A professional receptionist to don the desk and decent machinery to transfer, record and monitor all the calls that the receptionist would receive during the course of the day. Quite a big amount to invest in for SMEs (small and medium enterprise). Coming to the rescue of such SMEs is yet again the buzzword ‘cloud’.
Knowlartiy, a cloud telephony service through its product ‘Super Receptionist’ offers a one number solution to its clients to bring down the cost and hassles of telephone communications. Super receptionist routes the call to a configured message set by the organization and then directs it to the concerned person. If the immediate choice of official is not available, the call is directed to the second option and so on.
“Hiring a receptionist and getting the machinery is a very expensive task. Also, SMEs cannot use direct cell numbers as it appears unprofessional if certain calls would go unanswered,” said Ambarish Gupta, CEO, Knowlarity. “We offer services at one tenth of the amount they would spend on it.”
Knowlarity offers the services of SuperReceptionist at INR 20,000 (approximately US$322) per year. The cloud telephony service has around 6000 clients and boasts of big names such as Pepsi and Google.
Knowlarity was established in 2009 by Gupta and his classmate Pallav Pandey. The name Knowlarity was derived from the confluence of ‘Knowledge’ + ‘Singularity’.
“Our first breakthrough was running a political campaign for Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa, India which us a cool INR 14 million (US$ 226,100). We used amount as seed money for our business venture,” expressed Gupta.
The company got its first funding from Sequoia Capital (the venture capital company that had invested in iconic names such as Apple, Youtube, PayPal, Zomato, etc). The first round of funding collected half a million dollars, followed by a funding of $1.5 million and later in January 2012 Knowlarity again received $6.5 million from Sequoia Capital to acquire a minority stake in the company.
“We were the only player in the cloud telephony domain initially. Later players such as VMC and Ozonetel came in. Yet all the companies combined do not even form 10 per cent of the market share,” added Gupta. Knowlarity is currently based in Delhi, India and expanded to Singapore in July 2013.
Prior to Knowlarity, Gupta tried his hands on the dot com business with Rent.com. However, due to sudden crash of economy the project could not pick up.
Cloud telephony entered India in late 2008 as SMEs were struggling with the woes of corporate plans offered by telecom players and tele marketing. Globally also the cloud service has been battling it out for SMEs from quite some time.
Also, at times carriers are seeking different way to make their offerings unique and creative and then cloud telephony seemed like a natural avenue for them to explore.
“Cloud telephony providers are finding that small business owners are eager to buy services in the cloud, because they do not have the cash for a capital outlay,” claimed noted author Denise Culver in his report Heavy Reading IP Services Insider. “The savings on the opex side – gained by not needing a dedicated IT person to run the system – makes for an even stronger value proposition.”
Organizations started looking up to cloud telephony services to cut down costs and get flexibility with one number service. However, it was difficult organizing cloud telephony services for outgoing calls as mainly consumers treated automated calls as intrusion and also the prices of those calls weren’t exactly cheap.
Due to similar issues, Knowlarity faced a dip in revenues in FY 2012. However, the company then stated offering services on incoming calls and witnessed almost double growth.
Gupta pointed out that Indian SMEs are finally adapting to technology and thus cloud telephony will only witness growth in the coming time. However, it might get difficult for startups in the domain to survive. VoiceGain a global player shut its competition in India.
“In 2008 IT industry made a prediction that by 2010 product based companies will flourish in India. That prediction is finally materializing now with product based companies like ours finding their niche,” explained Gupta.