MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

This startup aims to bring digital directories to life

SeeChat will revolutionize customer service with the potential to power 1.4 million SMEs.

Digital directories and e-commerce powered by SeeChat transform business to consumer communication and lead generation with chat and unified social media engagement. The platform is unique because most directories today are discovery platforms - one can find a business online but cannot interact with them instantly (besides landlines). However, SeeChat changes it, says Sekar. "We enable consumers to not only find a business on the directory but instantly chat with the local businesses without needing to know the local business mobile number," he says.

"Each directory provider today has 100,000 to 500,000 listed local businesses and strong local business relations," says Swami Sekar, CEO, SeeChat. "We help these directory providers go digital, increase their revenue, and provide enhanced offerings that make lives of local business owners easier when reaching to new age consumers."

SeeChat powers and brings digital directories to life with integrated messaging and payment solutions to help businesses get discovered, connect, and transact with customers from one platform.

Around 180,000 local SMEs make up 99% of the enterprises in Singapore and contribute to nearly half of the GDP while employing 70% of the workforce, says Sekar. Globally, this number is more than 100 million businesses. These companies are facing huge pressure to reinvent their operating model with a need to ‘go digital,’ engage the mobile customer, and boost their productivity. Otherwise, they risk getting disrupted by app-economy and e-commerce players that are digital and available anytime.

"We spent a year working with over 150 such companies in Singapore as we built and validated a solution to help them. In the process we learnt that the best way to scale and deliver solutions that SMEs cared about was through directory providers," says Sekar. "Directory providers service these SMEs in an aggregate manner, and they are looking for a strong technology player with an out of the box solution to help serve their SMEs. That's the genesis of SeeChat."

Local businesses today have customers coming from various digital channels: web, search engine platforms, social platforms, directory platforms and future voice assisted devices. SeeChat helps bring all these customer conversations to a single portal for a business to manage and respond easily.

"For most SMEs that are not tech savvy, such one portal solution greatly increases efficiency and productivity," says Sekar. "They do not have to go to five different places to manage their digital presence. For more sophisticated SMEs we offer analytics, bots and AI integration that automate the customer response process.

Sekar shares that in just four months since launching the product in October 2016, SeeChat has won two Enterprise Directory Customers in Singapore and the Middle East, powering 900,000 SMEs through their platforms. SeeChat is in early engagements with leading directories in four other countries, with the potential to power 1.4 million SMEs. That acceleration will set SeeChat on the path to becoming a global market leader in Business-Customer Communication Technology, shares Sekar.

"We also see Governments like Singapore are creating right initiatives for SMEs to Go-Digital. We would like to see how these initiatives take advantage of unified communication solutions like SeeChat that SMEs can consume and leverage readily to manage all their digital point of presence easily," he says.

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