Pokkt's journey to becoming an alternate mobile payment platform and GSF's Singapore push
Pokkt is a Mumbai-based startup founded over a year ago by a formidable team. Rohit Sharma, a veteran in the digital space who previously was the CEO of Digital Business, Reliance ADA group, is at the helm of the company, with co-founders Vaibhav Odekar and Sharad Ingule. Vaibhav is an IIM Lukhnow alumnus with experience in banking and digital industry while Sharad has more than a decade of experience in product engineering in web and mobile. The company was a part of the GSF batch last year, where it was selected as one of the top four companies to raise additional external rounds.
The pivot that led to the current version of Pokkt
Pokkt initially started with a B2C focus, where it was a platform for users to come on and get exclusive coupons from various online partners. The deals were exclusive because the user had to perform certain actions (download an app, fill up a survey, etc.) before he or she could get the coupon. They launched the site but soon realized within a few months that the going would get tough. Pivoting quickly, they shifted focus to focus on businesses as their customers.
The current avatar of Pokkt is that of an alternate mobile payment platform that helps owners of Paid Digital Goods and Services to monetise their users through an advertiser-funded model. Pokkt helps developers and publishers to convert non-paying users to paying users for any kind of monetisation be it pay per download, try and buy, virtual goods transactions, subscription etc. While for advertisers, Pokkt gives multiple engagement tools.
For users, the method is lucrative as it allows them to buy digital goods by alternate methods like watching videos, subscribing to services, installing applications, participation in surveys, etc. Pokkt has been operational from three months and has managed to get more than 25,000 people to use the platform.
Funding journey and GSF's Singapore push
Pokkt has raised the initial seed round from Rajesh Sawhney founded GSF and then went on to receive the next funding round in February 2013 from Jungle Ventures and Samir Bangara (which is being announced today). An experienced team with a knowledge of the space made it easier to raise funds for Pokkt. The team strength is 11 members at present and the company moved base to Singapore when they were in discussions with Jungle Ventures.
Talking about GSF's Singapore push, Rajesh Sawhney says, "I've always encouraged companies to have a global approach. Any startup building a product needs to think worldwide from day one for scale." GSF has developed extensive network in international markets to help startups expand into various regions quickly.
Rajesh was an early investor in Viki which got a $200 million exit to Rakuten and this is also probably one of the biggest exits for an Indian angel. A Singapore based company, Viki had a large vision from the outset and went on the become the Hulu for the rest of the world (Hulu is a US based company). "Increasingly, you'll see more and more GSF companies have a base in various countries to scale internationally," says Rajesh.
Surely a sign of a maturing ecosystem, we've now reached a stage where more and more Indian product companies will achieve international status.