Lifestyle and community-based commerce platform Trell on Tuesday announced that it has raised $4 million in pre-Series A round, led by Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, China’s Fosun RZ Capital, and KTB Network. Existing investors Beenext, WEH Ventures, and Sprout Ventures also participated in the round.
Trell is a mobile-based platform that enables users to share and discover personalised recommendations and product reviews across lifestyle interests such as skincare and personal grooming, fashion, cooking, wellness, movie and web-show reviews, home decor, and travel. The platform has an ecosystem of regional influencers or key opinion leaders (KOLs), who share localised content in five languages: Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, English, and Hindi.
The startup said that the fund will be used to strengthen its machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities as well as invest in expanding its community base by adding 10 regional languages by the end of 2020.
With over 15 million downloads and 5 million monthly active users on its app, Trell has grown 20 times in the past 12 months and has emerged as one of the biggest lifestyle platforms in India. In January alone, its community of 500,000 content creators published 1.2 million content pieces, which garnered more than 300 million views.
“Trell solves for the discovery of lifestyle choices for the next half billion population coming online. It is the largest platform in India, growing at 25% month-on-month with strong engagement metrics. By extending the discovery to transactions, Trell can provide holistic solutions to their consumers,” said Krishna Vinjamuri, executive director of Fosun RZ Capital.
The startup, which was launched in August 2017 by IIT Bombay alumni Arun Lodhi, Prashant Sachan, and Pulkit Agrawal, and NITIE alumnus Bimal Kartheek Rebba, has raised a total of $5.5 million in venture capital. It also counts Rajan Anandan, Aprameya Radhakrishna, (co-founder of Vocal and TaxiForSure), Ramakant Sharma (co-founder, LivSpace), Nitin Gupta (co-founder, PayUMoney), Anupam Mittal (founder, Shaadi.com), Amit Lakhotia (ex-Tokopedia, Paytm), and Shanti Mohan (CEO, LetsVenture) as angel investors.
“Today, over 400 million Indian language Internet users struggle with lifestyle aspirations. The dearth of meaningful content in their own languages and lack of trustworthy sources of information on the Internet are the two prime reasons for this,” said Pulkit Agrawal, co-founder of Trell. “We actively engage with our KOLs through the ‘Trell Creators’ Academy’ programme, where currently 25,000 creators are being educated every day to create valuable content, grow their reach, become influencers and eventually solve for the scarcity of regional content.”
The creation guidelines on Trell do not encourage selling or promoting a product directly. But, it’s about the KOLs telling their stories and personal experiences that help micro-communities in India to make purchase decisions. “This has led to an overwhelming creator and user love, strong word-of-mouth organic growth, and a sharp decline in customer acquisition cost,” says Prashant Sachan, co-founder of Trell.