Venture capitalists on a hunt for next unicorn to replace TikTok in India

Most Indian short video apps like ShareChat, Trell, Chingari, Roposo have either secured fundings or are in various stages of negotiation with venture capitalists

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Sep 24, 2020 9:30 AM

Global venture capitalists (VCs) are searching for the next unicorn to replace TikTok and their current hunting ground is India. The VCs are eagerly watching the space created by the ban on Chinese apps and are keen to back any homegrown product that promises to capture TikTok’s market in the country.  

Almost 15 apps have risen to fame after the TikTok ban and half of them have either secured fundings or are in various stages of negotiation with venture capitalists.

Both Microsoft and Google for instance are in talks with ShareChat that is looking at raising $150-200 million. Only last year, the Bengaluru-based short video platform raised $100 million in its Series D funding round, onboarding two new investors--Twitter and TrustBridge. Their last round of funding took their total secured capital to a total of Rs $224 million. 

It's not just ShareChat though. Only last month, Bolo Indya, an Indian language short infotainment videos platform, completed a $300,000 funding from Eagle10 Ventures Group. The funding, as per the company’s spokesperson, would help them enhance personalization and recommendation engine alongside accelerating the overall development of their product.

Product development has been on the cards for most of these platforms. From updating their tech stack to investing in acquiring new content creators, the short-video platform ecosystem is prepping hard to catch the investor’s attention.

“Investors are looking at how fast the product moves, what are technologies that are being used and what is the kind of audience stickiness on the platform. Any platform that has successfully checked all these three boxes is in the good books of the investors,” says Sumit Ghosh, Co-founder and CEO of Chingari app.

Chingari, which is also one of the most downloaded app in the segment following the government’s ban on 59 Chinese apps, raised 1.3 million dollars from AngelList, LogX Ventures and some other angel investors in August this year.

As per highly placed sources, the platform is looking at raising more funds in the coming months which will take their secured capital to about 20 million dollars this year.

“When we invest in one of these platforms, we look at the user engagement options, the potential monetization models and the novelty factor in the offereing. When we as Anthill look at startups (including video platforms), we look at how we can help those companies scale with speed. This means whether our celebrity network, distribution channels or our in-house marketing team is able to really help with accelerated growth.That is something that is unique to us vs other VCs,” said Kabir Kocchar,  Partner at Anthill Ventures, a leading media and consumer investments firm.

No wonder Chingari has worked on their tech stack and added new camera options, new AR filters and also entered into a partnership with T-Series for licensing T-Series music catalogue on its platform.

In August, another similar Indian language short infotainment videos platform Bolo Indya secured a  $500K Pre Series A1 Funding by Eagle 10 Ventures India Accelerator Group.

Varun Saxena, Founder, Bolo Indya, says, “We are on the mission to leverage the power of short videos, peer-to-peer commerce and network affect to empower every content creator of Bharat to go viral in the shortest span of time and be able to monetize by leveraging the social capital. We are working towards building a daily use case for local language short video consumption and see ourselves to be on at least one smartphone of every Indian household with a non-English user within the span of next 18 months.”

“With internet reaching to 900+ million people in next 3-4 years in India, the demand for User Generated Content will increase multifold. With more and more people creating and consuming content in their own language, Bolo Indya will be filling that space for these 900+ million in short duration,” says Munish Bhatia, General Manager and Partner at India Accelerator.

Similarly apps lie Trell and Mitron have also rose to fame and raised funds in the last few months following TikTok’s ban in India.

According to experts, a wave of consolidation will hit India in the next 12 to 24 months. “It will mostly be Facebook, Google and Jio that will rule the game in India with their access, reach and deep pockets, and sooner or later, the smaller platforms with promise will be acquired by these giants who would not just strengthen their offerings in the process but also cross pollinate internally with these new properties,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst & CEO, Greyhound Research.

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