TikTok's Indian Alternative Trell Raises $11.4 Mn in Series A Round Post the bank on TikTok, a clutch of short videos-sharing apps like Trell have shot to fame and raised funding across seed and pre-series A rounds from Indian and global investors

By Shipra Singh

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Short video-sharing platform Trell has raised USD 11.4 Million (about INR 85 crore) in series A funding round led by Korean investment firm KTB Network.

The deal marks latest interest from both local and global investors in India's fast-growing short video-sharing space. This growth comes on the back of the ban imposed by the Indian government on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps in the country. Other such lifestyle community commerce platforms including Chingari, Bolo Indya and Mitron have also raised capital across seed and pre-series A funding rounds over the last few weeks.

Also Read: Indian Alternative to Banned Chinese Apps TikTok, CamScanner, Shein

The latest funding round also saw participation from some existing investors including Sequoia Surge, Fosun RZ Capital and WEH Ventures along with Samsung Ventures, Ankur Nagpal, CEO of online coaching services platform Teachable, Gokul Rajaram, board member of Pinterest, Square and DoorDash and Vineet Buch, former head of Google Play Store Development via Firebolt Ventures.

Founded in 2017 by IIT Bombay alumni Arun Lodhi, Prashant Sachan, Pulkit Agrawal and NITIE alumnus Bimal Kartheek Rebba, Trell is a mobile application where users share 3-minute vertical videos across lifestyle categories. The videos could be about anything ranging from beauty tips, fashion, personal care, technology and gadgets, movies and TV shows reviews etc. The community platform also lets individuals connect with others in their native languages.

Currently, the app has 20 content categories in eight Indian languages.

Trell said that it will use the fresh funds to further expand the user's community, enhance the platform's personalisation and recommendation engine with advanced machine learning (ML) algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and add new features for better user experience. To achieve all this, the company is also in the process of hiring across departments.

"With these funds, we will be investing in grooming 100,000 new opinion leaders across languages for India and provide 100+ million Indians the access to purpose-driven content at their fingertips in the coming years," said Bimal Kartheek Rebba, Co-Founder, Trell. "We take a lot of effort into grooming our creators in the 'Trell Creators Program' into subject matter experts, who we call key opinion leaders."

Clocked 500% Growth Post TikTok Ban

Post the ban on TikTok, one among the 59 chinese apps, on July 1, a clutch of homegrown short video-sharing apps and community platforms have risen to fame and clocked phenomenal growth. Trell is one such player.

Also Read: Post Chinese App Ban, India's Trell Registers 10 Times Growth

The Bengaluru-based startup has grown 500 per cent in the last 45 days as content creators and influencers on TikTok continue to flock to Indian alternatives of TikTok. Despite the ban-led spurt in its growth, the company claims to have grown 27X in the last 12 months and has emerged as one of the biggest lifestyle social platforms in India.

Commenting on the app's growth, Prashant Sachan, Co-Founder, Trell said, "We are glad to see the rapid growth and consumer love at Trell. Even today, over 500 mn Indian Language internet users are struggling with lifestyle inspiration and purchase decisions. With more regional key-opinion-leaders (KOLs) coming on Trell, our aim is to become the most relatable lifestyle community commerce platform for our users."

The 3-year-old company has over 15 million creators, garnering over 5 billion monthly views on the platform. The app has 75 million downloads and 25 million monthly active users.

Trell monetises through social commerce where the interest-based/passion-based community of content creators or KOLs enable users to make well informed and suitable purchase decisions for better lifestyle choices, the company said.

The Bengaluru-based startup last raised USD 4 mn in pre-series A funding round from Sequoia Capital's Surge, Fozun RZ Capital and KTB Network, among other, in March this year. Trell was among the 20 startups shortlisted by Sequoia India for the second cohort of its accelerator program "Surge', in October 2019.

With the latest funding, the total external funding raised by Trell stands at USD 16.95 mn.

Shipra Singh

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Journalist

Now a freelance journalist, ealier steered the Wealth section on the Entrepreneur website, covering everything finance. Previously a personal finance reporter at The Economic Times and Outlook Money.

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