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Knowlarity founder departs, Yatish Mehrotra takes charge as new CEO

Knowlarity founder departs, Yatish Mehrotra takes charge as new CEO
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Gurugram-based Knowlarity Communications Pvt. Ltd has signed on former Tata Teleservices executive Yatish Mehrotra as the company’s new CEO. The development follows the departure of the Sequoia Capital-backed cloud telephony company’s founder and chief executive Ambarish Gupta.

Gupta confirmed to TechCircle that he has decided to move on from the company. He had flagged off his move last month on social networking platform LinkedIn where he shared that he had already started working on new ideas. He will continue to remain a shareholder in the company that he founded nearly nine years ago with IIT Kanpur batchmate Pallav Pandey, who was the chief operating officer. Pandey left the company in early 2013 to start a new venture.

Mehrotra will spearhead Knowlarity’s overall business and growth strategy besides driving the company’s expansion and profitability, the company said in a statement.

An alumnus of IIT-BHU, Mehrotra has over 25 years of experience mainly with telecom operators. In his most recent role, he was the business head of the consumer division at Tata Teleservices Ltd. His earlier stints include Bharti Airtel, where he was the COO of its Karnataka circle, and Escotel Mobile Communications, where he served in various roles across the business, marketing, and sales functions.

“In barely a decade since its launch, Knowlarity has established itself as a pioneering market presence, not only in India but also in various emerging markets across Southeast Asia and the Middle East. We will continue to create more market-oriented communications solutions and set new benchmarks for technological innovation in the cloud communication industry,” Mehrotra said in the statement.

Knowlarity founders Gupta and Pandey set up the company’s first office in Gurugram in 2009 but decided to move headquarters to Singapore in 2013. Today, it provides cloud-based communications solutions to businesses in emerging markets and offers business telephony software to some of the world’s leading corporations. Its flagship product is ‘Super Receptionist’, a plug-and-play virtual contact centre for businesses.

Cloud telephony, or hosted telephony, is a voice and messaging service that replaces the traditional business telephone equipment, EPABX, with a third-party VoIP service – a technology that moves the business phone system to the cloud. It does not require heavy capex, unlike EPABX. One of the major benefits of using cloud telephony is the affordability that has led Indian businesses, especially startups, to aggressively adopt it.

Knowlarity’s other products include ‘Super Fax’, an internet-based service to send and receive documents. It also offers smart interactive voice-response solutions, which records, routes, tracks and queues calls, besides offering conference services through its ‘Super Conference’ solution. The company also provides solutions such as virtual ad number, click-to-call, super toll-free, cloud interactive voice response and virtual pay-per-click numbers. 

Its clients include Fortis Healthcare, Venturesity, HT Media, Zipdial, Asian Heart Institute and Larsen & Toubro.

Funding and acquisitions

The company raised $100,000 (Rs 50 lakh at the time) in its first institutional round of funding in November 2011 from Emergic Venture Capital and Progressivist Investment Capital. Within a few months, it raised $6.35 million (Rs 34 crore) from Sequoia Capital India. The transaction valued the company at $16 million or Rs 86 crore and Sequoia acquired a 41% stake, according to VCCEdge, the data research platform of News Corp VCCircle. 

Sequoia invested another $700,000 in January 2014. Subsequently, in June the same year, it led a $15-million round in the company, which also saw the participation of Mayfield Fund.

Knowlarity had last raised money in November 2016 in a $20-million (Rs 133 crore) round led by Delta Partners Capital. Sequoia Capital India and Mayfield Fund participated in the round

The company has made three acquisitions so far. In May this year, it acquired Mumbai-based Sunoray Solutions Pvt. Ltd for an undisclosed sum. Sunoray Solutions offers small and medium enterprises cloud-based telephony and customer relationship management solutions, which can be downloaded as mobile apps.

In 2014, it had bought Delhi-based cloud telephony startup Unicom Techlabs and in 2016, it had acquired Smartwards Services, a customer engagement platform also based in Delhi.

Financials

Cutting its losses by almost half, Knowlarity posted a loss of Rs 10.8 crore in the financial year 2016-17 compared with Rs 19.6 crore in the previous year. Net sales grew from Rs 39.7 crore to Rs 42.3 crore during the period. The company cut down its expenditure from Rs 61.9 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 52.5 crore in the financial year ended March 2017. It should be noted that the company’s parent is registered in Singapore, and therefore, the India financials may not be a complete assessment of the company’s financial performance.

Exotel, Ozonetel, Sonetel, MyOperator and Sipper Global Informatics are among Knowlarity’s competitors in the cloud telephony space.

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