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A91 Partners leads $41 mn round in social networking app Public

A91 Partners leads $41 mn round in social networking app Public
Azhar Iqubal, co-founder and CEO, Inshorts MediaLabs
24 Mar, 2021

Inshorts MediaLabs, which operates location based social networking video platform Public App, has raised Rs 300 crore ($41.3 million) in a fresh funding round, led by venture capital firm A91 Partners, with participation from undisclosed returning investors. 

The capital from the latest round will be used to scale the New Delhi-based startup’s technology infrastructure and content offerings, and expand its employee base, a statement said. 

Public App’s first funding round in September 2020 marked the return of former Tiger Global Management executive Lee Fixel, best known for his early bet on Flipkart, to the Indian startup market. Fixel’s newly formed venture capital firm Addition had led a Rs 260 crore investment in the app along with SIG and Tanglin Venture Partners.   

Parent Inshorts MediaLabs also runs news curation app Inshorts. Fixel previously led three investment rounds in the app, formerly called News In Shorts, during his tenure at Tiger Global.  

Inshorts has raised nearly $30 million in the past from a slew of investors, including Tiger Global, Rebright Partners, Binny Bansal, Sachin Bansal, and Times Internet. 

Launched in April 2019, Public App is a video-based social network app for local services such as businesses, jobs, and classifieds. It allows people to record and share happenings around them, enabling real-time local updates. 

Political leaders, government authorities, media houses and citizen journalists can use the platform to connect with communities and local businesses.  

The company claims that over 50,000 elected officials, government authorities and citizen journalists currently use the app to connect with their locality. Additionally, many local businesses have also started to use the app to reach their customers, it said. 

Large brands such as GSK, Amazon, and HDFC Bank use Public App too, the statement added. 

“We are building customised ad solutions for brands to better engage with the audiences while keeping the user experience intact,” Azhar Iqubal, founder and CEO, Public App, said. 

The app is available in Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Assamese, Gujarati and Marathi, and claims to have more than 50 million active users currently. 

Lead investor A91 Partners was floated in 2018 by VT Bharadwaj, Gautam Mago and Abhay Pandey. The trio quit Sequoia Capital between June 2017 and August 2018. In November 2018, Kaushik Anand quit as the India head of CapitalG to join A91 Partners.  

VCCircle recently reported that the firm is gearing up to launch its second India-focussed fund. It has backed firms such as Digit Insurance, Sugar Cosmetics, Atomberg Technologies, Exotel, La Renon, Aye Finance, Hector Beverages, Happlio Foods and Pushp Masala.