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30 Under 30: How ShareChat is helping non-English users access digital content

By Shruti Venkatesh Forbes India Staff
Published: Feb 17, 2017

I love a good story, be it through advertisements, movies or an entrepreneur who dared to think differently. I believe in bringing in fresh perspectives -- to a corporate profile or a Facebook post -- like new wine in an even newer bottle. I graduated with a journalism degree from the Xavier Institute of Communications. My weekend rituals involve watching Bollywood movies and reading up on style trends.

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Image: Selvaprakash Lakshmanan for Forbes India

Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Pratap Singh, Ankush Sachdeva |24, 25, 23
Co-founders, ShareChat
Category: Social Media, Mobiletech & Communication

Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Pratap Singh and Ankush Sachdeva started building apps together in 2012 while studying at IIT Kanpur. Three years and several products—17 to be precise—later, the trio tasted success with ShareChat, a social networking app available in six Indian languages, with work under way to include two more.

ShareChat allows users to create, discover and share content in their preferred Indian language from digital platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp and the collage app PhotoGrid among others) to its own interface and vice versa. “ShareChat simplifies access to [digital] content for non-English speakers,” says Ahsan, the company’s CEO.

It all began in 2014 when, using phone numbers that users shared on a Facebook group for Bollywood news, Sachdeva created ten WhatsApp groups with a hundred members each—the maximum limit for a group then. Here, the members freely shared movie trailers and posters, and debated on their favourite heroes in the vernacular. “These people preferred to gather filmy news through the group than on Google. And they preferred to chat in their local dialects,” recalls Sachdeva, chief product officer at ShareChat.

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Wiser from their experience, the trio launched ShareChat in October 2015 as a free Android app. Today, it boasts of 5 million downloads, 1.7 million shares on Google Play and a user base growing at around 30 percent month-on-month.

These numbers suffice to evince investor interest. The Bengaluru-based company has raised a total of $5.35 million from Lightspeed India Partners, SAIF Partners, Venture Highway and India Quotient. “The opportunity is evident because of falling internet data prices and more people transacting online. A vast majority of those who come online will not be English speakers,” says Dev Khare, partner at Lightspeed India Partners.

And Singh, ShareChat’s chief technology officer, has a plan for monetisation too: “Native, sponsored and affiliate advertising would be ways to monetise the platform once we have a large, sticky user base,” he says.

Forbes India - ShareChat's Farid Ahsan, on where he sees... | Facebook

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(This story appears in the 17 February, 2017 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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