How this social media app leveraged its community to venture into social commerce

Vlogging has become serious business in recent years. The rise of influencers and influencer-driven marketing has given a much needed boost for brands to find customers on social media channels.

Based in Bangalore Trell, founded by IIT Bombay Pulkit Agrawal graduates Arun Lodhi, Prashant Sachan, as well as Bimal Rebba, has seen its user base reach over 100 million, with more than five million videos and blogs created on it. application in 2020.

Founded in 2017, the app, which belongs to the first cohort of regional language social media apps, focuses on four key areas: discover, create, share and buy.

A visual blogging platform designed for millennials (and others) to share their unique experiences of places and palaces, Trell (Trail Experiences and Tell Your Friends) claims that all of its content is original and user-generated.

In August 2020, Trell introduced social commerce on its platform. It allows content creators, who have more than 50,000 subscribers, to advertise the brands with which the startup has linked on their publications.

The categories and content people create on Trell

The startup claims to have grown 10X in the social commerce space since last year. Its goal is now to grow by 10 over the next 12 months.

A platform for Indians

“With the advent of the Internet, we knew people wanted more suggestions on their lifestyle choices. Which brand should they buy? Which products are good? But most of the online videos were made by American influencers who didn’t talk about the products available in India, ”said Pulkit Agrawal, CEO and co-founder of Trell. Your story.

To test this hypothesis, the co-founders launched an Instagram page, which exceeded 100,000 subscribers in six months.

This led them to launch the app, which allows users to share three-minute videos on beauty and fashion; DIY, cooking and local foods; fitness and sexual well-being advice; to travel; and personal care. In fact, the platform also enables product discovery.

At present, Trell has more than 500 members in his team.

According to Pulkit, in its first year, Trell averaged around 80,000 Monthly Active Users (MAUs), which grew to three million in 2019. Right now, it works in eight regional languages ​​and claims 20 billion views. monthly.

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The startup claims its MAUs have grown 15 times a year and currently has over 50 million MAUs. Right now, the platform has more than 10 million downloads, according to data from the Google Play Store, with 70% of content creators being female, according to Pulkit.

Almost 60% of Trell users come from Tier II cities including Lucknow and Jaipur, while the rest are mainly from Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Venture into social commerce

According to Bain & Company, social commerce in India was estimated at $ 2 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $ 16 to 20 billion by 2025 and $ 60 to 70 billion by 2030.

In 2018, investor interest was aroused as the social commerce industry became a new layer of online shopping.

While Meesho and DealShare have managed to evolve during this time, competitors including Shop101 and live-commerce platform Simsim have been acquired by Glance and YouTube respectively.

After introducing social commerce in August last year, Trell partnered with clothing brand H&M, among other brands, to showcase their products.

In fact, recent funding from the investment arm of H&M will help the platform in this effort.

Content creators receive a commission of 4-8% for each transaction. Pulkit says its vertical business is growing 30% monthly and has completed over a million orders.

“While commission sharing is one of our monetization models, we are also working on revenue sharing and a few other models directly with brands,” he said.

Financing and marketing

In 2017, the startup raised $ 250,000 during a fundraising round. He then received $ 1.3 million in a pre-seed round led by Mumbai-based WEH Ventures. It also raised $ 11.5 million in a Series A round from Samsung Ventures, among others.

Earlier in July, Trell raised $ 45 million in a Series B round led by Mirae Asset Venture and the investment arm of fast-fashion brand H&M, which brought the startup’s total funds raised to $ 61.9 million.

Pulkit says the startup is focusing more on increasing the number of content creators on the platform for more user-generated content. He claims that around 70-80% of its creators come from organic channels, not marketing efforts.

For social media apps, many users come from targeted ads on Facebook and Google, while word of mouth also plays a big role in the app’s virality. However, with many apps trying to win over new users every day, they have struggled to find profitable monetization models.

This is also true for ShareChat supported by Twitter and the Pratilipi publishing platform, among many others.

“It’s only now that we are focusing on marketing to create more virality and build a brand around our app,” Pulkit adds. Trell has increased its marketing budgets three to four times.

The startup reported total revenue of Rs 70 lakh on a total expenditure of Rs 1.5 crore in FY19, according to financial statements from the Registrar of Companies (RoC). During fiscal year 2018, he recorded income of Rs 32 lakh out of a total expenditure of Rs 59.5 lakh.


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