In April 2015, when four IIT Kharagpur friends in their mid-twenties launched Niki.ai e-commerce app, not many would have imagined it going as far as it has reached today. The chat-bot start up is India’s first of its kind B2C commerce platform specialised in voice cantered and local language based user experience. Niki is inspired by the idea of local-language users’ empowerment, targeting particularly those who have recently been exposed to internet.
Build for Bharat
Niki is a one-stop solution to a range of services and online transactions in a convenient manner, through conversation in local Indian languages. Having tie-ups with about 100 brands, the application works through conversational artificial intelligence. It accepts orders from customers and passes that information to partner firms such as Ola, Oyo, Flipkart, etc. for effectuating. Riding on meeting local Indians’ e-commerce demand, Niki’s revenue grew 300 times, especially after launching its Hindi interface.
India, being an extremely diverse nation is home to a horde of the golden talents who, despite coming from a very humble background, have the ability to shake the world up. Niki was created by Shishir Modi, Keshav Pravasi, Nitin Babel, and Sachin Jaiswal. The start-up idea is unique in a sense that all four were born in small towns – the first two in Patna (Bihar) while the latter two are from Udaipur (Rajasthan) and Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh) respectively. This might have been the plus point with them, since they can understand properly what problems local Indian languages speakers face while trying to connect with the English dominated e-commerce market.
The road to success
The first big investment Niki raised was from Unilazer Ventures in October 2015. A seed funding by Ratan Tata in May 2016 follows various other investment rounds. Niki has so far attracted over $5 million in funding from various investors. Looking at the linguistic diversity of the country, it has already started its services in Bengali and Tamil with an aim to include multiple Indian languages Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, etc.
In 2017, Niki won the Fintech rising stars award at the India fintech awards (IFTA). It was also included in Forbes 30 under 30 two years later. With the country’s economy boosting and the smartphone revolution reaching out to more villages, Niki is expected to emerge as a masterpiece in the field of Al-based commerce.