[Product Roadmap] Founded in a small town in Croatia, cloud startup Infobip now serves global clients like Uber and WhatsApp
In 2006, Silvio Kutic was presented with an interesting challenge. The world was transforming and the way we communicate in it was transforming even faster. While individuals and consumers were adapting and upgrading themselves, businesses were still trying to catch up.
Silvio realised modern-day customers have access to a massive and growing selection of channels, meaning that traditional strategies were no longer adequate for B2C communication in the digital age. This led him to start Infobip out of Vodnjan, a small town on Croatia’s Istrian coast.
Today, Infobip is a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected experiences across all stages of a customer’s journey at scale, with easy and contextualised interactions over preferred channels.
A rapid growth
The first solution came after almost five years of trying to find the right product-market fit. Silvio, an electrical engineer, left his job in Zagreb on his first day after finding the atmosphere too stultifying.
He took the bus back to his home town Vodnjan and began working on a series of startups before landing on the idea for an SMS messaging platform.
The initial project was using group communications via SMS where the first collective message took the form of a Christmas card. When it became apparent that the technology wasn’t scalable, this concept evolved into a communications platform.
At present, the company is one of the world’s largest providers of A2P SMS services, according to the Croatian Chamber of Economy. It recently raised $200 million in funding.
Infobip has over 65 offices and offers natively built technology that can reach over seven billion devices in over 190 countries with over 800 telecom networks.
By 2016, the client base had grown to 5,000 with more than 300 MNO agreements signed. Infobip now claims to process almost 10 billion interactions monthly and works with over 10,000 unique B2B customers worldwide.
These include businesses in traditional sectors, such as retail and banking, as well as new-age domains such as on-demand services and ecommerce.
“The CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) market has been around since 2008 and has continued to add new capabilities over the years. This includes an expanded base of cloud communication channels along with packaged modules that perform a specific task, such as conversational messaging or user authentication,” says Harsha Solanki, Managing Director, India, Infobip.
In March 2020, it extended its services from an A2P communication model to a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) model through a new platform Conversations.
The platform provides solutions based on proven global best-practices that are adapted to the specific needs and local requirements of a business. Infobip’s strong enterprise client base includes the likes of WhatsApp, Uber, Oracle, Zendesk, Viber, Strava, VKontakte, Raiffeisen Bank, Emirates UBD, and Costco, among others.
“By enabling person to person (P2P) communication through a full-stack customer experience centre, this unified customer experience solution helps clients follow their end users’ ever-growing demands in customer care and respond via conversational messaging. We’re also seeing clients across many different sectors working towards ‘engagement’ goals,” says Harsha.
The main challenge for platforms like Infobip is keeping up with rapid demand and accelerating growth. Since achieving the initial product-market-fit, it has been continuously building its offerings in response to the ever-changing market.
Evolving with market needs
“We believe customer needs and direct feedback drive innovation. If there is something we need to build or expand on to serve these needs, we brainstorm with customers on the best way to do it. By simply observing and talking, we have had many ‘Eureka!’ moments since 2006,” adds Harsha.
One early example of a service that was a direct response to market needs was mGate, an enterprise messaging solution for secure communications initially developed for the banking industry. Today, the startup works with more than 750 banks around the world.
“We developed ‘number masking’ for companies that wanted to add an extra layer of security between users. Uber, for example, uses this service as a voice and number proxy so that riders and drivers never exchange real phone details, making it safer for both parties,” explains Harsha.
The team is also working with telecom companies to promote RCS, a successor to SMS with a rich feature set that offers you the opportunity to create branded messages incorporating multimedia, like image carousels, video, or even an integration with Maps.
These solutions are built on top of the existing strong CPaaS platform and help different departments inside the company.
“We’ve removed the silos between customer service, marketing, and other departments sending out communications on a regular basis,” adds Harsha.
The three core principles
Banking and ecommerce transactions are increasingly entering the domain of messaging channels, tapping into the power and reach of media services like WhatsApp and RCS.
To address this emerging demand, Infobip launched a marketing automation solution called Moments, to help their partners onboard, engage, and retain customers with targeted campaigns. This omnichannel customer engagement hub comes with an intuitive interface that allows brands to quickly create automated, multi-step customer journey flows.
Through this, brands can boost their conversion via intelligently automated behaviour or event-triggered messaging that is personalised through rich, in-depth profiling, and customer segmentation.
Brands can also fine-tune their campaign engagement and monitor results at every step of the communication flow, and more. “As the shift in this direction continues to mature, we anticipate higher adoption of our solution by marketing and sales departments across industries,” says Harsha.
There are three principles at the core of building the product. First, the team believes consumers’ expectations of brand experiences – from product to service – are high and constant.
“Consumers can be unforgiving if those expectations are not met but, if they are kept happy and satisfied, they keep patronising the brand. Our business is designed to make sure a company’s perception of their performance is in sync with that of their consumers’. Second, we believe that every customer is different. We help businesses tap into hyper-personalisation that matches the satisfaction levels of their customers,” adds Harsha
Whether they are email advocates, trust in texts, or app aficionados, Infobip helps its clients offer contextually relevant communication. It all boils down to getting the right message delivered to the right person, at the right time, through the right channel.
Lastly, but more importantly, the team gets that brands have to understand their customers’ needs, and the startup wants to lead the market in enabling seamless interactions between businesses and their customers.
Infobip now aims to double-down on innovation and development to become the AWS for B2B and B2C communication, and establish its leadership in the CCaaS and CPaaS industry over the next year.
“We shall continue to work towards unifying and enhancing customer experience for businesses globally with a particular focus on breaking the US market,” says Harsha
The next significant development in the CPaaS market will be marked by the shift to a conversational commerce experience. The team expects conversational user interface – with people comfortably talking to bots – to become the platform of choice for developers, surpassing mobile-first and cloud-native projects.
IoT will be another big growth area. They also anticipate RCS becoming a key revenue driver for mobile operators as well as enterprises, with Mobile Identity becoming a universal standard.
“Our job then becomes to simplify the complexity of global messaging for our clients, enabling them to effortlessly reach their customers, in line with all local regulations, in a personalised way. Our end-goal is to empower our clients to deliver memorable customer experiences,” adds Harsha.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta