Hyperlocal Indian social media platform Lokal has raised $ 12 million in a new round of funding led by Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Existing investors 3one4 Capital, Y Combinator and India Quotient also participated in the Bangalore-based startup’s Series A, the source said, requesting anonymity as the matter is private.
Tencent and Lokal did not respond to a request for comment.
It is estimated that over 400 million non-English speaking Indians are online today. For them the Internet offers are very limited because there are not many services that have been designed to serve such users – and many have no offers for such large masses.
Lokal tries to reach these users and provide them with a wide range of services. Its eponymous hyperlocal social network app allows non-English speaking users to connect and interact with each other.
The app also helps users find jobs in their neighborhood and keeps them up to date with things like commodity prices, real estate prices, and marriage announcements that you would otherwise find in local newspapers. Its offers also include professional development services.
The startup says on its website that it has racked up over 10 million downloads and is popular in several southern Indian states.
The new investment comes more than a year and a half after New Delhi introduced rules requiring Indian companies to obtain its approval before raising capital from a Chinese investor. This decision considerably slowed the pace of Chinese companies’ investment in India. But in recent months, several companies have lifted from Tencent.
TechCrunch reported in August that India’s Pocket FM was in advanced talks to lift a tour of Tencent and others. The Chinese giant, which has invested more than $ 2 billion in Indian startups since 2016, also invested more than $ 200 million in Indian social media platform ShareChat earlier this year, although the startup did not disclose Tencent’s involvement at the time of the announcement.
The company, which has also invested more money in Indian music streaming service Gaana, recently made several investments in Indian businesses in the form of convertible debt to save time for parties’ approval and give Tencent the opportunity. to convert its debt into an investment in stocks in the future.