Koo is an Indian social networking and microblogging platform with headquarters in Bengaluru, India. It is worth more than $100 million as of May 2021. Numerous Indian startups and business owners are now able to produce goods that are “Made in India” thanks to the recent prohibition in India of 59 Chinese apps. With a focus on Tier-II, III cities and other rural areas of India, the bulk of these firms are creating goods that can be accessed in regional languages. The public was interested in Koo, which made its debut in early 2020 and won the government’s Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge.
Before Koo, Bombinate Technologies Pvt Ltd, the parent business of Koo, introduced and runs the Vokal Indian version of Quora. The company received Series A funding in 2018, according to information obtained from Crunchbase, from a number of investors, including Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital, and Accel Partners India. The 3one4 Capital investment firm of former Infosys CFO TV Mohandas Pai joined the roster of investors in Bombinate Technologies in the most recent round of fundraising, which was revealed earlier this month.
India is the only country with such a diverse language population, which is the reality. The Koo founders looked into what was being spoken on Twitter and noticed that there wasn’t much in our native Indian languages. The Koo founders also observed what was happening on the well-known international microblogs in Indian languages. All of these factors combined to create the Indian microblogging platform “Koo.”
HOW KOO APP WORKS?
Koo is a social networking and discussion platform in the Indian language. The company’s platform enables users to express themselves on a range of issues using text, voice, and video. It is available in numerous Indian languages and includes features like English to regional language keyboards, local language news feeds, and hyper-local hashtags.
FOUNDERS AND TEAM
Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka co-founded the microblogging platform Koo. Aprameya Radhakrishna– The creator and director of TaxiForSure, an online cab booking business that was ultimately purchased by Ola Cabs, was Aprameya Radhakrishna. He had previously held positions at Infosys as a software engineer and at Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj as head of business development for PDS India. He later created Koo, where he continues to serve as CEO and an Angel Investor. Radhakrishna graduated from NIT Karnataka with a BE in electronics and communication before choosing to pursue an MBA in general management at IIM Ahmedabad.
Mayank Bidawatka- Koo also has Mayank Bidawatka as a co-founder. An MBA from the Asian School of Management is held by Bidawatka. After just a year in a temporary position at Lowe Lintas in client servicing, Bidawatka joined ICICI Bank and worked as the product manager there. Mayank was a member of Redbus’ Core Team/Foundation Team before helping to form The Media Ant. He quit that position to work for TaxiforSure.com. Later, he helped found Goodbox. Mayank quit his job at Goodbox to become an investor, and he eventually made investments in a number of businesses. Finally, Mayank made up his mind to create Vokal India alongside Aprameya.
The Koo team had 200 people on it when it was last mentioned in September 2021, but it now has close to 300 workers. By the end of the next year, the social media startup with headquarters in India hopes to have 500 staff members.
In 2020, the Koo saw 26 lakh (2.6 million) instals from Indian app stores, compared to 2.8 crores (28 million) instals seen for Twitter, according to data given by analytics service Sensor Tower. Between February 6 and February 11, Koo installations grew significantly. After a week-long dispute between Twitter and the Government of India over Twitter’s failure to take down accounts that the Government had identified as spreading misinformation during the 2020–21 Indian farmers’ protest, the app saw a rise in popularity. After this impasse, numerous Cabinet Ministers, including Piyush Goyal, and other government representatives shifted to Koo, which experienced a spike in user numbers.
Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures, Dream Incubator, 3one4 Capital, Blume Ventures, IIFL, and Mirae Asset are a few of the Koo investors as of May 2021. Koo raised $30 million (around 218 crore) in Series B funding on May 26, 2021, with Tiger Global as the lead investor. Koo’s valuation soared to nearly $100 million after receiving $30 million from Tiger Global, up from roughly $25 million in February. By March 2021, Shunwei Capital had completely liquidated its stock in Koo.
KOO – VISION AND MISSION
“Koo has established a platform to enable a billion Indians to speak their views and opinions freely in their home tongue,” reads Koo’s mission statement. According to Koo’s co-founder Bidawatka, the organization’s goal is to unite India and enable one billion Indians to freely express themselves in their native tongue. Koo is always attempting to make expressions simpler for anyone who wants to engage their audiences. According to Bidawatka, the Koo social media network is the first platform in the world to make such a claim.
HOW WAS KOO CONCEIVED, WHAT IS THE PRIMARY FOCUS NOW?
Only a small percentage of the approximately 700 million individuals who have access to the internet actually express what is on their minds since they do not have a regular place to go and express themselves. Even a programme like Twitter, which has been there for 12–13 years in the nation, is expected to have 20 million active users each month. The issue that we’re attempting to address by making it simple for individuals to come and express themselves regardless of the language they know is the fact that a sizable segment of the population still lacks a voice on the internet.
Koo has developed into a microblogging platform for regional languages where anyone can go and share their thoughts and opinions with a larger audience in India, thereby involving people who are at ease speaking their native language to participate in conversations that the nation is having on any given day. Communities are the foundation of it.
