The year 2017 is quickly coming to a close. The last week has been an extremely interesting one, with an influx in investments and a growth in the startup world, we have had a lot to do! So without taking up too much of your time, we’d like to dive into the week that was.
The Indian of ecommerce giant, Amazon, reported a 67% increase in sales volume in the September quarter. According to reports, the ecommerce giant’s volumes rose by 66% in the last six months alone. However, there were reports that Amazon was lagging behind Flipkart in the September quarter. Amazon squashed all these reports and said that they have a very fruitful last quarter.
India’s largest ecommerce online payments platform, Paytm, recently held its second annual offline shopping festival on 12/12/2017. Customers were offered up to 50% cashback on payments made through Paytm. The aim of this festival was to drive sales for offline merchant partners who accept Paytm as a payments source.
Taxi and cab aggregator, Uber, has had an interesting year. In 2017, the company hit the 500 millionth trip milestone in July, where the riders and driver partners have traveled over 5.8 billion kilometers together. Uber launched a micro website, yearwithuber.com, which takes riders through their years with Uber. The past year has been interesting and filled with scandals for Uber. The end of the year video is a new beginning for the highest valued startup yet.
China based smartphone and appliances service, Xiaomi, is all set to enter the Indian electric vehicles and payments space. Not just electric vehicles, Xiaomi is also planning on launching laptops, gaming consols, computer accessories and lifestyle products. Currently, Ola as well as Mahindra and Mahindra are trying to gain an upper hand in the electric vehicle industry in India. These companies are facing fierce competition from companies like Paytm and Flipkart.
Twitter has had an interesting year. From increasing the number of characters to introducing a host of new features, online social media platform, Twitter, has gone through a lot of changes. In the latest announcement, Twitter revealed an easier way for users to link multiple threads together as well as publishing a lot of threads together.
India’s largest ecommerce website, Flipkart, successfully completed the repurchase of employee stocks worth $ 100 million. More than 3,000 current and former employees of Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and PhonePe took part in this repurchase. In further news, SoftBank showed interest in wanting to buy Flipkart stocks from existing and former employees. A recent valuation said Flipkart was valued at $ 10 million.
Swiggy, the country’s fastest growing online food ordering platform, recently acquired the gourmet based food platform 48East. In order to broaden its horizons, Swiggy also took over the management of Bengaluru based 48East. In the last three years, Swiggy has acquired a delivery fleet of over 10,000 people as well. At present, along with Swiggy, foodtech startups such as Zomato and UberEats are competing for the lucrative restaurant discovery and food delivery industry.
Alibaba backed online transactions and online payments faciliator, Paytm, reported a three fold growth during their recent annual 12/12 offline sale. Post this sale, Paytm is also gearing up for its Grand Finale sale beginning on December 13. The company also has plans to spend close to $ 5 million to bring on board offline sellers, under their Retailer Inclusion Programme.
Microsoft, the technology giant funded by Bill Gates, decided to make Bing smarter by using artificial intelligence. The company will be leveraging their AI research in order to upgrade the search engine. Also, this will help in building a new relationship with Reddit. Microsoft has also introduced a host of interesting new features like Intelligent Search and Intelligent Image Search.
Japan based company, SoftBank, has been keen for a while now to invest in homegrown ecommerce based startups. The first step to achieve that is through showing interest in ecommerce online shopping platform, Flipkart and online grocery delivery platfrom, BigBasket. The CCI has approved this move as well and now, things are going to be extremely interesting on the Indian ecommerce front.
Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, will be providing the Andhra Pradesh Government with high speed wireless internet technology. Alphabet’s X research division announced on Thursday, the AP government will be buying newly developed technology to provide internet to millions of people without laying any cables.
Since its launch, Facebook owned messaging service Whatsapp, has been advertisements free. However, in an attempt to monetize WhatsApp, owner of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, decided to introduce a new feature on the social network platform. WhatsApp claims to have over 1.3 million active users at the moment, while Facebook has over 1.37 million active users.
