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The recent ban in India of 59 Chinese apps has paved the way for many Indian startups and entrepreneurs to create "Made in India" products. The majority of these startups are developing products that can be accessed in local languages, with a focus on Tier-II, III cities, and other rural pockets of India.
Koo, which debuted in early 2020, and won the government's Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge, caught the public's attention. Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, two entrepreneurs, co-founded this microblogging platform. Its user base recently increased as a result of a spat between the government and Twitter. Often referred to as the "Indian Twitter", Koo currently serves a user base of 15 million users, including a clutch of key Indian personalities.
Koo - Company Highlights
- Company Name-Koo
- Parent Company-Bombinate Technologies Pvt Ltd.
- Headquarters-Bangalore, Karnataka, India
- Industry-Microblogging, Social networking service, and News
- Founded-March 1, 2020
- Founder-Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka
- Total Funding Raised-$44.1M+ (February 2022)
- Revenue-$104.85K (Rs 78 lakhs in FY21)
- Valuation-$150 mn (May 2021)
- Employees-200 (As of Sep 2021)
- Areas Served-Worldwide
About Koo and How it Works?
Koo is an Indian microblogging and social networking service based in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
Koo is an Indian-language microblogging site for connecting, commenting, and engaging. The company's platform is available in multiple Indian languages and includes features such as English to regional language keyboards, local language news feeds, and hyper-local hashtags, allowing users to express themselves on a variety of topics using text, audio, and video.
Koo - Vision and Mission
Koo's vision statement says, "Koo has built a platform to enable a billion Indians to voice their thoughts and opinions freely in their mother tongue."
The mission of Koo, as mentioned by Co-founder Bidawatka, is to connect India and help a billion Indians to voice themselves freely in their own mother tongue. Koo is constantly trying to simplify expressions for everybody who wants to connect with their audiences. Bidawatka claims that the Koo social media network is the world's first platform in the world that claims to do that.
Koo - Name, Logo and Tagline
A yellow bird, or "Sone Ki Chidiya" in Hindi, appears in Koo's logo, which is also what India was known for, many years ago. Koo unveiled its latest logo on May 14, 2021. The new logo is based on the yellow bird, but it has a more modern appearance. Ku Koo Ku was the app's previous name.
"It’s fresh new look and an indication of of our little yellow bird growing up from being a toddler to an adolescent. This little bird is ready to an adolescent… This little bird is ready to fly. We are grateful to Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for inaugurating Koo’s new logo on the auspicious day of his 65th birthday,” Radhakrishnan said.
Aprameya Radhakrishna, a co-founder of Koo, said the new logo represents the company's growth since its inception.
Koo' s Company Logo
“Our new bird is a sign of that positivity that the platform brings to their lives. Millions of users use Koo to connect and find comfort in each other’s company. The little yellow bird is now ready to be the messenger to a billion Indians,” said Mayank.
According to Radhakrishna, when they first considered giving everyone in India a voice, regardless of language, the first image that came to mind was of a bird, an emotional creature that embodies the concept of transmitting a message. They wanted it to be a happy bird, so they gave it a yellow colour, and they wanted it to spread positive messages across India. The bird makes a sweet sound that is referred to as Koo.
Koo tagline states "Let's Koo together!"
Koo - Founders and Team
Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka co-founded the microblogging platform Koo. The duo are also the founders of Vokal, an audio-video knowledge-sharing platform similar to Quora.
Aprameya Radhakrishna was the founder and Director of TaxiForSure, an online taxi booking service that was later acquired by Ola Cabs. Before that, he had experience working as a Software Engineer at Infosys and as Head of Business Development, PDS India at Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj. He then founded Koo, where he still works as a CEO along with working as an Angel Investor. Radhakrishna has a BE, Electronics, and Communication from NIT Karnataka and then opted for an MBA in General Management from IIM Ahmedabad.
