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The ShareChat Success Story of Entertaining the Regional Audience

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 ShareChat.

The evolution of social networking platforms only dates back a couple of decades, if not less, when smartphones and the internet revolutionized the way people communicated. With the rise of social networks, people with common interests started to group in nicely beyond the barriers of language and region. However, most of the social media platforms have usually been worked out with English as the base, keeping in mind the English language speakers and others who know English around the world. Therefore, when it comes to India and other countries, where the diversity of the languages plays a major role in exuding the quintessence of their cultures, the need for alternative vernacular social media apps was prominent. This is what ShareChat decided to tap into.

Founded in January 2015 by Mohalla Tech Pvt Ltd, ShareChat was set up as a social networking platform to cater the Indian audiences. The platform for Indian users is available in 14 different languages: Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani, and Bhojpuri for now. ShareChat provides its users with numerous vernacular contents across categories like health tips, homemade remedies, weight loss, religious quotes, and dictionaries to only name a few.

Sharechat - Company Highlights

  • Company Name-Sharechat
  • Headquarter-Bangalore
  • Sector-Social Media
  • Founders-Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh, Ankush Sachdeva
  • CEO-Ankush Sachdeva
  • Founded -2015
  • Total Valuation-$5 billion (June 2022)
  • Revenue-$12.34 mn (Rs 96.9 crores in FY21)
  • Funding-$1.47 billion (March 2022)
  • Parent Organization-Mohalla Tech Pvt Ltd
  • Sharechat Website-sharechat.com

ShareChat - About & How It Works?

ShareChat, much like any other social networking platform, allows its users to create, discover and share content with each other. Furthermore, Sharechat users can follow other users on the same platform, regardless of whether they are content creators, friends, or any person of interest, and track regular updates. The ShareChat users are not only excited about consuming the content they find on the platform but are also involved in the creation of this content.

ShareChat - Industry

On delving into recent research it has found out that India has been seeing an exponential expansion in the number of social media users, which has grown to 518 million in 2020. The social media users in the subcontinent are further looking to grow and touch the 1.5 billion mark by 2040. Though Facebook was still recognized as the popular choice among the Indian audiences as is the case with the rest of the world. The opportunities for the vernacular market for social media platforms and content providers are overwhelming too.

ShareChat - Founders & Team

ShareChat was founded by Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh, and Ankush Sachdeva.

Ankush Sachdeva

Co-founder and CEO of ShareChat and Moj, Ankush Sachdeva was a BTech Computer Science student from IIT Kanpur. After Interning at Microsoft, Ankush co-founded ShareChat in 2015. He served the company as the co-founder and CPO of the company before being promoted to the rank of CEO in 2017. Sharechat was Ankush Sachdeva's 18th attempt to build a startup, and Sharechat has truly turned into a considerable giant operating in the social media space, whose valuation was last estimated at $5 bn.

Farid Ahsan

Farid Ahsan was a BTech student who completed his degree in Material Science and Engineering from IIT Kanpur. He currently serves as the Co-founder and COO of ShareChat.

Bhanu Pratap Singh

Bhanu Pratap Singh was also an IIT Kanpur who completed his degree in Electrical Engineering there. He is currently the Head of the technology vertical of the platform along with serving as the Co-founder and CTO of ShareChat.

ShareChat currently has an employee strength of over 1000 employees.

Sharechat Shareholding

The founders - Ankush Sachdeva, Farid Ahsan, and Bhanu Pratap Singh have diluted their stakes in the company and are combinedly holding 9.68% of Sharechat shares. Among other shareholders is Lightspeed with the highest (10.98%) of Sharechat shares, followed by MX Singapore and Zennis Capital, who hold 10.12% and 9.04% of the shares of the company. Google is the latest shareholder with 1.07% of Sharechat stakes. Temasek is also among the shareholders of the company with 2.64% of the Sharechat stakes.

ShareChat - Startup Story | How It All Started?

ShareChat is based on a very generic insight. All of this all started when the co-founders observed that there exists a segment of users, who would love to express themselves but do not have a platform, and given an opportunity, they wouldn’t be reluctant to express themselves. So ideally, this regional audience has its own preferences when it comes to content consumption, which most assuredly cannot be served by social products used by the metro audience. According to the co-founders, this regional set of the audience was widely unaddressed and the market was relatively untouched until ShareChat came into the picture. This is how ShareChat was born by three brilliant minds who capitalized on a general insight to make it a million-dollar startup.

