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Swedish in India

So we had to ask Mamedi, “Where would Truecaller be without India?” He said, “I don’t know”.

Remember those times when your landline would ring and you would pick up only to hear distant laughter or sheer silence? With the rise in ‘blank’ calls, you were not alone in your desperation to know who was at the other end.

Along came Truecaller to help identify and even block undesired callers.

The app was created by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam in 2009. The Swedish founders call India their biggest market. Last year BW Businessworld caught up with Alan Mamedi, Co-founder and CEO of Truecaller when he was in India visiting a Delhi B-school.

Speaking to students there, he said, “A lot of people come to me and say that they had a similar idea in mind before we created Truecaller. I simply ask them, ‘So what happened?’”

Mamedi continued to the riveted audience, “We left everything to focus on our company. I was 25 and had a well-paying job in an IT MNC. I asked myself whether I should really give all this up”.

Quitting his job and creating Truecaller turned out well for Mamedi. In October 2014, the app raised $60 million from investors like Sequoia Capital at a valuation of $300 million.

Mamedi said, “We are about to cross 300 million users globally soon. We have over 150 million users in India only.”

It’s safe to say India disrupted Truecaller just as much as vis a vis.

When venture capitalists were rejecting Truecaller pitches, it was Mohit Bhatnagar and Shailesh Lakhani of Sequoia Capital India, who flew to meet Mamedi and Zarringhalam because the growth of Truecaller usage was phenomenal in India.

The last time Truecaller raised funds was in 2014. Fast forward to March 2017, the Truecaller 8.0 launch event: Mamedi said, “We haven’t had a reason to raise money beyond that. Our revenues are growing month on month and we hope to be profitable by end of this year (2017)."

The company started monetising in 2016 through targeted advertisements.

Both Facebook Inc. and True Software Scandinavia AB have deeply vested interests in growing the market here and in coming years competition will get fierce.

WhatsApp, together with Facebook Messenger (both owned by Facebook Inc.) are two of the most used apps for communicating in India. WhatsApp has around a 100 million active users in India and Truecaller is used in India to make over half a billion calls a month and to block over 120 million spam calls everyday.

1 June 2017, Truecaller surpassed Facebook to be the fourth most downloaded app in India, according to American VC specialist, Mary Meeker’s Internet trends report.

From its latest Truecaller 8.0 release to partnering with Airtel and ICICI Bank, the Swedish company is very India centric in the services they develop. The app is available in 11 Indian languages while the SMS app, Truemessenger was released in 2015 exclusively for India.

More recently Truecaller added features like Flash Messaging and Google Duo powered video calling, in line with their vision to become a one-stop communication platform. In the future, Truecaller even plans to roll out features so that small businesses in India can engage with end consumers.

So we had to ask Mamedi, “Where would Truecaller be without India?”

He answered very honestly, “I don’t know”.

When you’re on social media you read and see things. But you come down here, you interact with your users – person to person, and the reality is so different. We want to continue to add value to our user base in India. That is our priority.”

And why not. It’s a strategy that has paid off well for them so far.

Tags assigned to this article:
truecaller Alan Mamedi Nami Zarringhalam

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