Exclusive: Kavin Mittal says Hike will look to make money this year —here's how

Kavin Mittle, CEO and founder of Hike, spoke to Business Insider about their upcoming feature HikeLand and how Hike Sticker chat is going to experiment with revenue in 2020Hike


  • Kavin Mittal plans to introduce a new "social experience" to Hike in 2020 called HikeLand.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Mittal said that Hike will be experimenting with revenue this year to find out what should be paid and what can be offered for free.
  • According to him, the virtual economy is an untapped golden goose in India with microtransactions set to increase as payments become seamless.
From being a super app that offers games, news and the ability to send messages, Hike has unpacked itself to focus on the chat experience. Last year, Hike CEO and founder Kavin Bharti Mittal launched Hike Sticker Chat — a messenger app focused on emojis to communicate with close friends, peers and significant others.

In an interview with Business Insider, Mittal shared that he plans on "creating a new social experience" to help monetise the app called HikeLand. And, it has nothing to do with e-commerce.

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"In 2020, this is going to be the year that we start experimenting with revenue," he said and it doesn't necessarily need to reflect in the real world.

Launched in 2012, Hike Messenger has gone from being a super app to a sticker chat with 2 million weekly active users as of December 2019.


Revenue is just another feature
In 2020, Hike plans to find out what consumers are willing to pay for and what can be given away for free. "Revenue is one more feature. Building revenue is also a part of the product development process," said Mittal.
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The aim is to take Hike Sticker Chat into a new era using technology to build an upgraded user experience around the HikeMoji. Mittal describes it as, "a new user experience beyond messaging that's a safe place for people to hang out."

He explains that the HikeMoji will be able to do multiple things within HikeLand. That will be the ecosystem around which Hike will build a virtual economy business model.

Virtual economy is the untapped golden goose
Mittal believes that since payments have not become seamless, microtransactions are going to emerge in a big way — and the virtual economy is the golden goose that no-one has tapped into.
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"Virtual economy business model is the one that's completely untapped in this market," he claimed. According to him, as virtual communities emerge and multiple verticals are created, economies can be integrated into them to add a layer to the consumer experience.

Hike — as a 'bits-based' business — has no ties to the offline world, according to Mittal. There are no warehouses, no logistics and no delivery mechanisms.

"We have already seen this [virtual economy] happen. More in the East than in the West. And, that's the model we're going to pursue," he explained.
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Hanging out online
Hike's peak usage is between 10:00 pm to 12:00 am. According to Mittal, it's not because people are messaging or sending stickers at the time — it's simply because they want to hang out online with their friends after they're done with "family time".

"If we want to build a safe place for people to hang out in 2020 for close friends or with their significant other, what would that look like? And, that's the big step that we're taking with HikeMoji — and HikeLand," said Mittal.

Doubling down on existing bets
In addition to launching HikeLand, Mittal will be doubling down on the bets that he's already made. In 2018, the Hike super app was unbundled into two verticals — messaging and gaming. On one side was Hike Sticker Chat and on the other was investment, a gaming platform called WinZo..
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News, on the other hand, was dropped altogether.

"We have to double down on both these products. How do we get Sticker Chat to a much bigger user base? How do we land HikeMoji and HikeLand extremely well? On the WinZo side, how do we grow the scale we have today to be three to four times bigger," said Mittal

In addition to growing what's already working for the company, Hike will continue to work on the innovation pipeline as well. Nonetheless, the return of the super app doesn't seem to be on the cards.
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See also:
A new $1.5 million fund is looking for good game developers in India

Hike takes on Snapchat, launches in-built camera with face recognition skills and other new features
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