Mayank Bidawatka is another co-founder of Koo. Bidawatka has an MBA from the Asian School of Management. After a brief role of a year in Client Servicing at Lowe Lintas, Bidawatka joined ICICI Bank, where he served as the Product Manager. Mayank was in the Core Team/Foundation Team of Redbus after which he co-founded The Media Ant. He left that role and joined TaxiforSure.com. He then co-founded Goodbox. Mayank left Goodbox to serve as an investor and has eventually invested in a series of companies. Mayank finally decided to co-found Vokal India with Aprameya.
The Koo team is currently operating with nearly 300 employees, the team of which was 200 strong when reported last in September 2021. The India-based social media startup aims to raise its employee strength to 500 by the end of the next year.
Koo - Startup Story | History of Koo
The reality about India is that it is the only country with such a wide range of languages. After looking at what's going on on Twitter, the Koo founders discovered that there's very little content in our native Indian languages. The founders of Koo also looked at what was going on in Indian languages on the established global microblogs. All of these led to the formation of the Indian microblogging venture, 'Koo'.
Koo - Atmanirbhar App Innovation
Although the app was first released in early 2020, it rose to prominence after winning the government's Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge. The app, along with other Indian apps such as Zoho and Chingari, the local version of TikTok, won the challenge, which was launched by the Centre shortly after it banned a slew of Chinese apps citing national security concerns. Prime Minister Narendra Modi listed the app in his Mann Ki Baat address after the results of the Atmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge.
Politicians, ministers, and celebrities who have signed up for the app include Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Members of Parliament Tejasvi Surya and Shobha Karandlaje, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, Isha Foundation's Jaggi Vasudev, and former cricketers Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble. In addition, the Union Information Technology Ministry, India Post, and the Niti Aayog are among the government agencies that have signed up for the app.
Many ministers and politicians are supporting the made-in-India microblogging site, particularly at a time when the world's largest platform in this segment has not responded favorably to the Indian government's demands, demonstrating the government's willingness to push an alternative to the social networking platform.
Koo - Growth and Revenue
When Koo had only been around for a year, after being launched in May 2020, it boasted of a user count of 30+ million. The average monthly active users of Koo is currently ranging between 7-8 mn, as of June 6, 2022.
According to Koo's co-founder Bidawatka, the sudden rise in Koo's popularity can be linked in some ways to the boom in the usage of digital payments apps in India following the ban on high-value currency notes in late 2016.
Radhakrishna, Koo's co-founder, and CEO said that he is shoring up the company's network and tripling its technology team to be able to invite more high-profile guests, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he joins. According to him, following Twitter's refusal to delete some Indian accounts and tweets, it continued to see an unprecedented increase of 10-20x growth in new users compared to a typical day.
Koo announced that it has crossed 1 crore downloads on August 25, 2021. The company boasts of reaching the 1 crore mark within just 16 months of its launch. The Koo app downloads now stand at over Rs 3 cr (30 mn).
Koo's social media presence can be summed up as:
- Facebook - More than 51,263 followers
- LinkedIn - More than 12,497 followers
- Twitter - More than 1,843 followers
Koo registered total revenue of Rs 78 lakhs in FY21. The company's revenue from operations, which was nil in FY20, increased to Rs 7.76 lakhs this fiscal. However, the Bengaluru-based startup also ballooned its expenses by 75%, thereby recording a loss of Rs 35.18 crore, which increased by around 190% or 3X. Therefore, as per January 20, 2022 reports, Koo spent Rs 24.7 crore to earn Rs 7.7 lakhs in FY21.
Here are some more growth highlights of the brand:
- Koo boasts of having more than 1000 celebrities on its platform.
- It has announced having 1,00,000+ creators in total.
- After its launch in March 2020, Koo has already crossed the 10 million downloads mark in August 2021
- Koo currently boasted of having more than 3 crores or 30 million users, when last reported in December 2021
- The Koo founder and CEO, Aprameya Radhakrishna is presently focusing on growth and is striving to capture the market, and believes that monetisation will eventually follow.
Koo - Funding and Investors
Koo has successfully raised more than $44.1 million in funding over 5 funding rounds that the company has witnessed. The company recently raised funds worth over $10 mn (Rs 79 crore) from 2 tranches from over 20 investors led by Ravi Modi Family Trust, Ashneer Grover, Capier Venture Partner, and more. The January tranche of the company helped it raise Rs 28 crore while another tranche that came in on February 23, helped Koo raise Rs 51 crore.
