Bengaluru-based Lookup, a messaging app that connects shoppers with local businesses, has raised USD 2.5 million in Series A funding. The funding round was led by Vinod Khosla’s personal fund Khosla Impact which also saw participation from Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone, Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures, and Global Founders Capital, the European investment fund from Rocket Internet’s Samwer brothers.
Other participants include Geneva-based ACE & Company, Singapore-based M&S partners, New Look fashion chain Founder Tom Singh, Lookout Founder Kevin Mahaffey, and LivSpace Founder and former Google Local Head Anuj Srivastava. In January this year, Lookup raised a total of USD 382,000 in its seed round from Infosys Co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, DeNA Japan, Beenos Founder Teruhide Sato, and MKS Switzerland SA. They also participated in the current round. Lookup will deploy the funds to expand its merchant base in order to enhance convenience for its users and to branch out into newer geographies.
"Today, it is very easy to find and buy products online. However, when you want to buy something offline, we still end up picking up our phone and dialing local shops or running around. We want Lookup to be the Google equivalent for finding products and services offline. For this, we hyperlink every local store near you with a simple chat app which give you synchronous connection to the verified vendor,” says Deepak Ravindran, Founder and CEO of Lookup.
He adds that Lookup uses chat to disrupt local commerce in India, which is a USD 750 billion industry. India has the highest shop density in the world with over 45 million local businesses.
Launched in December 2014, Lookup claims to register over one million users. It has daily activity of 55-60,000 users with 100,000 daily messages. The queries range from food, medicines, groceries, and electronics in a hyper-local area. It has recently incorporated the booking feature for local salons and spas and has tied up with supply chain solution firms like Delhivery for POS terminal integration. Lookup currently operates in three cities, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi.
The app will soon make its presence in Dubai in partnership with Etisalat and has recently introduced hyper-local deliveries in association with RoadRunnr where users can get all products from local stores delivered on time through Lookup.
“There is no minimum order, and a link for tracking the delivery will also be sent through chat. People can buy products using cash on delivery or by using its mobile wallet called Lookup Cash. Users can also subscribe to hyper-local offers, which are promoted mainly by local stores for conducting flash sales, happy hours, and other announcements,” says Deepak.
The company is also working on Offline API where people can get access to anything on demand from any local store. They recently released a Juice API in association with a local merchant in Bangalore. Through this partnership, a customer can subscribe to their daily fresh juices delivered to them with a simple message. This API is also partnered with many more vendors, including Chai Point (tea on demand), laundry, and much more. The company is also partnered with OYO Rooms to book budget hotels and guest houses across India. The company also has an exclusive tie-up with midnight delivery service Niteout that delivers food, beverages, munchies, and even a few medicines in the night.
Commenting on the investment, Vinod Khosla says, “Disruptive product startups are being built in India now. Khosla Impact funded Lookup to connect 40M small businesses to consumers.”