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What made legendary venture capitalist Vinod Khosla invest in Lookup

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Today, it is very easy to find and buy products online. However when you want to buy something offline, we still end up picking up our phone and dialing local shops or running around. In a bid to change the way businesses transact, Bengaluru-based startup Lookup envisions to be the Google of India. Lookup strives to simplify finding products and services offline by directly connecting consumers with nearby local stores through a simple chat app.

Founded by Deepak Ravindran in November 2014, Lookup has already registered 1 million users with over 800,000 users on Android. It has over 250,000 monthly active users and over 70,000 merchants on the platform, with daily activity of 55-60,000 users. Within 9 months of its launch, Lookup has received over 15 million messages and handles about 100,000 daily queries ranging from food, medicines, groceries and electronics in a hyper-local area. Currently operating in three cities, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, Lookup has recently incorporated the booking feature for local saloons and spas and has tied up with supply chain solution firms like Delhivery for POS terminal integration.

Backing from Ace Investors

Sensing a huge market gap and identifying a potential player addressing the issue of connecting India’s more than 40 million small businesses to consumers, Vinod Khosla’s personal fund Khosla Impact decided to back Lookup along with Twitter’s Co-founder Biz Stone, Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Global Founders Capital. Other participants include Geneva based ACE & Company; Singapore based M&S partners; Tom Singh, founder, New Look; Kevin Mahaffey, Founder, Lookout and Anuj Srivastava, Founder, LivSpace.

In the Series A round, Lookup managed to secure around $2.5 million for expansion and to rapidly scale its current merchant base. Commenting on the investment, Khosla said, “Disruptive product startups are being built in India now. Khosla Impact funded Lookup to connect 40 million small businesses to consumers.” On the other hand, Stone, who will be advising the team, is elated to be a part of Ravindran's next big project. He said, “I'm very excited about working with such an inspiring entrepreneur, whom I share common ideologies with.”

Speaking about the recent development, Ravindran said, "I am extremely thrilled to have such prestigious names investing in Lookup. Chat is eating the world. Lookup uses Chat to disrupt local commerce in India, which is a $750 billion industry. India has the highest shop density in the world with over 45 million local businesses.”

Tapping the Huge Opportunity

With the increasing trend of smartphones becoming the main mode of communication and information for Indian users, Lookup foresees immense potential to become the default way for India to transact with local business. The company is also working on a unique concept called Offline API, where people can get access to anything on demand from any local store.

Lookup recently released a Juice API in association with local merchant in Bangalore. Through this partnership, a customer can subscribe to their daily fresh juices delivered to them with a simple message. Further, company has also partnered with OYO Rooms and Niteout that delivers food, beverages, munchies and even few medicines throughout the night.

The app will soon make its presence in Dubai in partnership with Etisalat and has recently introduced hyper-local deliveries in association with RoadRunnr, where users can get all products from local stores delivered on time through Lookup. There is no minimum order, and a link for tracking the delivery will also be sent through chat. People can buy products using cash on delivery or by using its mobile wallet called “Lookup Cash”. Users can also subscribe to hyper-local offers, which are promoted mainly by local stores for conducting flash sales, happy hours and other announcements.

Lookup has recently launched a vendor assistance helpline, where businesses can give a missed call to get verified on Lookup. With this program, vendors can claim their business, get educated on how Lookup works, get logistic support, get one year free buddy (customer support) service and much more.

Lookup app is available on both Android and iOS versions. In January this year, Lookup also announced raising a total of $382,000 in its seed round from Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, DeNA Japan, Beenos founder Teruhide Sato and MKS Switzerland SA.

Edition: December 2016

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