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Hike - The Journey of the Indian Messaging App and How it is Building a Web3 Gaming Platform?

Company Profile is an initiative by ListMyStartUp to publish verified information on different startups and organizations. The content in this post has been approved by Hike.

Development in the communication sector has been fast and amazing. From letters to landline phones; from pagers to smartphones, we have come a long way. And now, one of the most loved ways of communicating is messaging apps, which are making communication not just easy but fun too

Speaking of the most trending messaging apps, one name that we won't afford to miss is the Hike Messenger app owned by Kavin Bharti Mittal. With over 100 million users, this homegrown messaging app of India has given fair competition to WhatsApp, the world's most preferred messenger app. Founded by Kavin Bharti Mittal in 2012, Hike Messenger was once a billion-dollar startup. However, it failed to capitalise on the headstart it received, and slackened down through the years ultimately to be shut down.

Hike Messenger is Officially Shut down and has been removed from Google Play Store and Apple App Store. However, the company still exists. Yes, though Hike has been shutdown as a messenger, the company has not stopped altogether. It is currently aiming to build a web3 gaming platform (Rush Gaming Universe), and might also successfully pivot. Of its messaging platform, the Hike Stickers can still be used though on other platforms like Signal, Whatsapp, and Telegram by downloading "Stickers by Hike".

The company has constantly looked for monetisation plans through which it would be benefitted and had also pivoted on numerous occasions, but it failed on most occasions. The Hike messenger app certainly failed with the tough competition it got from Whatsapp. However, there was one occasion where it tried to create a super app, it focused on Hike Sticker Chat, it turned the way of gateway for microtransactions with HikeLand, and has finally decided to launch Vibe and Rush in 2021, with a complete focus on multiplying the app revenues.

Read on to know more about this successful Indian startup, its founder, startup story, business and revenue model, its current revenues, competitors, funding and investors, growth, acquisitions, future plans and more.

Hike Messenger - Company Highlights

  • Startup Name-Hike Messenger
  • Headquarter-New Delhi
  • Founder/Owner-Kavin Bharti Mittal
  • Sector-Messaging App
  • Founded-2012
  • Funding-$261 Million
  • Revenue-$1.5 mn (Rs 11.9 crore in FY20)
  • Parent Organization-Hike Private Limited
  • Website-hike.in

Hike Messenger - About

Hike is an Indian app and essentially is a cool messaging platform for chatting with funky and killer stickers that came in to innovate the messaging world. Hike, founded in 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal, was the first messaging and social technology company made in India. Some of the features of Hike are:

Two-way option: This option on Hike enables the users to add or accept the contacts before messaging and also the application has security measures that allow the users to prevent messages from strangers.

Offline messages: The users can receive message notifications even when the mobile data is disabled.

Free SMS: Hike messenger allows its users to send free SMS to any given number.

Theme-based interface: The whole idea of Hike is having conversations using some interesting graphic mediums like reaction stickers etc.

Hike Messenger introduced HikeLand

Tencent-backed Hike Messenger has introduced a new offering called HikeLand which is a mobile virtual world where people can participate in many activities. HikeLand allows users to hang out with their friends and watch videos together in a virtual environment. The move has come when sharing experiences via social networks has strengthened due to people staying at homes.

The early preview of HikeLand includes two shared experiences - ‘Home’ and ‘Big Screen’.

It explained that the home screen will be only for the user themselves, more like a private space. In this mode, users can watch YouTube videos and talk about it with another user. There will be eight themes to choose from and the home screen can be customized depending on the likes of the user. No one who is uninvited can enter this room.

The Big screen, on the other hand, is unlike Home and is more open. Hike’s Big Screen allows users to watch videos with other people. To start with, Big Screen is currently powered by YouTube and would be running shows 24x7 around comedy, sports, and others. Users that enjoy similar content can be a part of it. While viewing the show/video of choice, users can find out more about others watching the same content through their profiles and even message them.

1/ We’ve been wondering why the world is still using decade old social experiences built for the 2G world - Messaging, Feed etc → It's time to move on

Today @hikeapp we begin to change the way people hang out online. The ‘early preview’ for #HikeLand rolls out to a 100% today! pic.twitter.com/fg5sdZX2aZ

— Kavin Bharti Mittal (@kavinbm) June 17, 2020

“With advancements in technology, so much is possible today that wasn’t even just a few years ago. The world has evolved, it’s time for social products as well. With HikeLand, we’re launching the world’s first mobile-first Virtual World. A brand new take on how people can hangout online, transcending beyond the limitations of the offline world”, Hike founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal said.

The company said HikeLand is a homegrown product that has been built from the ground up keeping India in mind.

“It is an India-first product built for a mobile-first/mobile-only audience. Leveraging diversity of art skills and resources, HikeLand also brought together a design team of not only UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) but also fashion, art, and 3D artists”, it added.

Rush Gaming Universe

Hike introduced Rush Avatar. It would be debuting with Rush Avatar, which is planned to stand as an NFT and digital identity for the Rush users, thereby moving the Rush Gaming Universe to the blockchain on February 28, 2022.


The Rush Avatar NFTs would be offered by Hike for free to the most active members of its community, where the rarest editions would go to the most active members. Furthermore, it has also been decided that 10% of the Launch Edition’s supply would be further used for future community giveaways, NFT sales, and partnerships.

The messenger app company has previously tried to pivot via a super app business, where Hike planned to integrate the digital wallet, ticketbooking and ecommerce services into the app. However, this didn't pay off well for the company, which is why it ended the same idea in 2019. hike then tried to run its Hike Sticker Chat, focusing on it largely, but even this didn't materialize profitably for the company, and was shuttered in January 2021. HikeLand was the next venture that it tried, where Hike turned into a gateway for microtransactions, and in-app spending.