That’s all for this week! Subscribe to our portal to never miss updates from the startup world! If your startup has an exciting announcement coming up, you can even write to us at [email protected]. Catch up with the highlights of the week with our The News This Week section.
Leher Versus Clubhouse: Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?
Clubhouse is a new type of social networking platform which is an audio only platform. This means every conversation takes place through audio where users speak to let their thoughts known. Users can create and host rooms where speakers will talk about a particular topic. Originating in the Silicon Valley, Clubhouse attracted some major names onto its platform like Elon Musk, Evan Williams, Reddit co founder Alexis Ohanian, former Y Combinator President Sam Altman, AngelList co founder Naval Ravikant, Ashton Kuthcer, Oprah Winfrey, Drake, Kevin Hart and many others are some of the influential personalities who are on Clubhouse. There is however a catch as Clubhouse is currently limited to iOS.
Leher is an Indian made alternative to Clubhouse and is a similar audio sharing and listening startup. Leher also has video support unlike Clubhouse and is also available for both Android and iOS. However, Leher does not have the biggest names in the world on its platform but it does have significant micro influencers and is growing at a rapid pace. Within 180 days of its beta version launch, the company claimed to have its users spend about 44 minutes every day and 250,000 minutes per month for live video sessions.
We at Startup Stories are curious to see which among Leher or Clubhouse would our readers choose to take part in a virtual discussion. Please let us know your answer in the poll below.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something. There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you. Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes. The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.
These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing. Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more. Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost. Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.
Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements. Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up. If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”
Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition. This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing. Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing. Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”
There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms. Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.
Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present. Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics. We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)” Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort. The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions. Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools. Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.
With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset. The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.
Facebook Launches BARS For Creating Raps To Counter TikTok’s Growing Popularity
Facebook is leaving no stone unturned to tackle the surging popularity of the Chinese video making app TikTok. As part of its redoubled efforts Facebook is launching a new app named BARS which could be used to create and share raps. The core idea behind the app is rappers could focus on creating content without having to worry about investing heavily in production and equipment.
Facebook said, “Audio production tools can be complicated, expensive and difficult to use. With BARS, you can select one of our professionally-created beats, write lyrics and record yourself dropping bars (sic.)” The company also added, “BARS auto-suggests rhymes as you’re writing to keep your flow going. You can also jump into Challenge mode and freestyle with auto-suggested word cues. Choose from a variety of audio and visual filters to take your creations to the next level (sic.)”
The app is now available in the Apple App Store in the United States of America. The invites for using BARS would be sent out in batches beginning in the USA and then expanded worldwide.
This would be the second app which Facebook is launching to counter TikTok’s growing popularity. Instagram Reels was the latest offering from the photo sharing platform Instagram (owned by Facebook) and was launched as a replacement for the video sharing application TikTok. TikTok was enjoying an unrivalled popularity in India as it became a means to keep boredom at bay during the nationwide lockdown which was imposed in light of the COVID-19 virus. However, the Indian government announced that it would ban 59 Chinese applications in which TikTok was one, along with WeChat, Helo, Cam Scanner and many others. This left a sudden void in video making applications, and Instagram realised the need for urgency to capitalize on this void. Therefore, Instagram immediately pushed their latest feature Instagram Reels which lets its users create 15 second videos with music from Instagram’s database. These videos look very similar to the ones made on TikTok and has gained a lot of popularity in India where Tik Tok continues to be banned.
ALSO READ: 4 Things To Know About Instagram Reels
Google also took advantage of the Indian Government’s ban of the viral application TikTok. Google introduced a new feature on YouTube called YouTube Shorts. The feature for all intents and purposes mimics the same features TikTok used to provide. The new feature mimics many of TikTok’s most popular features, allowing users to make and post 15 second videos with built in creative tools encouraging them to add licensed music and more.
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