Indian social networking startup Public App, which allows users to watch video clips of local news based on their location, said Wednesday it has raised USD 41 million led by Mumbai-based venture capital fund A91 Partners along with its existing investors. VC firms including SIG, Tanglin Venture Partners, and Lee Fixel’s new investment firm Addition are existing investors in Public App.
The company, which is owned by InShorts—a local language news aggregation platform—raised USD 35 million six months ago. According to a report by TechCrunch, this round of funding valued Public App at USD 250 million, doubled from its previous funding.
Started in 2019 by InShorts founder Azhar Iqubal, Public App is a hyperlocal social media platform specifically made to cater to non-English speaking users of India, which is expected to add 300 million netizens by 2025. The app lets users—self-proclaimed citizen journalists—record and upload short clippings of newsworthy moments happening in their neighborhood and build a loyal following of users who would want to be updated on the latest news.
A close view of the app and a few contents shows that most of the videos on the app are connected to local news related to crime, politics, protests, sanitation work, among others. Apart from citizen journalists who post videos, major Indian news channels, as well as leaders of political parties, also have their accounts on the platform. The platform seems to be in competition with India’s major social networking app Sharechat that also allows users to upload and share videos, images, and GIFs on the platform to create a social following. However, Public App’s focus seems to be largely on local political news, compared to Sharechat that has a gamut of content category such as humour, self-help, religion, among others.
“The app is already being used by over 50,000 elected officials, government authorities, and citizen journalists to connect with their locality. Additionally, many local businesses have also started to use the app to reach their customers in the locality,” Public App said.
The company in a statement said that it has amassed 50 million users on the platform and has plans to expand it to global markets as well.
“Public has continued to maintain best in class retention and engagement metrics while scaling. We look forward to working closely with the founders to help build an outstanding company,” Gautam Mago, General Partner at A91 Partners, said in a statement.
Currently, the company earns revenues through advertisement and has roped in companies such as GSK, Amazon, and HDFC Bank that use the platform to reach their users.
“We are building customized ad solutions for brands to better engage with the audiences while keeping the user experience intact,” Iqubal, founder and CEO of Public App, said in a statement.