Архив метки: Middle East

India’s Cashify raises $12M for its second-hand smartphone business

Cashify, a company that buys and sells used smartphones, is the latest India startup to raise capital from Chinese investors after it announced a $12 million Series C round.
Chinese funds CDH Investments and Morningside led the round which included participation from Aihuishou, a China-based startup that sells used electronics in a similar way to Cashify and has raised over $120 million. Existing investors including Bessemer Ventures and Shunwei also took part in the round.
This new capital takes Cashify to $19 million raised to date.
The business was started in 2013 by co-founders Mandeep Manocha (CEO), Nakul Kumar (COO) and Amit Sethi (CTO) initially as ‘ReGlobe.’ The business gives consumers a fast way to sell their existing electronics, it deals mainly in smartphones but also takes laptops, consoles, TVs and tablets.
“When we began we saw a lot of transaction for phone sales moving from offline to online,” Manocha told TechCrunch in an interview. “But consumer-to-consumer [for used devices] is highly opaque on price discovery and you never know if you’re making the right decision on price and whether the transaction will take place in the timeframe.”
These days, the company estimates that the average upgrade cycle has shifted from 20 months to 12 months, and now it is doubling down.
With Cashify, sellers simply fill out some details online about their device, then Cashify dispatches a representative who comes to their house to perform diagnostic checks and gives them cash for the device that day. The startup also offers an app which automatically carries out the checks — for example ensuring the camera, Bluetooth module, etc all work — and offers a higher cash payment for the user since Cashify uses fewer resources.
 
A sample of the Cashify Q&A for selling a device.
Beyond its website and app, Cashify gets devices from trade-in programs for Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple in India, as well as e-commerce companies like Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm Mall.
Used device acquired, what happens next is interesting.
The startup has built out a network of offline merchants who specialize in selling used phones. Each phone it acquires is then sold (perhaps after minor refurbishments) to that network, so it might pop up for sale anywhere in India.
With this new money, Cashify CEO Manocha said the company will develop an online resale site that will allow anyone to buy a used phone from the company’s network. Devices sold by Cashify online will be refurbished with new parts where needed, and they’ll include a box and six-month warranty to give a better consumer experience, Manocha added.
Today, Cashify claims to handle 100,000 smartphones a month, but it is planning to grow that to 200,000 by the end of this year. Cashify said its devices are typically low-end, those that retail for sub-$300 when new. A large part of that push comes from the online site, but the startup is also enlarging its offline merchant network and working to reach more consumers who are actually selling their device. That’s where Manocha said he sees particular value in working with Aihuishou.
Cashify is also developing other services. It recently started offering at-home repairs for customers and Manocha said that adding Chinese investors — and Aihuishou in particular — will help it with its sourcing of components for the repairs service and general refurbishments.
Cashify estimates that the used smartphone market in India will see 90 million phones sold this year, with as many as 120 million trading by 2020. That’s close to the 124 million shipments that analysts estimate India saw in 2017, but with surprisingly higher margins.
A reseller can make 10 percent profit on a device, Manocha explained, and Cashify’s own price elasticity — the difference between what it buys from consumers at and what it sells to resellers for — is typically 30-35 percent, he added. That’s more than most OEMs, but that doesn’t take into account costs on the Cashify side which bring that number down.
“When I sell to a reseller, the margins aren’t that exciting which is why we want to sell direct to consumers,” the Cashify CEO said.
The startup has plenty going on at home in India, but already it is considering overseas possibilities.
“We will focus on India for at least next 12 months but we have had discussions on markets that would make sense to enter,” Manocha, explaining that the Middle East and Southeast Asia are early frontrunners.
“We are working very closely with one of the Chinese players and figuring out if we can do some business in Hong Kong because that’s the hub for second-hand phones in this part of the world,” he added.
Note: The original version of this article was updated to correct that Amit Sethi is CTO not CFO.

India’s Cashify raises $12M for its second-hand smartphone business

Kiip Takes Its First International Steps, Inks Reward Network Deal With UK’s Yo! Sushi

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Kiip — the San Francisco-based mobile marketing startup that has created a “rewards network” in which users see offers for free goods and services instead of mobile ads — is going international. The company has signed on the UK-based sushi chain, Yo! Sushi, to deliver offers for free food across apps used in the UK that have integrated Kiip’s service.

