We started Contactive because we wanted to make telephone conversations more fun and productive. But how would we do this? Well, our mission was to bring together relevant information from multiple sources to identify millions of unknown callers all before picking up a phone call. Over the last 2+ years, we have worked non-stop to build a strong big data platform, a brilliant team of 20 people, and a solid product with over 1 Million users. Along the way we also launched Klink, a similar product for optimizing communications at large enterprises. Today, we are excited to announce that we are joining ThinkingPhones, the market leader in Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). By joining ThinkingPhones, we can move another step forward in closing the gap between the world of big data and telephone communications, to increase the productivity and efficiency of communications.
STARTING CONTACTIVE & KLINK
Despite the popularity of mobile apps, people actually spend 35% of the time on their smartphones talking. Our metrics reveal that the average American engages in an average of 10 calls per day.
Back in 2012 I was frustrated that every time I received an incoming call on my cell phone (once you are listed as a CEO, you begin to receive a flood of cold calls from vendors, sales people, recruiters, banks, etc.), I would have to ask myself if I could recognize the number to decide whether or not I wanted to pick up, and whether there was something useful for me to know about the caller. Sometimes I would try to jump on my computer to Google the number calling me in real-time to find the name of the person. When I found a name, I would then go to LinkedIn or Twitter to get more information about the person (the internet has a lot of public information, as it turns out). I was sure that there could be an automated way to search phone numbers (or people), scanning public directories and social networks, and instantly display all the vital information about the caller, as the call is coming in.
We knew we could do better. Together with Julio Viera, we decided to build a big data platform that could connect profiles and online identities created by people and businesses online, and associate them with a telephone number to create an identity graph.
Contactive patent pending big data platform to structure unstructured information and make it available in real-time as the telephone rings. Contactive creates an “identity graph”, a collection of all available identities associated with a telephone number.
For me, Contactive represents the natural evolution of caller ID. Since most people already Google people or phone numbers to read more about them on Linkedin, Twitter, or Yelp, it only made sense that our smartphones (or a big data platform behind them) should do that work for us in real-time for every incoming call. Tired of missing calls because I wasn’t sure if it was my bank or a telemarketer, we started working on Contactive and successfully launched the product in April 2013.
Today Contactive has over 1.3 million users and enhances over 600 million telephone numbers, receiving widespread acclaim from the press (TechCrunch, Business Insider, Lifehacker, ZDNet, CNET, CNBC, etc.) and love from our global users with over 20,000 reviews.
EVOLVING INTO KLINK
In 2013 we started to receive a lot of product feedback from professionals. We noticed two trends emerge from what we heard from professional workers:
1. Just as we were adding context to phone calls by bringing up public information, they told us it would be even more useful for accessing information about their customers, which is usually stored in their CRM, billing, or ticketing systems. “My company keeps a lot of important customer information in our databases like Zendesk, Marketo, Salesforce, or Mixpanel,” they would say. “When I get a call from a customer, why don’t you bring up that information as well?”
2. Professionals also told us that they made a lot of calls from their desk phones (powered by Cisco, ThinkingPhones, etc.). They asked if we could sit on top of the company telephone system and show caller information as notifications on their computers.
Despite the fact that people are well-acquainted with smartphones for personal use, 80% of communications in large companies still happen with basic Polycom or Cisco desk phones, without a screen on it. Sales people knew that phone calls converted customers 10 times better than emails, but despite this they were not optimizing calls on those devices. In the business world, real-time information on customers means the power to upsell, cross-sell, or sell faster, but that data was not readily available to sales representatives when connecting with their customers.
As a startup guy (not doing sales), I was shocked that companies were paying millions of dollars to keep their customer data on Salesforce, Zendesk, email servers, or billing systems, but that data was not popping up in real-time, every time a sales rep was talking to a customer. Given that new telephone systems (Cisco, ThinkingPhones, Avaya, etc.) have APIs, we realized that we could make those telephones more intelligent by showing and highlighting exactly what sales people needed to know when they are talking to their customers on the phone.
