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New Delhi: Gupshup is 2021's 10th unicorn. And it's the fifth in four straight days from April 5th to 8th, 2021. Its valuation hit $1.4bn after Tiger Global gave Gupshup a $100mn cheque. That's right, one investor funded Gupshup this time round. When was it last funded? Over 10 years ago! So it never joined its peers in the fundraising frenzy. And that's not the only reason for Gupshup being unique. It stands out most--here in India and even in Silicon Valley--for being profitable! That's right, India's newest unicorn is already profitable.
This is an interview you do not want to miss! Edited excerpts of Gupshup co-founder & CEO Beerud Sheth's interview to ET Now's Nayantara Rai.
Q: Congratulations! Gupshup is fifth startup to become a unicorn this week. It has taken you over 10 years to reach here. How does it feel?
Beerud Sheth- Oh it's super exciting. Thank you for having me here. It's an important milestone and it recognizes a lot of efforts that the team has made. But at the same, we are also humbled, because it raises expectations and we need to ‘lock n load’ for our next milestone from here. So, we had a small celebration but looking forward to doing the next big thing now.
Q: What exactly does Gupshup do and how will this $100 mn cheque change everything?
Beerud Sheth- So Gupshup is a messaging platform or what we describe as a conversational messaging platform and what it means is that as consumers, we receive messages on our mobile phone from the bank, or e-commerce company, saying you spent money from your credit card or your order has shipped, your package is arriving, your flight is booked, your hotel is booked and things like that. So, businesses have a need to communicate and to engage with customers in real time and they do that by sending a lot of these messages. Gupshup is a platform that enables businesses to do that. So, we send billions of messages so about 6 billion messages every month, a very high volume. And so far, all these messages were simple notifications like about your money or shipment details. But now it’s moving to where you can have a two-way messaging with the business. So now for example you can re-schedule your package delivery from that message itself or you can have customer support queries answered. It’s becoming more conversational. And that’s what we do.
What the financing will do for us is that it’ll help us to accelerate our vision or a future world where it is as easy to chat with a brand today as it is to chat with a friend. So, if you have a question, if you want to see your account balance, details about your account, or want to upgrade your flight, or want to change your hotel booking, or whatever it is. It should be as simple as messaging a friend when you send a text message to a business and they should able to respond. To do that it needs a lot of technology and a lot of infrastructures, that we are going to provide. And this whole vision of conversational messaging is a big idea, and this funding really accelerates our investment in our R&D and developing our kit.
Q: So is it going to be like a bot; an SMS chatbot? Is that the idea?
Beerud Sheth- Yes that’s the idea. But it doesn’t all the time have to be automated. You could have human agents. For example, today you call a call center and you have to stay on hold for a long time, instead, now you are sending a message. And on the other side, it could be a human agent or automated, AI-based chatbot. So, think like Amazon, Google Assistant, Alexa where you can chat with them and get many things done. Its capabilities are increasing day by day. It’s the same thing here, you chat with your bank, your restaurant, your e-commerce shop, could even be entertainment, gaming, or chatting with your celebrity. Any kind of brand you will interact with, it will be as simple as chatting with a friend.
Q: I am going to ask you more about the deal as you are going to in your words 'lock n load’ that big cheque from Tiger Global. Can you tell me what’s going on? Tiger has given big fat cheques this week to you, ShareChat, CRED, and Groww. What’s going on?
Beerud Sheth- Well I don’t know if I can speak for them, what we do know is that in our interactions we know that they are very aggressive. They move quickly, and they are very optimistic about India. All of this information is public, but they made similar bets in China and it worked out really well for them. So, I am guessing they are really excited about all these companies too. But they are amazing investors, it’s great to have their support and to board their confidence. They are very strategic, very easy to work with. So, we are excited to have their support and scale up our business going forward.