With the vision of providing great communication and then a networking platform in mind, the ShareChat founders started their journey.

The story of founding Sharechat as a startup can be traced to the year 2015, when three IITians from IIT Kanpur - Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh, and Ankush Sachdeva sat frustrated. Ankush Sachdeva had tried to found 17 startups earlier but all of them seemed failed attempts. Besides, 2015 marked the end of his college days. Companies started to come in for placements and Ankush was also in a hurry to secure a good job. Things started to get tenser for Ankush when a batchmate of his got an offer worth Rs 2 crore from Oracle. It became a piece of national news in no time and reached Ankush's family too, who also, along with his relatives, started pressuring Ankush to get a job.  

Suddenly, hope came to them in the form of a Facebook growth hacker, who made a post mentioning that he would be discussing cricket and Sachin Tendulkar on a WhatsApp group, and asked people to comment on their numbers on the same group. As soon as Ankush went through the post, he teamed up with his friends, Farid Ahsan and Bhanu Singh, who together wrote a code to extract the numbers from the Whatsapp post and used those numbers to form Whatsapp groups.

They used these groups primarily to research people's behaviours. Going by the groups, Ankush was taken aback by the fact that though the people in the groups were total strangers, they were bonded by cricket and Sachin, and it was in no time that they started sharing videos and memes of Sachin. This is what sprung the idea for the 5 billion dollar business for Ankush and his friends, who realised that people wanted to consume content but didn't have the idea to search for good content. Thus, they needed a solution to discover good content. This made Ankush, Farid and Bhanu sit together to form the app that was born in October 2015 as Sharechat. Here, as they targetted people from the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, they had not kept English as the language, but instead included Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and more such regional languages.

The app soon started to emerge as a big hit and registered 1 lakh downloads within just 3 months. People began to love the platform, and soon Sharechat received Rs 50 lakh funding from India Quotient. In 2016, Ankush Sachdeva switched to User Generated Content (UGC) for Sharechat.

The next growth phase started in 2019 when the Indian government banned TikTok. This news came as a huge opportunity for Ankush Sachdeva and his team, who quickly worked on the TikTok idea to build a similar business model-powered platform known as Moj, which is currently among the most popular short-form video apps in India.

Next, it was the time of the pandemic, which surely made things difficult for most of the startups in India and those operating globally, however, for Sharechat, it was a boon. Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic, in fact, helped Sharechat raise its user count from 60 million to 160 million. Such a growth impressed even Google, and the search engine giant offered Sharechat $1 bn to acquire the company, but Ankush and others declined the same.

Sharechat today, boasts of having over 400 million users and is targeting to reach 1 billion users soon. Courtesy, Ankush Sachdeva, who didn't sit for placements then back in college.    

Initially, ShareChat started as a content-sharing tool for the famous messaging application WhatsApp for the users who need to share more than 100K content pieces in a day. However, the platform gradually evolved successfully into a regional language-driven social networking platform.

ShareChat - Mission and Vision

ShareChat's mission and vision statement say, "We aspire to help individuals form substantial connections and stay entertained."

ShareChat - Startup Challenges

According to one of the co-founders, Ankush, “One of the biggest challenges we have is teaching the audience what a feed is, why you follow someone, why you create content. That is one thing which is missing in all the social networks and that’s why our audience, which is this new audience that has come up in India, finds it extremely difficult to use Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat”.

ShareChat Content Pieces and the Actions Taken Against Them!

ShareChat has taken action against around 2.85 mn contents that it received in the month of May 2022. It received over 5.4 mn user complaints via numerous reporting platforms. These content pieces have been categorised as Others (26.42%), Abusive Language (25.53%), Sexually Explicit (10.23%) categories and more. Over 11K ShareChat user accounts have also been terminated lately because they have breached the community guidelines. The user complaints have been around 5.01 mn in April 2022.  

ShareChat - Business & Revenue Model

There are two prominent kinds of business models followed by the content marketing community on the internet. The first one helps in building a network where the content material is created and owned by the platform creators. On the other hand, lies the second kind of model, which helps create a major part of the content material by the customers. This is what ShareChat does.

