India-based Trell – a millennial-targeted ‘local experience discovery platform’ that engages travellers through short video-based content – has just raised $1.25 million in seed funding, led by Singapore-based BeeNext and Mumbai-based WEH Ventures.
The startup also saw participation from existing angels Aprameya Radhakrishna (Founder, TaxiForSure), Nirav Choksi (CEO, Credable), Shanti Mohan (CEO, LetsVenture), Nitin Gupta (CEO, Ola Money and Founder, PayU India), Amit Lakhotia (VP – Business, Tokopedia) & others; from whom they had raised $250K in March 2017.
The company has bootstrapped so far and the additional funding will be used to develop its capabilities in product, technology and data science.
Video content has been on a steep rise as companies continue the fight to keep audiences engaged with their brand through their mobile phones. Videos range from user-generated ‘selfie’ videos to more expensive, professionally shot productions for larger brands with even larger budgets.
For example, Instagram launched IGTV, a ‘longer-form, vertical video service’, in an effort to keep users locked into the app for longer periods of time, making IGTV fertile ground for brands to engage with audiences even more via mobile.
Trell is also harnessing the power of visual storytelling by tapping into India’s market of 230 million urban millennials with a voracious appetite for uploading and sharing their experiences online.
Teruhide Sato, Founder and Managing Partner – BEENEXT, said, “We’re very confident about team Trell’s understanding of what we see as a massive market opportunity… I believe Trell will offer a new way for travel & local discoveries.”
After launching its first MVP, Trell did an experiment on Instagram and Facebook to understand what kind of content worked best for users – what is it that they are looking for, what appeals to them etc. This, along with extensive user interviews gave Trell insights and inputs on its next product iterations, giving shape to its current version.
The content on Trell is all visual, geo-tagged and has a strong storytelling element, which makes it contextual and immersive, which the founding team believes differentiates it from all other competitors.
However, encouraging India’s millennials to not only adopt a new platform but to upload and share their videos did not come immediately. The startup reportedly worked through nine iterations of their product before officially launching in September last year. Since, it has seen over a million user-generated content uploads.
Trell has continued to build traction, with over half a million app downloads and over 200,000 month active users in the first eight months of its product launch. At the moment, it has amassed approximately 600,000 users across both iOS and Android (with 450,000 based in India). It has some global reach, with 50,000 users coming from North America, and around 30,000 in South East Asia.
Whilst Trell is experiencing quick traction from its users, it still faces the challenge of how it plans to monetise a notoriously difficult stage in the travel funnel – the ‘inspiration’ and ‘dreaming’ stage.
At the moment, its strategy is focused on affiliate marketing and ads. It will adopt a model similar to YouTube, in which more popular creators can monetise their viewership on Trell. It will also work on content APIs, so that travel brands can integrate Trell’s content onto their own platforms. The revenue will be shared between creators and Trell.