Excl: IAN incubatee Joognu raises over $100K in angel funding, to switch to freemium model
Joognu Technologies Pvt Ltd, the company that owns and operates Joognu.com, a portal for memoirs for parents, has raised Rs 60 lakh ($110,000) in angel funding from Kishor Gokhru (a large sub-broker for Sharekhan). The funds were raised few weeks ago and is primarily being invested in product development and marketing.
The Ahmedabad-based startup was founded by Anirvan Dam in August 2011. Prior to Joognu, Dam worked at companies like Aviva-COFCO Life Insurance Company, Radio Mirchi and Citibank India.
The site basically enables parents to store the journey of their children in their growing up years, which can then be presented to them (children) as a package once they are older. Parents can upload pictures, videos, documents and diary thoughts, etc., which are then stored in a structured storyline format (with the help of a 'Weaver' feature that literally weaves the captured memories) on the site.
Also, since privacy is a big concern for the parents (considering the nature of the material being uploaded), the site offers options like a selective sharing feature. It also has an Android app, although it hasn't seen much uptake as of now.
While the company started with a subscription-based offline franchisee model, it later shifted to a free 'online only' model in January 2013, to cater to a larger customer base. As of now, the company claims to have 12,000 members from 48 countries and the site is getting 1 lakh page views and 60,000 uploads on a monthly basis. Apart from Ahmedabad, the company also has an office in Mumbai and the current team size is nine.
"We went online because ours is a global product and we have aspirations to expand to other markets. For the same, scalability is important, but it is restrictive in the offline model," said Dam.
Also, the current focus is on acquiring as many users as it can, so it changed its business model with a free basic platform. Once it has acquired a decent amount of users, the company will start with a freemium model, where the basic offering will be free but the customers will have to pay for additional features.
While the company was running its offline franchisee model, Gokhru, who is also a Tata Docomo agency partner, had taken a franchisee of Joognu. Eventually, when the company decided to go online and was looking for funds, he (Gokhru) invested in the firm.
"We were meeting a lot of VCs at the time, and while they loved our idea, they wanted us to take it online. But for that we needed money and also forego the existing revenue streams. It was a tough call to make for us and that is where the funding helped us in a big way," said Dam.
The company is currently being incubated by the Indian Angel Network (IAN), and while IAN has not funded the company, according to Dam, the additional experience and the network of IAN is helping it out.
And since the company is already getting customer response from countries outside India, going forward, it wants to expand in SAARC countries first, and then open up offices in the US and the UK. For the same, it will look to raise its first round of funding, in the range of $2-3 million, in the next 3-6 months.
Why the name Joognu?
"Like a Joognu (firefly in Hindi) that is bioluminescent, we believe that when a parent eventually shares the memories with their child, it will spread a glow of happiness in their lives," concludes Dam.
In terms of competition, Tweekaboo, an Ireland-based company is operating in the same space and as per reports has an eye on Asia too. Closer home, Sandeep Amar, the former marketing head at Indiatimes, had launched Pikboo.com â€“ a platform for developing custom-made sites for kids. Pikboo is basically a paid, closed-user-group platform that keeps track of a kid's life on the web, even as a 'Facebook like' profile is created by putting up his/her picture/s, along with their hobbies, likings, and more.