Bengaluru-based social platform ShareChat, has 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).
Earlier in July 2016, it raised $1.35 Mn in a Seed round of funding from SAIF Partners and India Quotient. Prior to this, ShareChat had raised $100K from India Quotient in 2015 and and plans to raise $8 Mn-$10 Mn by the end of this year.
Dev Khare, from Lightspeed India Partners said, “ShareChat is poised to be a big problem solver for the largely-ignored mass market of India. The audience definitely needs a product which is relevant to their mindspace and we believe ShareChat balances this need of a content+social discovery platform in the best fashion.”
Anand Lunia from India Quotient further added, “When we invested two years ago, we just had a team and an idea to build a social network for the masses. From the days of ideating in our office, the team has come a long way and has grown along with the business. We rate them as the best product team we have worked with, especially their approach of blending data with experiments.”
The fresh round of funds will be employed majorly for going deep into the vernacular ecosystem. As stated by Farid Ahsan, one of the founders of ShareChat, a lot of work is required on their part to make ShareChat a household brand, digging deep into the user base, and to bring even more interesting infotainment and utilities for ever-expanding Indian market.
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 1 Lakh content pieces per day, the startup has now evolved into a 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.
The core focus of the team is to become the most essential non-chat social app for a first-time Internet user, whether it is through local language content or through infotainment services which are relevant to them.
Ankush believes that the Indian user is very typical in his/her needs and this gives a local player a closeness to user problems when compared with global social networking giants like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Snapchat.
“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,”said Ankush.
ShareChat is currently available in six languages — Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Telugu. Tamil and Bengali are in private beta and will be shortly made available for all users. The app claims to have been downloaded 3.5 Mn times, with roughly 2 Mn active users on the platform. At a daily level, a million content pieces get shared per day from ShareChat.
A slew of startups are rising in this space such as Matrubharti, which is an app for authors and lets users download ebooks in local Indian languages. Other startups in this space include Pratilipi, a self-publishing and reading platform for Indian vernacular literature, PlanetGoGo, an app for content discovery in local languages and ShabdaNagari, a social networking site in Hindi.