“Many sales teams now think of WhatsApp as their secret weapon,” says Wen Shaw, CEO and co-founder of technology company Cooby. The trouble is, he points out, that managing WhatsApp interactions with customers becomes more and more difficult as businesses get larger. That’s where Cooby, which is today announcing the completion of a $2.9m funding round, comes into the picture.
Certainly, WhatsApp has huge reach, with more than 2 billion active users around the world. For businesses, the messaging app provides an engaging way to interact with customers and prospects – it feels less formal and more immediate than emails and other more traditional customer communication channels. Customers like it too – they get real-time responses to their questions and queries, in a format that they are used to in other parts of their lives.
However, business use of WhatsApp can cause problems. Operating outside of the business’s normal systems and channels, keeping track of WhatsApp messaging can be difficult. The business has no straightforward way to stay on top of what individual staff members have been discussing with customers – what commitments have been made, say, or what problems a certain customer might have. “As businesses scale, this becomes more and more challenging – your customer communications are not connected to your other business tools,” Shaw says.
Enter Cooby, he adds. “Cooby is a tool that improves information flow,” explains Shaw. “It makes sure everyone in the business can be on the same page when it comes to customers.”
What that means in practice is that Cooby’s tools aggregate employees’ WhatsApp activity to improve visibility across the business. The aim is to break down silos – individual conversations are no longer stuck in the WhatsApp accounts of each member of staff; the business can therefore take action as and when it needs to, based on a full view of each conversation.
Cooby effectively offers two different products. First, its engagement tools enable each WhatsApp user in the business to organise their accounts more effectively – for example to group customers according to need or stage, to take notes and to set reminders – in order to boost their productivity. Users can even look up the LinkedIn profiles of their customers to get a better view of who they’re talking to.
Second, Cooby also offers a “team space tool”, enabling businesses to manage their WhatsApp engagement from a single location, and to build a conversation database; companies can even use this to analyse the quality of their customer leads and engagement. “It provides full transparency into WhatsApp, enabling a smooth flow of data, information, and feedback that empowers each and every level of the sales organisation to evolve and achieve greater results,” Shaw explains.
Cooby founders Wen Shaw and Jocelin Ho
It is an approach that appears to resonate strongly with companies who have adopted WhatsApp as a customer communication channel. Cooby only went live last year but already has customers in more than 80 countries and has so far signed up more than 20,000 users.
It operates as a software-as-a-service model with most customers signing annual contracts to use Cooby’s tools. Elements of the service are free of charge, with paying customers securing access to premium services.
The company’s rapid growth has also caught the attention of investors, with the funding round announced today led by Sequoia India’s Surge and Pear VC. The Taiwanese company is the first business from the country to join the Surge programme for Asian start-ups.
Shaw, whose career includes stints with Facebook, Dropbox and IBM, works closely with co-founder Jocelin Ho, who worked previously at Google, Ericsson and Google. “Messaging apps now dominate the way companies talk to their customers, but they need a means to manage that,” he says. Cooby’s tools provide that – for WhatsApp, but also for the messaging app Line.
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