Zovi founders Manish Chopra and Satish Mani have raised $50 million in funding from Paytm, an undisclosed investor and existing investors SAIF Partners and Tiger Global Management for establishing an online to offline app-only marketplace called Little.
The founders will use the funds for hiring senior level employees, build its technology and sign up merchants on its platform. The company claims it currently has 400 employees, which it expects to expand to 1,000 by March 2016. It also claims to have enrolled more than 5,000 merchants in India, and that its platform will go live in March 2016 across 11 cities with over 50,000 deals. Chopra and Mani will continue to build the Zovi platform as well.
The ‘Little’ app will basically act as a discovery platform for customers while letting offline merchants sell online to users in the area. For users the platform will list real time and location based merchandise across services like restaurants, movies, hotels, salons, gyms, spas etc. Merchants on the other hand, will get data about customers in their area and the ability to send notifications and relevant deals to customers. Little will partner with Paytm for payments through its platform, while conversely offering all the deals available on Paytm.
Medianama’s take: There are various startups in India that let users find hotels, restaurants etc. locally, but Little is unique in that it acts more like a portal for merchants to interact and send offers to users nearby, rather than a simple aggregator for users to browse through. Rather than focussing on providing a single service in all areas, the platform is looking to provide as many as services as possible in a given area. It could for example let you check out 10 clothing stores in an area, making it easier for users to decide which one they would like to visit, while alerting the 9 other shopkeepers about missing out. These shopkeepers could potentially then send offers to this user to lure them back.
Note that it’s not clear to what extent the app will allow businesses to access user data and if it can indeed perform interactions like the one mentioned above. However, we imagine the idea of such an app fully realized, should theoretically allow deeper personalization and more relevant local data for users and merchants alike.
– JustDial’s Search Plus app, which was to be launched this month, will offer 24 integrated services as a part of a suite on one platform. The app was to be launched for both Android and iOS, would allow for users to look up local restaurants, spas, hotels, taxis, bus tickets, consultants, car rentals, cleaning services etc.
– In December last year, Wirkle co-founder Sunil Goyal launched a services marketplace called Near.in. Then, the marketplace was limited to service providers from Gurgaon across categories like Home Needs (home services, architects & interior designers) Health & Wellness (dieticians, physiotherapists and zumba classes) and Events (photographers, makeup artists, tattoo artists, event planners).
Image source: Flickr user Clemens v. Vogelsang