Open Phone raises $40M to replace your work phone and office PBX with an app – TechCrunch

Pam answering the phone at Dunder Mifflin became one of the most iconic refrains of life in The Office, and it’s really no wonder it was: businesses large and small have long relied on PBX communications. , voicemail, hot and cold. phone calls, customer help lines, and more recently, the cell phone that you can never get away from and that is always with you. All that has been changing, however, slowly but surely, and today one of the startups hoping to be a leader in breaking that tune is announcing some funding as it finds some growth, currently delivering some 10 million calls. and monthly messages for your customers. .

OpenPhone, which provides business line and related phone services to users through a smartphone app, which in turn becomes the user’s business phone separate from their private cell phones, has raised $40 million, a Series B in which it will invest to continue to expand the communication and collaboration services it provides, and build deeper integrations with the other productivity tools its customers already use.

Tiger Global, known in the venture world for big growth rounds but in more recent times becoming more active in earlier stage, smaller investments, is leading this Series B, with previous backers Craft Ventures, Slow Ventures, Garage Capital and Worklife Ventures among which also participatory. Craft led OpenPhone’s $14 million Series A in 2020, with Slow leading its seed earlier that year. Before that, the company went through Y Combinator in 2018. It has raised $56 million to date.

OpenPhone founders Mahyar Raissi and Daryna Kulya, respectively from Iran and Ukraine and also married to each other, are well aware that they are not the first to think of reimagining the humble business phone system.

Over the years, PBXs and basic phones have been replaced by IP PBXs and IP phones; Telcos and managed service providers have had numerous stabs at the nebulous concept of “unified communications” around that; Meanwhile, OTT solutions like Zoom and other web-based video conferencing solutions are so easy to use (and still give people voice-based and dial-up options) that they’ve taken over many conference calls, and Skype has incorporated In and Out lines to serve those who are self-employed or mostly alone; Many people have stopped listening to voice messages and therefore messaging has become a much more important part of the equation; call centers are trying to make it harder to call them (and can be really frustrating when you do contact them); some have given up landlines altogether to use only their cell phones to handle all their work calls; and so.

In that context, OpenPhone’s unique selling point for the market, Raissi told me, is that it has created a system that caters to SMBs and brings elements of all of the above, in a format that represents the lowest friction of all: an app that you can use with your regular phone, but which gives a person a dedicated work phone number and a growing number of tools linked to it that they can use to communicate with colleagues and clients.

He said that in the US, which is San Francisco-based OpenPhone’s main market today, Google Phone could have presented a significant competitive threat to the company, but failed to provide customer support to users, which essentially put it out of the running to tackle a bigger wave of business beyond single-user early adopters.

The company, as you might imagine with a YC startup, found its first traction with other entrepreneurs who went through YC, and has grown with its users, gradually bringing in more services like PBX replacements, and are building integrations with established CRM and software. of sales The idea is to bring part of the spirit of services like Slack to the telephone environment.

“We’re building phone services for the way people use phones today,” Raissi said, “so messaging is really important and so is collaboration around a phone number. You could have a shared number for a team and you could easily collaborate on texts and activities. We bring collaboration to the phone.”

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