Launched in June 2020, HikeLand saw a good traction right form its testing days, where the users spent a minimum of 50 minutes in the app on an average. This is why the HikeLand idea was again integrated into Vibe and Rush. Hike launched Vibe and Rush in 2021, where:

Vibe is a rebranded version of HikeLand and offers interactive social media experiences to the customers.

Rush is a mini-games platform by Hike, which would offer the users casual gaming experiences that will include microtransactions.

Hike also has HikeMoji, which extends animated avatars for the users, and will further be incorporated into Vibe and Rush.

“With Vibe & Rush, we now have 2 Virtual Worlds that focus on a single ‘Job to be Done’ each thus simplifying the UX. A much better approach for today’s world that is unconstrained by cheap, fast data & powerful smartphones,” tweeted Mittal recently.

Hike Messenger - Founder

Kavin Bharti Mittal is the founder and CEO of Indian instant messaging app Hike, and also the son of business tycoon Bharti Mittal.

Founder/Owner Hike

Kavin Bharti Mittal Founder & CEO, Hike

Before he started his venture, the founder of hike was studying Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the University of New York and then went on to Imperial College in London to study further. He first joined McLaren Racing as an Associate Vehicle Engineer Intern, after which he joined as an Associate Technology Manager at Google. Then it was Goldman Sachs that Mittal joined as Summer Analyst before founding Hike, where he is still serving as the Co-founder and CEO.

Hike Messenger - Startup Story | How it started

All of this was based on a basic insight to make the messaging module a little bit more interesting, and right when the world was busy chatting on Whatsapp and Facebook, Kavin, owner of the hike app, thought of coming up with a trendy and cool way of messaging. This is why Hike was launched on 12-12-12. It's quite interesting that this application was made available in more than 100 countries ever since its launch.

Hike Messenger - Name, Tagline and Logo

Hike 4.0 launched on 26 August 2015 with the tagline 'Got a Gang? Get on Hike'

Hike ran a full fledged marketing and brand campaign across TV, radio, and Cinemas. The tagline for one of their TV ad was “Hike up your life” to convince youth to download the Hike app.

Hike Messenger - Business and Revenue Model

Hike Messenger believed in providing the users with an interactive social media chatting app that helped them to communicate and make their communication interesting via an amusing set of stickers. It later went on to build a virtual economy business model.

Hike's operational revenues were disclosed to be Rs 13K in FY20, while its total revenues stood at Rs 11.9 cr during the same fiscal. Almost all of its revenue came from sources other than the operations of the company, which includes the interest income on fixed deposits, current investments and more. There was around 55% decline in the Hike revenues from FY19, where the messenger picked up revenues close to Rs 26.4 cr and around a 70% decline from Rs 39.6 cr revenues, which it pulled off in FY18.  

Hike Messenger - User Acquisition

Operating in multiple countries can be a tedious task but Hike kept the users glued to the app using multiple marketing methods.

Following that, in August 2013, Hike launched its first-ever digital campaign which ran under the banner “keep your friends close”. The advertisement was a big hit and the users took it very well. Kavin knew that the key to any successful business is customer satisfaction. Hence the team started taking in real-time feedback froWhat also worked well for Hike was their tie-up with Airtel. They ran a scheme that if the user had an Airtel postpaid connection in India, they would be given free data for three months for using Hike Messenger. This campaign gave Hike the needed hike in their consumer base.

Hike also tied up with various brands like Dominos, CCD, Pizza Hut for discount coupons. This intrigued the actual customers and brought potential customers on board. With all these creative marketing strategies, Hike gained a base of 15 million loyal customers in just one year of inception.

Hike Messenger - Competitors

Hike Messenger competes with messaging platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, Signal, Viber, and Telegram. All these platforms have a great market standing and each has its own set of user bases. Though Hike provides a unique kind of interface, it still faces cut-throat competition from these platforms.

Hike Messenger - Funding and Investors

Hike has raised over $261M in funding over 7 rounds. Their last funding was raised on Aug 24, 2021 from a Venture round led by Justin Mateen and Sean Rad. The round further saw participation from Kunal Shah, Binny Bansal, Softbank Vision Fund CEO Rajeev Mishra and others. Hike hasn't disclosed the amount yet. After this, Hike recently received an undisclosed amount of funding from Jump Crypto, Tribe Capital and Republic Crypto, which came on May 6, 2022, and is reported to be utilised for its web3 gaming platform, Rush Gaming Universe (RGU). Developing RGU's product strategy and hiring new talents across verticals would be the sole aim of the funding that Hike received via this Venture round.  

FAQs

What is Hike's origin country?

Hike is a messaging app that originated in India, and was founded by Kavin Bharti Mittal.

Is Hike a Chinese app?

No, Hike is an Indian app.

Who is Hike Indian messenger app founder?

Kavin Bharti Mittal is the founder and CEO of Indian instant messaging app Hike, and also the son of business tycoon Bharti Mittal.

Who are the Hike investors?

Hike is mainly funded by investors Foxconn Technology Group, Tencent Holdings, Tiger Global Management, and Bharti Soft Bank.

What is Hike Timeline?

Timeline is an awesome hike feature where you can post photos and status updates.

What are Hike Rewards?

Hike Rewards helps you expand your network on Hike. Invite your friends using exclusive invites offered by Hike and earn rewards by sending and receiving stickers to your friends.

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