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'Meet the Unicorns': Beerud Sheth of Gupshup on successful pivots

  • Freshly minted unicorn, Gupshup, started out as SMS Gupshup - a Twitter-like community site enabling users to join groups of their interests and get updates through SMS- that generated over 70 million users in 3 years since its conception in 2007. Beerud Sheth, its co-founder and CEO, managed to raise $10 million in 2008, with big names like Helion Venture Partners and Charles River Ventures, even raising another $10 million in 2010, with its total users outpacing both Twitter and Facebook. A free service, it would allow someone to even send a message to all of their followers, no matter how many and the telecom operators would be paid for sending the messages. That being said, building a big community was a challenge, because as they got bigger, it was harder to subsidize the cost of sending messages, even though telecom operators got a big volume of users. Stringent regulations also put a dent in their plans and all in all, meant that SMS Gupshup was haemorrhaging money, being able to neither monetize nor subsidize, no matter how many messages were being sent or how much money was being spent. Hence, they made a B2B pivot, changing their name to just Gupshup and becoming an enterprise messaging platform, which meant businesses could help build conversational experiences across marketing and sales and have messages sent like OTPs, sales support and booking and payment confirmations. Yet, revenue failed to meet expenses and curbing expenses meant curbing growth. Fast-forwarding to 2021, Gupshup became a unicorn, raising $100 million with a $1.4 billion valuation. Now profitable, this humbling experience meant that Gupshup has a unique combination of scale, growth and profitability, in addition to market leadership. In the first episode of Mint's series 'Meet the unicorns', Beerud takes us through his entrepreneurial journey and shares nuggets of wisdom on his pivots. Watch the full interview for more.
 
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