Exotel | Story of BITS-Pilani alumni who gave India the Lego of customer communication

First Yahoo then Flipkart then jobless on the verge of getting married – all on his own terms. Meet Shivkumar Ganesan, the mastermind behind the Lego of customer communication in India

yahIt was the year 2015 when a very young CEO of an experiential travel company was faced with a sudden spike in customer engagement of the business. Owing to their incessant travel and a very lean team to handle the situation, the entrepreneur decided it was time to look up for a solution.

Suggestions started pouring in and one of the friends slipped in something about the Lego of customer communication – Exotel. And Voila! The cloud telephony service provider swooped in and saved the day.

Wondering what’s all the fuzz about Exotel? Read for yourself–

From Yahoo to Flipkart to Roopit to Exotel!

The idea for Exotel was coined out of the own needs of the mastermind behind this Lego. It was the year 2010 when BITS-Pilani alumni Shivkumar Ganesan was just done jumping from Yahoo to Flipkart to joblessness to the core of being broke. It was then when he kicked off his first start-up – a C2C selling platform called Roopit.

“The USP of Roopit was that I wanted it to be medium agnostic. Calls & SMS played a very important role in the entire process. I was bootstrapping and wanted an easy solution that would help me build a distributed call centre. But all I found was ways to do this with boxes and wires,” recollects Ganesan.

To bring together multiple phone lines of Roopit’s customer support into a single one, Ganesan and his fellow entrepreneurs started off a prototype project with an idea of changing the wire based infrastructure or the hardware infrastructure of telecom sector into cloud. That’s when the pivot to Exotel happened.

Not another call centre – It’s telephony on cloud

how-it-work-exotel-cloud-telephonyThe initial idea of Exotel was to build a distributed call centre, where several people can call in or send SMS. But realising (and out of self-experience) that a small ventures like his needed a single telephone number that would receive calls and messages and handle various other functions such as interactive voice response. That’s when Exotel crossed path and transformed into something different than the original distributed call centre.

Since then the venture became a building block that helps SMEs and start-ups customise customer communication over calls and SMS by providing a quick and easy way to purchase a telephone number, by-passing the cumbersome route to get a telephone connection.

Mission Onboard – Both customers & investors

From acquiring Exotel’s first customer to landing more than a 1,500 including the biggies of the start-up world such as Uber, Ola, Flipkart, Quikr, Swiggy, Urban Ladder, Oyo, Practo, and Zivame, among others, Exotel has come a long way from the days when people did not even understand cloud telephony.

“In our initial days, the market needed a lot of education. Cloud telephony was an alien term and businesses were not familiar with an offering like this. But this has changed over the years,” says Ganesan.

By another year of its operations, Exotel netted $500,000 (Rs 2.4 crore) in seed funding from Blume Ventures and Mumbai Angels 2012. It also acquired two companies in 2015- Voyce, a customer feedback platform, and Singapore based Croak.it, which allows users to share their voice messages in clips of up to 30 seconds.

Behind every successful start-up, there is Exotel!

exotel-cloud-servicesEveryone needs a reliable way to talk to their customers, send SMS, analyse customer conversations, and solve critical communication issues. Exotel has made it possible for them to focus on their core business offering without having to worry about communication infrastructure.

“I have a poster in my room which says, behind every successful start-up, there is Exotel! We think of ourselves as a backbone or enabler of start-ups. Almost every start-up has used Exotel at some point. Exotel is a silver lining for start-ups that want a reliable and scalable partner,” boasts a proud Ganesan.

Exotel has touched 85 million lives in India. If you have ever order food online, bought something off an ecommerce website, hailed a cab, it is safe to say that you have used Exotel.

The cloud forward

In spite of being largely bootstrapped, the enterprise has completed six years and building a profitable business. In the running year 2017, Exotel has expanded its operations to SEA and working towards growth in these markets which are similar to India.

“We are the lego of communication – a lego piece that powers nearly 4 million conversations every single day. We aim to give the power of communication back to businesses and give them a chance to customise the platform to suit their needs in the best way possible,” concludes Ganesan.

Swastika Tripathi

Two words - Aspirant Storyteller!

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