Mobile messaging startup Avaamo, which was built by former TIBCO execs and has raised $6.3 million, wants to provide an app for enterprise communications that is both simple to use and secure.
Consider Avaamo one more app to take part in the “consumerization of enterprise” trend by building a business-grade messaging app that looks a hell of a lot more like something a user might download to text with friends. Behind the scenes, though, Avaamo has a lot of features that are necessary for enterprise users.
Let’s start with the similarities to consumer apps: Avaamo looks like what you might expect from a consumer messaging app — it has a similar contact list, as well as a list of ongoing conversations with other users. Heck, it even has its own class of stickers or emoji, with business-focused themes. And it’s fast, delivering messages almost instantaneously after being sent.
Unlike some enterprise communications apps, which limit conversation just to the employees within an organization, Avaamo was built so users can send secure messages to folks outside their organization as well as those they work with. That said, the app contains a separate contact list so users can quickly message other employees from within the same company.
What users don’t see is all the security and administration features that have been built into the app. All messages are sent wrapped in enterprise-level encryption, and users can even move their conversations to an ephemeral “off-the-record” mode that has messages disappear after a short period of time.
The app has an API that enables organizations to hook Avaamo into their own business applications and send notifications to a user. It also provides organizations with administrative tools to provide more granular controls over users’ security and access to the network of other employees within an organization. When an employee is terminated, it’s easy to ensure they can no longer message others or have access to shared documents.
All in all, the app was designed to facilitate conversations for an increasingly mobile workforce. According to co-founder and CEO Ram Menon, for many Global 100 customers and mid-market businesses, the fundamental problem is that employees are using consumer messaging tools their companies can’t control.
Menon and co-founder Sriram Chakravarthy come from TIBCO, where they conceptualized and built that company’s enterprise social network tibbr. But there was a certain number of users that they just couldn’t reach with that tool.
We’re not talking about knowledge workers who spend their days at a desk and do most of their communications by email, but users who are tied to their phones. At many retail outlets, for instance, floor managers are unlikely to have email address, but they will have a smartphone. In that scenario, their ID is the company-issued phone number but they are probably using a mix of SMS and other messaging apps to communicate with other employees.
As a result, Avaamo is less of a competitor to communication and collaboration tools like Slack or Yammer, and more of a tool designed to replace all the consumer messaging apps consumers are using for business.
That mobile-first and mobile-only workforce is even more prevalent in Asia, which is why the company took funding from investors in that area. It raised $6.3 million in seed financing led by WI Harper Group, with additional investors that include Rembrandt Ventures Partners, Streamlined Ventures, Eleven Two Capital and Ovo Fund.
With that funding, the folks behind Avaamo hope to get the app embedded in more enterprises. They’re hoping to do that in part by having enterprise users install the app themselves, but also through a series of distribution partnerships with enterprise service providers who will pre-install it.