Regional language based social networking app, ShareChat, is reportedly in talks to secure $15 Mn Series B funding from Beijing-headquartered electronics company Xiaomi and VC firm Shunwei Capital. Post the fundraise, the startup’s valuation is expected to soar to $65 Mn-$70 Mn, sources have revealed.
Bengaluru-based ShareChat will be using the funding to improve its product portfolio by adding more languages. A portion of the funds will also be spent on hiring talented developers and data scientists.
The company is also trying to come up with new ways to get more women to engage with the content.
Commenting on the development, a source requesting anonymity said, “ShareChat has about 4 Mn monthly active users who share at least 200K posts daily. The kind of users it has attracted are diverse, such as a Malayali professor or a Punjabi truck driver.”
If the investment from Xiaomi and Shunwei Capital goes through, it will be the startup’s fourth round of funding. ShareChat originally raised $100K from India Quotient in 2015. Later in July 2016, the company secured another $1.35 Mn in Seed funding from venture capital firm SAIF Partners. Existing investor India Quotient also participated in this round.
Most recently, the social networking startup closed a $4 Mn Series A round of funding, led by Lightspeed India Partners. Existing investors, SAIF Partners and India Quotient along with Venture Highway (through VH Capital). At the time, it was reported that ShareChat was looking to raise $8 Mn-$10 Mn by the end of last year.
At the time, ShareChat co-founder and CEO Ankush Sachdeva stated, “A lot of our effort goes into understanding the audience and their needs through experiments. It is a lot like returning to an earlier time of Internet usage, pretty close to how we were when we came to the internet for the first time in the early 2000s.”
ShareChat App: Making Social Networking Accessible To 10 Mn Regional Language Speakers
ShareChat was founded by IIT-Kanpur alumni, Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh and Ankush Sachdeva, in October 2015. Initially started as a content sharing tool for WhatsApp with users sharing about 100K content pieces per day, the startup has now evolved into a regional language driven social networking platform.
It allows users to create, discover and share content with each other much like people do on Tumblr and Instagram. Users can follow other users who are either a content creator or a friend on the platform for regular updates, much like most other social networks.
ShareChat is currently available in eight local languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati and Telugu. Tamil and Bengali are in private beta and will be shortly made available to all users. The app claims to have a total of 10 Mn users across the country.
A number of Indian startups are leveraging regional languages in recent years, in a bid to reach a wider section of audience. One such player is Matrubharti, which is an app for authors and lets users download ebooks in local Indian languages. Multibhashi, a company that facilitates English language acquisition through mother tongue, recently raised an undisclosed amount of Seed funding from Startup Oasis and angel investor, Aniruddha Malpani.
Other startups that ShareChat is currently competing with include Pratilipi, a self-publishing and reading platform for Indian vernacular literature, PlanetGoGo, an app for content discovery in regional languages and ShabdaNagari, a social networking site in Hindi.
Whether ShareChat actually manages to raise $15 Mn from Xiaomi and Shunwei Capital is something that will become apparent in the coming weeks.
(The development was reported by ET)