300 million monthly users, 32,000 installs and a target of $100M revenue, building a company the WebEngage wayAlok Soni
When Avlesh Singh and Ankit Utreja left Burrp to start WebEngage in 2011, they were criticised for not having a sales guy in their team. At that time, Avlesh was clear about making things happen with just their engineering capabilities. Four years and 32000 installs later, Avlesh's decision is proven right and today WebEngage is arguably one of the most robust startups to come out of the 'Burrp mafia'.
With the launch of WebEngage 2.0, the company now offers a multichannel user engagement platform. In layman terms, it is a tool that tracks all users (across website and apps) to let the client send targeted messages across channels.These could be website messages, push notifications and in-app messages (for mobile apps), emails and text messages. The platform boasts of a long list of clientele, including the likes of eBay, Flipkart, Pfizer, MakeMyTrip and MTV.
If the world(online) was not enough!
WebEngage is now partnering with Capillary Technologies to have omni-channel data flow and insights from both offline and online world. Bengaluru-based Capillary Technologies is a cloud-based customer analytics marketing platform for retailers and consumer businesses. With its last round of $45 million funding, the company announced its plans to expand the offerings to develop an omni-channel view of its customers, both offline and online. The current partnership can be seen as an important step in this direction, after the acquisition of Hyderabad-based multichannel commerce provider Martjack.
The partnership aims to bring the offline and online data of users together to let retailers make smarter decisions and enhance user experience. With more information about their users, the conversions will also go up for these retailers. Avlesh says,
When a user buys a product from a retail store with Capillary Technologies PoS(point of sales) product integration and goes to the online store of the same company with WebEngage integration, his/her offline behaviour can trigger notifications in the online word and vice-versa. Websites with Capillary Integration will be now powered by WebEngage.
He points out that these offline stores will now have an account on Webengage platform as well. Anything happening in-store(offline) gets accumulated and a mobile and/or web push notifications can be sent based on that activity.
Online retail accounts for less than five percent of the total retail in India and a partnership with Capillary Technologies gives access to the other side of the world. This is also an evolutionary step as most of the retails stores are going online and on mobile app.
The 'Capillary action'
Avlesh has known Aneesh Reddy, Co-founder, Capillary Technologies, for along time now, but it was at a SaaS event a few months ago where they could catch up and form the foundation of this partnership. Avlesh recalls,
I remember Aneesh asking a lot of questions around what are we doing with mobile and web. We met again in Bengaluru to take the conversation ahead and I said, let’s do this – I’ll become your selling partner.
But this was not the first time for Avlesh to see potential in partnering with an enterprise-focussed company. He says, “Everytime there were synergies and partnership potential, the conversation would fizzle out on reaching to second tier. So, this time when before proceeding, we received a token investment from Capillary Technologies. This way, both sides understand the seriousness of the partnership and remain focussed on the development the product.”
While WebEngage is a SaaS product that is operated from the customer side, Capillary also takes the onus of running campaigns on its customers’ behalf.
Engaging the WebEngage way
The almost five-year-old WebEngage is now 60-member strong, with engineering and design team forming the majority workforce, and the rest in sales, customer success and marketing. The product has more than 32,000 web and mobile installs, including more than 1,000 paid customers. The startup is spread across Asia(50percent), US+UK(30percent), Latin America(10percent ) and other parts of the world(10percent). While the company tracks more than 300 million users monthly, its mind-share among consumers has been relatively less. WebEngage 2.0 has been a strategic step to change that.
Though our conversion rate optimisation is good by market standards and we push the conversions by almost 20percent, we are still not getting marketing budget of our clients in that proportion. Our perceived value proposition is lower than our impact.
Avlesh knows the market is cluttered with similar tools and products offering push notification and email-marketing solutions. But he’s clear about the two game-changers his company possesses:
- Journey builder: The platform allows tracking the complete user lifecycle and presents it in a visual model. (This video explains it better) With this format of user data and events collection, one can put conditional trigger points and decision points. This can be automated for engagement communication(SMSes, notifications). For example, a merchant can put a trigger for a promotional message if certain actions are taken by the user or when a specific behaviour meets the condition. It’s like a flow chart with many 'if and else' conditions.
- Mr.X(product in build phase) – The company is working on another product after WebEngage 2.0 that will be out in the market by the third quarter.
Funding, future and fraternity
There are many players offering the omni-channel customer engagement solutions but only few have shown the scale similar to that of WebEngage. While Mobengage and CleverTap have been close competitors, others Inidan players like Twyst, Meltag and Customer 360(acquired by US-based Interactive Intelligence) are also eyeing the market share from the massive marketing budget of the $600 billion retail industry.
WebEngage had raised $500,000 seed funding from Blume Ventures and GTI Capital. Recently, existing investors have pumped in more money through convertible bonds. Capillary Technologies investment is the latest addition.
I know that at this stage if I blow money I can grow faster. Our unit economics might get affected, but stability will come with time. Referrals are the biggest source of customer acquisition for a SaaS company and WebEngage’s growth is fuelled by that.
Nevertheless, he’ll only seek capital actively after building the current product, which will take at least three months.
For now, Avlesh is gunning for $100 million in revenues in the next four to five years.