Even though SMS has lost its relevance as a messaging tool, primarily because of apps like WhatsApp or Hike, it is still the most important platform to receive one-time passwords (OTPs) for online financial transactions, as well as getting updates on purchases from e-commerce sites and travel applications like Ola and Uber.
A start-up named Solutions Infini has framed its business model primarily based on revenues earned from its automated SMS platform, services of which are taken by the likes of Amazon, Flipkart, Air Asia, Cure Fit, Practo, Swiggy, Manappuram Bank, Muthoot Bank, Federal Bank, and Capillary Technologies.
Founded in 2009 by a two-member team of just out-of-college engineers, Solutions Infini has now grown into a messaging and voice solutions provider and employs over 120 people. Through its multi-channel cloud platform, the company caters to 2.5 billion SMS traffic, and powers over 600 million voice calls every month.
Aniketh Jain, CEO & co-founder, Solutions Infini, said it was not easy during 2009, when the digital movement was not there and there were not many takers for tech-savvy applications. Built as part of a college project, Jain along with Ashish Agarwal, decided to start selling SMS as a simple product to businesses that wanted to reach out to their customer base.
However, unlike other start-ups, Solutions Infini has been a profitable company since its inception thanks to the initial bootstrapping and aversion to seed funding. However, last year an Italian company bought a majority stake in Solutions Infini. In 2013 also, the co-founders wanted to raise money but failed as investors did not found the business model exciting.
The company is earning 65 per cent of its revenues from its SMS platform. “"While messaging has been our core product, we have diversified into voice solutions for the past 2-3 years. Our cloud platform handles huge volumes of promotional and transactional messages like OTPs for companies like Ola, Uber and Flipkart,” Jain said.
From a turnover of Rs 580 million in the year 2014-2015, the company is currently clocking a turnover of Rs 2.25 billion for the year 2017-2018, growing at over two-fold rate.
Regarding the voice platform, the company has developed a technology that keeps the details of customers anonymous.
The company currently procures landline numbers in bulk from various operators and use cloud technology to channel these calls. As interconnect usage charges (IUC) are zero on landline call termination, they save a lot of costs.
"At the moment, IUC applies for mobile to mobile connections and not mobile to landline. However, in the near future should this protocol change, we can scale our services to provide accordingly,” Jain added.
On SMS also, the margins are very thin but volumes make them make some money. “Today we buy SMS at 8 paise from the operator and we sell it at 9-10 paisa so 2 paisa is the margin,” he added.