Every business needs to talk to its users. In the web centric internet, email worked well for this need. With the transition to mobile apps, businesses are still using email - whether it be feedback or customer support or updates/promotions. Kontor serves as a two-way communication channel between you and your mobile app users.

After internet and emails, the messaging space has expanded and a lot of startups are doing things around it. Haptik for instance has built and app for customers to talk to brands. This Mumbai based startup was recently funded by Kalaari Capital (Hyperlink underlined to the funding article).

Kontor is aimed at providing an easy to embed a 2-way messaging inbox within an app. The business can use this inbox to engage and converse with its users through an in-app chat interface. Apps can also use it for re-engagement and marketing to specific cohorts of users based on usage patterns, user properties, & custom meta-data. It helps the apps to reach out to their customers in smart ways, and solicit feedback from users. App developers can also learn firsthand about issues and avoid rants & bad ratings on the app store.

[caption id="attachment_97307" align="aligncenter" width="700"]konotor founders Founding team of Konotor[/caption]

Kontor was started by Vignesh Girishankar (Worked at Zynga previously), Srikrishnan Ganesan (worked at Verizon, Jigsee which was acquired by Vuclip) and Deepak Balasubramanyam. We asked them how they started up with such an innovative idea, Vignesh said, "While building our PhonOn in 2012-2013, we saw our users were interacting with us through our Facebook page, blog, etc. They used to report bugs, or ask for clarifications on how a certain feature worked. Even though we were a messaging app, our users didn’t have a way to engage with us!” They all realized that apps could do better with a rich messaging inbox in their app - with the right tools to segment users and reach out to them in a personalized and contextual way, this could work better than email or other engagement that happens outside of the app.

It can help the app developers in the following ways:

1) Engage : Reach and engage all your users or a segment of your users easily. Increase retention and engagement.

2) Customer support : Provide customer support from within the app. Kontor is your very own mobile help desk.

3) Feedback : Understand how your product is being used. Build the features your users want from you. With this you can intercept negative feedback before it reaches the app stores

4) Promote : Use segmentation to provide targeted promotions. You define the segmentation criteria. It can be used to inform your users about exciting new content or new features or even just a small gift voucher for relapsed users.

All you have to do is download a small SDK available for iOS, Android. The integration will only take a few minutes and all you will have to do is paste a few lines of code. They also have plugins for Cocos2dx and PhoneGap.

They are based out of Chennai with a 3 member team. First 3 months into their new product, they had 16 apps sign up to try the product. They have grown very fast from when they started in Aug 2013. Companies like Shopera, Scandid, Ridingo, Planhound use Kontor. The model is to charge a monthly subscription to our customers based on the number of active users of their apps.

They have a focus on certain verticals - such as commerce oriented apps or small/early businesses that want to engage closely with their customers/users. Our product is thus more tuned to this market where the segmentation features, event triggered messaging interventions, and 2-way rich messaging with deep linking are all more valuable. This team of 3 cofounders is looking to hire developers and designers. E- Commerce apps can use it for customer support, or to deal with cart abandonment. "We support multiple agents & live chat. Kontor re-imagines how marketing and CRM works in apps," says Srikrishnan, an IIM Bangalore Alumni.

They have ~74 lakhs in funding from Qualcomm Ventures and Accel Partners through the QPrize event that they won in May 2014, and some additional funding via the Target Accelerator Program (undisclosed). As a message for future entrepreneurs, Deepak says, "Start right away! Make sure you have runway for 2 years before your start if you want to bootstrap before you get to product-market fit."

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