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Founding Elance, then Webaroo: Beerud Sheth’s Entrepreneurial Journey (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, Feb 20th 2015

Sramana Mitra: Tell me about this new product.

Beerud Sheth: We’ve been working on it for a year. It’s been in beta for a few months and we’re launching it right now. We’re very excited about it because I think it brings some very clever ideas to the table. Just stepping back, with the rise of smart phones, mobile messaging has become the number one use case—even more than voice. Between WhatsApp, LINE, and Kakao, they’re extremely popular. They work well for consumer use cases but not as well for business use cases. One big problem is that the group size is limited to about 100 people. If you have thousands of employees, you can’t use it. The other big problem is clutter. If you ask a question and 100 people reply, it’s impossible to make sense of it. There’s a lot of challenges with that. We figured a clever way to reduce the clutter and therefore support teams of unlimited size in addition to security, privacy, and administrative control that enterprises want.

It’s an app called Teamchat. The home page looks like WhatsApp. It shows the groups that I’m a member of. What we’ve come up with is a new concept that we call a smart message. For example, it says, “Fill in your sales revenue for today”. When people reply to that, that message will automatically aggregate the replies that are coming in and update itself with the total. Whether 10 people or a thousand people reply, you’ll only see one message in the conversation thread that is constantly aggregating itself.

Sramana Mitra: Are you then working with composite messaging applications that are specifically geared towards collecting all the revenue data?

Beerud Sheth: Think of it as an applet inside of a chat message. It’s a programmable applet. You can make it follow different kinds of rules. The first example I gave you was about collecting sales figures. Another example is if you want to do a poll, when people reply with a yes or now, it counts up the vote.

Sramana Mitra: You’re essentially doing mobile apps, though, that are more complex. They’re not necessarily just random messages.

Beerud Sheth: Yes. I guess we’re making the very concept of message into something a lot smarter and that’s capable of more. Today, we think of messages as plain text messages or maybe with an image in it. What we believe is a message could take its responses and then aggregate and summarize it in a way that doesn’t clutter up the conversation thread.

Sramana Mitra: Can you prevent people from randomly sending messages?

Beerud Sheth: Yes. There’s an admin-only group where only the person who created the group can initiate a new message. The point is we are structuring it all up. You can do a poll or a location check-in, which can allow you to do attendance monitoring. You can capture multi-fill forms that can be tabulated in a simple way. There are many of these templates that are available in the app just out of the box. Plus, these are customizable. We can easily create more kinds of templates.

Sramana Mitra: Where are you getting traction?

Beerud Sheth: This is extremely popular. If you take some of the largest banks, insurance, telecom, retail, and pharma where they have large teams, they need to be able to communicate with them for product launches and announcements, or gathering sales figures. We have companies like ICICI and AXA Insurance. There are some retailers like Goldmart in Indonesia. There are many different kinds of companies across different verticals. They use it typically to mange their sales team. It could be field service team. It could be HR communications as well going out to a large employee base.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Founding Elance, then Webaroo: Beerud Sheth’s Entrepreneurial Journey
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