The developer of hike messenger, the instant messaging mobile and calling application, is gearing up for another round of funding raising in six-12 months and is confident of crossing the 100 million user mark by the second half of 2016.
"We have plans and would look to raise the next round of funding...However, it's tough to say how much funding we would require," Kavin Mittal, founder and CEO, told ET. Kavin is the son of Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal. The company has raised $86 million so far from Bharti SoftBank and Tiger Global. Mittal said he opposes proposals by a telecom department panel to regulate app-based services such as hike, Skype and WhatsApp that offer local and long-distance voice calls and a move to put them on par with similar services offered by telecom operators. "I believe it's important to ask why they want to regulate us. Is it because data is being cannibalised or because of security? If it's the first, then we don't understand the point because messaging apps like hike drive data revenue for telcos," he said. "We do believe security is a big concern and that is something has to be discussed and talked about. We look forward to what recommendations come out."
The company on Thursday launched a feature called hike Direct, which allows users to share data and files without Internet connectivity within a radius of 100 metres. "We are going deeper in the market and launching local features that solve local problems," said Mittal. "We launched hike offline some time back. We will come up with more local features."
The company plans to launch features such as video calling in the coming months. Hike competes with WhatsApp, Line, Viber and WeChat in India. The app crossed 70 million users in September and the company expects to start generating revenue in 12-18 months. Mittal said there has been a deliberate attempt not to focus on monetisation. "We are building the product for a complicated market like India. We are spending all our energy on getting 100 million users. However, revenue model/monetisation is at the back of our mind," he said. Mittal said the payment infrastructure in the country is poor, which is one of the barriers in generating revenue. "We are waiting for the payment infrastructure to evolve in the country," he said..