That’s the way we got into the enterprise software world and decided to develop a new product for it, Klink, by reusing the big data platform underlying Contactive. Michael Affronti joined us in 2013 as Head of Product and helped us shape the enterprise product, bringing tons of experience and know-how about providing productivity in the communications space. In 2014 we worked on integrating our product with telephone systems and enterprise data sources, and we signed our first few Fortune 500 customers. After securing certification from Cisco, launching at the DEMO Conference in Santa Clara, and being featured worldwide by Google as a key productivity app, we received hundreds of thousands of individual users. Our target customers were sales and customer-facing representatives in large organization that used the telephone to move and close deals. In particular, we targeted scenarios where the relevant data was scattered and there was willingness to pay for real-time access to CRM data and insights to increase effectiveness -- sectors such as financial services, insurance, technology, government, etc.
Today we are announcing that the Contactive team is joining ThinkingPhones, a fast growing startup with around 300 employees that is currently the leader in UCaaS. We couldn’t be more excited to join their efforts!
By joining ThinkingPhones, we will be incorporating our big-data know-how into ThinkingPhones’ UC platform to offer a combined product that delivers on the promise of making communications more intelligent and effective.
“ThinkingPhones, the leader in a huge new cloud category”
In the last 10 years, new multibillion dollar companies have been created by moving each enterprise technology category to the cloud. In CRM you have Salesforce. In HR you have Workday. As the market of cloud enterprise communications develops from a $3 billion market in 2014, into a $90 billion in 2018, a new juggernaut will emerge in this category, and Thinkingphones is well positioned to take that throne.
The business world has changed, facilitating a new way of thinking about how you and your customers connect, aided by the emergence of cloud, data, and mobile technologies. There is a new opportunity to make all business communication systems work for the users, providing apps that people love, unifying all communications into a cloud platform, connecting them to other cloud applications, and delivering intelligent mobile ready apps to employees. ThinkingPhones is without doubt well-positioned to be that company. Traditional business phone services are a relic of the past and ThinkingPhones is here to bring them into the cloud and mobile era. We believe that Contactive team and technology will be critical assets of this revolution.
Beyond the product, the space, and the leadership position of ThinkingPhones in the market, what excites us is their management team and board. They are all entrepreneurs with a proven track record of successfully anticipating market trends in the enterprise space. Not only that, the extended executive team has been working together for the past 15 years, building three very successful enterprise technology companies. I believe this only goes to show how much they trust each other and how much we can expect in terms of team dynamics.
At this point, we want to thank all of our Contactive and Klink users. Because of your excitement about the product, support, and honest feedback, we have been able to make the product what it is today. From all of us here at Contactive: Thank you so much, we can’t wait to show you where we are going next together with ThinkingPhones. Beyond our users and our amazing team of around 20 people, we also want to thank our investors at Innov8 and advisors, including Pedro Pinto, Amol Sarva, Jesus Encinar, Alberto Lopez, and Adeyemi Ajao.
We are excited to be joining ThinkingPhones and are look forward to building a better product for everyone. Together, we will continue to contribute to this amazing revolution of big data and analytics applied to how people interact with each other, adding additional context to each interaction to make conversations more productive.
VIVA la CONTACTIVE! and VIVA la THINKINGPHONES!
-Inaki & Julio
For press enquiries, please contact John-David Brown email@example.com
ps.- Special thanks to all the team members who at some point have worked full time in the product: Michael Affronti, Sophia Popova, John-David Brown, Benjamin Ellis, Jose Rubio, Quim Castella, Alberto Sheinfeld, Juan Carlos Viota, Ben Woodrum, Alwin Ventura, Ingrid Rubio, Pedro Sanudo, Ben Eisner, Ben Eisner Jr, Scott Hartley, Karina Shu, Helen Cho, Luis Teixeira, Joao Santos, Liliana Nunes, Juan Ramirez, Salomon Horowitz, Fabio Santos, Madison Seely, Marta Lluch, Marianna Zaslavsky, Jose Santos, Filipe Costa, Damien Acheson, Rachel Pezzlo, Ryan Lakritz, Inigo Barbed, Camille Le Meur, Alvaro Paniagua, and Daniel Manchon.
Working on Contactive during its inception
trying to optimize business phone calls with big data. all in the cloud.