With the funding round that came in May 2021, where the company has raised $30 million from a host of investors that includes Tiger Global, IIFL Venture Capital Fund, Mirae Asset Management, and other existing investors, Koo increased its total valuation by 5X. The Koo app valuation was last registered at $150 mn in May 2021.
Koo - Business and Revenue Model
The Koo business model is a platform-based model. The Koo revenue model is being explored at the moment. According to the founder, the app is looking for monetization at scale, and currently, it is exploring the advertising model. However, they want to follow a more targeted approach, focusing more on the demography and interests of their users.
Koo - Acquisition
Koo is all set to acquire Mitron TV, which has been trying to find a fitting business model for a while but struggling to do it. As per the reports dated June 10, 2022, Koo is all set to acquire Mitron TV and has already passed a special resolution, which will allot Series B3 preference shares to existing investors of Mitron TV in a share swap deal. The allotment of 3182 Series B3 preference shares has till now been heard of, which would be worth around Rs 28.17 crore against 13151 shares of Mitron TV.
Koo - Competitors
Many people believe Koo is yet another attempt to build something similar to Tooter, which claimed to be a "Swadeshi social network".
Koo is capitalizing on a burgeoning market in India for regional language social networking – but it's not alone. Some of the Koo competitors are:
- Namaste Bharat
In August 2020, Koo won a popular competition sponsored by the Indian government as part of the Made-In-India program. As a result, Indian politicians are ecstatic about the newly launched Indian version of a microblogging platform and are encouraging others to join. What's also intriguing about Koo is that it's gaining a lot of traction in India, despite controversies over Twitter's ideological stance.
Although there's a lot of difference in the number of downloads of both apps, Koo's biggest competitor is Twitter.
Koo - Challenges Faced
The Koo app is leaking user information, according to French cybersecurity researcher Robert Baptiste, who also goes by the Twitter handle Elliot Alderson. Baptiste has previously identified security flaws in the Aadhaar scheme, as well as glitches and weaknesses in other tech services.
Meanwhile, there has been some speculation about a possible Chinese link to this app. Shunwei has also invested in Koo. Shunwei is related to Xiaomi and is a venture capital fund that invests in start-ups. Shunwei, on the other hand, is leaving the business and selling its shares, making Koo a completely Indian company. The co-founder of Koo has verified this.
Koo - Awards and Achievements
Koo was declared the winner of the Best Apps of 2020 in the Everyday Essentials category from India and awarded by Google Playstore at Google Awards 2020
Koo wins the government’s app innovation challenge in the social category in 2020
Koo App wins Atma Nirbhar App Challenge in 2020
Koo - Future Plans
Koo is capitalizing on a burgeoning market in India for regional language social networking. In the future, it plans to provide support for Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Meitei, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, and Urdu.
"First, we want to go deeper into India as that has so far not been cracked. As we said the voice of India, irrespective of what language you speak is our first primary goal. In that process, once we get a hang of that, we would like to go to countries that have a primarily non-English speaking population. That’s what we are doing in India and we want to take that playbook elsewhere. Once we’re done with non-English speaking countries, we will look at English-speaking countries as well. It’s a step-by-step process. We want to do it one-by-one and not get too distracted," said Mayank.
Is Koo app Indian?
Yes, Koo is a made-in-India application.
Which company owns Koo?
Bombinate Technologies Pvt Ltd owns Koo.
Who founded and started Koo?
Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka co-founded and started the Koo social media app and microblogging platform.
What is the Koo app founder's country?
Koo is an app that is founded in India. Both the Koo app founders, Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka are based in India.
How many people use Koo app?
There are currently 30 million users of the Koo app.
Which companies do Koo compete with?
Tooter, Namaste Bharat, Elyments, Twitter are the companies that Koo competes with.
Is Koo app listed in the stock market?
The Indian microblogging site Koo is not listed in the stock market.