Text conversations have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Texting is easy, convenient, and creates a record for future reference. However, it scores low on the personal touch factor.
Enter BobbleAI, the comprehensive keyboard enhancer.
BobbleAI is a startup that creates emojis, personalized stickers, entertaining GIFs and makes texting fun and personalized in more than 100 languages. This improves the quality of conversations by leaps and bounds. It also offers voice-to-text and transliteration services. BobbleAI’s intuitive and creative offerings have attracted big names like Xiaomi and Apple.
The company has bagged spots in the prestigious Forbes 40 under 40, Forbes Asia 30 under 30, and has won several awards.
In a conversation with Syna Dehnugara of MyStartupEquity, the founder and CEO of BobbleAI, Ankit Prasad, talks about investor relationships, Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPs), and how MyStartupEquity played a key role in strengthening these two elements of BobbleAI’s startup journey.
Key Insights on BobbleAI’s Capital Journey & Involvement of MyStartupEquity
Who Are the Major Investors and How Does BobbleAI Maintain the Relationship with Them?
The company had 18 odd investors, including the founders of Flipkart, 1MG, SlideShare, and MakeMyTrip, VC funds like Elevation Capital, and strategic investors like Affle and Xiaomi. Ankit says that in any startup there will broadly be three kinds of investors and once you understand their motivations and moorings it becomes easier to interact with them:
- Strategic investors, who are interested in their operations and growth. They focus on the value that is being added by BobbleAI to their business.
- Financial investors, who are interested in monetary returns. They focus on the value of the firm and the value of the firm’s equity.
- Angel investors, who are interested in the company’s performance in the long run. They know that solid returns cannot be expected in a short span of time and are not looking for immediate benefits.
Different types of investors come with different expectations. BobbleAI manages them by creating a soundboard; they have quarterly meetings with the investors, particularly for discussing their concerns and answering their questions. The company has also created a monthly MIS with which investors can request information that interests them. The feedback from investors can help in having more constructive conversations with BobbleAI.
Having a clear and transparent cap table in place makes it easy to view, retrieve and share information. MyStartupEquity’s cap table tool helps BobbleAI strengthen its investor relations by providing accessible, secure, and relevant information at all times. Investors feel heard and have a sense of involvement, which strengthens the relationship.
Click here to view the features of MyStartupEquity’s cap table tool.
What has the ESOP Journey of BobbleAI Been Like?
The ESOP journey began early on for Bobble. Initially, the company was using a spreadsheet to record, compute and track the operations of ESOPs. There were two major problem areas in using a manual Excel-based process:
- ESOPs come with crucial instances and timelines like grant, vesting, and exercise. If a company is not able to keep a tab on these and misses out on a key ESOP milestone of an employee, it does bring down the morale.
- Team BobbleAI did not have the experience in managing ESOPs at scale or an in-depth understanding of common industry practices.
Solutions Offered by MyStartupEquity
In 2019, Bobble partnered with MyStartupEquity, which proved to be a key inflection point in the ESOP journey of BobbleAI because the tools offered by MyStartupEquity addressed the issues that the company was facing.
- MyStartupEquity’s ESOP management tool not only records and tracks information in an easy-to-use and appealing manner, but also aids in facilitating the operations and sends timely reminders so that there aren’t any slip-ups.
- In Ankit’s words, “MyStartupEquity had the resources and personal assistance needed to craft the ESOP policy for Bobble and validate it as per the market standard.”
- Moreover, MyStartupEquity knows the nuances of ESOP management at different stages of a startup, which is extremely beneficial to first-time entrepreneurs. The large knowledge base that MyStartupEquity possesses stood out as an asset for Bobble.
Why did BobbleAI feel the need to create liquidity for its investors and employees?
While most young companies shy away from creating liquidity for investors and employees until they hit a massive scale, BobbleAI decided to give its key shareholders and employees an opportunity to convert part of their holdings into cash and realize the upside of participating in the BobbleAI story. There are two main reasons for this.
One, Ankit wanted to instill trust in the company’s employees. Every team member at BobbleAI now knows that the value of the equity they hold does not exist on paper alone, but can be converted into solid, tangible, and usable wealth. This is a way of ensuring their loyalty to BobbleAI and also a way of rewarding employees who took large salary cuts initially.
Click here to assess whether your company’s ESOP plan is effective in hiring and retaining employees.
Two, creating a liquidity event proves to the investors that the company’s performance has real value. Such an event gives an opportunity to investors to encash a part of their holdings and feel that the company has created value for them. Just creating a visible structure or a plan for liquidity reinforces the belief that investors have in the business. This way, a liquidity event is also beneficial when the company approaches potential investors for the next round of funding.
How Else Have Mystartupequity’s Tools Helped BobbleAI?
MyStartupEquity has created time for the founder and key employees to focus on the core business and its development by taking care of the operational aspect of equity management. Transactions, documents, remittances, and announcements are seamlessly integrated with MyStartupEquity’s ESOP and cap table tools.
Ankit also shared that with MyStartupEquity’s involvement, the necessary clean-up of data and records was seamlessly undertaken – missing signatures were filled, structures were created for equity management, and processes were streamlined. This is essential for the company to function efficiently as it scales and matures.