B2B startup CleverTap was founded in 2013 with the goal of making mobile app engagement relevant, contextual and personal. Its platform offers fast app and web analytics, segmentation and multiple ways to engage with the users via push notifications, in-app messages, emails, web pop ups, SMS and web push notifications. Additionally, it helps developers and marketers understand their users, and effectively engage them with marketing campaigns.
In a quick chat with e27, its Co-founder and CEO Anand Jain narrates his startup journey.
What is the story behind CleverTap? Where did you get the name?
CleverTap was founded by Sunil Thomas, Suresh Kondamudi and I, on the belief that for businesses to provide differentiated customer experiences, product managers and marketers need to have a unified view of their users. To provide such experiences, businesses needed solutions that could tie behavioural insights with timely contextual campaigns. Only such a unified platform can optimally help businesses to retain their users longer, rather than blindly spend on new acquisitions to fill up for churned users.
With this goal in mind, we set out to build a platform that was real-time in nature, scalable, could provide personalisation at scale and also worked for a variety of use-cases across multiple verticals.
We were earlier branded as WizRocket, but decided to go with CleverTap when we launched in Techcrunch SF Disrupt 2015.
What is the current traction? Can you name some of your customers?
Today, we work globally with 3500 brands like Reliance Jio, Freecharge, Cleartrip, BookMyShow, McDonalds, Sony, Faasos, Curiosity, Denver Broncos and DC Comics. We have clients in entertainment, travel, event ticketing, e-commerce, fintech and edutech.
What was the motive to start the venture?
In our collective experience as techies, we used to get these one-off requests for building software that would help businesses do data driven marketing. Building one-off solutions is hard. Maintaining these solutions is even harder since the requirements keep changing. Sensing a need for such a product, we quit our day jobs and jumped into the unknown seas of entrepreneurship.
How tough was it to build the company? What have been your key learnings?
As with any most other ventures, success is a moving target. One of the toughest things for founders is to know whether people will want your product, and will pay for it. No amount of market research will help you here. You’ll have to build the product as fast as you can, and try it out. We were lucky to have signed up some large customers like BookMyShow very early on in our journey.
The key learning here is to realize as soon as possible whether you’re on the right path. This is by building a quick prototype, and testing it out fairly quickly in the market. Many entrepreneurs wait too long before hit the market.
How did you face challenges in your entrepreneurial journey? How did you come out of the roadblocks?
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is engaging the user in a meaningful, and timely way. Historically they’ve reached users on offline mediums like newspapers, TV and radio. However, these days as you reach out to your users online, you need to do it in a meaningful, contextual and timely way. Online users have a very short attention span, so you have to catch them when they’re in the “mobile moment”. Platforms like CleverTap help you achieve this easily.
What is your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Don’t take the entrepreneurship plunge because it sounds good, or because you think you have a great idea. Ideas are cheap, execution is hard. So spend some time gathering experience, identify problems and then venture out.
You have raised funding. Are you looking for more? Are you in talks with any VCs yet?
In 2014, we picked up US$1.6 million in Series Seed from Accel Partners. In 2015, we received US$8 million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. We have no plans to raise funding soon.