This Start-up Has Caught the Eye of Japanese Investors and Is Now All to Expand its Technological Arm
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Digital Media platform, Little Black Book (LBB), that provides space for online discovery and shopping, recently has raised $ 5 million in Series A led by Inventus India and IAN Fund. Japanese investors, Dream Incubator and Akatsuki Entertainment Technology (AET) Fund, and existing investors Blume Ventures, and Chiratae Ventures also participated in the round.
At the beginning of March this year, it was reported that after SoftBank, another Japanese fund is taking interest in the Indian start-up community. Akatsuki Entertainment Technology Fund (AET Fund) was looking to invest $50 million in Indian and US-based startups operating in content, media, and entertainment.
Entrepreneur India grabs this opportunity to speak to Dhruv Mathur, co-founder of LBB on the opportunity and what lies in the future.
Community, Content, Commerce
LBB, which is a popular venture especially among Delhi millennials, is known to bring the latest updates about the city on the table. Its strength lies in its strong social media following with around 491,202 followers on Facebook. Founded in 2015, LBB has been able to establish a connection with the youthful demographic the most.
Mathur shares that it was not hard to convince investors. They had a lot of strengths for their backing including the fact that they have a strong team and have established a product that “can really unlock the potential of community, content and commerce in the context of local discovery.”
He shares, “Our strength has been our ability to grow and sustain the growth, while also demonstrating our ability to monetize both our merchants and our base. Most importantly, we've been able to retain our customer base, and deepen our engagement with them”
LBB claims that over the year, it has registered a growth of over 75% in revenue. Today it reaches out to over 3 million users every month, connecting users to over 60,000 local brands and businesses across 8 markets in India.
Adding Another Flavour of Technology
The online platform has raised a total of $7.5 million including the recently raised funding. The funding will be utilized in pulling up the technological aspects of the business. Mathur says, “LBB will use the newly raised funds to expand the technology and product team with a focus on machine learning (ML) for personalized discovery, and integration of content with commerce.” The company also plans to strengthen its footprints in India and scale by integrating discovery with commerce for small-medium size businesses.
The online marketplace endeavors to solve the most fundamental predicament of the masses at two separate ends of a transaction-“What do I buy?” “Where can I find local brands?” The merchant on the other is beset with questions like, “How do I gain the trust of the consumers?” etc.
Mathur says that they are solving the problem of enabling young Indian consumers to find and shop from India's local brands and business. He says, “The medium to long-tail of local brands and businesses is highly fragmented- with the two biggest pain points for customers and merchants alike …The Indian customer and business operations in a "DIFM" or Do-It-For-Me manner- a characteristic which aligns with how we've built LBB, and how we seek to solve the problem of local discovery.”
The Disruptive Aspect
While, according to Mathur, there are startups and companies seeking to crack local commerce in myriad ways and forms, they're the only ones actually solving the problem through the lens of discovery. This is truly disruptive because, he explains, “Our model puts enabling consumers to make the best choices at its core vs. say, deals and discount platforms that will put merchants offering the best deal over and above merchants that actually have the product the customer is seeking.” LBB is using information and content to build long-term stickiness with their users while being able to constantly add new and innovative ways of making a connection between a customer and a merchant for e.g., newly launched direct product purchase on their platform.
LBB is one of the few companies capturing the power of content and community to drive meaningful connects in between customers and merchant. “And we're excited to democratize discovery for local brands and businesses!” and with this, Mathur signs off.