[The Turning Point] How a breakfast meeting with friends led to the idea for Yellow Messenger

Turning Point is a series of short articles that focuses on the moment when an entrepreneur hit upon their winning idea. Today, we look at Bengaluru-based Yellow Messenger, which offers enterprises intelligent and customisable conversational bots for customer success and conversion.

Raghavendra Kumar Ravinutala was at a leisurely breakfast with a few friends one day in 2014 when one of them started complaining about his telecom operator and its shoddy customer support. He expressed his wish to be able to just message the operator on WhatsApp and get support, rather than calling several times and being put on hold endlessly.

Around this time, Raghu was already contemplating entrepreneurship and his friend's wish propelled his dream to start up further.

Raghavendra Ravinutala, CEO, Yellow Messenger

"It seemed obvious that messaging with business is an area nobody has touched, and something that every business and consumer around the world would need," Raghavendra said.

Raghu was then managing integrated circuit (IC) design at Broadcom, an American manufacturer of semiconductors. Jaya Kishore Reddy, the Co-founder of Yellow Messenger, was working at Myntra as a software developer.

Thanks to Raghu's brother, the duo happened to meet with each other and found common interest in the idea of making a product that would connect users to the core systems of an enterprise.

They started to build a conversational AI product as a weekend project. An MVP was built in four months and a prototype was soft-launched to a few B2C users by March 2015. By June, traction started to amplify and the number of users doubled every month. Thus started the journey of Yellow Messenger.

By January 2016, nine months after its launch, Yellow Messenger had 50,000 users interacting with the product. As of today, Yellow Messenger offers an always-on, intelligent conversational automation on text and voice across multiple channels like WhatsApp, Google Assistant, Alexa, web, and mobile apps.

"These intelligent conversational bots are trained on vertical market and process knowledge. They are formulated into pre-built, ready-to-use bot templates and can be customised for each customer with minimal code."

With more than 75 enterprises, Yellow now has a huge clientele, including biggies like Adani Power, Bajaj Allianz, Tata Power, HDFC Bank, Asian Paints, Byju's, Dr Reddy's, Unilever, Tata Motors, Accenture, Cisco, Deloitte, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Reliance Infrastructure, PepsiCo, and Aditya Birla Group.

In June this year, Yellow Messenger's Series A round was led by Lightspeed Ventures and backed by angel investors like Phanindra Sama, Founder, redBus; Kashyap Deorah, Founder of Hypertrack; Anand Swaminathan, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Co.; Prashant Malik, Co-founder of Limeroad; Nishant Rao, former MD at Linkedin India; Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, co-founders of Snapdeal; Monisha Varadan of Zephyr Ventures; and Alap Bharadwaj, APAC Innovation, Google.

The startup, which was at an ARR of $100,000 in January 2016, now makes revenue of close to $2.5 million.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)