Bangalore-based ShareChat has raised $4 million in a series A round of funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, and participation from existing investors SAIF Partners and India Quotient, it's second round of funds this year.
ShareChat co-founder and CEO Farid Ahsan told Entrepreneur Media in July that investors aren't shying away from new sectors, despite the chatter about the existing funding winter in the ecosystem.
SAIF Partners, the leading venture capital firm with over $4 billion under management has invested $1.35 million in ShareChat, the vernacular social network. The capital added is a part of ShareChat’s seed round of funding which also involved participation from existing investors, India Quotient.
According to Farid though there is a funding downturn that exists, for ShareChat it has been different because social networking as a sector was non-existent in India till now. “There have not been any social networking startups that have come out of India and gone big,” he said.
Farid further said that vernacular content as a sector is also very new and combining these two aspects it became a unique value proposition for investors to place their bets on!
The company has built a first-of-its-kind social networking platform for India’s vernacular language users, available in four Indian languages, namely Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam and Telugu which will be followed by many more.
The company back then had already crossed 1 million downloads, and at half a million monthly active users, it has been consistently growing at 10% week on week. ShareChat was started by three IIT Kanpur alumni, Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh and Ankush Sachdeva in 2015.
Farid further added that the so-called funding winter is only applicable to existing sectors. “For new and upcoming sectors like IoT, vernacular, social networking in India, and other sectors that are relatively new, investors are ready to experiment. The round size is still is not of the magnitude where you can say that it is taking up a sizeable chunk of some fund, it’s still small,” he added
ShareChat is already in talks to raise another round of funds and is in the process of adding more languages to its product.
Threat from Bots? Nah!
According to Farid, after WhatsApp, ShareChat is the only platform that works seamlessly on every network thanks to the technology architecture used by the company – Erlang.
Talking about the invasion of chatbots in the technology space, Farid said that according to the research done by the company they’ve realized that people don’t want to talk to chatbots for any content. People are more prone to use chatbots to perform trivial transactional tasks, he said.
“Chatbots will come in handy wherein there is human involvement which isn’t that great,” he added.
ShareChat currently allows users to follow each other, create and find content in their preferred language, and share to chat platforms like Whatsapp. ShareChat started as a content sharing tool for Whatsapp and witnessed traction of 1 million shares a week.It has now made rapid strides towards building its full-fledged social platform. Already 5 million connections have been made on ShareChat and the rapid success of user generated content is a very exciting sign that ShareChat users were desperately looking for a platform like this.