Although Kiip has had some of its U.S. customers serve ads outside of the U.S., this is the first time a non-U.S. company has signed on for the service, and the first time Kiip is sending out offers in the UK on a localized, London-only basis, to coincide with the fact that there are so many more people (and specifically Americans) in town for the Olympics. In a meeting this past weekend in a little coffee shop in London, CEO and co-founder Brian Wong told me this is just the beginning of many deals like this as Kiip ramps up its growth, on the back of a recent $11 million Series B round of funding.

The expansion comes at a time when Kiip is competing against a number of other companies that also deliver rewards instead of straight advertisements, like Foursquare and Groupon. The space remains wide open, says Wong, and “we have realized that we could become the trusted rewards provider out there.”

If there’s one thing that seems to annoy the otherwise mild-mannered Wong, it’s that Kiip often gets called a mobile advertising network. “We’re about rewards, not ads,” he told me, stretching out the r-word. He thinks ads, in their current state, have some major limits because of issues with usability and effectiveness. “When you see companies jamming ads into small formats, saying ‘let’s just shrink this billboard,’ it just doesn’t work,” he said.

Rather than trying to figure out how best to cram lots of information into a limited space, Kiip has moved the goalposts altogether and focused its use of small real estate directly on something that a customer can use immediately. While there are a number of apps on the market that push offers to users — Groupon and Foursquare being two examples — Kiip’s innovation of putting those rewards directly into apps by way of its network means that its offers go, in Wong’s words, “wherever you are.”

He says that up to now the engagement rates have been very encouraging. So far, Kiip has seen a 22%  redemption reward rate, and 50% of its redeemers come back to Kiip for more. The majority of users, Wong says, are between the ages of 18 and 34, and Kiip sees a relatively equal mix between male and female users, with ads coming in from big names like Disney, Best Buy and Procter & Gamble.

The bigger picture will see Kiip trying to better match up rewards with increasingly relevant apps. Right now, the company is still in early-adopter phase with a lot of the activity focused around gaming — either in the form of actual mobile games or in areas like fitness apps, which have a natural gamification element to them. It is here that the Yo! Sushi brand fits in particularly well — the company has a kind of Japanese-manga-inspired branding that matches well with gaming design.

But down the road, there will be separate micro-networks around areas like female-focused apps and women’s consumer products; car apps and car-related rewards, and so on. And with the increasing push on location-based offers you can see how this, too, will also start to play a more prominent role with Kiip.

Looking ahead, Kiip is planning to announce more brand partnerships in the UK soon, and it is “on the verge” of rolling out its first campaigns in the middle east and Asia Pacific, with Kiip’s London office, led by Eamonn Carey, leading much of that growth.


Kiip Takes Its First International Steps, Inks Reward Network Deal With UK’s Yo! Sushi

YouTube Is 27% Of Mobile Video Traffic In N. America, Netflix Just 2%

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YouTube is the largest source of mobile video traffic, according to a new report from Sandvine, and now accounts for as much as 25% of network data, and no less than 12% at any given time. The report examined traffic across a selection of Sandvine’s 200+ customers in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific.

Combined with other services like Pandora and Netflix, audio and video streaming make up more than half of mobile data traffic in North America, and it’s on track to reach 60% by 2014, the company says.

Other regions aren’t far behind. In Latin America, for example, “real-time entertainment” (streaming audio/video, that is) accounts for 40% of network data. In Europe, it’s 40% and in the Asia-Pacific region, it’s at 39%. In those same regions, it’s YouTube that’s eating up most of the data, at 27%, 24%, 17% and 14% of peak downstream traffic, respectively.

What’s maybe more telling than these usage numbers, is the growth. In North America, real-time entertainment, as noted above, is 50% of downstream mobile data traffic today. That’s up from 34% just 6 months ago. YouTube is 27% of that figure, Netflix is 2%, and Pandora is around 6%.

Behind audio and video, browsing the web and social networking services are the only other two categories of usage that account for a significant amount of mobile data. In North America, web surfing is accounts for 21% of mobile data usage, social networking accounts for 10%, and everything else combined reaches 19%.

