After securing $100 Mn in April this year and entering India’s unicorn club, enterprise communications startup Gupshup has raised an additional $240 Mn in a follow-on funding round, looking to buy back shares from employees and some of its existing investors.
The latest round has seen investments from Fidelity Management and Research, Tiger Global, Think Investments, Malabar Investments, Harbor Spring Capital, certain accounts managed by Neuberger Berman Investment Advisers, White Oak, former WhatsApp head Neeraj Arora and others. The company had raised funds in April at a post-money valuation of $1.4 Bn, and the latest round has also been raised at the same valuation.
Besides using the process for secondary purchase of shares from employees and investors, the company will invest towards enhancing its digital commerce enablement products and expanding go-to-market initiatives in new markets. Gupshup is also exploring M&A opportunities in its expansion bid. It had already hired more leaders for its executive team in corporate development, international business development, sales, customer success, marketing and IT.
Incorporated in 2004, Gupshup enables companies to create AI-powered conversational journeys on messaging apps, across marketing, commerce and support workflows. Customers can discover products, pay for them, track delivery, provide feedback and get support over a simple and familiar chat interface. The 17-year-old company has so far raised $390 Mn. Gupshup said it had an annual run rate of $150 Mn in 2020 and claims to be profitable.
Founder and CEO Beerud Sheth said that Gupshup’s conversational communication platform will allow digital businesses and brands to create transformational customer experiences. “We look forward to partnering with our new investors given their incredible track record of backing category-creating companies.”
In other media statements, Sheth mentioned that there was more investor interest after the company’s previous round, and Gupshup wanted to build relationships with the public market investors, which would help the company in an IPO later.
Its conversational messaging platform is used by large and small businesses in banking, ecommerce (including direct-to-consumer or D2C brands), hospitality, consumer goods among others. Some of the company’s clients in India include Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank, Ola, Zomato, and Flipkart. Over the years, it has launched a plethora of services such as TeamChat for intra-organisational communication in 2014, bot builder tools and omnichannel messaging APIs in 2016 and integrated its APIs with WhatsApp for Business in 2018.
Among Indian startups, Gupshup competes with the likes of Bengaluru-based Yellow Messenger, Verloop and Reliance-owned Haptik that also develop conversational AI assistants for businesses for channels such as web, app, SMS or other messaging platforms. Gupshup’s APIs allows for customer engagement across multiple channels, including SMS. The company offers solutions ranging from messaging APIs, bot platform, bot building tools, scripting engine, omnichannel inbox, conversational AI to client-side software and more. Gupshup APIs are claimed to be used by more than 1 Lakh developers and businesses.
In April, the company said that over 80% of its business comes from India followed by the US and Latin America. The company said it saw substantial business growth when most businesses across sectors had to shift online to ensure business continuity amid the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.