BENGALURU: Lookup, a free and secure messaging app that connects shoppers with local businesses, has raised $2.5 million Series A funding. The funding round was led by Vinod Khosla’s personal fund Khosla Impact. Lookup also saw participation from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Global Founders Capital, the European investment fund from Rocket Internet’s Samwer brothers.
Other participants included Geneva-based ACE & Company, Singapore-based M&S partners, New Look fashion chain founder Tom Singh, Lookout founder Kevin Mahaffey and LivSpace founder and former Google Local head Anuj Srivastava.
In January 2015, Lookup had raised a total of $382,000 in its seed round from Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, DeNA Japan, Beenos founder Teruhide Sato and MKS Switzerland SA. They also participated in the current round.
Founded by Innoz’s Deepak Ravindran, within about nine months of launch, Lookup has already registered 1 million users with over 800,000 users on Android. It has over 250,000 monthly active users, and over 70,000 merchants on the platform, with daily activity of 55-60,000 users. Lookup currently operates in three cities, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. The funds will be employed to expand Lookup’s merchant base, in order to enhance convenience for its users and to branch out into newer geographies.
To date, Lookup says that it has received over 15 million messages and handles about 100,000 daily messages ranging queries from food, medicines, groceries and electronics in a hyper-local area. It has recently incorporated the booking feature for local saloons and spas and has tied up with supply chain solution firms like Delhivery for POS terminal integration.
The app will soon make its presence in Dubai in partnership with Etisalat and has recently introduced hyper-local deliveries in association with RoadRunnr where users can get all products from local stores delivered on time through Lookup. There is no minimum order, and a link for tracking the delivery will also be sent through chat. People can buy products using cash on delivery or by using its mobile wallet called “Lookup Cash”. Users can also subscribe to hyper-local offers, which are promoted mainly by local stores for conducting flash sales, happy hours and other announcements.
Commenting on raising funds Deepak Ravindran, Founder and CEO of Lookup, said, “I am extremely thrilled to have such prestigious names investing in Lookup. Chat is eating the world. Lookup uses chat to disrupt local commerce in India, which is a $750 billion industry. India has the highest shop density in the world with over 45 million local businesses.”
Ravindran also said, “Today, it is very easy to find and buy products online. However when you want to buy something offline, we still end up picking up our phone and dialing local shops or running around. We want Lookup to be the Google equivalent for finding products and services offline. For this, we hyperlink every local store near you with a simple chat app which give you synchronous connection to the verified vendor. Lookup is needed in the market, it explains the need for people to move away from phone lines to a chat room, just like how we all moved from SMS to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to communicate with our friends and family.”
Commenting on the investment, Vinod Khosla said, “Disruptive product startups being built in India now. Khosla Impact funded Lookup to connect 40 million small businesses to consumers.
“I’m honored to be a part of Deepak’s next big project and I am truly impressed by what he has already accomplished in his life. I’m very excited about working with such an inspiring entrepreneur, whom I share common ideologies with,” tweeted Twitter’s Biz Stone, who will be advising the team.
Lookup app is available on both Android and iOS versions. With the increasing trend of smartphones becoming the main mode of communication and information for Indian users, Lookup foresees immense potential to become the default way for India to transact with local business.
Lookup has recently launched a vendor assistance helpline where businesses can give a missed call to 7676566867 (7676-LOOKUP) to get verified on Lookup. With the 7676-LOOKUP program vendors can claim their business, get educated on how Lookup works, get logistic support, get one year free buddy (customer support) service and much more.
The company is also working on a unique concept called Offline API where people can get access to anything on demand from any local store. They recently released a Juice API in association with local merchant in Bangalore. Through this partnership, a customer can subscribe to their daily fresh juices delivered to them with a simple message. This API is also partnered with many more vendors including Chai Point (Tea on demand), Laundry, and much more. The company is also partnered with OYO Rooms to book budget hotels and guest houses PAN India. The company also has an exclusive tie-up with midnight delivery service Niteout that delivers food, beverages, munchies and even few medicines throughout the night.