Hyderabad-based company Nowfloats, which helps local businesses get noticed online, has acquired Bangalore-based chat-commerce platform Lookup, for an undisclosed amount. However, Lookup is reported to keep functioning as an independent brand even after the acquisition.
Lookup, which enables users to discover and reach out to merchants in their area, had been looking for funding for quite some time and had garnered nearly $2.5 million from a range of top investors, including Vinod Khosla’s personal fund Khosla Impact, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Global Founders Capital, and the investment fund from the Samwer brothers behind Rocket Internet, in October last year. The company started off with the aim to capitalise on the boon in messaging and mobile internet to make local retailers available online by formalising the idea that messaging apps like Whatsapp have been doing for personal interactions, that is, to build a directory to let people connect with stores via chat.
NowFloats, founded in 2012 by Jasminder Singh Gulati and Nitin Jain, allows businesses to register and utilise their flagship products, Lighthouse and Wildfire. Registering with Wildfire would cost a customer Rs. 20,000 per year for services ranging from constant updates to merchants through its web portal, custom background on websites, unlimited gallery images and email addresses along with up to five-hundred email subscribers. Wildfire, on the other hand, comes with a registration fee of Rs 60,000 for six months and offers organic traffic optimization, along with driving inorganic traffic. The platform claims to auto-promote websites on channels like Google and Facebook.
According to reports, NowFloats, which was focused mainly on desktop web, sees Lookup and its mobile focus as complimentary to its interests to enter into chat as a medium. As Jasminder Singh Gulati wrote in a blog, “Over the past year, NowFloats has conducted three research sprints across India (that includes driving across the country and meeting people), and it was clear that chat is one of the most pervasive behaviors’ followed by search and apps”.
LookUp founder Deepak Ravindran said that the two companies will remain separate but they will work together on certain areas like retail partners and users. He further added that he aims to develop Lookup so that chat accounts for 10-15 percent of NowFloats’ traffic, which is currently at around 2 percent.