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Chat commerce company Clickatell secures a billion to grow local software engineering skills and to scale

Pieter de Villiers, Co-Founder and CEO at Clickatell. Photo: File

Pieter de Villiers, Co-Founder and CEO at Clickatell. Photo: File

Published Feb 27, 2022

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LOCALLY founded chat commerce company Clickatell has secured $91 million in their Series C round.

In 2021 the company was recognised by Fast Company (SA) as one of the Most Innovative Companies in South Africa. This round was led by Arrowroot Capital, with participation from Kennedy Lewis Investment Management, Endeavor Global and Harvest.

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Clickatell which has delivered double-digit profitable growth for several years, will use the Series C capital to scale and expand three key areas: (i) Accelerated development and innovation of its Chat Commerce offering, (ii) Expansion of its footprint in the US, and (iii) Scaling of sales and marketing efforts on the back of growing demand from leading brands.

The new capital will also allow the company to significantly grow its engineering skills. It has already earmarked over 200 positions with a strong focus on boosting its African skills complement in the coming months.

“In 2019, Clickatell was the first to launch chat banking, bringing banking services functionality to chat channels.

Our successes would not be possible without the trust and collaboration of our customers, some of Africa’s largest and most successful companies in the world,” said Pieter de Villiers, Co-Founder and CEO at Clickatell.

“We look forward to working with businesses and financial institutions across the continent to enable Chat Commerce, the future of digital commerce and engagement. Soon, every consumer in Africa will engage family and friends via chat plus connect, interact and transact with the brands they love through their favourite chat platform.” Clickatell’s platform has been recognized as a global leader in powering mobile messaging/ CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) and payments within chat. Clickatell processed more than 30 billion interactions, and 2 billion commerce transactions during the Covid-19 period alone.

With a massive $80+ billion Total Addressable Market (TAM), the Chat Commerce market is viewed as the third big wave of digital commerce, following the eCommerce and App Commerce markets. Chat is the largest digital platform in the world, with 7.7 billion users compared to 4.7 billion internet users, making it next to impossible for businesses to operate without communicating and transacting with consumers in chat channels.

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Chat Commerce enables businesses to easily facilitate significantly improved customer experiences through chat, with the added benefit of being far more efficient for customers and operational costs. Clickatell is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the intersection between communications (CPaaS, CCaaS) and commerce (digital payments) – offering a complete end-to-end Chat Commerce Platform. Clickatell serves more than 10000 customers, many of which are Fortune 500 companies and leading global brands such as Coca Cola, Deloitte, GT Bank, Booking.com, GoDaddy, IKEA, Novartis, Standard Bank, Tangerine, Telegram, US Foods, Visa, Zipcar, Capitec and others. Clickatell’s low / no-code, feature-rich Chat Commerce orchestration capability includes assisted (chat desk) and unassisted (bots) chat and secure payments capability in its recently launched Chat 2 Pay offering.

“We have a shared vision with Clickatell that brands will need to invest in Chat Commerce to transform their customer experience,” said Matt J. Safaii, Founder and Managing Partner at Arrowroot Capital.

“Endeavor is incredibly privileged to invest into Clickatell, one of the most admired and successful high-growth companies to emerge from South Africa. Clickatell has an exceptional CEO and talented team, who are leaders and role-models to entrepreneurs across the ecosystem, and we are fortunate to play a smart part in their journey,” said Alison Collier, Endeavor South Africa Managing Director.

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Commenting on its African plans, de Villiers said the company will not only be looking to grow its already substantial market influence but will continue to invest in addressing the widening gap between the demand and supply of digital skills on the continent as well as encouraging entrepreneurship and start-up innovation.

“While expansion in the US is a high priority in this capital raise, Africa will remain a core market for us and one where our purpose of creating a better world for all through technology really shines through. We are proud of the work we do with www.SiMODiSA. org on supporting entrepreneurship on the continent through the Startup Act, as well as furthering the creation of future proof jobs via the TechXit digital skills initiative.

“Africa has a wealth of talent and Clickatell will continue to work with both the public and private sectors to ensure that the potential, both of individuals and companies, can be realized,” said de Villiers, who is also Chairman of SiMODiSA, an industry-led initiative to address and overcome barriers facings SMEs and start-ups in South Africa,“ Collier said.

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