The Indian startup culture, thanks to the country’s low internet rates and the immense local talent, has seen massive growth in the past year. This has been solidified by this year’s Y Combinator as well, which featured a record number of Indian startups. Thus, with this growth trajectory, venture capitalists have found a new safe haven in India- and are participating with vigor and enthusiasm. Taking advantage of this changing landscape, Public App, a location-based social network launched by short-news aggregator Inshorts in 2019, has raised $41 million (₹300 crore) in a new funding round led by A91 Partners and from existing investors – former Tiger Global top executive Lee Fixel’s Addition, SIG Global and Tanglin Venture Partners.
This comes just six months after it had raised $35 million in a funding round led by Addition, SIG, and Tanglin Venture Partners.
The funding, which is the latest move by the startup to expand its corner in the market, puts Public app’s valuation at $250 million, more than doubling its previous valuation of $120 million during the Fixel’s Addition led round.
“We are very excited to have A91 Partners join us in our journey towards building the world’s largest location-based social network,” said Azhar Iqubal, founder and CEO, Public App and InShorts.
Public, which disseminates local news and happenings, is targeting users in smaller towns and cities. People can record events taking place around them via short videos and post them on Public.
This aligns perfectly with the parent app of the platform-Inshorts, which aims to deliver news in easily digestible little chunks for those reading their headlines on the go.
Thus, the two apps will work together to possibly change the way news is broadcasted and read in India, even though they still have a long way to go.
Available in several major Indian languages (including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Assamese, Gujarati, and Marathi), the app also allows shop owners and other local businesses to drive e-commerce and hire local talent, and political leaders, government authorities, and media houses to reach local audiences. It is also working on building customized ad solutions for brands to better engage with the audiences while keeping the user experience intact.
The company revealed that it plans to utilize the capital to scale up infrastructure, grow content, and recruit more people to further speed up the growth and continue improving on retention and engagement. With over 50 million active users, Public is acquiring over five million new users each month. “With more than 50 million active users in India, we aim to connect the hyper-local communities of Bharat and later make the product global,” Iqubal said. Firms like Amazon, HDFC Bank, and GSK use Public App to reach their audience.
“The app is already being used by over 50,000 elected officials, government authorities, and citizen journalists to connect with their locality. Additionally, many local businesses have also started to use the app to reach their customers in the locality,” Public said.
Gautam Mago, general partner, A91 Partners, said, “Public has continued to maintain best-in-class retention and engagement metrics while scaling. We look forward to working closely with the founders to help build an outstanding company.”