Bengaluru-based enterprise tech startup Esper on Thursday (February 13) announced that it has raised $7.6 Mn in Series A funding. The investment has been led by US-based venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group, with participation from existing seed investors – Root Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures, Haystack Ventures, and Pathbreaker Ventures.
Talking to Inc42, Esper cofounder and COO Shiv Sundar said that the company will use these funds towards expansion in India and the US. The company will also invest in growing its India market share and expand the team in Bengaluru across engineering, sales, marketing, and customer success.
Esper will further invest in product development. Prior to this round, the company has raised $2.7 Mn in seed funding.
Founded in 2018 by Sundar and Yadhu Gopalan, Esper is an Android device management and deployment software. The company officially launched six months back and claims to have seen good traction.
Sundar told us that the company has 65 customers with 50K devices globally. “And in India, we have around 20,000 devices across 20 customers,” he added. The company plans to increase this to 250K devices this year.
How Is Esper Solving Device Management?
Esper is an intelligent cloud platform that helps enterprises deploy and scale Android dedicated devices and manage applications and devices in real-time. India represents a strong market for these Android devices with over 97% of devices deployed using the Android operating system. These include tablets in cabs, biometric devices, POS, delivery and logistics devices.
Their full-stack solution enables enterprises to efficiently develop, manage and monitor these devices securely across different versions of Android and device types. The full-stack approach for customers includes building, deploying, and maintaining Android-based solutions all the way from offering Esper Enhanced Android, a full developer toolchain, and addressing the table stakes of application and device management honed to the unique market needs.
“Our vision is to provide a platform that allows our customers to focus on building their value proposition rather than their infrastructure,” said Yadhu Gopalan, cofounder, and CEO, Esper.
Esper’s customer base in India includes leading enterprises from retail, logistics, hospitality and healthcare industries. Esper also has ongoing partnerships with MediaTek, Lenovo, and Zebra for hardware development and devices.
“We help you to pick the right sort of hardware, verify that hardware, customize the operating system, and we provide a cloud platform so, even though we don’t manufacture the hardware, we ensure that our customers are picking the right combinations of hardware and software,” Sundar explained to us.
M-o-M Growth And 80% Margin Business
Esper follows a subscription model based on per device, per month basis. Due to this, the company claims it has positive unit economics.
Sundar tells us that in terms of devices being enrolled, it is seeing a 30% to 40% M-o-M growth rate. He explained that this is technically 100% M-o-M growth rate, but it takes a while to provision those devices and hence, the company sees around 30 to 40% growth on the M-o-M basis.
About unit economics, Sundar said that’s, that’s the beauty of SaaS as the company’s costs are probably less than 20%, hence, they have an 80% margin. In India also, the company claims to have a significant margin.
“Because it’s like one platform running on AWS across a wide variety of customers. And it has very limited customization and it’s like, sign up, you can sign up provision and then you pay,” Sundar added.
The Esper COO envisioned that the company wants to add more analytics to the product and trying to examine what are five things it goes to install and five devices, many devices, the devices, monitor it, and it will scale up or down, based on how the guys are behaving.
Enterprise Tech: The Market Potential
According to DataLabs by Inc42’s Annual Indian Tech Startup Funding report 2019, enterprise tech sector had a great year. With total funding of $1.15 Bn across 114 deals in 2019, enterprise tech recorded a 49% surge in funding amount compared to 2018.
DataLabs By Inc42 noted that funding in SaaS and enterprise tech startups is increasingly growing. Between 2014-2019, the Indian SaaS startups have raised $1.7 Bn across 255 deals. Of this, 151 have been unique startups funded.
From being a BPO hub, India today is the hotbed for innovation across technologies. And perhaps the best example of this is the boom in the SaaS industry, building on years of experience of creating software for other businesses.
This innovation hasn’t come easy as, despite unicorn level valuations, SaaS startups such as Zoho, Freshworks, Druva and Icertis are relying on clients outside India and international sales for their business, in spite of building the products in India.