Case Study

May 16, 2024

Why BeReal chose Prelude to boost conversion

BeReal uses Prelude for all global SMS verification to provide a better customer experience powered by developer-first tooling.

Most SMS verification providers aren’t developer friendly

BeReal is a social messaging app that encourages users to share genuine photos with friends of themselves and their day-to-day lives. The app has grown rapidly with over 25 million users worldwide. As BeReal scaled, their dev teams noticed that SMS verification and conversion was below their internal standards and they had no way to troubleshoot the issue. After testing Prelude in small markets, BeReal saw better pricing, reliability, and usability than with telco competitors. Today, BeReal uses Prelude for all global SMS verification to provide a better customer experience powered by developer-first tooling.

Question: What would you tell a developer who was building an app and needed SMS verification?

Adam Surak, Head of Platform at BeReal: Prelude knows more than you about sending SMS. If you're starting your business, if you're introducing SMS sending into your application, risk-wise, business-wise, cost-wise–start with Prelude.

Testing Prelude as an alternative SMS verification provider

BeReal is a social messaging app, which means they rely on SMS verification to keep potential users in-app (rather than bouncing to email verification). They’re also used by young markets that may not have reliable email addresses.

Using Prelude for Transparency Into SMS Failure

With that in mind, it was pivotal to rely on SMS verification to onboard new users. But the BeReal team started to “feel uncomfortable with the lack of control” over their current verification solutions. They noticed that some SMS verification messages weren’t arriving. Was this a telco problem? Or because the phone was on WiFi not data? The team implemented Prelude as a fallback capability in instances where the SMS didn’t arrive fast enough.

Testing Prelude as an Affordable Alternative

In addition, BeReal was using Google Firebase SMS authentication but was notified that pricing would change. However, BeReal is the target of a large amount of fraud and they have millions of users so per-user pricing didn’t work. The team started to build their own solution but began to lean on Prelude as the team rolled out global SMS services.

After implementing Prelude, skeptics turned to believers and now BeReal relies on Prelude for global SMS delivery.

“Prelude’s price point was very interesting in comparison to the rest of the market. The second reason for testing them was because of how they do the arbitrage of different providers. We pretty much knew that by definition of this arbitrage that the more volume we’d give them, the cheaper it would become–and not because we’re negotiating, but because they automatically negotiate on our behalf, which is pretty nice. The advantage of this angle is that when we looked at it mathematically, the more customers they onboard, the better price they're going to get without us necessarily having to do anything, like this system naturally would optimize for a lower cost,” Adam said.

Why Prelude won

Prelude won the BeReal business because as BeReal tested the service a few things changed.

Pricing

First and foremost, BeReal was attracted to Prelude’s pricing model. Not only is it cheaper but costs decrease as Prelude’s volume increases, which is opposite of most telco companies who pay per users.

These costs don’t include the cost of lost business when fraud occurs and apps are potentially blocked from certain countries, or the cost of team time spent troubleshooting opaque issues.


Transparency For Troubleshooting & Customer Success

Prelude provides a set of unified APIs and transparent dashboards which means if an SMS verification message fails, you can explore why. We also believe we fail less because of our mutli-routing features.

With other telco providers, if you conversion rate falls below a certain threshold you’ll be blocked from certain countries. But at the same time, you won’t have access to what’s going on to create poor conversion. As a social app that’s the target of high amounts of fraud, this was unacceptable to the BeReal team.

“Prelude iterates significantly faster than what we were able to do with our previous providers. We get more visibility in terms of what was going on. We are able to go to a particular phone number and a particular event that happened and say, this phone number failed to receive an SMS. Why do we believe that happened? …This is enabling our customer support to actually react to customers' questions,” Adam said.

Built for Developers

When SMS deliverability issues escalate, the problem can land on development teams’ plates. However, it’s not common practice to provide onboarding data, transparent dashboards, or quick customer support. Prelude, on the other hand, is built by and for startups and their dev teams. 

“If someone is building an application today, going to these traditional companies means that you are committing to a massive pain. Versus if you go to Prelude, it’s a proper 2024  SaaS business on top of which you can actually build and you will understand what is going on, versus starting to play by some weird rules that the industry itself created,” Adam said.

