NowFloats, a Hyderabad-based enabler of SME’s online presence, has acquired chat-commerce platform LookUp in a cash and stock deal. Post acquisition, the technical and customer-support division of Lookup, will join NowFloats. All the existing investors of Lookup have agreed for an exit. Other terms and details of the deal are undisclosed.
LookUp was launched in November 2014 by Innoz’s Deepak Ravindran with an aim to be the Google equivalent for finding products and services offline. For this, they hyperlinked every local store near the user with a simple chat app which gives synchronous connection to the verified vendor.
On the other hand, NowFloats was launched in 2012 by Neeraj Sabharwal, Nitin Jain, Ronak Samantray and Jasminder Gulati. Its flagship products Now-Floats Lighthouse and Now-Floats Wildfire help in automating organic and inorganic discovery across customer segments. The company raised Series A investment in February 2015 from Omidyar Network and existing investors Mumbai Angels, Blume Ventures and Hyderabad Angels.
It aims to cater more than 125 Mn of small and medium businesses to be present online and get noticed. Till last year, it had over 33,000 customers and its app was downloaded in 50 countries. The company has been scaling with strategic partnerships, including AskMe in India and Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, which enables a million small businesses in Africa to come online.
How NowFloats Will Gain Out Of Lookup’s Acquisition
Talking about the acquisition, NowFloats’ co-founder and CEO, Jasminder Singh Gulati, in a blogpost said, “NowFloats is a platform to get local businesses discovered by consumers via search (primarily; for now). Lookup is a conversational commerce destination that connects local consumers with local businesses. The marriage is analogous to, perhaps, a Facebook and WhatsApp coming together to create a compelling platform for consumers and businesses.”
NowFloats is working to unlock local business content, which is auto-prompted by its Relationship Intelligence Agent (RIA) technology. RIA is a big-data mashup of website content, google trends, product catalogs, searches & consumer behaviours. With the association, NowFloats is planning to create a new service that will be launched soon.
He further said, Lookup has tapped into the global and pervasive behaviour of chat. It already has an audience of 1.2 Mn consumers and 90,000 businesses. Combined with the NowFloats platform, which has a base of 250K businesses with over 6 Mn consumers monthly, it will result in a platform that taps into two of the most organic behaviours globally: Search and Chat.
In simple terms
- It will help NowChat to bring in more customers, via lookup, in the next 6 months
- RIA, which gives auto prompt suggestions, will be able to drive more interactive business between the consumer and the sellers. As, Lookups data of consumer analysis will provide customer trend analysis, hence driving more user-directed sales via NowFloats
- The team is also planning to strap chat-bots to provide a smooth and interactive customer experience, specifically targeted at their needs
In the last two years, Lookup has done tie-ups with various other firms such as Delhivery for POS terminal integration, introduced hyperlocal deliveries in association with RoadRunnr, launched a vendor assistance helpline, etc. Also, it has partnered with vendors such as Chai Point, OYO Rooms, NiteOut, and more. In December 2015, Lookup tied up with Twitter to launch @lookuplite for live, public conversations on Twitter’s platform.
Recently, in February, it also launched its merchant app, Lookup Biz, to provide a free suite of tools to showcase a business and connect it to the Lookup shoppers’ community. Within about 9 months of launch, Lookup registered 1 Mn users with over 800K users on Android. The startup had over 250K monthly active users and over 70K merchants on the platform, with daily activity of 55-60,000 users.
Lookup’s Funding Decoded
To date, Lookup has raised two rounds of funding viz. $328K (INR 2.4 Cr) Seed round of funding in January 2015. Out of this Pratithi invested about INR 1 Cr, PAMP Mauritius contributed INR 6 lakh, about INR 4.2 Cr from Japanese investors DeNA Co, which runs social games company Mobage. Teruhide Sato, who is the CEO of Netprice, a global internet and ecommerce business incubator also contributed about INR 3 Cr to this round.
It also raised, a $2.5 Mn Series A in October 2015, and was backed by investors such as Khosla Impact that contributed about INR 6.4 Cr. The Lookup management also managed to get on board some big names like Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Global Founders Capital, that contributed about INR 64 Lakh each. As per RoC documents, the company was valued at over INR 90 Cr. post Series A round.
Post the Series A, Lookup launched a snazzy new office in Bangalore set in a 5,000 square feet area, completed in about 4 months. Recently, the market has been rife with the news that Lookup was recently facing cash-crunch, and the investors refused to carry on. Commenting on the same, founder Deepak, said that it’s not just a particular business but the investor sentiment, towards betting in Series B and in further rounds of businesses that leads to a cash-crunch. It gets tougher to raise funds as a business progresses in rounds.