After acquiring call centre solutions company Ameyo in June this year, cloud telephony and communications startup Exotel has now announced the acquisition of Mumbai-based Cogno AI, an omnichannel cloud communication platform.
With the acquisition, Exotel is looking to augment its customer engagement product suite with conversational AI and collaborative browsing or co-browsing capabilities, which are considered Cogno’s key strengths.
While the companies did not announce the terms of the deal, it is confirmed to be a part stock and part cash deal. Cogno AI’s team of 98 will now be part of Exotel.
Founded by Shivakumar Ganesan, Ishwar Sridharan and Siddharth Ramesh in 2011, Exotel is a cloud telephony platform that provides APIs for voice, messages and user verification services over voice telephony or internet communications.
The company claims that it now facilitates about 4 Bn cloud calls a year for its 6K customers. Exotel currently work with startups such as Flipkart, Quikr, Redmart, GoJek, Ola among others. It competes with the likes of cloud communications unicorn Gupshup, Knowlarity, Waybeo and MyOperator.
Speaking to Inc42, Exotel cofounder and CEO Shivakumar ‘Shivku’ Ganesan said, “The need in the market for a full-stack customer engagement platform has outpaced our ability to build and deliver in time. Hence we decided to first merge with Ameyo for a contact center and now acquired Cogno AI, a conversational AI platform.”
As for Cogno, cofounder Aman Goel said, “Exotel has an enormous market presence and customer understanding. And this helps Cogno AI access a larger market for more robust offerings.”
Founded in 2017 by Aman Goel and Harshita Srivastava, Cogno provides customer engagement solutions for enterprises including monitoring customer sentiments, seamless onboarding of new customers, contactless resolution, besides other digital sales and support use cases. It claims to work with the likes of the State Bank group, HDFC, ICICI, Kotak Bank, Aditya Birla group among other enterprises.
“Working directly with enterprise clients helped us get the right feedback and build a product-market fit for the BFSI space. We see tremendous synergies with Exotel and Ameyo, and through the combination, we can bring a lot of added value to our customers,” said Cogno cofounder Goel.
Exotel’s Ganesan added that the combined entity is currently growing 70% YoY and is at an ARR of $50 Mn with a target to hit an ARR of $200 Mn over the next three years. Cogno, which is a bootstrapped startup, claims to have seen 200% growth since last year and Goel said it is at $2 Mn ARR.
Exotel Taps Cogno To Meet Trends
In September 2021, Exotel raised $35 Mn Series C from IIFL, Sistema Asia, CX Partners, Singularity and others. At the time, Ganesan said that Exotel will invest heavily in building a vertically integrated full-stack engagement suite, with interoperability of channels and convergence of customer data. It also raised INR 45 Cr in June this year.
He believes that the customer engagement space is undergoing a rapid shift towards hybrid and cloud-based processes and functions. The pandemic has forced the on-prem functions and processes to go remote and hybrid and Ameyo addresses that, with Cogno now doubling down on that approach.
Besides this, adoption of digital channels has skyrocketed. While Ameyo brought a few channels to the Exotel suite, Cogno comes onboard with more options such as live chat, chatbots, WhatsApp APIs as well as co-browsing capabilities, which allows a service agent to guide the end user in a task by temporarily taking control of their browser.
Moreover, NLP or natural language processing and speech as technology has become the norm in this space, the Exotel CEO added. “Cogno AI has a mature conversational AI engine that helps enterprises to have bots engage with customers, monitor customer sentiments, and enable speech analytics.”