Although unrelated to streaming data figures, the new report also looked into the popularity of messaging applications like WhatsApp, to determine how they’re impacting mobile operators.  In one example, on an Asian mobile network of 1 million users, WhatsApp accounted for 7.6 million messages sent per day, and with 7% of subscribers per hour sending an average of 12 messages per hour. In other words, a lot of SMS revenue lost for the operator in question.

Although YouTube and other audio and video traffic is leading mobile data usage now, Sandvine says that the continuous cloud/client connection will lead to other increases in data in the future, specifically for things like smartphone photo back-up and synchronization.


YouTube Is 27% Of Mobile Video Traffic In N. America, Netflix Just 2%

Google, Vocre, Apple, And Now Raytheon Diving Into Cloud Speech Recognition

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If you were following along at Disrupt SF, perhaps you caught Vocre’s impressive demonstration of their near-real-time spoken translation app. As I was watching, I was picturing the gears turning behind the veneer of the app, though: the cloud transcription, translation, and speech APIs, and how there’s a nice big market for this kind of thing. Google knows it, and of course we’ve had speech on Android for a long time. Apple knows it, but took its time to release it in a more consumer-focused package.

Now even defense contractor Raytheon is getting into the game. Their TransTalk app, which has emerged from the soup of defense contracts and government research funds that is DARPA, is specifically designed for deployment in the middle east.

It’s for Android, which jives with the military’s earlier lean towards the operating system, though it look simple enough that it wouldn’t be much of a task for the defense giant to port it to a government-sponsored fork or whatever gets decided on.

The app itself (running on a Motorola Atrix) is a simple affair; it’s meant for deployment with English-speaking troops and has very little in the way of decoration. You select a language (Arabic, Pashto, and Dari are supported, as these are the primary dialects in the middle east theater), speak to it, and it prints and speaks a translation. The other speaker does the same, but pressing a different button.

So the app isn’t noteworthy for its purpose, but what is interesting is that it isn’t a self-contained app, but rather calls out to the cloud. Military applications tend to concentrate as much functionality as possible on the local device, because as you may have heard, warfare tends to be on the unpredictable side, and data infrastructure isn’t guaranteed. So cloud solutions, as practical as they may be for a consumer application, have been viewed with skepticism by the military establishment.

On the other hand, could the choice be viewed instead as shrewd, considering the efforts that DARPA and others are going to in the creation of a connected battlefield? My guess is that this isn’t actually a strategic move, but a pragmatic one: they bait the hook with a cloud solution and reel it in when they’ve got the resources to make it something locally-hosted. Last year they showed a similar app but on a larger platform. Miniaturization isn’t a trivial step, and they probably thought it worthwhile to gauge interest with this cloud version before going all in. Right now the military smartphone platform is still in flux so it would be unwise to start loading their eggs into one basket or another. But decentralized processing isn’t such a bad bet to make, and Raytheon seems to understand that.


Google, Vocre, Apple, And Now Raytheon Diving Into Cloud Speech Recognition

BlackBerry Internet Outage Hits Europe, Middle East, Africa

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RIM seems to be learning very quickly that when it rains, it pours. Word of a BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) outage quickly began making the rounds this morning, leaving (once) loyal customers in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East without email and web access.

This is the second outage RIM has dealt with in as many months: their popular BBM service went down this past September, shortly after the company released their disappointing quarterly financials.

For what it’s worth, it’s business as usual for corporate users as BlackBerry Enterprise services don’t seem to have suffered the same fate.

In usual RIM fashion, they’ve acknowledged the issue through their official Twitter account, but they’re keeping quiet when it comes to what caused the outage or how people are currently being affected. A little legwork by The Telegraph points to a server at Slough as being the likely culprit as all three regions affected by the outage are all served by the Slough data center. There’s still no ETA for a fix, but some users are reporting that service is slowly being restored so the wait may soon be over.

@BlackBerryHelp
Research In Motion

We apologize to any of our customers in Europe, Middle East & Africa still experiencing issues. We'll bring you an update as soon as we can.

BlackBerry users the world over are understandably miffed at RIM, and who knows how events like this will shape the Canadian company’s future. Their stock price recently hit a new five year low, and these outages aren’t likely to instill customers with much confidence. It’s up to RIM to fix things, dust themselves off, and keeping working, but company morale has to be taking a beating right now.


BlackBerry Internet Outage Hits Europe, Middle East, Africa