Our upcoming technology will revolutionize customer retention: Anand Jain, CleverTap

In a conversation with e4m, Jain, Co-founder of CleverTap, spoke about the leading user retention and engagement platform for digital-first businesses

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Aug 3, 2022 8:11 AM  | 4 min read
Anand Jain

In 2013, when Anand Jain left Network18 to start CleverTap, a SaaS-based mobile analytics company based in California, he had the vision that consumer data would be king in the coming days, and brands would need to consolidate all consumer touch points to serve them better.

Software as a Service (SaaS) has been the largest and fastest-growing market segment since 2019, and is likely to reach $482 billion in 2022, as per a Gartner report.

CleverTap, the nine-year-old start-up, now has annual recurring revenue of $90 million by end of 2022 and offices in the US, the UAE, Singapore and India.

e4m spoke to Jain at length to understand the company’s vision and the strategy holding the market leader’s position since inception.

Excerpts:

What led to the genesis of CleverTap?

In 2006, when I returned to India after seven years in the US, I founded the company Burrp. It was pre-Zomato days. Burrp gradually became one of India's first food tech platform with restaurant reviews and recommendations. It was acquired by Infomedia18, an arm of Network18, in 2009. It was during this time at Network18 when I met my future co-founders Sunil Thomas and Suresh Kondamudi. We discussed a lot about digital marketing and its flaws, and how millions of customers used to get offers from various brands even when they didn't need those products.

We realized that machines work differently than humans. They are not designed to personalize the experience, just as we do. At that time, people shopped at malls, single outlets and through ecommerce portals. Different equipment and software used to record consumers' buying behaviour but they were not able to collate the data to offer products to users that suit their needs.

We figured out that storing data was costly so it isn't stored properly. Email, SMS and outlet data were never connected. We toyed with the idea - can we create a database that makes data accessible, remains stored as long as needed and is affordable? These discussions and some surveys led to the genesis of CleverTap.

How are brands leveraging CleverTap’s solutions to retain customers?

The company is catering to nearly 10,000 brands, including Sony, Zee5, Cleartrip and Vodafone, by simplifying their operations and delivering personalized content and engaging users in real time.

Our technology, which is pending for patent, helps businesses optimize their marketing campaigns to understand behavioural insights and predictive segmentation. It delivers the omnichannel brand experience to users.

CleverTap is in the business of user retention. When customers download the apps, they often get annoyed if useless inputs are asked. Many quit the download in the middle or delete the app later. Our products help clients to understand why consumers drift away. Some of our products help send consumers reminders about certain things, and some show them the right offers by anticipating their needs and likes.

Was it tough to get investors for an unknown and undeveloped product like this?

We quit Network18 and pooled our own money for this start-up. Our spouses also supported us financially. At that time, we had no idea about the B2B or SaaS segment. Our objective was to create such a database that suited brands and consumers both.

BookMyShow was the first to use our product. They liked it and the word was spread. Our old employees flocked to join us. Thankfully, our team remained together.

We got our first round of funding within a year of inception - $1.6 million from Accel. The next year, we got $8 million from Sequoia. We never looked back. (CleverTap has got $76 million investment so far).

The space CleverTap operates in is quite competitive now. What is your strategy to keep yourself ahead in the race?

We keep innovating to keep ourselves ahead of the competition. The company has recently launched TesseractDB(TM) that transforms massive amounts of first-party user data in a privacy-friendly, accessible, and affordable way to power real-time user personalization.

Besides, we are currently testing the beta version of a technology that would revolutionize the customer retention space. It would be launched in the market within a month or so.

Although Google has recently deferred its cookie deprecation plan till 2024, the debate over the privacy of data has intensified in India. How will these developments affect SaaS companies and the digital advertising domain?

We believe in privacy from Day 1. The data is used to enhance customer experiences. We don't use cookies. CleverTap is a privacy-first company since the beginning and has complied with all laws wherever we operate.

I feel that ad-supported models will not work in the long term. News and streaming services will have to go for a subscription model for survival.

Do you have any acquisitions on cards?

We recently acquired San Francisco-based Leanplum, a multi-channel customer engagement platform, to increase our footprint in the US and Europe. Leanplum helps personalize and optimize all customer touch points, both inside and outside the apps.

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