Convergence Plus
Interview
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
about us
Satya Kalyan Yerramsetti - Founder & CEO, SMS Country Networks

SJ Singh

Sanjiv Kainth, Country Manager, India, Irdeto Tell us about your company and its vision?

SMSCountry Networks is a Communications Platform as a Service (or CPaaS) Company that enables developers/companies to add real-time communication features (voice, video, and messaging) in their own applications without needing to build backend infrastructure and interfaces.

We also can be categorized as a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) company since we also provide audio conferencing services. We have currently been operating in India and the Middle East (GCC). Our products/services have been designed keeping in mind our core target audience- small and medium enterprises (SME), who are not the focus of the large multinational companies. We believe that our products, their features, the pricing is just right for these businesses.

Our vision is to finally develop a unified communication product stack including chat/video to provide a complete suite of products to our customers.
What are the key factors that have contributed to the success of the company?


The journey for SMSCountry began almost ~13 years ago with SMS (Text) messaging which is used by businesses of all sizes as a means of notifying their customers of certain events or activities. Soon, we started providing voice products for communication like IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and Voice SMS (Outbound Dialers). These platforms are used to dial millions of numbers and play a pre-recorded message.

We have recently released our flagship product which we believe can be a game-changer for the Indian and developing markets - our Audio Conferencing product, “grpTalk.”

We believe the key factor that has contributed to the success of our company is our continued focus on working towards our vision to provide a unified communication product stack to our consumers. In order to make communication more seamless and viable, we have further evolved to add newer communication products continuously. Our journey indicates technological innovation and focused approach towards achieving our vision.

How do you differentiate your company from the other players operating in the same segment?

Globally, CPaas companies similar to us are Nexmo, Tropo, Twilio, etc. In India, players operating in a similar segment as us are Infobip, mGage & Velti.

We are looking at the market as two parts – pure conference providers and voice platform /API providers. In the conferencing space, our competitors can be classified as follows
  • Enterprise conferencing infrastructure providers: CISCO, Avaya, Polycom
  • Audio conferencing as service providers: Intercall, Arkadin, PGI
  • Telecom Companies: Airtel, Reliance, Telstra etc.

Our Differentiators:

  • Our existing base of SME customers who are not the target customers for our competitors who focus on larger and multinational companies. Effectively we are introducing a new customer set to this industry.
  • Disruptive nature of the product due to innovation in technology and the process innovation.
  • Startup culture and thinking with nimble team bringing out new features to the product by listening closely to the customer needs.
  • Keeping the cost of operations low by building the product in India and also using the power of internet to generate revenue using online sales infrastructure based out of India.
What are your expectations from India as a market?

Unified Communications Market size is forecast to reach USD 96.0 billion by 2023; as per a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. released on May 17, 2016

The UCaaS market size is expected to grow from USD 17.35 Billion in 2016 to USD 28.69 Billion by 2021, research report by Markets and Markets

The major drivers of this market include low cost of ownership as compared to other communications tools, pay-per-use model of charging the end users, growing trends towards mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), integration of all communicating services at a single platform, increasing demand by SMBs, and continuous service support.

North America accounts for over 35% of the global Unified Communication revenue generation in 2015. Asia Pacific UC industry is predicted to grow at 15% CAGR from 2016 to 2023. This is mainly due to considerable population base and the advent and popularity of high speed data networks in India and China.

Growing adoption of information technology in enhancing business processes and benefits such as mobility, presence and collaboration that are provided by UC systems will drive the industry. Growth of IP telephony, rise in outsourcing, and increased internet penetration will provide a fillip to emerging regional industries.

Future Expansion plans for India.

India is obviously a critical market for us and our plans are outlined below:
  • Started digital marketing with a small team taking care of entire product stack in all geographies. Going forward we plan to build teams for each product and in each geography while keeping a very focused approach on India.
  • Increase the sales team size and office locations in India.
  • The new products like chat and video will help us cross sell to our existing customers and get new customers as well.
  • To become leader in the CPaaS industry in the Indian market.
  • To leverage the Internet to generate online sales via a cheap digital marketing team/infrastructure based out of India.
Future expansion plans for International markets.

In the Middle East, we are offering communications solutions to multiple businesses having their headquarters in Dubai and UAE. These companies have their regional offices in surrounding GCC countries like Oman, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain etc. Our products/solutions are used by these regional offices to communicate regularly with the main office in Dubai via grpTalk where multiple parties talk to each other. We will also be starting offices in Kuwait and Qatar in the next 6-8 months.

We have not yet entered the EU, and other western markets but hope to do so in the future once grpTalk and our plug & play platform gain more traction in the markets we are currently operating in. The US market already consumes millions of conferencing minutes every day and so with grpTalk we can take a decent market share.

Though we have a registered office in USA, almost all of the revenue comes from online sales (3 member International sales team based in india). To really focus on USA market we need to have a 1st level support team which will address the basic issues faced by US customers and the 2nd level support can be escalated to India. We will also need a small sales team who can close the hot leads created by the digital marketing team and international online sales teams sitting out of India. This year, we intend to work through these issues and establish the support teams that we need in the US for the expansion of our products.

What is your strategy to reach out to your customer base to position yourself as a credible organization in their minds?

Our strategy to reach our customer base is multi-fold and involves the following steps:
  • We have already started digital marketing with a small team who will be taking care of the entire product stack in all geographies. Going forward we plan to build teams for each product in each geography
  • We intend to increase the size of our international sales team to generate revenue from countries where we do not have physical sales offices. Also, we plan to have sales partners or resellers in these market to sell our existing and new products
  • We’d like to start physical sales offices in high growth countries like USA and also increase the sales team and locations in major locations in India
  • We are sure that our new products like chat and video will help us cross sell to our existing customers and get new customers as well
  • We have started our Bahrain and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sales operations recently and they will hopefully mature in the next year. We will also start Kuwait and Qatar in the next 6-8 months. We believe that the revenue will double in this region as KSA is a large market and potential to increase the revenues exponentially.
How do you see the industry developing in the future?

The rapid rate of CPaaS adoption has left traditional Unified Communications (UC) vendors or unified communications as a service (UCaaS) companies scrambling to compete against fast-growing startups, such as Twilio, Plivo and TokBox.

A clear pattern has emerged of UC or UCaaS companies launching or acquiring CPaaS companies.

2012: Telefonica bought chat platform Tokbox.
2014: Genband launched Kandy.io, which is now used by SAP’s Hybris Marketing suite, and OnSIP announced its CPaaS: OnSIP for Developers.
2015: ShoreTel acquired Corvisa, Vonage acquired gUnify, Cisco acquired Tropo, and Avaya launched Zang.
2016: Vonage acquired Nexmo, one of the big players in the CPaaS space. Avaya launched an online communication platform, called Zang. Twilio, one of the first CPaaS providers, recently went public and is valued at over $2 billion.

According to 6W research, India Unified Communication market is expected to reach $1,506.2 million in 2018, at a CAGR of 12.4% from 2013-2018. Voiced based unified communication solutions have captured major pie of the market revenues in the India unified communication market. Communication at affordable price and its ease of usage has led its market dominance in the Indian market.

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