Akosha raises Rs 100 cr funding from Sequoia Capital, plans to on-board 500 people in 2015Alok Soni
The messaging platform for all consumer-to-business interactions Akosha has raised a new Rs.100 crore Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital. This new round of financing will be used for hiring to build out the platform, and fund the growth of Akosha’s new mobile app.
Starting from the seed round of $200K, this is third round of investment from Sequoia Capital in the company. Last year, the venture capital firm had invested $5.2M in the platform.
Akosha's model and scale
Started in 2010 by Ankur Singla, a National Law School, Bangalore graduate, Akosha followed the model of a single destination for consumers to connect with any large businesses starting. Today, the company handles 30,000+consumer inquiries every day over the web, telephone and its Android chat app. Starting from ~2K in 2014, the number of customer queries have grown 15X in one year. Akosha has received over 40,00,000 consumer queries across sectors, including telecom, consumer appliances, ecommerce, mobile, banking and insurance in 2014.
Quoting his tweet, Ankur claims that no one else has built the base to create a true consumer to business chat platform (which is a two sided approach).
Akosha monetizes these inquiries by providing its enterprise software OneDirect to brands. Brands are able to leverage Akosha’s software to have a fast and personalized interactions with their consumers.Over 130 large brands use Akosha’s OneDirect platform to respond to consumer inquiries every week. Around 30 of these enterprises have become paying customers who subscribe to a premium version of the OneDirect Enterprise Suite.
Haptik, another startup in this space co-founded by Aakrit Vaish, ex-Director, Flurry India has raised $1M in September 2014 and crossed 100K app downloads recently.
The company has 350+ employees and 3 offices in India.
How is the funding being utilized?
Ankur mentioned that the last round of funding($5.2M) was invested heavily in technology, product and process excellence. Over the last year, Akosha has grown its employee base from 180 to over 300 and recently opened a technology and product office in Bangalore. At this momentum, Akosha plans to use the additional financing to hire over 200 software engineers and product managers to build out the platform, and fund the fast growing new mobile app for connecting users and businesses. Akosha’s expects to add 400-500 people to its team this year. Ankur mentioned that their Delhi office which has 250 people will operate as it is while the newly opened Bengaluru office will be foused on building the tech and product team .
Shailendra Singh, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India Advisors believes in the thesis that consumers need a better way to interact with businesses and Akosha's vision to build a single destination on the smartphone for users to interact with hundreds of businesses and online services.
The Android App
Ankur claims that 140,000 users have downloaded Akosha’s new android app in 4 months with an average rating of 4.5. According to the firm, consumers use the Akosha app for product discovery, pricing information, discounts, customer service, booking appointments and travel research. Currently, the app supports more than 18,000 chat sessions per day and have been growing 20-25% week-on-week.
Ankur believes that it's important to take time with hiring the best people, talk regularly to your customers and execute insanely fast. The company is already looking to raise another $50-100M in the next 6 months.
We started 4 years ago to help consumers with post purchase issues. With the growth of mobile, we aim at building a messaging platform for all interactions between consumers and businesses including discovery, buying, appointments and customer service. We hope to be doing 100,000 customer interactions/day within 3 months. But I think we’re just getting started. We are confident that in the near future, Akosha chat will be a competitive customer service differentiator for businesses.