Twitter’s Indian rival Koo has crossed 3 million downloads as ministers and actors got down to promoting it— the founders are ecstatic
Koois a microblogging platform and is available in English, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali and Malayalam.
- The barely 10-month old app Koo has now crossed over 3 million downloads, registering a 10X growth since December, 2020.
Enjoying their moment in the sun are founders Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, co-founders of Koo, which is a microblogging platform and is available in English, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali and Malayalam.
It’s hockey stick for both Twitter and Koo
The recent standoff between Twitter and the Indian government, which wanted the social media giant to ban certain handles, has become a bane for Jack Dorsey and a boon for Koo.
Twitter declined the Indian government’s request to ban certain handles of journalists, activists as doing so “"would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law". Soon after, country’s top ministers like Piyush Goyal to bollywood actors like Anupam Kher and Kangana Ranaut, hundreds of verified profiles on Twitter are jumping on to the Made in India app Koo.
“Last few days we have seen a hockey stick growth, we have got more users than we expected. It was unplanned, sudden and it’s very overwhelming but we are happy that people are willing to try out this Indian product,” said Bidawatka in an interview to Business Insider in the middle of what he describes a crazy day.
I am now on Koo. Connect with me on this Indian micro-blogging platform for real-time, exciting and exclusive upd… https://t.co/L09sLRtzDM— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) 1612859791000
Your time is up @Twitter time to shift to #kooapp will inform everyone soon about my account details there. Absolu… https://t.co/lJNwf0zWh8— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) 1612953243000
Both Bidawatka and Radhakrishna — are serial entrepreneurs, the latter having previously founded TaxiForSure and sold it to the unicorn Ola— were always working on an Indian alternative to Twitter. But they didn’t think the opportunity would emerge out of a controversy.
A few months ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had mentioned Koo in his monthly address to the people. That brought the first big wave of users to the platform.
Listen to this podcast with the founders of Koo, recorded after they won the Atmanirbhar app challenge by the Indian government in August, 2020.
While they admired Twitter for the product that it was, the founders saw an opportunity. “Indians that don't speak in English were not well represented there, for example, there were very few Kannada, Tamil, tweets. Nothing close to the potential of our internet using population. We wanted to build an immersive experience on the product,” he said.
The two men also run Vokal, a vernacular question and answer knowledge sharing app, they understood the languages space and found experts on their platform still missing a place to express their thoughts. “We know the vernacular story and power of Indian languages. The microblogging format is very all encompassing, it's easy to create and consume,” said Bidawatka. And that’s how Koo was formed.
Koo also raised $4.1 million as part of its Series A funding recently from 3one4 Capital, Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures and Dream Incubator. While the valuation of the company, remains undisclosed, Bidawatka said they found the right set of investors who believe in their product, even if it's just 10-month old.
And as users keep pouring into Koo, the 40-member team is on overdrive to keep things running. Even while there are teething issues, like every small company has. “We are dealing with the scale that has been thrown at us,” he said.
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