Zello Gets $20M for Voice Communication Platform Used by Frontline Workers
Zello, an app that transforms smartphones into a walkie talkie with its intuitive push-to-talk technology, announced Wednesday that it has raised $20 million to support its growing popularity with frontline workers.
Zello started out as a social radio connecting people around the world. The voice-first communication platform has since caught on among frontline workers, who use the platform to collaborate, coordinate and solve problems in the retail, transportation, construction and hospitality industries.
The startup’s free app has 170 million registered users, including 80,000 organizations. Zello is investing in technology to learn more about those organizations and convert them to paid users for its enterprise product, which is used by companies such as PepsiCo, Bechtel, Waste Connections, Salling Group, Lufthansa, Hyatt, Yellow, Hilton, CEMEX and Holcim Group.
Zello’s technology was developed around 2007 by Alexey Gavrilov, the company’s chief product officer. When he decided to form a company, he brought on CEO Bill Moore, the founder and then-CEO of the TuneIn radio app, whom he met while developing technology for TuneIn.
Austin-based Zello was founded in December of 2011 and has been self-funded until this recent funding round. The company said it is on track to reach $11 million in annual recurring revenue this year.
The Series A round, which was co-led by Virgo Capital and Recurring Capital Partners, included both debt financing and equity funding. Without giving specifics, the company said the funding round was mostly made up of equity funding.
The company plans to use a portion of the funding for go-to-market efforts like marketing, as well as improving the measurement analytics that it reports back to its enterprise customers. Zello is also exploring integrations with workflow solutions platforms.
The fresh funding will also go toward beefing up Zello’s 65-person team, particularly for positions in engineering, analytics, revenue operations, product management and marketing.
While other communication platforms have focused on remote office workers, Moore said Zello is focused on frontline workers, which he said is a global workforce of 2 billion people.
“It’s a huge market. It’s an interesting market and we have strong traction in that market with the best product and meaningful competitive barriers,” he said. “We know it’s a product-led growth business, so our next steps are to look at how we can quickly understand the fastest drivers of customer acquisition.”
Because it can operate on either cellular data or Wi-Fi, Zello has also been adopted by first responders and volunteer groups responding to natural disasters. The Louisiana Cajun Navy, for example, has used Zello to coordinate its response whenever a hurricane hits.
Zello provides its enterprise platform for free to qualified first responders across the globe. The first responder program supports more than 1,500 organizations across 65 countries.