Bengaluru-based cloud telephony firm Knowlarity Communications has acquired Delhi-based Smartwards, a customer engagement platform. Post this acquisition, Knowlarity will integrate the Smartwards’ product and technology into its own product ecosystem to provide enterprise software solutions to small and medium businesses.
Shantanu Mathur and Dhanraj Singh Bisht, Co-founders of Smartwards, will now lead the India operations for Knowlarity. Founded in 2013, Smartwards team of six people have been shifted to Knowlarity’s Gurgaon office.
Our journey in building a strong B2B2C product has been quite fascinating. However, the SME is not an easy market to crack in India and thus we were looking to move to a larger platform. With Knowlarity, we get the freedom and agility of a startup in a well-established organisation.
An alumnus of IIT Delhi, Shantanu brings 13 years of experience across US, UK, and India in multiple roles. Whereas Dhanraj is an alumnus of BITS. According to Shantanu, Smartwards has 10–12 investors (a mix of VCs and HNIs) and they will continue to hold the same stake in future.
Smartwards’ proprietary technology enables SMBs to identify, reward, engage customers, in-store and out-of-store. With presence in over 150 locations across eight cities, Smartwards provided engagement solutions to local businesses, including restaurants, cafes, cinemas, salons and retail outlets.
Ambarish Gupta, CEO and Founder of Knowlarity, has been the mentor of Smartwards for the last few years, providing them the network of investors, lawyers and other professionals.
Ambarish said, “We look forward to working with the Smartwards team and utilise its expertise in developing more analytical tools. We will continue to use acquisitions as a natural extension of our strategy to further build capabilities and acquire top talent.”
Founded in 2009, Knowlarity is a cloud telephony service provider that offers comprehensive communication tools including, IVR, fax and conferencing facilities to SMEs, enterprise customers and individuals. Its flagship products, SuperReceptionist and SmartIVR, can process over a million calls an hour.
Headquartered in Singapore, Knowlarity has now offices in Gurgaon, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. With 450 employees and more than 15,000 customers across 65 countries, the company is now looking to expand in South East Asia, Middle East, and Latin America.
In July 2014, Knowlarity had secured $16 million in series B funding from Sequoia Capital and Mayfield to invest in R&D and expand internationally. Smartwards came as the company’s second acquisition after it acquired Delhi-based Unicom Techlabs in January 2014. Unicom had more than 200 customers, which Knowlarity took over along with all the intellectual properties.
Merger and acquisition is not a new phenomenon for the cloud telephony market. Last few years have seen a couple of collaborations in this space. In 2014, Bengaluru-based Exotel had acquired a voice-based social media app Croak.it. In 2012, the company raised Rs 2.5 crores in its Series A funding from Blume Ventures and Mumbai Angels.
In August 2014, Ozonetel acquired Yantra Software’s speech recognition vertical in a pay-out model. In February 2013, Ozonetel signed a strategic partnership with Resolvity Information Technologies in order to acquire the customers of Resolvity’s VoiceGain product.
Cloud telephony in the past few years has almost replaced the conventional business telephone equipment such as a PBX, with third-party VoIP service, making the voice communication cost-effective.
According to an Ernst & Young report, the domestic BPO market size is at $6 billion. Whereas the Indian government is also coming out with a policy that encourages domestic BPOs to move to Tier 2 and 3 cities to generate employment.
The growth in the domestic BPO market will directly impact the cloud telephony sector in the country. Players like Ozonetel, Exotel, VoiceTree, Sonetel, MyOperator, and Sipper Global Informatics seem to be in the tug of war to grab its own share of pie.