Top 10 startups in India, working in vernacular domain

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India’s digitization efforts are enabling Indians in the smaller cities to get online and with more Indians getting online, Indian language users are increasing, creating a huge market for vernacular content.

According to a study by KPMG and Google in April 2017, titled ‘Indian Languages – Defining India’s Internet’, Indian language internet users have grown at a CAGR of 41% to reach 234 million in 2016 from merely 42 million users in 2011. This number is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% to reach 536 million Indian language users by 2021. While English language users in India are expected to grow at 3% CAGR to reach 199 million by 2021.

The numbers say a lot to show the potential for vernacular content in the Indian market. Considering the vast numbers, it should not surprise anyone that many startups have started to focus on vernacular content to enable and accommodate the growing internet users in the country.

Here is a list of top 10 vernacular startups in India

DailyHunt: India’s leading news and local language content platform DailyHunt was founded in 2009 by former Nokia employees Umesh Kulkarni and Chandrashekhar Sohoni with its headquarter in Bengaluru. DailyHunt offers over 100,000 news articles in 14 Indian languages licensed from 800 publication partners to its users every day.

It had last raised funds back in 2016, when it secured $25 million in series D round led by ByteDance, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, among others.

ShareChat: It is India’s own vernacular social networking platform. ShareChat was founded by three IIT-Kanpur alumni, Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh and Ankush Sachdeva in 2015 with its headquarter in Bengaluru. It enables its users to share images, songs, videos and other content, and discover trending content in Indian languages including Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Malayalam, among others.

The startup had last raised funds in January 2018, when it raised ₹120 crores in series B funding round led by Xiaomi, along with Shunwei Capital.

Roposo: This social media platform lets its users express themselves by creating videos and images with the help of its editing tools. Gurugram-based Roposo was founded by three IIT Delhi alumni, Mayank Bhangadia, Avinash Saxena and Kaushal Shubhank in 2012. It is available in 9 languages to let users explore and express in their prefered language.

In 2015, Roposo had raised $15 million in series B funding led by Tiger Global Management.

Clip App: This digital media video sharing startup Clip App lets users create, edit, and watch funny images and videos in their local language. It also lets the users share those videos on different platforms including WhatsApp and Facebook. Bengaluru-based Clip App was founded by Nav Agrawal, Ashish Gupta, and Swapnil Upadhyay in March 2017.

Recently, the startup had acquired another vernacular content discovery platform Clorik for an undisclosed amount. Clip App had last raised $6 million in a series A funding led by Matrix Partners India in December 2017.

Vokal: India’s P2P knowledge sharing platform, Vokal enables users to ask questions and get answers in their local language in the form of audio. It provides a unique platform to enable the users with quality vernacular content. It was founded by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in 2017.

Last month, Vokal had raised ₹34 crores in series A funding led by Shunwei Capital and 500 startups, with participation from Accel Partners and Blume Ventures.

BetterButter: New Delhi-based recipe discovery platform BetterButter, lets users share and discover various regional and global recipes in their local languages. It current supports languages including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, among others. It was founded by Niyaz Laiq and Sukhmani Bedi in 2015. The platform has over 50,000 recipes and videos from across the world.

BetterButter had raised an undisclosed amount of funds in a series A round in September 2017. This AI-enabled startup provides multi-lingual chatbots for its clients to help their users interact in their local languages. leverages Natural Language Processing to create its products.

It was founded by Akshay Deshraj, Manoj Sarda, Sourabh Gupta in 2016 with its headquarters in Bengaluru. These chatbots will enable businesses to provide a seamless customer experience to their users empowered with Artifical intelligence and multi-lingual support.

This Kalaari-backed startup had raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Kstart in May 2017.

Samosa Labs: Hyderabad-based chat entertainment app Samosa Labs provides an entertainment platform for its users to create audios and gifs to be shared across various social media platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp. To enable regional penetration the startup provides users with the option to create content in various Indian languages. It was founded by Abhilash Inumella, along with Abhimanyu Pamulapati and Rahul Reddy Koora in 2015.

The startup had recently raised ₹48 crores in a round led by Xiaomi and Sequoia Capital.

Lokal: Local news startup Lokal provides a platform to offer vernacular local news to its users based on their location and preferred language. It was founded by Jani Pasha and Vishal Chaudhary in July 2018 with its headquarters in Bengaluru. The news is delivered through a network of local journalists and freelancers.

The startup recently raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding led by India Quotient.

NewsDog: This news and content aggregator provides content to Indian users in 10 Indian languages, serving 50 million users. Beijing-based NewsDog was founded by Forrest Chen, along with Maggie Ma in 2016.

The startup is looking to expand its operations in Indian after it raised funds in series C+ round from Vision Plus Capital.

It is interesting to note that majority of the startups have been focussed in the social media and digital news domain, which have been clubbed into the growth category by the KPMG and Google report. While the categories like digital payments, digital write-ups, e-tailing and online government services are in the emerging category and could see more startups focused on these domains in the coming years.



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