ShareChat, a Bengaluru-based local language social networking app which is bridging the gap of vernacular content in India, is in talks to raise $15 million in series-B funding led by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi and venture capital firm Shunwei Capital.
After this funding round, the social networking app is expected to be valued at $65-70 million.
The SAIF Partners-backed startup will deploy the proceeds for product improvement and add more languages. It will use a portion of the funds also for recruiting developers and data scientists, reports ET.
Created in October 2015 by Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh and Ankush Sachdeva, ShareChat claims to be building the largest social content network in India with a focus on small-town users. The startup started as a content repository app for sharing on WhatsApp and has now evolved into a full-fledged social network.
ShareChat allows users to create, discover and share content such as videos, jokes, audio songs, and images along with Bollywood blockbusters, health tips, quotes from the Bhagavad Gita, and astrology readings with each other.
Much like people do on Tumblr and Instagram, users can follow other users, who are either content creators or friend on the platform, for regular updates, again much like most other social networks.
Sharechat’s Android app is currently available in 10 regional languages, including Hindi, Bhojpuri, and Odia. It does not have an app for Apple devices.
The platform initially grew and acquired users by using three bots to scrape content off more than 60,000 WhatsApp groups. Then, users began increasingly developing and sharing their own content.
Earlier in November 2016, the app-based platform had raised $4 million in a Series-A round of funding from Lightspeed India Partners, along with existing investors SAIF Partners and India Quotient. The company had gained seed funding of $1.25 million, in a round led by SAIF Partners in July 2016.
Chinese phone-making giant, Xiaomi had made its first investment in India, leading a $25 million funding round into Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, an aggregator and publisher of entertainment content on the internet.
The investment also marked Xiaomi’s first investment into a start-up outside its home market of China.