WhatsApp is used by more than two billion people worldwide and is an important tool for many small businesses. But as they scale, even WhatsApp for Business can’t keep up with their needs. That’s true WHAT I (WhatsApp Team Inbox) intervenes. Built on WhatsApp for Business API, WATI has created customer sales and engagement tools for the messaging app. Today, the startup headquartered in Hong Kong and Malaysia announced it has raised $23 million in Series B funding to scale up its team and product.
The round was led by Tiger Global with the participation of returning investors Sequoia Capital India & Southeast Asia, and new investors DST Global Partners and Shopify (marking the e-commerce platform’s first venture investment in a startup operating in the region). South East Asia). WATI’s last funding round was an $8.3 million Series A announced 10 months ago, and the new round brings the total to more than $35 million as of 2020.
WATI founders Bianca Ho and Ken Yeung began collaborating in 2016 to build Clare.AI, an omnichannel AI digital assistant for major Asian enterprises. In 2020, they launched WATI to give SMBs a self-service, low-code product on the WhatsApp for Business API. The startup currently has more than 6,000 customers in 75 countries, including SMBs in spaces such as home cleaning, schools, education centers, edtech, fintech, medical facilities, D2C brands, and Shopify stores.
Ho told australiabusinessblog.com that while she and Yeung were working on Clare.AI, “our assumption was that only larger enterprises had the resources to deploy a successful AI-powered digital assistant.” However, after working with their clients for a few years, the two realized that many were looking for a simpler solution, so WATI was founded. Part of the reason for the launch was the digital acceleration caused by the pandemic as many companies rushed to go online.
In many emerging markets and mature markets such as Europe, WhatsApp is the preferred communication channel between customers and businesses. WATI helps non-tech companies scale their customer support, customer engagement and acquisition through its CRM.
WATI’s customer engagement software is built on the WhatsApp for Business API and allows customers to send personalized notifications. The platform includes a collaborative team inbox used by multiple agents, and features such as smart routing, canned responses, data tagging, and analytics. Interactions can be automated through low-code workflows and chatbots, and connected to e-commerce platforms and CRMs. WATI also has integrations with platforms such as 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 gets 60 to 100 messages a day from customers through WATI’s team inbox, most of which come from the website’s WhatsApp chat, and sends about 30,000 messages every day when campaigns are active.
Another example is an edtech customer who has been using WATI for almost two years. They rely on approximately 50 templates per month for lead generation, nurturing, payment reminders and class updates, sending 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 the native WhatsApp for Business app, which most SMBs are starting to use, but WATI will suit them as their business grows.
Funding will be used to acquire and invest in WATI’s low-code automation product stack. The company also has go-to-market plans for emerging markets, such as Latin America and Southeast Asia