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This fast growing start-up thinks messaging can solve customer service problems

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Customer service will get more personal in 2017

Intercom, a start-up helping businesses talk to their customers, is growing quickly.

Every 10 days, it's adding 600 new paid customers and $1 million in new annual recurring revenue, or ARR, which has quadrupled since 2015, according to the company.

The 5-year-old customer communication company based in San Francisco and Dublin now has 15,000 customers in 117 countries, including Product Hunt, Expensify, Shopify and New Relic.

Co-founder and CEO Eoghan McCabe described Intercom's core product as a messenger, similar to a WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, that allows companies to speak directly to their customers. Intecom's messenger comes with emojis and video options, making it truly conversational.

"I really think you are going to see an aggressive move toward casual, personal, friendly and a transparent way of connecting with customers," McCabe said. "Faceless, gross, spammy brands are going to go the way of the dinosaurs."

A look at Intercom’s platform, which uses messaging and video chat to make customer service more casual and personal.

The Intercom platform also collects live user data that helps the company analyze and understand its users. The platform is scalable, so there are options for automation when necessary. But McCabe pointed out that messaging is faster and more efficient than traditional customer communication tools, like email.

"I expect that a lot more businesses over time will jump on messaging to connect with customers," McCabe said.

Robson Grieve, chief marketing officer at New Relic, a data analytics firm, has used Intercom for about a year and said it has had a positive impact on the company. He said it is especially useful when New Relic is launching a new product.

"It has helped speed up use of new products and helped help others stay engaged with existing products," Grieve said.

But Intercom is not without competitors, especially because it fits into customer service and marketing categories. The space includes software companies like Zendesk, UserVoice, Freshdesk, Marketo and MailChimp.

Intercom raised $50 million in 2016, bringing the total investments to $116 million. It is backed by Index Ventures, Iconiq Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Social Capital. Other investors include software entrepreneurs, such as Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield; the co-founders of digital payments start-up Stripe, Patrick and John Collison; and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

McCabe said Intercom is fully funded and will not need to raise any more money.

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