NAME, LOGO AND TAGLINE
Koo’s logo features a yellow bird, or “Sone Ki Chidiya” in Hindi, which is also what India was famous for many years ago. The newest logo for Koo was released on May 14, 2021. The yellow bird served as the inspiration for the new logo, which is more contemporary in design. The app’s previous name was Ku Koo Ku. Koo tagline states “Let’s Koo together!”
BUSINESS AND REVENUE MODEL
Platform-based models are used in the Koo business strategy. Currently, the Koo revenue model is being investigated. The app, according to the founder, is investigating the advertising strategy in order to monetize at scale. They choose to take a more specialised approach, paying greater attention to the demographics and interests of their users.
Koo is prepared to purchase Mitron TV, which has been attempting unsuccessfully for some time to develop a suitable business model. According to sources from June 10, 2022, Koo is poised to purchase Mitron TV and has already approved a special resolution that would distribute Series B3 preference shares to current Mitron TV investors in exchange for shares of Koo. There has been talk about the allocation of 3182 Series B3 preference shares, which are valued at around Rs 28.17 crore when compared to 13151 shares of Mitron TV.
ATMANIRBHAR APP INNOVATION
Although the app was initially made available in early 2020, it gained notoriety after winning the Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge sponsored by the government. The app won the competition, which was organised by the Centre shortly after it barred a number of Chinese apps on the grounds of national security, along with other Indian apps like Zoho and Chingari, a localised version of TikTok. Following the announcement of the Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the app in his Mann Ki Baat speech.
As evidence of the government’s willingness to promote an alternative to the social networking platform, many ministers and politicians are supporting the made-in-India microblogging site, particularly at a time when the world’s largest platform in this segment has not complied with the Indian government’s demands.
French cybersecurity expert Robert Baptiste, who also goes by the Twitter pseudonym Elliot Alderson, claims that the Koo app is leaking user data. Baptiste has already found bugs and gaps in various tech services as well as security holes in the Aadhaar programme. There have been various rumours in the interim regarding a potential Chinese connection to this programme. Koo also has investment from Shunwei. Shunwei is a venture capital fund that invests in start-up businesses and is affiliated to Xiaomi. Koo will become entirely Indian after Shunwei exits the company and sells its remaining shares. This was confirmed by Koo’s co-founder.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT MARKET SHARE OF KOO?
In October of this year, 20 months after our inception, Koo reached a significant milestone of 15 million downloads. In around a year and a half, our first 10 million downloads occurred, and the following five million users joined the platform in just three months. This suggests that the Koo App is gaining popularity at a rapid rate. We are optimistic that as we advance, supported by our exclusive linguistic features that offer an immersive experience, we will outperform ourselves and scale quickly to reach 100 million downloads.
For a platform like ours, India has a lot of promise. According to a recent projection, India will have more than 900 million internet users by 2025. One of the most distinctive social products, Koo encourages digital inclusion while serving every segment of society. Additionally, it is a potent platform, with some of the most well-known figures in the nation using it on a daily basis. In such a short time, we have experienced a lot of love and gratitude, and we still have a long way to go before we reach all the other milestones we have set for ourselves.
HOW KOO IS DIFFERENT FROM TWITTER?
Both Koo and Twitter are websites for microblogging. The similarities stop there. In addition to English, Koo is a cutting-edge platform that gives Indians the freedom to express themselves in Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, and Gujarati. Our goal is to support all 22 of India’s official languages, so we are aiming to add additional native tongues. Additionally, we have a special function that lets authors communicate in real time between languages while preserving the context and tone of the original writing. As a result, a user’s audience is expanded because people all over the nation can hear the message in the language of their choice.
Thus, there is a rapid increase in following. We also have communities for each language that is offered on the site in addition to these linguistic features. These neighbourhoods honour the best aspects of each region’s culture. An individual can interact with a community that shares their interests and have a fulfilling experience.
WHAT MAKES YOUR PRODUCT SO UNIQUE?
You can visit and enter any language community on Koo. There are residents of that neighbourhood there. All of the individuals we suggest if you are speaking Kannada right now are speaking Kannada on this platform, whether they are regular users or well-known individuals. The hashtags you see are particularly specific to Karnataka because a lot of individuals are meeting each other within the Kannada network. On no other social network is this present. As a speaker of Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, or Tamil, you are not permitted to visit your community and simply discuss its issues.
You can communicate with Hindi-speaking individuals as an English speaker who has always posted information online in English. You have the option of typing in Hindi or translating from English. You are now expressing the same idea in Hindi as well, demonstrating the potential we have given to English speakers to express ideas across many languages.
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Koo was named the winner of the Google Awards 2020’s Best Apps of 2020 in India’s Everyday Essentials category and honoured by Google Playstore. Koo triumphs in the social category of the government’s app innovation challenge in 2020. Koo App triumphs in the 2020 Atma Nirbhar App Challenge.
Koo is making money off of an expanding demand for regional language social networking in India. Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Meitei, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, and Urdu support are among the upcoming languages for which this project intends to offer support.
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