Sequoia Capital India has emerged as the leader in the second round of funding of Bangalore based Verse Innovation, the company which owns the local language mobile platform NewsHunt known as ‘Flipboard’ of India. The company was able to raise more than 100 crore in its second round of funding.
The funding has apparently increased the value of the 7 year old startup to 900 crores. Some existing investors of the company like Omidyar Network and Matrix Partners India also took part in the funding round.
The investment has perfectly time itself with a phase where the demand for regional content has increased like never before due to the proliferation of low budget Smartphones. Both venture capital investors and startups had been waiting for such an opportunity for a long time and are betting big on it.
According to Virendra Gupta’s statement, “The era of the real Indian Mobile Internet written and consumed in local language is just beginning”. Virendra Gupta is the founder and chief Executive at Verse Innovation. He further added, “Our vision is to create a made for India platform and work closely with publishers, developers, OEMs and other ecosystem partners to digitize, distribute and monetize the consumption of local language”.
The NewsHunt platform of the Bangalore startup has already climbed the popularity charts with 50 million plus installs. The platform has some 1.5 billion monthly pageviews and 14 million active monthly users. The company plans to increase this active user base to 100-200 million a month in the coming couple of years. As reported by Neilsen mobile metrics, NewsHunt is top mobile apps used in India, and is the only Indian application in the list.
The platform has content available in more than a dozen languages which include Tamil, Hindi and Bengali. This content is aggregated from over 100 magazines, newspapers and other publications. The company also has plans of taking the number of publishers on the platform to some 1,000 very soon. The platform also makes the users available with ebooks which has already seen over 4 million downloads in the past 6 months.
The company makes money and profits through advertisements and selling books on the platform. Ecommerce giants like Snapdeal, MakeMyTrip, BookMyShow and Flipkart etc. are among the esteemed advertisers on the platform.
According to Mohit Bhatnagar’s statement to Economic Times, “As India moves from 100 million to 500 million smartphone user base, it is critical to bridge the gap of making available relevant content and applications for Indian language users”. Mohit Bhatnagar is the Managing Director at Sequoia Capital India. He also added that Verse Innovation for now is the best placed to become the leading digital goods company.
Another flagship product of company is – iPayy, it’s a carrier based billing platform, reaches 700M customers in India and provides a payment vehicle for digital goods and services. In a country where credit and debit card penetration and usage is less than 2%, iPayy is the only viable mass payment instrument for mobile apps and content in India.
Verse Innovation was founded by Virendra Gupta in the year of 2007. The company initially dealt with mobile classified services like job alerts etc. till it acquired the NewsHunt platform in the year 2012.