Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, who finished his innings at the IT major in October, is back on the circuit. The former CEO has invested in a chat message app, Lookup, which helps small businesses chat with consumers. The funding, amounting to $160,000, will be used by the startup — its first funding after starting out in October — to expand to other metros in the country beyond Bengaluru, where it runs its operations today.
Deepak Ravindran, the founder who refers to Gopalakrishnan as his mentor, told FE that Indian consumers seem to prefer messaging apps over social networks and voice: “We plan to become the Whatsapp for small businesses. This takes the services being offered by Just Dial to an app model. The consumer number here is protected unlike the other
A month back, Gopalakrishnan had announced setting up an incubator, Axilor Ventures, along with Infosys cofounder S Shibulal and another company veteran Srinath Batni. The venture will mentor and back early-stage technology ventures as well as invest up to $1 million in the startups they pick. Gopalakrishnan also acts as a mentor at Kochi-based Startup Village, an incubator for telecom and technology startups.
“We are getting queries from other cities, Kerala and Dubai. We will use this money for marketing and in attracting shopkeepers to come on board,” Ravindran told FE. For Ravindran, this is his third startup after Innoz, an SMS-based offline search engine and Q&A app Quest.
He said that consumers and mom-and-pop stores will like to chat with each other regarding the availability of certain goods and services. He said this was a big opportunity and can be used even for making reservations and queries. “There could be a doctor or a restaurant just around the corner, with who you may want to make an appointment or reservation. Lookup will help you do that.”
The company has partnered many local restaurants, pubs, grocery stores, spas, medical shops, gyms, pet stores, electronics and mobile stores and jewellery stores for the service. Around 150 verified small businesses are online whereas the firm answers on behalf of other shops. Lookup gets more than a thousand queries a day now, mostly by college-goers on internship. The app is currently available on Android Play Store and it will launch the app on Apple’s App Store as well.