COVID’s impact on how remote workers navigate the grey line between their work and personal life has had a profound impact on multiple sectors. One startup in particular seems to have cracked the code with regard to helping its users make sense of how to own one phone for both professional and personal functions.
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OpenPhone raised its Series A led by Craft Ventures with participation from Slow Ventures, Kindred Ventures, Y Combinator, Garage Capital and Chapter One Ventures. This round follows a $2 million seed round announced earlier this year led by Slow Ventures.
The company makes it easy to have a business phone on top of your existing devices with both calling and messaging capabilities. It works across all your devices including a web interface for your desktop and is built for iPhone, iPad and Android.
We spoke with COO Daryna Kulya who co-founded OpenPhone with CEO Mahyar Raissi. The target market for their services is small businesses that want to avoid handing out a personal phone number. With the service, customers can distinguish between personal and business calls on their phone, along with setting business hours and providing a professional interface for incoming calls.
This week the team is launching international calls, one of the most requested features, to allow for communications with customers abroad.
The service helps users build better relationships with customers, according to Kulya who noted that OpenPhone itself spent a lot of resources on messaging.
“What happens to the office phone when offices go remote? Expensive business phones are no longer needed,” said David Sacks, co-founder of Craft Ventures. “Nobody is there to pick them up anymore. Virtual offices need virtual business phones. When making investments like this, we look for clear bottom-up adoption among users and we saw it immediately with OpenPhone.”
“Their timing is perfect,” said Sacks. “They have figured out what people want in a modern phone app and are delivering it.”
Building on previous needs
Earlier this year the team launched a shared-number capability to allow for calls to be assigned to more than one team member. This feature directly increased its growth, according to Kulya, which has more than tripled since March 2020.
With COVID and remote work, co-workers can’t yell over a cubicle and ask, “Did you respond to that call?” And with team members who work across time zones, she added, the feature makes it easier to respond faster, thus increasing productivity.
The service is priced at $10 a month per user, with an additional $5 cost per user for each phone number added.
“One of the reasons we are called OpenPhone is that we don’t want to be this closed platform,” said Kulya. “We’re now getting to the point that we are excited to launch HubSpot and Zapier specifically. A lot of our customers use HubSpot CRM.”
Zapier allows customers to connect OpenPhone to thousands of different apps. The service is also integrated with Slack and email.
OpenPhone was part of the summer 2018 Y Combinator batch. Here is its original pitch that got it into YC.
“The key learning from Y Combinator is that startups are like small businesses, but tend to grow faster. This allows us to build for small businesses and get ready to serve bigger clients as they grow,” said Kulya.
The company is headquartered in San Francisco with 11 team members who are working from around the world in Canada, Australia, Philippines and Russia.
OpenPhone co-founders, CEO Mahyar Raissi and COO Daryna Kulya, and desktop photos courtesy of OpenPhone.
Blogroll illustration: Dom Guzman
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