WATI, a CRM tool built for WhatsApp, raises $23 million led by Tiger Global • TechCrunch

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WhatsApp is used by more than two billion people worldwide and is an essential tool for many small businesses. But as they scale, even WhatsApp for Business may not meet their needs. Here is where VATI (WhatsApp Team Inbox). Built on the WhatsApp Business API, WATI has sales and customer engagement tools built for the messaging app. The Hong Kong and Malaysia-headquartered startup announced today that it has raised $23 billion in Series B funding to expand its team and product.

The round was led by Tiger Global with participation from returning investors Sequoia Capital India & Southeast Asia and new investors DST Global Partners and Shopify (the e-commerce platform’s first venture capital investment in a startup operating in the Southeast Asia region). WATI’s last funding round was an $8.3 million Series A announced 10 months ago, and the new round brings the total raised to more than $35 million since 2020.

WATI founders Bianca Ho and Ken Yong began collaborating in 2016 to create Clare.AI, a multi-channel artificial intelligence digital assistant for large Asian enterprises. In 2020, they launched WATI to provide small and medium-sized businesses with a low-code self-service product on the WhatsApp Business API. The startup currently has more than 6,000 customers in 75 countries, including small and medium-sized businesses in areas such as home cleaning, schools, education centers, edtech, fintech, healthcare, D2C brands and Shopify stores.

Ho told TechCrunch that while she and Yoon were working on Clare.AI, “our assumption was that only large enterprises had the resources to deploy a successful AI digital assistant.” However, after several years of working with their customers, both realized that many were looking for a simpler solution, so WATI was created. Part of the reason for its launch was the digital acceleration caused by the pandemic, as many businesses rushed to get online.

WATI founders Ken Yong and Bianca Ho

In many emerging markets and developed markets such as Europe, WhatsApp is the preferred communication channel between customers and businesses. WATI helps non-technical businesses scale customer support, engagement and customer engagement through their CRM.

WATI’s customer engagement software is built on the WhatsApp Business API and allows customers to send personalized notifications. The platform includes a collaborative team mailbox shared by multiple agents and features such as intelligent routing, standard responses, data tagging and analytics. Interactions can be automated through low-code workflows and chatbots, and connected to e-commerce and CRM platforms. WATI also has integrations with platforms like Zoho, Shopify and Google Sheets.

An example of how WATI is used is a large e-commerce company that relies on it to manage campaigns like Prime Day. The company typically receives 60 to 100 messages a day from customers through the WATI team’s inbox, most of which come from the WhatsApp chat on its website, and sends around 30,000 messages every day when the campaigns are active.

Another example is an edtech client that has been using WATI for almost two years. They rely on about 50 templates per month for lead generation, nurturing, payment reminders, and class updates, and send 20,000 to 30,000 messages per day. WATI also helps them get high-quality organic leads through a WhatsApp widget on their website.

Ho said WATI’s closest competitor is WhatsApp’s native business app, which most small and medium-sized businesses are starting to use, but WATI is a viable option for them as their business expands.

The funding will be used to hire and invest in WATI’s suite of low-code automation products. The company also has plans to expand into emerging markets such as Latin America and Southeast Asia

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