The Story of Exotel – Into the Cloud

Shivakumar Ganesan, 29, fits your idea of a techie to a T — confident, casually dressed and informal.

Introducing himself as Shivku, he is the founder and CEO of a company called Exotel, based in Bangalore, that provides telephony on the cloud for its clients.

Exotel, where the core team is made up of his classmates and friends from his alma mater BITS-Pilani, crossed Rs 1 crore in revenues last financial year. It has totally raised Rs 2.5 crore in the first round of funding from Mumbai Angels, a network of wealthy individuals who invest in and mentor start-ups, and Blume Ventures, a venture capital firm that provides seed-stage funding. And, with business set to expand, Exotel is getting ready to raise another round of funds.

Shivku has worked in Yahoo!, where he worked in various roles for five years before quitting to start a venture on his own with a friend. That didn’t work out as planned and Shivku found himself at Flipkart, the online store that sells a lot of stuff, right from books to baby-care. A six-month stint at Flipkart and Shivku found that the desire in him to start something on his own had not gone away.

Shivakumar Ganesan
Shivakumar Ganesan, CEO, Exotel

I quit and got married, without a job,” says Shivku. Then one thing led to another. Shivku was hunting for a second-hand refrigerator to replace the one that had broken down. This resulted in him starting Roopit, an online C2C marketplace.The hunch with which I started Roopit was that the buyers and sellers in a C2C marketplace are in different mediums,” says Shivku. While developing Roopit, Shivku realised that he needed one telephone number that would receive voice calls, SMS and ensure that he did not miss a call that would have resulted in a business deal.

That is how, he says, the idea to start Exotel came up. The initial idea was to build a distributed call centre, where several people can call in or send SMS. If a small venture like his needed a single telephone number that would receive calls and messages and handle various other functions such as interactive voice response, Shivku realised that other start-ups too would require the same features.

Thus, Exotel, which was incorporated in 2011, has transformed into something different than the original distributed call centre. It provides telephony on the cloud for its clients, mainly small and medium enterprises. Exotel provides a quick and easy way for an SME to purchase a telephone number, by-passing the cumbersome route to get a telephone connection.

Explains Karthikeyan Krishnamurthy, Head of Products, “What we are providing is a cloud-based telephony system where you can buy a virtual number within 20 minutes.

How It Works:

Exotel ties up with various telecom operators and procures numbers from them and connects them with its software, to be given to clients on demand. Exotel gets its revenues from actual usage of the telephone and a monthly rental that is charged. Exotel, says Karthik, brings down the cost of getting a telephone connection and also reduces the time it takes to get one. Exotel has about 350 clients now with operations in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

[Editor’s Note: This article is a republication of the article featured on BusinessLine. We love sharing such brilliant stories with you guys ;)]

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