Homegrown short video app Chingari has raised USD 13 million in a new round led by Bengaluru-headquartered mobile entertainment company OnMobile.
Other investors who participated in this round include American investment firms Republic Labs and White Star Capital, Indian VC fund Astarc Ventures, JPIN Venture Catalysts, a cross-border investment platform for startups between UK and India, and Singapore-based VC firm ProfitBoard Ventures, among others. Prior to this, Chingari had raised USD 1.4 million from a series of angel investors last year.
Chingari plans to use the funds to enhance its content portfolio, hire top talent, and expand its user base from the current 56 million to 100 million over the next six months.
“With this fresh round of funding, we would be further strengthening our tech team and continue hiring some good folks across domains, and spend on operations and content creator monetization models,” Aditya Kothari, co-founder, Chingari told KrASIA.
As a part of the deal, OnMobile will integrate and distribute its gaming platform ONMO on Chingari app and collaborate on other product integrations.
“The Chingari team has built a terrific product with great user retention and growth. ONMO gaming’s short format challenges and Chingari’s short-form videos complement each other well,” said Krish Seshadri, CEO of OnMobile, who has joined Chingari’s board.
The move is the latest in the series of steps taken by the two-year-old startup to monetize the users on its platform. Last month, Chingari entered into the social commerce space, in a bid to create an additional revenue stream.
After India banned short video app TikTok in June 2020, it opened up the market previously monopolized by the Chinese giant for homegrown players. Since then, dozens of short video apps like Chingari, Trell, Mitro, Roposo, Moj, Josh, Instagram’s Reels, and Snap’s Spotlight have come up in the world’s second-most-populous country, vying to get a piece of the growing market.
Traditionally, these companies have been counting on brand advertising on their platform to earn money. However, that hasn’t turned out as easy as these players had imagined it to be because of the increasing competition and struggle to gain and retain their user base. Over the past few months, some of these startups have been trying to come up with new ways to monetize their platform. Chingari is one among them.
New revenue stream
In a tweet in mid-February, Chingari co-founder and chief executive Sumit Ghosh said the company has rolled out “shoppable” short videos.
“When we gained popularity last year after the TikTok ban, we were just being called clone/copycat, and no one thought we could build anything innovative,” he said. He added that launching this feature has made Chingari the first app globally to make short videos shoppable via AI/ML.
Chingari parses every video that gets uploaded frame by frame using computer vision, AI, and ML, and all detected objects are then matched with a live catalog of Amazon, he explained in a series of Twitter posts. If users click on the products visible in the video it will take them to Amazon’s website allowing them to purchase the product. This makes each video on users’ feed shopping enabled in real-time.
“This will make millions of videos on Chingari shoppable and will generate affiliate revenues,” he said. “A part of the revenues will be shared with the creators, making Chingari creator economy a full circle economy where creators get paid if their content makes money.”
At the time, Ghosh said the company was running proof of concept with Amazon and would integrate the feature with other e-tailers as they build on it. A report by local media Business Standard said, Chingari will bring on Flipkart and Myntra in April to June quarter, and that it is in talks with several direct-to-consumer brands for a tie-up.
“We have few monetization models in place including the social video commerce. We would eventually be announcing the other monetization models as well,” Kothari told KrASIA. “Social video commerce is a billion dollar industry in itself. We are enhancing and strengthening the platform with our partner and team every day for seamless transactions and purchases for the users.”
Similarly, three-year-old Trell, which lets users posts up to three-minute-long videos in the category of fashion, personal care, beauty, recipes, electronics and gadgets, rolled out a lifestyle social commerce platform last year.
“Starting September, we allowed influencers to connect with brands where they can share their reviews and in the process, earn money,” Pulkit Agrawal, co-founder, Trell, told KrASIA. “Consumers come on our platform to take a look at what a certain influencer has to say about a certain product, which helps them make informed choice before deciding to buy it.”
Agrawal claims to have 45 million monthly active users on the app.
“We charge a certain percentage to brands on every purchase. We also share a certain percentage to influencers, so it’s a win-win for everyone,” he said. “In the last six months, we have added 400 personal care and beauty brands and have over 220,000 SKUs on the platform.”
Another player, Mitron, is in the process of monetizing the content through brand advertising, which the company believes, will bring several opportunities for the creators to make money via brand integration and promotions, as per a report by local media Exchange4Media.