Carving a new industry: How startup Influx are spending their $250,000 venture round
Not too long ago Mikey De Wildt created a WordPress plugin as a bit of a side gig to work on at night when he got home from his role as an engineer at 99designs. The plugin allowed bloggers to backup their sites to dropbox automatically; and it wasn’t long before the WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin had over 740,000 downloads from around the world and was the second most downloaded WP plugin to come out of Australia.
Before long nights were spent dealing with customer support issues, and when you are a one man band with a bit of freelancer help dealing with sometimes hundreds of emails and support threads a day when you are trying to build a business and still working full time becomes tiresome and stressful.
It was not long before De Wildt discovered he was not the only person experiencing this issue and decided to build out a solution that would help those that found themselves in the exact same situation.
A couple of months ago he launched Influx, a service that takes care of your customer support functions for your online business, and in doing so he has created a relatively new market segment inside a $2 billion dollar industry within Australia.
Currently there are around 823 businesses within Australia that offer internal and outsourced customer support functions, these businesses employ just over 50,000 Australians and a portion of them offer email based customer support functions.
In the space the two dominant players are Aegis BPO Services and the digital solutions arm of Salmat. With a list of customers including brands such as Woolworths, these guys play at the top end of town with contracts that are usually not as flexible and too expensive for startups and smaller businesses scaling.
Influx are filling a massive hole in a market that right now is quite untapped, the value that De Wildt provides customers is that himself and the team he is building are engineers themselves, so it is a much stronger proposition for potential customers as they really understand tech and the startup world.
On the $250,000 capital raised from 99designs Founder Mark Harbottle, angel investor Leni Mayo and the SitePoint Group, De Wildt says he will be using the money to build out the team and develop relationships for the business globally.
Currently Influx has about a dozen customers signed up to the service across a range of different industries, all across the globe – ideally De Wildt is setting himself a stretch target of having 100 businesses using the service come December 2014.
According to De Wildt most customer service platforms that exist currently in the market are not startup-friendly.
“Influx has been created with startups in mind, wherever they are in their journey. Solutions are flexible, cost effective, yet delivered by a team with deep tech expertise. The service provides weekly reports that include customer feedback such as bugs or feature suggestions, which helps build business intelligence, something a lean startup rarely has the resources in place to do,” says De Wildt.
“All staff speak English as their first language, so they are sensitive to language nuances in customer emails that other customer service teams are not.”
Investor Mark Harbottle echoes these thoughts saying, “Influx.com is building a disruptive platform that has the potential to challenge the traditional customer service model, no longer do tech start ups have to struggle juggling customer service and scaling, Influx.com directly addresses this pain point with a cost effective, high quality and scalable solution”.
For more information on Influx, visit Influx.com.