Podcast 43: TADSummit Innovators, Uku Tomikas, Messente

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Uku Tomikas is the CEO of Messente. He began as a sales person, and has risen to become the CEO. Messente was spun out of an Estonian ICT (Information and Communications Technology) group in 2013 that focuses on mobile software; and has been profitable since 2013. Well done!

Messente focuses on business messaging. No claims of being a CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service), just a pure focus on helping customers be successful using messaging for their business communications.

Customer trust is a core value for Messente. They build that trust through decade long relationships and advising customers on how to optimize their use of messaging to achieve their business objectives. Specifically, on ensuring local brand registration, on best practices for gathering and cleaning customer data, on campaign best practices, on frankly sharing their costs and margins.

Messente will not play games to offer a ‘special; SMS rate. Uku pointed out he would rather SMS rate pricing be publicly available, so he could focus on Messente’s value-add. Ira Cohen was name checked as a great guest for the TADSummit Podcast when this point came up.

Uku’s approach to losing a customer is interesting, he sees it as a chance for their customer to understand how trustworthy Messente is as their partner. He stated, “often within 6 months they are back.”

We had some interesting and frank discussions on the changes in the industry. There’s an overall decline in SMS volumes by 10-15%, driven by one time passcode decline. AIT (Artificially Inflated Traffic) was not good for the industry, large brands such as Bank of America and American Express have moved away from SMS to other channels and processes. It’s not clear they will come back.

As telcos can no longer demand such large prepayments given traffic decline, they’ve increased per SMS prices to maintain revenues, which puts a further squeeze on addressable use cases and pushes more enterprises to alternative channels. We’re seeing that in the US as well.

Given the challenging economic and investment situation, roll-ups will be likely. There was an interesting discussion on whether Messente could become a nucleus for such a roll-up. Uku was circumspect as culture is critical to Messente’s success. Roll-ups could impact that and replicating Messente’s culture with a existing business is difficult, if not impossible.

The conversation moved onto the importance of Identity, Uku has agreed to review TNID’s offer, to see if he thinks that could address the SMS spam problem plaguing the US.

We also made fun of Juniper’s latest CPaaS landscape as it missed Messente, it also missed Telnyx, Voximplant, Unifonic, etc. It conflates many disparate offers such as wholesale interconnect with SMS aggregators to broader unintegrated offers with disparate platforms (part of the omnichannel lie in CPaaS Robert Vis mentioned). Some of the revenues sizes are wrong. I’m not even going to link to it. Its marketing material for its sponsors, nothing else.

Uku is the leader most messaging leaders point to as being the best in the business. Through our discussion it is clear trust, customer focus, and focusing on being the best advisor in business messaging success thanks to over one decade of institutional knowledge are some of the keys.

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