Exotel: Hassle free business telephony
Jul 23 2012, 13:35 | By SME Mentor
When 28-year old Shivakumar Ganesan started his first company, 'Roopit', he looked desperately for a solution that would allow him to receive multiple calls and SMSs on one single telephone number at any given time. With no luck.
With no space, cash or the time to get a traditional EPABX system or a call centre up and running, Shivku (as he is popularly known) decided to solve his problem himself.
As he realised the potential of his solution, he teamed up with friends Ishwar Sridharan, Siddharth Ramesh and Vijay Sharma to help other small businesses manage their inbound calls and messaging requirements.
And so Exotel came into being.
...a Bangalore-based phone management technology that offers a company one single phone number on which it can make and receive calls and SMSs - and it's all on the cloud.
Most offices today use the traditional EPABX systems - identified by the standard white phone with numerous blinking red buttons managed by a receptionist at any office you visit. Exotel gets rid of all the infrastructure, maintenance and huge costs in setting up call centres as well. It is a virtual business phone system, using cloud telephony. The data is plugged straight into CRMs and can also be used for reporting. Customer calls are routed to directly employees' phones; thus making business available to its customers all the time.
Additionally, Exotel has a suite of customizable applications that enterprises can choose from - conference grids, voicemail, payment gateways, CRM integration, even marketing, sales and support solutions. It can also be used as a business intelligence tool.
"Barring the constraints of voice and SMS, there's literally nothing you can't do," says Shivku.
Co-founder Siddharth Ramesh tells us F & B is a popular industry it can be used. "Incase of home deliveries, it is crucial to know where the customer is calling from," he says, "the system should be able to identify the location of the caller without having to ask. This is all about building business intelligence into the system, which is what Exotel is all about."
"It is both affordable and scalable too. As this company scales from 10 outlets to 20, and then to 5 cities, the company doesn't need to worry about this front at all - the system automatically scales by itself," adds Siddharth.
Since the start-up launched in July 2011, over 80 customers have rung in - portals Carwale, Crazeal, BankBazaar.com, food chains Mast Kalandar and KaatiZone and even conglomerates like Godrej - an indication that companies are looking at cloud telephony to give their business a cost advantage.
Bharath Devanathan, COO, Crazeal.com: "We went live with Exotel for our one of our services recently and so far everything has worked as advertised! The UI is very intuitive and it is easily configurable. Above everything else, the utility and ease of use is great.!"
The Exotel team has grown organically. It started with one person, expanded to four and has now grown to include 18 people, most of who work in sales, customer support, billing and payment collections.
In March 2012, Exotel secured a series 'A' funding of Rs. 2.5 crore from Mumbai Angels and Blume Ventures. The start-up is spending this money for further product development and to build their team further.
Their revenue model is quite simple - customers are charged based on SaaS-based monthly rental plans. All calls and SMS charges are paid as per use by the customer. "We send clients a telephone bill, or atleast something that looks like a telephone bill and are paid for the service accordingly," Shivku explains, adding that there is no revenue-sharing with telecom operators.
Exotel hasn't yet broken even; and the team believes that it is too early for them to venture into formal advertising and marketing. "We have been getting so many inbound leads and are currently pretty held up with people who have already shown interest," they agree in unison.
The way forward
"We are tightly trying to marry and couple the telephone world, the SMS world with the internet world. The possibility of actually integrating and making them intelligent systems is very exciting," says Shivku.
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