FreeCharge raises $80M in Series C from Valiant Capital, Tybourne & others
Mumbai-based Accelyst Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates under the brand FreeCharge.in, an online mobile and DTH recharge platform, has raised $80 million in Series C round of funding from a group of investors, including San Francisco-based hedge fund Valiant Capital Management and Hong Kong-based hedge fund Tybourne Capital Management.
Existing investors including Sequoia Capital, RuNet and Sofina also participated in the round.
The fund will be utilised for product innovations on mobile, team expansion and marketing, Alok Goel, CEO, FreeCharge, told Techcircle.in. Currently the company has 200 employees, and it plans to expand to 600 people in the next six months.
Techcircle.in was the first to report that FreeCharge was raising a large Series C round.
The funding will also help FreeCharge compete with its closest rival Paytm which is run by Noida-headquartered mobile internet firm One97 Communications Ltd.
Interestingly, One97 has also signed a deal with Ant Financial Services Group, China's leading online financial services company that owns AliPay. The Chinese firm will acquire 25 per cent stake in One97.
Goel, however, said currently, the company would focus only on its India expansion and would shift focus from expanding to other countries like Indonesia, the US, Latin America and Europe.
Founded in 2010 by Kunal Shah, Sandeep Tandon and Goel, FreeCharge is an online platform that provides pre-paid mobile recharging services to consumers. The firm has partnered with various telecom companies, including Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance, Idea, Aircel and BSNL.
For every recharge done on the site, FreeCharge gives customers discount coupons from various food joints and retailers, equivalent to the recharge amount which will be delivered to their mobile phones or via e-mail or at their doorsteps. These coupons can be used to save money when they eat out, watch movies, book travel tickets, shop online, visit a salon, go gaming and pick up books, music and groceries.
In September last year, it had raised $33 million in its Series B round of funding from existing investor Sequoia Capital, with participations from Belgium-based investment company Sofina, besides Russian VC firm ru-Net. Previously, FreeCharge had raised Rs 20 crore in Series A funding from Sequoia in January 2012.
FreeCharge has 20 million registered users. Goel said 85 per cent of the transactions come through the mobile platform.
In the online recharge space, FreeCharge is competing with MobiKwik, besides Paytm. However, according to Goel, FreeCharge is having a different battle to fight as Paytm has now become a mobile marketplace and is competing with the likes of Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. In the same way, MobiKwik has become a mobile wallet and it is fighting with other mobile wallet firms.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)