Hong Kong-based WATI.io helps companies have personalized conversations with an easy-to-use customer engagement software tool that’s built on WhatsApp’s API. The startup worked with Kindrik Partners on their recent capital raise. We talked to co-founder and COO Bianca Ho on WATI.io, the capital raising journey, and working with Kindrik Partners.
The company was founded in 2016 by Bianca Ho and Ken Yeung in Hong Kong. Before embarking on entrepreneur journey, Bianca worked in finance before moving to a business development role at a SaaS startup that specialised in customer support. It was there that she saw how artificial intelligence could be leveraged to augment and supercharge existing customer support teams.
“We started with an AI digital assistant for enterprises”, Bianca recalls. “Our digital assistant provided enterprises with a simple solution to chat with their clients at any time in the client’s preferred channels and language.”
From there, the company saw the opportunity of offering a similar solution to SMEs. “We saw lot of small businesses using WhatsApp as a tool to communicate with their customers. We created WATI, a no-code solution for those companies to automate the support that they were offering using WhatsApp’s Business API.”
These days the team has 40 employees across seven locations and is serving over 2,500 businesses in 54 different countries.
working with kindrik partners
Bianca was first introduced to Kindrik Partners through another entrepreneur in Singapore – Ned Philips, cofounder at Bambu. They were looking for legal advice with their pre-series A round.
“We decided to work with Kindrik because the team was really responsive, and the legal fees were affordable.” says Bianca. “They’re easy to work with, and very straightforward and fuss-free.”
on WATI.io’s fundraising journey
“We were a part of the Surge accelerator programme run by Sequoia”, recalls Bianca. “The fundraising process was relatively straightforward, since they have standardised documents that Sequoia gives to all cohort companies.”
Bianca worked with partners Chris Wilson and Lee Bagshaw from the Southeast Asia office in Singapore. “They were very quick to respond to my emails, as well as friendly.” says Bianca.
“They’re also founder-centric, which is something I appreciated. Sequoia is a big name, but Kindrik worked to let us know when things weren’t necessarily market standard in the fundraising documents, and encouraged us to ask questions to understand what we were getting into.”
Kindrik Partners also assisted WATI.io in the preparation of its employee share option scheme (ESOP).
“An ESOP is a complex thing to decide, and not something you can change every day”, Bianca says, “It can be daunting and quite complex, so having a clear explanation of the process and documents was very useful for us.”
tips for founders
When it comes to giving tips to founders, Bianca is clear. “Focus on the business first”, she says. “Understand your customers. If you are a good business with solid fundamentals, it will be easier to get the capital you need.”
what’s to come
WATI.io is continuing to pick up speed, particularly with its new injection of capital. “We are continuing to hire and grow”, says Bianca. “It’s an exciting time for us and we’re excited at what’s to come for the company.”