As it looks to raise over $150 million in a new funding round, tech media darling Slack seems to have the team communications market cornered. While the US platform may be king of the office chat, for teams with members scattered around cities or countries, in retail branches or franchises, working on the go or in roles away from a desk, Australian startup Rapporr believes it has the answer.
Explained cofounder David Anstee, “Rapporr is Slack operating in a far more contextual communication format.” Rapporr, available on iOS and Android, is perhaps best described as a mix between email and Slack. It allows people to create a group to communicate with. They can message an entire group or company, a specific team, or one person, about a specific thing, with every conversation having a subject line with an intention or situation to be addressed.
The aim of the app is to make sure that people are able to access specific people in order to receive the information they need, when they need it, without being overwhelmed; forget chatting about your weekend with colleagues on Slack, or being cc’d in on endless reply-all email chains where no one can answer one simple question, users only receive notifications for messages where they have specifically been asked to help.
“There are a whole bunch of enterprise solutions like the Podios, the Lyncs, and Slack more recently, but they are primarily more effective for broadcast messaging or fixed group messaging, where you tend to have people sitting in project-aligned groups or teams. We’re about places where the people change everyday, even twice a day, so you’ve got to have a very contextual platform that only deals with the people that need to be in on that conversation at that time, and need to access that information at that time,” Anstee said.
“Every conversation is completely unique; you don’t have a stream of past messages to go through when you go through Rapporr, it’s just whatever you need to know for that particular challenge in front of you, changing or filling shifts or stock check, whatever it is.”
As well as facilitating a discussion on a particular topic among a specific team or enabling users to broadcast announcements to a wider group, Rapporr also allows people to send a poll and receive quick responses and push out events that can be added to each user’s calendar with one click. It also enables users to translate specific messages into their preferred language through a simple tap.
The idea for the app came to Anstee and his cofounder Peter Tippett through their experiences volunteering as surf life savers.
“We were miffed by the lack of tools for teams that are on the go, like lifesavers, that allow them to solve immediate problems that they face, like being able to call another team member immediately, or a patrol member dropping out as they often do on volunteer movements,” Anstee said.
“Rather than emails going around at 8 o’clock on a Friday night, you could turn to a very quick message and you would know all the other 200 team members, because they are already on your network. And you don’t even need their phone number.”
Having begun work on the platform two years ago, the cofounders have since raised close to half a million dollars in funding, and are currently raising a further $1 million in order to validate it in Australia and explore the US market.
With the startup having trialled the app with smaller business teams over the last few years, the next step of this local validation process will see Rapporr taken up by Salmat and rolled out across the company’s 12,000-strong team. Anstee said the startup’s approach is fairly broad, with its target market comprising any company working through branches or retail networks, from supermarket chains or shops like JB HiFi through to banks.
“80 percent of staff who work in Woolworths or Commonwealth Bank, for example, don’t have effective access to communications. They’re missing out on corporate email, and they’ve got limited communication, so they really have to go and navigate their ways through an intranet to get access to the information that they need now,” Anstee said.
Like most SaaS platforms, Rapporr works through a fee per user, per month model. This fee is based on the number of features a business chooses to add to its subscription, starting at “a few dollars” per month. Small businesses with ten employees or less can use the app for free for the first three months.
A finalist in the 2014 Talent Unleashed Awards, the startup was last month accepted into elevate61, the accelerator program run by KPMG in conjunction with Advance, the global business network for Australians.
The accelerator has a focus on helping participants prepare for and enter the US market, and it’s this that Anstee is particularly excited about. Given the competition in the US, he said the team is eager to test out the platform overseas and get valuable feedback from major enterprises and investors.
With one eye on the US, Rapporr is also set to launch in New Zealand this month.
Image: David Anstee with Richard Branson at the Talent Unleashed Awards.