India born Chetan Chaudhary, director, channel sales, Twilio wears many hats. After his graduation in computer science, Chetan setup JunoSource, a startup related to financial markets and mortgage loan processing after a brief corporate stint, before selling it off in 2008 to an Indian BPO. He later did stints at Cisco Systems, WhatSpotnow and Junglee Games before joining Twilio in 2011. Twilio is a cloud communication company that allows its customers to send receive phones calls and text messages using their web service APIs.
YS: How is Twilio doing in India and what is your strategy for the market?
Chetan: If you look at the number of registrations for Twilio, India is at number 5 or 6. There is a lot of interest for the services we offer in India because of a strong developer community. Organizations like Infosys, TCS and Wipro that have large back office centers can use Twilio’s services to setup US phone numbers and UK phone numbers on demand by their customers.
YS: What would you say about the surge of cloud telephony and communication services in India? How do you look at competition?
CC: I think today Twilio is definitely in a leading position; we have been in a de facto state in the last 12-24 months when it comes to building communication applications. There are a ton of great startups that have come up in the last year but we think competition is good for us. It is sort of good for the communications and service sector because it just proves that what we are building is going to be successful.
YS: Does Twilio have people in India currently? Are you looking to hire?
CC: We don’t have anyone in India yet, but we are looking for people who can manage developer relations and marketing here in the next 12-24 months. We have been talking closely to Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies, to partner with them and come into this market.
YS: You mentioned the strong developer community in India. Please share some more thoughts.
CC: The quality of developers in India is pretty solid. I think there is a great pool of talent sitting in Bangalore and other IT centers of India. What maybe different is that the Indian developers think about a specific kind of customer and build a product/service for that customers, while in the US it maybe more heterogeneous, in sense that people might just do something for fun at a hackathon over a weekend. We met with a lot of developers here who came with their ideas and business use cases to us, and there is drive to build something different from the old construct, and people are thinking about leading edge technology, they are thinking what is the next big thing that can be built. We are also very impressed with Indian entrepreneur’s knowledge of how various markets work; they have a world view. In US, the developers and entrepreneurs are initially focused just on the US markets, as the markets are very large there, they think about European markets and other markets only at a later stage.
YS: How was your experience with the entrepreneurs during office hours?
CC: The most encouraging part about the sessions was that each one was trying to solve a different problem. From Twilio’s perspective, we really liked the fact that each one had use cases which revolved around embedding voice and SMS in their solutions. So it is good to know that in any solution, there is a construct to have SMS, voice, maybe MMS and perhaps even video.
YS: What would you advice entrepreneurs on sales and marketing?
CC: As an entrepreneur when you are looking at building products, it is very important to build quality products and it is equally important to sell that product. So just like an engineer would stand up to ensure that their product technically works and is elegant in the best possible way, you need equal preparation on the sales and marketing front. So think about the value you are offering, how do articulate that value, how do you present that value in your pitch, how do you look at the markets, how do you segment it and how do you extract value from that market. Because until you get that revenues coming in the door, it is very difficult! In fact when you go to raise money, the first question they ask is how many customers pay you, because that is a very good indication that you are delivering immense value.