ShareChat is India’s fastest growing vernacular social network platform with over 30 million users (monthly) and 14 languages including Telugu and Tamil. Interestingly, it has the maximum number of users for the Telugu (4.2 million monthly active). ShareChat’s Chief Business Officer Sunil Kamath was in Hyderabad recently and in a freewheeling conversation with Jayarama Emani shared how the company is leveraging technology to revolutionise vernacular social networking.
Romance most popular on ‘ShareChat’ Telugu
What is ShareChat all about?
ShareChat, which is a social network platform, is a technology led startup based out of Bangalore. ShareChat was started with a vision to provide a comfortable digital space not only for the people who want to use the internet in their mother tongue, but also for first-time internet users, where everyone can share their thoughts, emotions, opinions; and become friends with others without any social stigma or language as a barrier. The user generated content platform has an established base of more than 26 million active users spread across the country and is available in 14 Indian languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Telugu, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani and Bhojpuri. ShareChat is changing the way Indian users consume the internet. The ShareChat app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
How does it work?
Being a 100 per cent user-generated content platform, there is a huge inflow of vernacular, Indian content on the platform. ShareChat utilizes the consumption patterns through in-house and external analytical tools and decode language specific behavior. This allows ShareChat to customise the feed and the overall content recommendation engine for a better user experience.
By employing machine learning and AI, the app has enabled personalized content delivery with low latency to meet the needs of the customers and make their experience personal and engaging. As most of ShareChat’s customers access the service via 2G networks, the servers transfer data using MQTT (a machine-to-machine protocol that is designed for networks where bandwidth is at a premium) to compress content for smaller package sizes, reduce lag, and minimize battery usage.
ShareChat has the maximum number of users for the Telugu language (4.2 million monthly active). The popularity of Telugu content is growing amongst the registered users with Ranga Reddy district leading with 11.35 per cent of the total monthly active users followed by East Godavari, Yanam, Guntur, Karnataka, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Nalgonda.
Romance and relationships are the most popular on ShareChat amongst Telugu users. Cinema & TV are most consumed genre of content amongst Telugu users. Over 4 million posts around English songs, latest movie videos, DJ remixes are the most talked about genres amongst ShareChat Telugu users. With some of the very renowned Tollywood celebrities joining the platform and sharing their personal lives and participating in exciting challenge, the cinema craze on the platform has doubled. Tollywood celebrities such as Vishnu Priya, Hebbah Patel, Sravana Bhargavi, Adit Arun, Allu Sirish, Rolla Rida are few of the names on ShareChat interacting with audiences. ShareChat is now venturing into the comedy domain by sponsoring the ‘The Great Telugu Laughter Challenge’ programme to be hosted by ace comedian ‘Brahmanandam’ on ‘Star Maa’ television channel.
What consumer patterns have you witnessed vis-à-vis the language?
Telugu, Tamil and Kannada users are more adept with technology. They invest well in smartphones hence penetration is much better. They are more connected socially and their environs too. Whereas, users from the North or say a user from Gujarat is more interested in Bollywood, Hindi content, travel and would like to explore more about the outside world though he is obsessed with his food.
Within these states, bulk of our consumer base is coming from Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
Who are your competitors?
We would like to benchmark us against Instagram. But again, it is an English only App though they are trying to get regional. But in terms of technology and user interface we pretty much similar and we would also like to go places like Instagram.
Any additional features that you would like to add in the next six to 12 months?
We are constantly investing on technology. Live video broadcast, a payment platform for micro payments are the two features that interest us at this point of time.
What is the future for these kind of Apps?
‘ShareChat’ is sitting on a huge opportunity that is bringing a lot of change as to how Internet is utilised in the future. India’s population is 1.3 billion. Telecom operators claim 1 billion connections out of which there are 500 million Internet users. Within these 500 million users, there are about 200 million English speaking users who are first time users. The next 300 million users are the bi-lingual users. These 300 million users will grow to about 500 million in the next five years and that is the opportunity that we are targeting.
Tell us something about your company?
ShareChat, founded by three IIT Kanpur alumni, is currently valued at $500 million. The company is in growth phase and has raised $100 million VC fund. We don’t make any revenues as the market is still not there to build a sustainable revenue model. We are still in the market creating phase.