Even as speculation swirls about TikTok’s fate in India, competitors have begun arming their war chests in a bid to take its place.
Two apps that are gunning for the void that was created after TikTok was banned in India have raised significant funds this week. Mitron, which had been gaining traction even before TikTok had been banned, has raised $5 million (Rs. 37.5) in a round led by Nexus Venture Partners. 3one4 Capital, Arun Tadanki’s private syndicate on LetsVenture, and angels including Deep Kalra (chairman, MakeMyTrip), Amrish Rau (CEO, Pine Labs), Jiten Gupta (founder, Jupiter), Amarjit Batra (MD, Spotify India), Anand Chandrasekharan (former Facebook, Snapdeal executive), Karan Bajwa (MD, Google Cloud India) also participated in the round. Just last month, Mitron had raised 2 crore in seed funding.
Meanwhile, Trell, which had started off a travel and lifestyle experiences app but is now vying for the spot occupied by TikTok, has raised $11.4 million. KTB Network, Samsung Ventures, Firebolt Ventures along with existing investors Sequoia Capital and Fosun RZ Capital participated in the round. Trell had been founded in 2016, and had raised $5.5 million before this round.
Last week, Chingari had raised $1.3 million. Apart from these three homegrown startups, apps including Inmobi’s Roposo, ShareChat’s Moj, MX Player, Gaana’s Hotshots and even Instagram’s Reels feature are all looking to quickly grow their userbases after TikTok’s ban. Even as these companies are ploughing in money to build their products, uncertainty remains about the future of TikTok. In the US, President Trump has given TikTok 90 days to sell its US operations to an American company, and Microsoft is said to be in the fray. Microsoft is reportedly considering buying all of TikTok’s global operations, which could mean that in the absence of a Chinese investor, TikTok could stage a comeback in India as a Microsoft company. There might be another route through which TikTok might be back — Reliance Jio is reportedly looking to buy TikTok’s India operations for $5 billion. Regardless of how TikTok returns, these developments indicate that TikTok’s competitors probably won’t have long to grow their userbases while it is away. And going by the rate at which they’re raising funds, they aren’t wasting any time trying to snag its users while they can.