Hike, a cross-platform messaging app based in India, announced that it has received $14 million in new funding from BSB, a joint venture between Hike’s founder and SoftBank Corp. Hike first launched in December 2012 and received $7 million in its initial round of funding one year ago.
In a statement, Kavin Bharti Mittal, Hike’s founder, said that the new capital will be spent on accelerating user acquisition and hiring. Mittal is the son of Sunil Mittal, the founder of Airtel, India’s biggest carrier and the world’s second largest telecommunications company by subscribers. Hike is currently available worldwide on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, S40, and S60.
Hike says its app reached 15 million users earlier this year, mostly in India. That number represents a three-fold growth rate over the prior nine months.
With the worldwide glut of mobile messaging services and the recent acquisitions of WhatsApp and Viber, it might seem as if there is no more room for yet another small competitor. But Hike believes it still has room for massive growth within just its domestic market.
In a statement, Mittal said, “There are still less than 100 million active mobile Internet users in India, out of a population of 1.2 billion people. India remains a very large, untapped and extremely diverse market and that’s what we’re building for.”
Features created to help Hike reach users in India include Hike2SMS, or free SMS credits each month, for featurephone users. Other things like status updates, stickers, and chat themes were created to appeal to younger people. Hike says that over 80% of its current users are under age 25.
Hike is not just focusing on India. The company previously told TechCrunch that it plans to aggressively expand its language support each month as it competes with Line and other messaging apps in markets like Europe and LatAm.