Gurgaon-based 91digital Web Pvt Ltd, the company behind 91mobiles.com, a product research site for gadgets, has raised $1 million in pre-Series A round of funding from a group of investors, led by early-stage investment firm India Quotient. Umang Kumar, founder and CEO of Gaadi.com, and Krishna Motukuri, ex-CEO of Tradus.com, also participated in the round.
The funds will be used to expand 91mobiles’ team and develop research tools and content for the mobiles and tablets categories, in addition to adding more gadget categories like wearables, laptops, cameras and accessories. A portion of the capital will also go into upgrading its existing mobile site and also launching the Android app.
The startup was launched in mid 2010 by Bharanidharan Viswanathan and Nitin Mathur. Viswanathan is a graduate from the Indian School of Business (Hyderabad), and had earlier co-founded Accentium Web, where he was part of the team that built sites like Gaadi.com (later acquired by iBibo Group) and Secondshaadi.com. Mathur is a graduate of IIM Calcutta, and had earlier founded an online loyalty and reward venture called Privilege Corner, which was acquired by corporate gifting company eYantra.
91mobiles.com provides users with tools and content to help them research available gadget options and narrow down to the most suitable choice. It figures out the relative quality of various devices, and assigns a score to each device by using data science to analyse over 40 data points for each phone. Shortlisted devices can be compared side by side, with key differences highlighted in a natural language format.
For those who are interested in purchasing the selected device, 91mobiles shows the best prices and deals from various online retailers where that device is available.
The firm claims that 91mobiles drives close to $100 million of gadget sales to retailers listed on the site, and earns affiliate revenue from online gadget retailers, including Amazon, Flipkart and eBay. It also works with leading gadget & telecom brands such as Samsung, Micromax, Asus, Dell, Airtel, etc. to provide advertising and branding solutions to promote their range of products.
The site claims to have 7.5 million monthly visitors. Currently, almost 50 per cent of its traffic comes from mobile devices.
With almost 45 people on board, the company has an annual run-rate of over $1 million, and it now aims to grow 3-4x in the next two years. The firm has offices in Chennai and Gurgaon.
Other similar players operating in the segment include MySmartPrice, Reviews42 and PriceBag.
India is the fastest-growing smartphone market in Asia (186 per cent growth in units shipped in Q1 2014, as per IDC), and has seen a recent influx of several brands and devices. Over 100 brands and 2,000 smartphones are available in the market.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)