Speed-dating app NearGroup, which has millions of users in Philippines, India and Vietnam, has raised a whopping $1.6 million in a seed funding round led by Helsinki-headquartered venture capital firm Open Ocean, backer of startups such as Truecaller and EyeEm. The round also saw participation from other firms including Neotribe and BoostVC.

Starting its journey as a bot-based neighbourhood connect service that worked on FB Messenger, the firm changed its focus to being an online speed dating service in February this year.

Speaking to Economic Times at that time, Prashant Pitti, founder of Neargroup, discussed the reason for the big shift and revealed when he witnessed that the chat-based dating feature was becoming hugely popular, he decided to make the big move.

After witnessing a good traction in users from the US, Philippines and Vietnam, NearGroup now plans to focus its significant attention on building its reputation in the Indian market. The firm, which currently has about 34 lakh users, claims that it is seeing about 5 to 6 lakh new users coming on the platform every month.

In order to gain a major portion of the Indian dating market, the firm has launched a new feature.

"There is a social stigma which comes upon using a dating app and women do not wish to have an open dating profile which both their friends and relatives can see, so when a guy makes his profile on NearGroup messenger, his interests and thoughts can be viewed by women for them to send a chat request to, but the woman's profile details can't be viewed by guys, it is sort of a swayamvar for women," Prashant Pitti, CEO of NearGroup told ET.

In addition to this new feature, Neargroup has also got an India-specific marketing team onboard. It plans on increasing the team size as its Indian user base grows. The firm claims that it has already tested out this India specific feature among 15,000 users and have witnessed an increase in usage.

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