Most SMS verification providers aren’t developer friendly

BeReal is a social messaging app that encourages users to share genuine photos with friends of themselves and their day-to-day lives. The app has grown rapidly with over 25 million users worldwide. As BeReal scaled, their dev teams noticed that SMS verification and conversion was below their internal standards and they had no way to troubleshoot the issue. After testing Prelude in small markets, BeReal saw better pricing, reliability, and usability than with telco competitors. Today, BeReal uses Prelude for all global SMS verification to provide a better customer experience powered by developer-first tooling.

Question: What would you tell a developer who was building an app and needed SMS verification?

Adam Surak, Head of Platform at BeReal: Prelude knows more than you about sending SMS. If you're starting your business, if you're introducing SMS sending into your application, risk-wise, business-wise, cost-wise–start with Prelude.

Testing Prelude as an alternative SMS verification provider

BeReal is a social messaging app, which means they rely on SMS verification to keep potential users in-app (rather than bouncing to email verification). They’re also used by young markets that may not have reliable email addresses.

Using Prelude for Transparency Into SMS Failure

With that in mind, it was pivotal to rely on SMS verification to onboard new users. But the BeReal team started to “feel uncomfortable with the lack of control” over their current verification solutions. They noticed that some SMS verification messages weren’t arriving. Was this a telco problem? Or because the phone was on WiFi not data? The team implemented Prelude as a fallback capability in instances where the SMS didn’t arrive fast enough.

Testing Prelude as an Affordable Alternative

In addition, BeReal was using Google Firebase SMS authentication but was notified that pricing would change. However, BeReal is the target of a large amount of fraud and they have millions of users so per-user pricing didn’t work. The team started to build their own solution but began to lean on Prelude as the team rolled out global SMS services.

After implementing Prelude, skeptics turned to believers and now BeReal relies on Prelude for global SMS delivery.

“Prelude’s price point was very interesting in comparison to the rest of the market. The second reason for testing them was because of how they do the arbitrage of different providers. We pretty much knew that by definition of this arbitrage that the more volume we’d give them, the cheaper it would become–and not because we’re negotiating, but because they automatically negotiate on our behalf, which is pretty nice. The advantage of this angle is that when we looked at it mathematically, the more customers they onboard, the better price they're going to get without us necessarily having to do anything, like this system naturally would optimize for a lower cost,” Adam said.

Why Prelude won

Prelude won the BeReal business because as BeReal tested the service a few things changed.

Pricing

First and foremost, BeReal was attracted to Prelude’s pricing model. Not only is it cheaper but costs decrease as Prelude’s volume increases, which is opposite of most telco companies who pay per users.

These costs don’t include the cost of lost business when fraud occurs and apps are potentially blocked from certain countries, or the cost of team time spent troubleshooting opaque issues.


Transparency For Troubleshooting & Customer Success

Prelude provides a set of unified APIs and transparent dashboards which means if an SMS verification message fails, you can explore why. We also believe we fail less because of our mutli-routing features.

With other telco providers, if you conversion rate falls below a certain threshold you’ll be blocked from certain countries. But at the same time, you won’t have access to what’s going on to create poor conversion. As a social app that’s the target of high amounts of fraud, this was unacceptable to the BeReal team.

“Prelude iterates significantly faster than what we were able to do with our previous providers. We get more visibility in terms of what was going on. We are able to go to a particular phone number and a particular event that happened and say, this phone number failed to receive an SMS. Why do we believe that happened? …This is enabling our customer support to actually react to customers' questions,” Adam said.

Built for Developers

When SMS deliverability issues escalate, the problem can land on development teams’ plates. However, it’s not common practice to provide onboarding data, transparent dashboards, or quick customer support. Prelude, on the other hand, is built by and for startups and their dev teams. 

“If someone is building an application today, going to these traditional companies means that you are committing to a massive pain. Versus if you go to Prelude, it’s a proper 2024  SaaS business on top of which you can actually build and you will understand what is going on, versus starting to play by some weird rules that the industry itself created,” Adam said.

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