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Interview with Unifonic Founders

Revolutionizing communication solutions and empowering businesses
Unifonic, a Saudi cloud-based B2B customer engagement platform. In an interview with the co-founders of Unifonic, Ahmed and Hassan Hamdan, they share the inspiration behind the company's inception.

In the fast-paced world of modern communication, companies face the challenge of connecting with their customers effectively and efficiently. Unifonic, a Saudi cloud-based customer engagement platform, has emerged as a trailblazer in the field of communication solutions, providing businesses with innovative tools to engage with their audience. Founded in 2006 by a group of visionary university students, Unifonic began its journey as a response to the limited access to mobile internet connectivity and popular messaging services in the Middle East.

In an interview with the co-founders of Unifonic, Ahmed and Hassan Hamdan, they share the inspiration behind the company's inception. "In 2006, the Middle East had limited access to mobile internet connectivity, and popular messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook. Regular SMS was the primary mode of communication," they explained. "As software engineers, we developed the 'Resalaty' website to enable users to upload a large number of contacts and message them all at once."

Unifonic's early days were marked by a lack of supportive startup ecosystem. The team, composed of university students driven by a passion for improving connectivity, persevered through the challenges. "We were just university students seeking ways to improve connectivity around us," they recalled. Despite the initial hurdles, the platform gained traction and underwent a rebranding, transforming into Unifonic—a name that would soon become synonymous with cutting-edge communication solutions.

Unifonic's commitment to innovation and addressing customer needs propelled its growth. "Among our core values at Unifonic is 'love your customer,' the founders emphasized. "We prioritize their feedback and respond to new demands with innovative products." This customer-centric approach has been integral to the company's success and has set Unifonic apart from its competitors.

To attract its first customers, Unifonic relied on grassroots efforts and leveraged its platform's capabilities to assist university students and student club members. As word spread about the platform's usefulness for events and large-scale messaging, Unifonic realized its potential. The founders revealed, "Our first customers were students at the university. As soon as the site gained popularity and more people began to use it for their own events, we became aware of its potential."

Despite the early challenges, Unifonic's dedication and perseverance paid off. In 2010, the company secured a contract with Toyota Saudi Arabia, which served as a turning point in their journey. This breakthrough opportunity paved the way for further growth and allowed Unifonic to raise USD 21 million in a Series A round led by the venture capital fund ST based in Riyadh in 2018.

Unifonic's ability to differentiate itself from competitors lies in its forward-thinking approach and commitment to digital transformation. "We have led the way in advancing digital transformation in communications from the very beginning," the founders asserted. The company continually innovates and creates seamless multilingual omnichannel communications between businesses and their clients. By combining innovative features with robust infrastructure and compliance frameworks, Unifonic has carved a niche for itself in a highly competitive market.

The founders highlighted Unifonic's evolution from a Communication Platform as a Service Provider (CpaaS) to a customer engagement platform, a transformation that reflects their superior product line and the modernization of communication ecosystems. Unifonic's native integrations and SaaS systems in CRM, CCaaS, Marketing Automation, and other critical areas have been a key factor in its success. The platform's ability to seamlessly integrate with over 100 Software as a Service (SaaS) systems sets it apart from competitors in the MENA region.

The global market for marketing automation is projected to reach USD 14.2 billion in 2023, presenting significant opportunities for Unifonic to expand its customer base. The company's dedication to leveraging cutting-edge technology aligns with this trend. "Technology is at the core of Unifonic's success" the founders affirmed. "We use digital technologies to provide exceptional customer experiences and meet the evolving needs of consumers."

Unifonic's commitment to personalized, relevant, and timely communication resonates with its customers. The platform's ability to provide solutions tailored to specific industries, such as retail, healthcare, banking, and e-commerce, has been a driving factor in its widespread adoption. The founders noted, "We understand the unique needs of each industry and develop solutions that address those needs effectively."

The importance of nurturing talent and building a strong team cannot be understated. Unifonic places a strong emphasis on creating a positive work culture and fostering personal development. "We are a 'people-first' company," the founders explained. "We believe in creating an environment that encourages creativity, diversity, and continuous learning." Unifonic has been recognized as a Great Place to Work®, further validating its commitment to its employees.

Looking ahead, Unifonic has ambitious plans for expansion. The company aims to penetrate markets in Africa, Southeast Asia, India, Latin America, and East Europe. Through organic and non-organic growth strategies, including strategic acquisitions, Unifonic seeks to extend its reach and become a global leader in communication solutions.

One of Unifonic's recent strategic acquisitions is Sestek, a leading speech and conversational AI company. This move further enhances Unifonic's market presence and expands its capabilities in natural language processing, voice bots, and speech analytics. The founders expressed enthusiasm about the acquisition, stating, "Sestek's expertise in speech and conversational AI aligns perfectly with our vision of providing cutting-edge communication solutions."

Unifonic's success is evident in the metrics it tracks. Year-over-year revenue growth, customer retention rates, and gross profit reflect the growing confidence customers place in the platform and its ability to provide value-added services. Unifonic's dedication to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction has been a driving force behind its remarkable growth.

To stay ahead of the competition, Unifonic actively embraces market changes and digital transformation opportunities. The company collaborates with both public and private sectors to support emerging SaaS businesses through initiatives like UnifonicX. The founder elaborated on the importance of such collaborations, saying, "By fostering an ecosystem of innovation, we contribute to the growth of the overall communication solutions market."

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Unifonic offers valuable advice based on its own journey. "Surround yourself with a skilled and diverse team," Ahmed Hamdan emphasized. "Listen to your customers, deliver value to them, and be open-minded to new ideas and adaptability." Unifonic's success story serves as a testament to the power of innovation, determination, and a customer-centric approach.

Unifonic's journey from its humble beginnings to its current position as a leading provider of communication solutions is an inspiration. The company continues to shape the future of communication ecosystems, making a significant impact on businesses and consumers alike. With its unwavering commitment to innovation and customer-centricity, Unifonic is poised for continued success as it expands its reach and solidifies its position as a global leader in communication solutions.

* Images courtesy of Unifonic.

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