Singapore- and Bangalore-based Askabt Pte Ltd, which runs the chat platform Scrollback, has raised $400,000 (around Rs 2.47 crore) in seed funding led by Jungle Ventures, with participation from Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) under its Technology Incubation Scheme, Crystal Horse Investments, Singapore Angel Network, Roland Turner, and other unnamed angel investors.
The company was founded in June 2013 by Aravind Ravi-Sulekha and Gaurav Srivastava. An IIT and IIM graduate; Ravi-Sulekha has previously worked with startups including Ictoban Online Services, Notion Ink, and Capillary Technologies. Srivastava has been an analyst and consultant at companies like Ocwen Financial Solutions, Thomas White International, TCS and Wipro.
The startup combines the ease and engagement of chat with content organisation of forums. Presently, a web and Android application, users can create chat rooms on their topics of interest and have conversations with like-minded people. Scrollback rooms can be embedded in community websites & apps, and connected to internet relay chat (IRC) and Twitter to enable conversations that span multiple platforms. They can also be shared and promoted, both online and offline.
“Most online platforms today are about connecting you with friends and family in new ways. Online platforms from a decade ago, like web forums and IRC chat rooms, focused on forming communities by connecting you with strangers who share your interests,” Ravi-Sulekha said.
The firm claims of having over 700 active communities across Southeast Asia, America and Europe. These mainly include regional communities of Mozilla, crypto currency communities like dogecoin, activist groups, comic blogs, online games, and even municipalities for open discussions. It is also being used by conferences and events as a back-channel where attendees can network, share anecdotes and engage with speakers.
“Forums are probably the last frontier to get a web 3.0 makeover and Scrollback has the right design and social elements to be a winner in this space,” said Amit Anand, managing partner, Jungle Ventures.
The Singapore-based fund’s current investments include financial services comparison platform iMoney; mobile commerce app ShopSpot; micro-lending platform Milaap; social payments platform fastacash; digital media platform ebus (acquired by IMD Group); and vacations rental site Travelmob (acquired by Homeaway). In India, it has invested in Big Data firm Crayon Data; healthcare startup Klinify; online grocery store Ekstop; and mobile payment platform Pokkt, among others.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)