Ankur Singla, CEO & founder of HelpChat said the company is closing down its complaints redressal portal Akosha. "We started as a complaints platform, but as more people started using our service, the nature of queries changed and we realised that people were seeking all kinds of help," he told Techcircle.in
Hepchat will offer information and services across categories such as mobile and DTH recharge, tech support, travel booking, holiday guidance, grocery, food, shopping, deals, coupons, laundry, movie tickets and others.
It claims to have partnered with more than 100 local businesses in Bangalore for grocery, fitness, laundry and beauty, so that these businesses can use the app to connect with customers. Helpchat plans to extend its services to all major metros shortly. Free for users, Helpchat has a team of about 650 people comprising of both technical experts and customer care executives. It uses an artificial intelligence tool to automate query answering and claims that 25 percent of the 30,000 daily requests are handled by a chatbot.
Akosha was founded in 2010 by Ankur Singla, who was joined by Avinash Vankadaru (in operations) and Vishal Pal Chaudhary (in technology). Akosha was started as an online platform that connects consumers and brands for customer service and feedback. It used to provide users with information on pricing, discounts, customer service, booking appointments, travel research and so on.
The company's major revenue source is its B2B help desk software platform named OneDirect, which will continue to function as an independent entity. The company used to monetise inquiries on the Akosha brand by providing OneDirect to brands.
"OneDirect will continue to be our major revenue source. For the next 12-18 years, we will entirely focus on building a strong customer base for Helpchat and then will look into various monetisation methods for the app," Singla said.
In one of his earlier conversations with Techcircle.in recently, Singla had said that over 130 companies use its OneDirect platform for responding to consumer inquiries every week. Around 30 of these enterprises are paying customers who subscribe to a premium version of the OneDirect enterprise suite. Kotak Mahindra Bank, Voltas, Aircel, Snapdeal, Micromax and MakeMyTrip are some of the companies that presently using Akosha OneDirect.
The company had raised $16 million (Rs 100 crore) in Series B funding in May this year. The round was led by existing investor Sequoia Capital with participation from few unnamed angel investors. This was the third round of investment by Sequoia Capital in the firm.
Chat-based concierge platforms seem to be attracting considerable investor attention this year. Bangalore-based Lookup and GoodBox had raised funds in May this year. While Lookup secured an undisclosed amount in Series A round of funding from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, GoodBox raised $200,000 (about Rs 1.3 crore) in seed funding from Manipal Media Networks. Haptik and Yellow Messenger are the other major players in this space.