This afternoon at the London Web Summit, Twilio announced the opening of Twilio Fund Europe, a micro fund which, partnered with 500 startups, will invest in startups using Twilio’s SaaS Telephonie services. This will be the third fund, the first two of which were restricted to US startups – this time, CEO Jess Dawson said, they see large potential in European startups, and want to support their growth and disruption. The fund will be managed by Dave McClure, partner and founder at 500 Startups, who said of the announcement: “I’m being Captain Obvious to say that that there is incredible innovation happening in Europe. Entrepreneurs in those countries often have limited access to venture capital. We’re already investing actively all around the world, Europe included. So we’re pumped to be continuing with Twilio Fund Europe.”
I sat down with Jeff Lawson and the London Web Summit this afternoon to discuss the announcement. The company, which has seen a large amount of growth over the past years, is excited to bring its fund to Europe, and has already seen very unique implementations of the Twilio API in Europe. On the topic of the most unique implementations, Lawson talked of a phone call-powered snow machine set up in London, with a non-descript sign on the street which said “call this number to make it snow.” Upon calling the number, the user would hear “Let it Snow” over the phone and a snow machine positioned on the roof the building would shower snow down to the phone caller.
Twilio launched in Europe in 2011, with international clients like Uber and Airbnb already powering their in-app texting and phone calling with Twilio in the US and around the world. The company has been steadily growing its offer, and now that it has access to land line numbers and SMS-enabled phone numbers across Europe, it is beginning to see European aplications implement its SaaS offering.
One of the most interesting ideas behind Twilio is that it opens up a series of functionalities that are otherwise not even considered on the product roadmap. Lawson said the idea for the company was born out of this 3 previous ventures, where each time they found that implementing communication and TelCo. functionalities into their web services were so far beyond their expertise, that they couldn’t even conceive of it.
As web developers in France and Europe begin to learn about Twilio and its enabling solution, I’m curious to see how new apps will incorporate texting and phone calling into their solution, or how existing apps, like HeyCrowd, Cinemur, or even SnapCar will implement Twilio into their solution.
If you’re a French startup using Twilio or planning on incorporating it soon, leave a comment below so we can try out your solution!