Is Stellaris-backed vernacular content platform Manch shutting shop?

Is Stellaris-backed vernacular content platform Manch shutting shop?
5 Feb, 2020

Manch, a vernacular content sharing platform owned by Bengaluru-based Priharitam Technologies, may shut shop after raising a reported $1.2 million from investors such as Stellaris Venture Partners and Udaan cofounder Sujeet Kumar. 

The development was first reported by Mint. In its report, the newspaper, citing sources, said Manch had failed to attract enough users and was likely to wind up operations and liquidate the company over the next six months.

Manch raised about $700,000 from Stellaris Venture Partners and B2B ecommerce firm Udaan founder Sujeet Kumar in January last year. Earlier, it raised $540,000 in a round from Bengaluru-based venture capital firm Stellaris in the year it was founded. The investment rounds could not be independently verified. 

The startup was founded in 2018 by former Vymo executives Pritam Roy and Hari Sunkari. Roy appears to have moved on from Manch in September last year, according to the information available on his LinkedIn profile. His current job status lists him as a full-time employee of Cred, the fintech firm founded by Kunal Shah.

Roy declined to comment on the Mint report on Manch shutting down operations. Stellaris founding partner Rahul Chowdhri, who sits on the company’s board, didn’t respond to queries from TechCircle at the time of publishing this report.

Manch has been downloaded over 50,000 times on the Play Store. The platform, on website and app, supports content in multiple local Indian languages in the form of memes, gifs, and text. It also has other features such as online polls and meme generators.

Read: Video, variety and vernacular: 3 Vs that make up India’s online content appetite

Manch’s user interface resembles Hong Kong-based viral meme and GIF-sharing site 9GAG. Closer home, the platform’s user interface comes nearest to Twitter-backed ShareChat. Mohalla Tech, the parent operator of ShareChat, last closed a $100 million growth funding round in August last year. Its total capital raised stands at $224 million.

The vernacular content space has gained traction in the past few months. Online e-sports streaming and community platform Rheo raised $2 million in a seed funding round from marquee venture capital firms Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital India and nine HNIs (high net-worth individuals). Local news and classifieds app Lokal also raised $3 million in a funding round from a group of investors, including venture capital firms India Quotient and 3one4 Capital. 

One overseas player that has managed to aggressively push into the Indian local social content segment is TikTok, a short video platform run by Beijing-headquartered internet company ByteDance.

Read: When India got lip syncing to TikTok

TikTok managed to penetrate India’s vernacular-centric user base in less time than popular global social media giant Facebook.