We invest in visions | Truecaller
We invest in visions, and Alan and Nami are no exception.
Since Truecaller‘s founding, their start-up has expanded from caller identification and spam monitoring to messaging and payments.
Back in 2012, we invested at a very early stage, when it had a user base of 1-2 million. Within a year that had exploded to over 10 million, and later the company expanded into payments and finances, a development we had not foreseen at the time of our first investment.
In 2017 the company entered the payment market and started working with UIP to enable people to send and receive payments (Truecaller Pay). In 2018 Truecaller acquired Chillr, a mobile payment company.
Today, Truecaller’s main revenue streams are in advertisements and subscriptions for end consumers. The subscription service was launched one year ago, and by the end of 2019 there were over three million premium subscribers. Those subscriptions are now 30% of its revenue, and this share continues to grow. The company has been profitable since the end of 2019.
Tom interviewed Alan recently about leadership, and how an entrepreneur prepares for a journey where you cannot know what will happen and must always be prepared to take the team and yourself to the next level.
You can listen to the full interview via the link below.
Here we point out four salient qualities mentioned in the discussion that a founder and CEO needs to reflect on, to commit truly to a fast-growing company.
Learning & agile processes
As a founder and CEO your life will be about constant learning, and many things won’t go as planned. You must learn quickly, stay agile in your processes to make fast decisions, and adapt constantly to the changing markets.
Team & hiring
Be honest with yourself about your core competencies and the things you do with passion. For the other tasks, hire people who have those skills and passion about what they are doing. Hire leaders to guide the teams, for only then will you be doing it well.
For Truecaller, this meant hiring an HR person early on. We at OpenOcean thought they were doing this much too early, but they were right. They put a scalable process in place, to grow the company and the teams across locations.
Trust & transparency
Be aware of what transparency really means for you and the company. Share the success stories of all your units, and how they contribute to the company’s success, to align the entire company on your goals.
As a CEO, be visible to each employee at any stage and team size, and know their names. Alan still takes a list of names and pictures with him when visiting different offices. You can keep pace with 100 employees, but once your company is bigger than that you have to find a way to keep up with your employees and their stories.
Be humble & always see the opportunity
One of the hardest jobs for Alan was laying people off in 2015. In his opinion, the company made the most common mistake: raised a lot of capital, scaled too fast, hired a lot of people, but failed to add good leaders to guide through the rapid growth. Then the market turns and you realize your costs are too high…
Nevertheless, this forced them to think about revenues, and how to become a sustainable long-term company. This was a moment which Alan describes as one of the best in the company’s history, leading to the current success.
In the end it comes down to passion, understanding growth patterns, constant learning, and agile decision-making. You’ll make mistakes and you must learn from them, quickly.
Fact sheet | Truecaller (True Software Scandinavia AB)
–Swedish caller-identification, spam blocking and payment app that adds a strong identity layer to all communication–
Founded | 2009
Founder | Alan Mamedi, CEO & co-founder, Nami Zarringhalam, CSO & co-founder
Headcount | 220+
Locations | five locations, main offices in Stockholm (Sweden), and Bengaluru (India), in addition to Mumbai (India), Gurgaon (India) and Nairobi (Kenya). More than half of the company’s employees are located in India.
Investors | Atomico, Kleiner Perkins, OpenOcean, Sequoia Capital, Zenith Venture Capital. 50% are owned by company employees.
In numbers (2.2020)
500+ million downloads
200+ million monthly active users (MAU)
150+ million daily users (DAU)
3+ million premium subscribers globally (launched 12 months ago)