Enterprise phone service that allows businesses to create and add virtual phone numbers to employees' existing mobile devices
Business communications should be just as easy and convenient as the personal cell phone plans and services you buy, says Sendhub. The Y Combinator-backed startup has been putting companies' phone systems in employee phones for the past three years, and today, it announced it has raised $5M in funding to continue.
Earlier this year, our Y Combinator startup SendHub tried to raise its Series A. Despite monthly revenue in the mid-five figures and a 25 percent monthly growth rate, we were shunned by over 50 VCs. So we turned to crowdfunding platforms to raise a successful round — an option that was simply unavailable even a year ago. Here’s how it worked for us.
With SendHub Manager’s debut, the focus is not so much on the end user, but on the business or other organization handling assigning these phone numbers to its employees. The system, which essentially consists only of an online dashboard (which is accessible on mobile as well), is designed to be simple enough that I.T. doesn’t have to be involved – an office administrator could handle the phone number adds, moves and removals. SendHub says that one of its hundreds of early beta testers for the new SendHub Manager was iPhone repair startup iCracked, which used the platform to assign over 300 lines to its technicians. “They can add lines when they get a new tech, or remove lines when someone leaves the company,” explains co-founder Ash Rust. “Crucially, they don’t lose any of that information – they can pull the number from that person, without losing that person’s contacts and all the clients they’ve accumulated over that time period.” The system can scale up to an unlimited number of phone lines, too, the co-founders tell us.
SendHub has been continuing its rapid growth, and has now sent 5 million messages on its platform, up from 1 million in July. And it’s now sending 2 million messages per month – significantly higher than the 300,000+ the company reported in late June. It has also grown its user base from 5,000 to 25,000 during that same time, including both free and paid users. “Our monthly active number is about 75% of our total – that’s people who have taken an action in the last 30 days,” explains Rust, breaking down the numbers. “And we try to look at conversion over a six-month period. For active users who have been with us for six months or more, that’s where we see conversion at 11%,” he says.
The Y Combinator-backed company recently added calling and voicemail to its basic broadcasting and text messaging services. True, there’s an endless supply of calling-enabled iPhone apps (thanks, Twilio), SendHub allows users to do it from two phone numbers — for free. That’s because SendHub believes in the divide between business and personal communications. Give out your personal SendHub number to friends and family, and an additional number for work contacts to be printed on your business card. It’s a difficult market to crack because of the carrier stranglehold on the market, which has even forced Google to move slowly. In spite of this, I’m bullish on SendHub because the company understands how to use the web properly for the service. Not only has the company put a lot of effort into the website, but it has also pushed to make sure that all features are available online, which is something that Google Voice can’t claim. This means that for those that don’t have phones or those with a dead battery, calls can still be made from everywhere there’s an Internet connection.
The update still doesn’t bring SendHub completely up to par with all of Google Voice’s features, however. For example, SendHub users can’t route certain people or groups to voicemail automatically, nor does it provide voicemail transcription. But some of these are in the works (transcription is coming soon, we’re told). However, Google Voice is 100% free, while SendHub is freemium. What SendHub does do that’s interesting, though, is that it places all the communications between you and another user in the same stream, including calls, missed calls, voicemails and text messages. “You don’t always check voicemail, because it’s not in your workflow,” explains Rust.
Recent Y Combinator graduate SendHub, which bills itself as SMS for organizations, is in the business of replacing the email blast with an SMS message and aims to solve a myriad of real-world consumer, business, and enterprise one-to-many communication challenges. SendHub has just closed a $2 million seed round led by Kapor Capital, the company exclusively told VentureBeat. Howard Lindzon’s Social Leverage fund, 500 Startups, Bronze Investments, Menlo Ventures, and angels including Eric Ries, Paul Buchheit, and Jawed Karim all participated in the round.
According to a Juniper research report last year, 97% of text messages are read, with 90% read in the first 4 to 6 minutes -- much higher compared to email read rates. SendHub has a text-to-join system. Sign-up on the website and you'll get a free number. Then you can let people know via email, Facebook or Twitter about the group, which they can opt to be added to. Simply text that number to reach all contacts in that group.
Over the past two years, there’s been a dramatic decline in email usage among people aged 12-24; they’ve largely turned to text messaging (SMS) and posting to Facebook instead. This kind of seismic shift in communication strategies along generational lines signals the need for innovation and adaptation, of course, and down at Y Combinator (YC) this spring, there’s a startup called SendHub that is poised to help.