New York-based multilingual conferencing platform, KUDO, announced on March 30, 2021, that it had closed a series A round of USD 21m. Led by Menlo Park-based VC, Felicis Ventures, the round also attracted investors such as Maverick Ventures, Elephant VC, FJ Labs, Global Founders Capital, and Pershing CEO Bill Ackman.
He said they had initially targeted a USD 15m series A, but “encountered a tremendous amount of investor interest” during the round. He added, “After declining a number of funding opportunities, [we] ended up closing the oversubscribed round at USD 21m.”
Back in July, the company had meant to raise USD 2m, but ended up closing the round at USD 6m. Niki Pezeshki, who served as Felicis’ point person for both rounds, will join the KUDO board.
According to Zabetian, the founding team members will remain majority shareholders and they are also “bringing on SaaS veterans” to drive the next phase of growth. Current headcount stands at 130 full-time employees distributed across the globe.
Founded in 2017, KUDO is a self-serve, video conferencing platform for multilingual meetings. Customers, who are given full access to the dashboard, can schedule meetings, connect directly with interpreters, send out invites, upload documents, and so on. (Check out the KUDO backstory transcript as recounted by Zabetian on SlatorPod.)
Zabetian described pricing for KUDO and KUDO Marketplace as “a two-pronged strategy — a standard SaaS-based subscription model to access the platforms coupled with volume-based hourly pricing plans for the interpreter service.”
Asked if he ever thought about monetizing both supply and demand sides (e.g., charging interpreters to sign up to Marketplace), the KUDO CEO replied, “We value our interpreter community and believe that by serving as a revenue center rather than a cost center for interpreters, we both can achieve the goal of making multilingual meetings more accessible.”
Zabetian told Slator, they will invest the new funds on three things:
- Staff – “[We are] hiring key staff in engineering, product management, go to market, and infrastructure.”
- Processes – KUDO will invest in “well-defined processes to ensure we offer a flawless customer experience.”
- Technology – The funds will also go toward “building and refining the technology to fit the changing needs of the global business landscape as the world adapts to the new future of work.”
What is this new future? According to Zabetian, the next phase is a world of “hybrid meetings, where meeting organizers will need to support both on-site and remote attendees.”
Image: CEO Fardad Zabetian (courtesy of KUDO)