Excl: FreeCharge.in in talks to raise $50M in Series C funding
Mumbai-based Accelyst Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates under the brand FreeCharge.in, an online mobile and DTH recharge platform, is in talks with multiple investors to raise up to $50 million in its Series C round of funding, according to a person privy to the development. The fresh funds will help itself compete with its closest rival Paytm, the source revealed.
When contacted, FreeCharge's CEO Alok Goel declined to comment.
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, Loop, Reliance, Idea, DOCOMO, Tata Indicom, S-Tel, Aircel, BSNL and more.
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, 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 this year, the firm 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.
In a recent interaction with Techcircle.in, Goel had said that as of October, FreeCharge had 12 million registered users. Almost 80 per cent of its transactions came from mobile consumers, compared to just 5 per cent in June-July this year.
Last week, FreeCharge launched a voice-based recharging solution on its Windows Phone app. With the new feature, users can create a 'voice card' and associate it with a particular command, for example, FreeCharge mom. Users can simply speak the voice command into the mobile phone to complete the recharge.
The firm is also looking at various high-growth markets like Indonesia, the US, Latin America and Europe to expand its presence.
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)