta couple weeks back and have 10+ SMEs running the free pilot. I am looking to learn from the group and get insights into various possible ways, places, methods to reach SMEs in a effective manner to try out the product.

Saare Jahaan Se Accha – Really?

“We used the not-so-popular stanzas from ‘Saare Jahaan se Achha’ and strung it into a music video that addresses the state of street children on this, our 67th Independence Day. A video that asks us to ‘look’ and not ‘look away’.” [Anubhav Sinha]



Zivame launches CSR Initiative : Gift a Bra Program
“The ‘Gift a bra’ program encourages its customers to give the gift of right fit to underprivileged women who are an important part of their lives. Customers can gift lingerie to their household help/cook or care taker as a token of appreciation for the contribution these women have made in simplifying their lives. Customers only need to fill a simple form with details of whom they want Zivame to send a bra to and why, in return your household help will receive beautiful lingerie with personalized gift wrapping from Zivame.com.


How much does it cost for registering a private company in India ?

Would like to know the total cost for registering a private company that includes

1. Memorandum of Association

2. Articles of Association

3. PAN

4. TAN

5. DIN

6. Digital Signature

And if there is any good online / offline consultant for registering a company?

 Timesdeal is part of Google Family Now..Well Almost

—–

 

 Why e-commerce sites think we are fools?

It all started witha promo mailer form tradus.in There are ‘n’ number of e-com sites I never have +ive impressions on tradus.in is one among. No offense meant 😉 Back to the E-Mailer, it was about ‘Republic Day’ Offers (?!) and I was interested in a particular item Olympus 7×21 PCIII Classic Binoculars. It was mentioned MRP: Rs. 2495.00 Deal Price: Rs. 2,199.00.

Forum Roundup

 

Other Interesting Discussions

Kickstarter for India

Top Online Shopping Websites in India

Freecharge copycats

Register at the forum and participate in discussions/help each other and grow the community!

Manorama Group Launches Daily Deals; Knowlarity Expands to Singapore & Other News

At a time when the interest in daily deals is waning, Kerala based publishing company The Manorama Group has launched a daily deal site. On Tuesday, the company’s Chief Editor Mammen Mathew inaugurated the website – www.entedeal.com in Kottayam.

Deals will be available in Kochi to being with. “Soon it will be available state wide,” the Malayalama Manorama newspaper reported. The daily deal site’s fist deal is with the Pizza Hut in Kochi.

The daily newspaper published by the Kottayam based group is one of the largest circulating language daily in the country with over 20 million readers.

Malayala Manorama's Daily Deal Site Entedeal
Malayala Manorama’s Daily Deal Site Entedeal

This comes at a time when the euphoria around online daily deals has subsided. The Times Group, which runs India’s largest circulating English daily also runs a deal site called TimesDeal. Users can claim deals for free on the site and pay at the merchant. Deals are cross advertised on the website as well as on the Times Group’s print publications.

US listed Groupon also runs deals in India. On Groupon, you have to pay online to claim a deal. In its current avatar, the Manorama Groups deal site requires you to buy deals online.

The Manorama Group, much like the Times Group is lauded for its business savvy. However, we aren’t sure if this is the right game for it. Or even the right time. The interest in daily deals is waning and it isn’t really working for most companies.

Recommended Read: *Deal Expired* : The death of daily deal sites in India and the road ahead

HT Media Acquires Webitude

BSE listed media house HT Media Limited has acquired Webitude, a social media company based in Gurgaon. The deal size was not disclosed. The company will be rebranded to Digital Quotient, said HT Media.

In a statement, the company said: HT Mobile has seen good results in the mobile solutions space over the last few years and will retain its Mobile-first approach. The company plans to combine its technical and business knowledge of the Mobile, Social and Multimedia ecosystem and offer powerful marketing solutions which are personalized as well as sharable.

to hit 500 headcount, Expands to Singapore

Cloud telephony company Knowlarity Communications has launched its services in Singapore. The Gurgaon based company will continue to work from its current base but will expand to other areas, the company said. Knowlarity is planning to increase the number of employees to 500 and therefore will increase its staff in India office.

The startup began raised funds from Emergic Venture Capital and Progressivist Investment Capital in 2011 and in 2013 Knowlarity raised $6.6 mn from Sequoia Capital.

Samsung Launches Galaxy S4 Zoom & Mini

Korean phone maker Samsung has launched the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom and S4 Mini in India. the S4 Zoom sports a 10x optical zoom 16MP camera. It runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and has features similar to the Galaxy s4. The phone available in two colors (Black and White) is priced at Rs 29,900. The Galaxy S4 Mini has a 4.2″ display and is 108g in weight. It’s processor is 1.7GHz dual core. The phone is priced at Rs 27,900. With these, Samsung now has a portfolio of 14 smart phones priced between Rs 5240 to Rs 40,300, the company said.

Sequoia Capital Invests INR 35 Crores in Knowlarity, Cloud Telephony Startup

Sequoia Capital has invested INR 35 Crores in Knowlarity, cloud telephony startup. Started in 2009, Knowlarity has launched couple of products focused on SMBs (SuperFAX, VirtualReceptionist, SuperConference). knowlarity

The company claims to have over 40,000 clients across different sectors (including Pepsi, P&G) and the current round of funding will be used to expand in different geographies (Thailand/Brazil).

At the heart of Knowlarity is a cloud telephony platform called “Knowlus”. This end- to- end platform has been developed in-house using open source technologies. It improves the way businesses use phones in India.

application-platform-diagram

 

At Pluggd.in, we have used the service and while the service works phenomenally well – we’d recommend the team to revisit the pricing, which is current done on an annual basis (and potentially defeats the purpose of SAAS based service).

How much would you like to pay for an online FAX based service?