Plustxt Mobile Solutions which offers the instant messaging app Plustxt has raised an undisclosed sum of funding from Mumbai Angels, InMobi co-founder Amit Gupta, reports TechCircle adding that Mednova Consulting CEO Kishore Warrier and Amit Mittal, VP, Startup Business Group at Microsoft also participated in this round.
Speaking to Medianama, Plustxt founder Pratyush Prasanna said that the funding raised will be used to expand to other platforms like Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows, advertising and marketing and for hiring. They plan to market the app in colleges, training institutes, and schools among others where local languages are taught or used extensively.
Launched in October 2012, Plustx app differentiates itself from other messaging apps like WhatsApp, Hike and Imsy by integrating Indic language input to the app. The app currently supports six Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Malayalam besides English. It also offers more privacy controls compared to other platforms. (Read our Plustxt app review here).
Monetization: Prasanna said that currently they are not monetizing the service, however they plan to start monetizing Plustxt in the next 4-5 months by licensing Plustxt APIs to others and providing value added services (VAS) in Indian languages. They have already inked partnerships with a Marathi and a Bengali newspaper for this initiative, although he didn’t disclose any specific details on this. Interestingly, Prasanna also noted that they don’t intend to partner with any telco to provide these VAS services.
Besides this, Plustxt also plans to ink OEM partnerships to preload the app on mobile phones and claimed that it has already inked partnerships with several mobile phone makers for this purpose, although it didn’t disclose any specific names.
Plustxt claims to currently have
3000 users 60,000 users with Hindi accounting for maximum number of users, followed by Gujarati and Tamil. Going forward, they plan to introduce support for other foreign languages like Arabic which is expected to be launched in 2 months or so, followed by Bahasa and Thai.
Competition: Plustxt faces stiff competition from existing messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Bharti Softbank’s Hike which raised $7 million earlier in the day, Tencent’s WeChat, Imsy,GupShup Messenger and Sabeer Bhatia’s JaxtrSMS among others. Its worth noting that among Plustxt competitors, only Tencent’s WeChat offers support for Hindi.
We think that Plustxt has made a wise move with their plan to expand to other countries like Thailand & Middle Eastern countries where their native languages are predominantly used, unlike India where English is more dominant. Depending on competition and partnerships, Plustxt can probably scale faster internationally compared to India where the market is still dominated by messaging apps in English.
That said, there is also a need to push for more Indic support on mobile phones, since the number of people online has probably more than doubled in India since 2008, and with mobile Internet usage exploding, there will be an entire set of users that might prefer an Indic interface on their mobile phones.
Update: Earlier version of the post had a factual error and has been updated to reflect accurate data.