Late June, when India banned 59 Chinese devices including global sensation TikTok, the short-video platform stopped working for its 200 million local users. Within hours, an explosion of new sign-ups pushed one of their rivals based in Bangalore, Roposo, to breakpoint on the servers.
Two weeks later, Roposo says it peaks at 500,000 new users an hour and expects to hit 100 million by the end of the month, which also offers short videos. That’s almost double the 55 million it had before the ban and places Roposo among an abundance of Indian startups to take advantage of the TikTok troubles of the region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ban included several big Chinese brands, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s UC Web web browser and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat messaging app, and came amid a bloody, face-off border between India and China that killed 20 Indian soldiers.
While India has cited concerns about privacy and security, the regulations are likely to dramatically alter the country’s digital economy’s competitive landscape. They give local businesses a fighting chance from a larger chunk of the world to win over half-a-billion Internet-denizens. And they could pave the way for other Indian companies to compete with global giants.
Indian names such as Chingari, Mitron, and Bolo Indya, a series of tiny Indian TikTok challengers, have notched up titanic user numbers following the ban on the Chinese apps. Only a few like the Moj version are weeks old.
Battlers in other categories also got a windfall as many Chinese titles were blocked, including the highly-downloaded CamScanner image scanner. The latest candidates share three similar themes from a variety of categories. Our devices are produced in India. The data is kept in India. Its content is adapted to local tastes, primarily in regional languages.
Bangalore-based Chingari, who had 3.5 million users on ban day, says it’s 17.5 million crossed.
Now his overwhelmed founders form a company, Chingari Media Pvt. They create a structure for corporate and equity, check sales strategies, and expand their team of eight engineers.
TikTok influencers – stars with huge followers selling products and services – are turning up on Twitter by the thousands asking to be confirmed users on Chingari. The firm is in “late funding negotiations.”
Roposo itself is having a deluge of marketing firms and celebrities who are manipulating it who wants to come aboard. It is negotiating agreements with celebrity customers and content creators. It invests in-camera filters, and in Indian themes.