Plivo, a Y Combinator-backed telephony startup that offers an API platform for voice and SMS applications, is today announcing it raised $1.75 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Qualcomm Incorporated, and SV Angel.
For background, the company offers businesses a way to host their voice and messaging applications in the cloud. Co-founder Venkatesh B (who goes by Venky), describes the service as aiming to do for telephony hosting what Amazon did for web hosting.
He and Plivo’s other founder Michael Ricordeau had originally met over GitHub over two years ago when each were working on their own telephony applications. Discovering a shared interest, the two launched Plivo in December 2011 in invite-only mode, and then opened up API access in July to all interested parties.
At the time of its public launch, the company said it was handling 4 million minutes per month on its platform and had around a dozen customers, half of which were paying. Venky tells us that the company has not released an update as to the specific numbers of customers today, but its enterprise customer numbers are now “in the dozens,” he says. He also declined to provide an update on number of minutes per month, but adds that he would characterize Plivo’s customers as “enterprise class, not really hobby developers.”
One statistic Venky would share is related to growth: the company has been growing at 30 percent month-over-month since the product went live in July.
One of the company’s notable customers is Imprezzio, a software company that provides solutions for Fortune 100 and financial customers. “Before switching to Plivo, we used another provider that essentially forced us to use their carrier contracts, at a huge markup, and just didn’t deliver on the reliability side,” Imprezzio CEO Kelly Birr said in a prepared statement. “Our experience with Plivo has been completely different – the company and its platform are flexible and easy to work with, yet rock solid. They have exceeded our expectations at every turn.”
Venky also noted that Calliflower and Meutaro are also now using the service for the core of their infrastructure.
Unlike Twilio, which is hosted on Amazon’s AWS, Plivo runs on its own servers in order to have more control over quality of service. However, in the past, Plivo said that its real competition came from Asterisk, which is what many larger scale business use to create their voice and SMS API platforms today. Plivo, on the other hand, is built using FreeSWITCH, a newer, open source alternative to Asterisk. FreeSWITCH doesn’t offer much documentation and requires a deeper understanding of telephony, which is why businesses often still use Asterisk, the company explained to us earlier this summer. With Plivio, FreeSWITCH, which the founders believe is the better technology, is now available as an API platform.
The company currently offers two levels of service – one that connects customers with Plivo’s own carriers on a pay-as-you-go basis, and another for larger enterprises that already have carrier relationships in place.
The funding will be used to continue product development, plus grow sales and marketing. Plivo has 17 employees, and will grow to 20 by year-end. The company plans to expand its platform beyond voice and messaging in order to support video and WebRTC in the future. WebRTC is currently supported in an alpha version, but video support is further out.