New Delhi: China’s Toutiao owned Helo app, which aggregates content in verncaular langauges, will focus on growing its user base in the next year, a top company executive said in an interview.
“The focus is to get a 300% growth rate in our user base next year from the monthly active users of 25 million," Shyamanga Barooah, head of content operations at Helo told Mint in an interview. “We are not focussing on the monetisation bit and are bringing innovative features to attract users."
Helo, which launched in India in June, is a user-generated content (UGC) platform that aggregates on varied topics including showbiz, entertainment, politics, parenting and farming among others.
Helo competes with the likes of digital media startups such as DailyHunt, ShareChat and Clip. It claims to be working on the ground in Tier 2 and 3 cities to know more about it’s audience.
New Delhi-headquartered Helo is also expanding it’s team in India. “We have been building the team and adding members every day in content moderation, marketing and operations including the technology team," added Barooah.
The launch of Helo in India signals a departure from the way most Chinese internet firms have entered the country so far. The likes of Alibaba Group, Tencent-backed Holdings and Meituan-Dianping have picked up states in India companies rather than launching their own operations.
To be sure, the Chinese company held talks to invest in ShareChat and short video platform Clip, which didn’t materialise.
“Toutatio understood that India has a huge potential and untapped market with 90% of the total internet users who will solely focus on verncacular languages and that’s why Helo was born," said Barooah.
Mint had reported earlier that Helo has spent more than $20 million over the past quarter in order to achieve fast growth and has witnessed lightening quick expansion.
Toutatio’s financial might and tech expertise back Helo and will put pressure on local rivals including ShareChat and DailyHunt. Toutaio is a minority shareholder in news app DailyHunt, with which it now competes.
Barooah declined to comment on the investment of Helo’s India operations.
The Chinese company has also forged an alliance with news checking website Alt News in an effort to curb fake content and news.
Helo’s interface is strikingly similar to that of ShareChat. Bytedance, Helo’s parent company was taken to court by rival ShareChat for copying it’s design, infringing copyright and indulging in competition.
Last month, the company changed the design of it’s Indian language content applications and it’s product name to Share, Follow and Chat, The Economic Times reported.
Helo, which is available in 14 vernacular languages, has more than 10 million downloads till date as against over 50 million downloads of ShareChat on Playstore.