Subscribe to Inc. magazine
ONLINE TOOLS AND SOFTWARE

Our Goal? Oh, Just to Be the Mother of all Business Apps

San Francisco-based Intercom wants to replace Zendesk, Constant Contact and ExactTarget in one fell swoop.
Advertisement

There's no shortage of helpdesk, CRM, email marketing, and marketing automation tools designed to increase sales and foster customer retention and loyalty. But wouldn't it be great if you could use just one product that does all those things?

Intercom, a San Francisco start-up that launched in public beta a year and a half ago, says it's just that. Founded by four Irish guys and staffed by former Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon designers and engineers, the 30-person company has created an uber "customer communications product" for Web companies.

Its goal: to let companies start meaningful dialogue with customers depending on who they are and how they're using an online product.

How It Works

To use it, you add Intercom's JavaScript code to your website or application to let the platform start tracking your customers as they sign into your product. You can then filter users according to a myriad of descriptors and send them individual, group, automated, or on-the-spot messages that are personal and relevant.

"You can jump into Intercom and say 'Show me all my premium [users] who signed up in the last 30 days who are based in New York' or 'Show me everyone who's about to quit' or 'Show me everyone who's spent over $10,000--whatever you want,'" CEO Eoghan McCabe says.

In addition to letting you email users according to their demographics or how they're interacting with your site, Intercom lets you send messages to customers inside your own product as they're using it so as to get higher engagement. And since Intercom also looks at your customers' social profiles, you can do things like tell it to show a particular message to key influencers such as people who are widely followed on Twitter, for example.

The Business Model

Intercom's pricing model is different and refreshingly transparent. While some software-as-a-service platforms can be cagey about enterprise-level pricing, here it's pretty straight up.

Instead of charging you for the number of employees using the platform or for each message you send, Intercom bumps up its rates incrementally as your user base grows. For instance, at a $49-a-month level you can let everyone in your company use Intercom and send an unlimited number of messages to 250 active users. For every additional 250 users you bring on board Intercom charges an extra $11. It's the same thing at the $149-a-month tier, except then you can track and communicate with 2,500 users and pay an extra $33 a month for every same-sized uptick in user numbers. For $449 a month you can engage with 25,000 users and pay an additional $99 for every 25,000 more.

A free version is also available.

Incubated in 500 Startups at the beginning of 2012, Intercom just announced $6 million in Series A funding led by The Social+Capital Partnership, with participation from Freestyle Capital and David Sacks, founder and CEO of Yammer. It follows $1.75 million in seed funding the company raised last year from 500 Startups, Freestyle Capital, and angels including Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

McCabe says Intercom has thousands of paying customers, including big names such as GitHub, Heroku, Bit.ly, and Rackspace and that all its connections with VCs have been inbound.

"It's been them seeing their portfolio companies using Intercom and then contacting us, so we've been super lucky in that respect," he says.

As for competition, McCabe says Intercom doesn't go up against any company directly but is seeking to replace platforms such as Zendesk for customer support, Constant Contact for email marketing, and ExactTarget for marketing automation.

Last updated: Jun 21, 2013

CHRISTINA DESMARAIS

Christina DesMarais is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. On Google+, add her to one of your circles. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com.




Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: