Jan 30, 2015, Bengaluru: The Indian Startup ecosystem has just gotten more interesting. Exotel today announced it has acquired the voice based social media app Croak.it! This is Exotel’s first acquisition and comes after they reported record revenues last year with projections of roughly 30M USD in revenue in the next two years. Exotel was also named by Mashable as one of the top tech companies to look out for in India. As a part of the acquisition deal, Croak.it!’s co-founders, Protik Roychowdhury and Srinivasa Teja, will join Exotel. The terms of the deal though were not disclosed.
Started in 2012 by IIT Kharagpur graduates Teja and Protik, Croak.it! allows users to share their thoughts and emotions via voice, instead of having to type it out. They recently crossed more than a million recordings and over 200,000+ app downloads on iOS, with an Android app also in the works.
Fang Soong Chou, General Partner of Singapore-based Pix Vine Capital, which had invested in Croak.it! said of the acquisition, “Croak.it! had evolved over time to serve interesting niche markets such as language learning and education in South America, the US and Europe. It was a testament to the viability of voice-based messaging as a social media tool for businesses. We expect to see increasing traction for solutions adopting voice and audio-based tools to enhance customer service and were happy to have been part of Croak.it’s efforts in pioneering this path.”
Exotel’s long-term vision is to be the end to end voice solutions provider for businesses, irrespective of how the calls happen — mobiles, call centres, remote teams, etc.
“There was an obvious synergy between our long term vision for Exotel and what Croak.it! has been doing, and technologically, there was a good overlap in the nature of the problem we were solving. Voice will continue to remain at the center of most business communications and there is a whole lot we can do to make this medium much better”, said Shivkumar Ganesan, Exotel’s CEO. “Croak.it! is a step in that direction. We liked the team and the product at Croak.it!, and I think this is a great addition to Exotel.”
Exotel’s customers include successful companies like Ola cabs, Groupon, RedBus, Zivame and CommonFloor. Exotel is the perfect example of a B2B business sustaining and flourishing in India which bootstrapped with a minimum funding of 500k USD in 2012. They plan to acquire more Indian startups which operate in the voice space.
Anuj Pulstya, the first investor of Croak.it!, commented “It has been fantastic to see Croak.it! go from a prototype for a social media platform to an extremely powerful technology. It has been a fantastic journey with Croak.it! and mentoring them was one of the most interesting parts of it. Croak.it!’s successful exit now is an inspiration for me to invest in disrupting technologies all across the world.”
Srinivasa Teja, CEO of Croak.it! said, “One of the most important aspects of the technology of Croak.it! is its sound processing cluster. In conversation with the CTO of Exotel — Siddharth Ramesh, both of us realized how perfectly Croak.it!’s sound processing cluster fitted in with Exotel’s system as they already process millions of voice samples via calls.”
“Exotel is building some really interesting features and is growing at the rate of knots”, said Protik Roychowdhury. “A person’s voice is unique and personal. The idea when we started Croak.it! was to provide easily accessible voice solutions to consumers, enabling them to express themselves better. The long term vision of Exotel is in sync with what we envisioned to be the future of communication – free, device-agnostic, voice communication from anywhere in the world.”
Karthik Reddy, Managing Partner of Blume Ventures – the lead investors in Exotel, commented “this ability to attract high quality teams to work together to build a best-in-class business in the space has always been Exotel’s forte. I’m happy to see that the Croak.it! team and Exotel team had a great match in philosophy and culture and we were happy to see the team add to Exotel’s ambitions to become the leader in this area”
For Indian ecosystem this can mean a whole lot of things. While till now, acquisitions have not been a major strategy of Indian giants to acquire the best talents, this definitely validates that companies are warming up to this strategy.