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This Australian communications startup is armed with $15 million and has doubled its headcount in 12 months

Zakir Chowdhury/Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Melbourne communications startup Whispir has revealed it’s had to double its staff numbers in the past year to deal with customer demand.

Founder and chief executive Jeromy Wells told Business Insider that the company ended up raising more than $15.6 million in the 2016 calendar year, a higher figure than in September when a $11.75 million series A round was first revealed.

That’s enabled the venture to take its headcount from 70 to now 140 in just 12 months, with even more to come.

“We plan to expand significantly… This year we’re going to add on another 250 staff,” Wells said.

Telstra Ventures, NSI Ventures and Rippledot Capital backed the company in last year’s series A. Whispir, founded in 2002, describes itself as a communications-apps-as-service provider, with Telstra itself one of its major customers. It allows clients to create content like alerts on timetable changes and service outages, with targeted, tailored messages to end users.

The company needs more hands because it has seen 56% compound annual growth from the 2015 to 2017 financial years. It has also cited 68% annual growth in transactions per customer.

While the year end numbers are still preliminary, Business Insider understands the company is looking at around $21 million of revenue for the 2017 financial year.

Whispir has enabled a channel sales model, meaning the consumer-facing selling is done by partners – like Telstra, IBM and Twilio — rather than itself. Wells attributed its recent success to this arrangement.

“We have a channel model which is a lot more professional than some of our competitors, so we could scale at a faster rate.”

Wells told Business Insider that the Asian market has been a leading performer for the company in the past year, doubling its annual business. The company in fact splits its headquarters between Melbourne and Singapore.

“It’s a balance between focusing on international growth while keeping the core engine pumping on,” the chief said.

“China is fascinating – I think it’s a really market opportunity.”

A series B capital raising round is now in the works, with hopes that it could be wrapped up by the end of the year. A public float is also a possibility in the longer term.

“I’m of the strong view that a business needs to generate at least $150 million annual revenue before you go to [the IPO] market. We’re hoping to get there by 2020.”

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