ShareChat believes in existing as a popular social networking platform, where users can upload photos, and videos, create content, chat with others, make friends, and more. However, unlike the other social media platforms, Sharechat helps in conveying all the messages in the regional languages of India.

ShareChat does not charge its users to earn revenue. Instead, it generates revenue through advertisements, payment transactions, and sponsored campaigns.

ShareChat - Growth and Revenue

Here's taking a look at the growth highlights of ShareChat:

  • ShareChat has been downloaded over 21 million times.
  • ShareChat has around 160 million users and a creators' community of 50+ million.
  • On average, around 5 million content pieces get shared every day on this platform.
  • ShareChat has an average Play Store rating of 4.5.
  • It has grown 7x in 2018-19.
  • ShareChat's Moj is leading with around 75 million monthly average users leaving behind MX Takatak and Josh.
  • ShareChat's active users currently stand at 180 million.

ShareChat's revenue figures had not much impressive in the last financial year (FY20), where the company had spent Rs 715 crores and managed to register Rs 9.4 crores in revenue. The loss during FY20 is Rs 676 crores, out of which ShareChat lost Rs 329.4 crores in marketing and business development. The company was eagerly awaiting the results of the upcoming fiscal year.

Now that ShareChat has revealed its FY21 financials, it can be discovered that the company experienced a good year of growth. 2021 has truly been a milestone year for Sharechat. The company turned unicorn with the Series E round that fetched the company $502 million. Furthermore, what's more important is that the ShareChat revenue surged by 754.3% to become Rs 80.3 crore.

A major portion (95.8%) of its revenues comes from advertising sales, which grew by a whopping 764% to Rs 76.90 crore, and the sale of the Chatroom coins amounted to Rs 3.4 crore.

ShareChat Revenue Breakdown

ShareChat revenue from operations, which was last registered at Rs 9.4 cr, in FY20, sprang 9X to become Rs 80.3 cr in FY21. The total revenue of ShareChat more than doubled from Rs 38.1 cr in FY20 to Rs 96.9 cr in FY21.

ShareChat - Competitors

Smartphones today are full of social networking and content-sharing applications because that’s what people want to see and do today. In this highly competitive field, ShareChat, directly and indirectly, competes with:

  • Roposo
  • BetterButter
  • Giphy
  • Nerdery
  • Koo
  • Chingari
  • Josh
  • Digg

With Instagram launching IGTV and Snapchat’s endless innovations, there’s immense competition for ShareChat to face. It has also been facing cut-throat competition from China’s ByteDance as it is actively eating up ShareChat’s market share. Besides, over the past two years, the vernacular social media space in the country vastly heated up after ByteDance-owned Helo entered the market space.

ShareChat - Future Plans

In the coming future, ShareChat claims that there will be major changes in the way the application functions. The users can fairly expect a lot more variety in the area of the content formats. Also, the users can expect a lot more content creators to transform into celebrities, and to see people who become famous on ShareChat. Also, India has 22 official languages and more than 1600 known dialects. So, ShareChat wants to cater to more regional audiences. What the platform doesn't want is to limit itself to India. ShareChat currently has more than 130 million monthly active users (MAUs) and has been trying to take advantage of TikTok’s absence from India amid the government’s ban.

ShareChat has already merged with MX TakaTak and the combined platform is eyeing to grow to 100 mn creators, 300 mn monthly active users, and close to 250 bn video views.

FAQs

What is the ShareChat app?

ShareChat, much like any other social networking platform, allows its users to create, discover and share content amongst one another. However, the platform is distinguished by the regional languages that ShareChat uses for the content shared.

What services does ShareChat provide?

ShareChat provides its users with health tips, homemade remedies, weight loss, religious quotes, and a dictionary to only name a few.

Who is the founder of ShareChat?

ShareChat was founded by Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh, and Ankush Sachdeva.

Who is the CEO of ShareChat?

Ankush Sachdeva is the CEO of ShareChat and has been so since 2017.

Who are the competitors of ShareChat?

ShareChat, directly and indirectly, competes with Roposo, BetterButter, Giphy, Nerdery, Digg, and many more.

What is the ShareChat user base?

ShareChat user base currently stands at 180 mn monthly active users.