How DailyHunt is building a suite of 'Made in India' apps for Bharat

Co-founders Umang Bedi (left), Virendra Gupta rollout short video app Josh, aim to become largest local language platform by FY25
Former Facebook India head Umang Bedi has a vision for Bharat. He, along with Viru Gupta, the co-founder of start-up DailyHunt, are building a family of apps, with an aim of making it the country's largest platform, bigger than Google and Facebook, for local language users. The company wants to reach a billion users via its 'Made in India' apps by FY25.

While DailyHunt is already fulfilling the need for news content and infotainment with 283 million monthly active users on the platform, as claimed by the company, the Sequoia Capital backed startup has rolled out a short video app Josh looking to step into the shoes of TikTok that was banned in India in June. Bytedance, which is the developer of TikTok, is also an investor in DailyHunt. The company has raised over $200 million so far from investors such as Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital India, ByteDance, Falcon Edge, and Goldman Sachs.

“This is the start of our family of apps which will be built on the common AI-ML learning local language tech stack that’s running the Dailyhunt app. We want to take away more than 2.5 hours everyday across our family of apps for the local language user,” said Bedi, who came on board DailyHunt in 2018, after taking Facebook’s user base to stellar heights in India.

Bedi, who at the time, had one of the best paying jobs in technology in India, felt something was amiss as he was not really creating products for the end consumer. “So I decided to transform my life by leaving everything that I was proud of, behind. My biggest mistake is not doing it 10 years earlier with Viru (Gupta),” said Bedi, who also served as Adobe MD for South Asia for over 5 years.

At Facebook, Bedi learnt about scaling, efficiency and value of monetisation, the pillars around which his team has modelled Dailyhunt. However, as a startup they are doing much more with less resources. Gupta said, for DailyHunt Bedi has also brought in the courage to take on Facebook.

After the ban on TikTok, the company rolled out the beta version of its Josh app within two weeks. The DailyHunt team leveraged the short video opportunity by building Josh on the company’s tech stack which has several years of R&D work behind it and utilised its content partner ecosystem for the rollout.

“We can launch a family of apps tomorrow, but we want to refine things to launch in a good and successful way. Launching an app is like building a dam. If the foundation is not right, you cannot innovate on that app,” said DailyHunt cofounder Gupta, who has over 12 years of entrepreneurial experience and played the key role in bringing Bedi on board.

While it has partnered with music labels such as T-Series, Sony, and Zee Music to bring licensed content on the platform, the company has also roped in top 200 content creators from TikTok on the app. Apart from entertainment and music, the app is going to promote Indian heritage through content on meditation, healing, poetry, and classical dancing. The company will be monetising the platform via advertising, associating brands with influencers, and driving more commerce directly for the creator. The app already has 23 million daily active users who spend about 21 minutes on the platform and the company wants to double these numbers in a couple of months. It has a multi adaptive bitrate streaming to stream for low bandwidth networks for people living in Tier II and Tier III towns as that is where about 70 per cent of the content is generated, says Gupta.

But what if TikTok makes a comeback in India?

The founders say they are in the game for a long-term. “We are not going away just because TikTok makes a comeback so it doesn’t bother us. The market is large enough for one or two players to stay there and win,” said Bedi. 

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