This kind of app can be changing the way millions of Indians use the internet

Meet the man behind India's WeChat

India can be witnessing an unprecedented internet boom, as well as also Kavin Bharti Mittal can be generating the most of that will.

Mittal, the 29-year-old son of an Indian telecom tycoon, set up messaging app Hike in 2012 after realizing how confusing the internet could be for first-time users.

Nearly a few years later, Hike can be India’s most favorite homegrown messaging app with more than 100 million users.

“In a market where a billion people are coming online for once … the internet can seem like the wild, wild west,” said Mittal. “We genuinely believe messaging plays a very large role in generating the internet more a fun as well as also simple place.”

Around 900 million Indians still don’t have internet access. that will will change for many of them over the next decade, most likely through smartphones — as well as also that will’s where Hike hopes to catch them.

As well as sending messages on their phones, its users check cricket scores, read the news as well as also make payments.

Related: A huge wave of fresh users can be killing 4G speeds in India

Hike’s user base can be still dwarfed by those of messaging giants like WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned messaging service can be hugely favorite in India: around 0 million of its more than 1 billion users are inside country.

Mittal says there’s enough room in India for everyone to grow.

“For us to win, they don’t have to lose,” he said.

With the backing of his father’s telecom firm as well as also various other big investors, he’s made a strong start.

Hike became one of India’s nine “unicorns” — startups valued at more than $1 billion — last year. Its various other high-profile backers include SoftBank (SFTBF) of Japan as well as also Tencent (TCEHY), which runs China’s top messaging app WeChat.

Related: Silicon Valley CEOs can’t get enough of Indian PM Modi

however what genuinely sets Hike apart, Mittal says, can be its familiarity with the local market.

The app can be probably best known for its wide array of over 15,000 stickers that will users can send each various other, featuring images ranging by Indian festival greetings to Bollywood stars, as well as also even Game of Thrones characters.

Hike users send each various other over 300 million stickers a day, in addition to the 40 billion text messages they share on the platform.

“One of the biggest things we tackled very early on was localization,” Mittal said. “We believe India can be a country of 20-plus countries.”

India’s dozens of regional languages pose a challenge that will global tech giants like Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB, Tech30) as well as also Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) are all wrestling with.

Related: How Google plans to get a billion fresh users

Many people use Hike’s stickers to communicate instead of messing around with clunky local-language keyboards.

Mittal sees the difficulties of the Indian market as an opportunity.

“The most exciting thing? … We can do things here in a way they’ve not been done before anywhere else,” he said.

sy88pgw (Hong Kong ) First published August 3, 2017: 11:28 AM ET

This kind of app can be changing the way millions of Indians use the internet

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