Today, the market is a very saturated place. From entering into many ventures that excite the market, we have seen the start-up industry’s potential flourish around the corporate world as well. Systematically, in India, the market we exist has a saturated system of many such ventures that do not gain traction and eventually fail. Why? Due to the interest of engaging in foreign experiences that take the youth by storm. Consider the launch of an Indian brand and expect it to survive for the next ten years; it wouldn’t. It is because of the way we as consumers take the brand by interest and consider it across our knowledge and perspective. The fear of a well-known brand versus a newbie scares the consumer to invest until success knocks at the door.
The rise of the foreign market in countries is the failure of the community itself. And that is why we cry when the economy whips our rate. We fail to understand the importance of being a favored national country and want foreign brands lurking into the system that lives on higher import rates. The government has no other choice but to purchase it in the interest of consumers who want it. So, are we responsible for the failure of Indian start-ups? Yes, at all costs, we are responsible for the impending danger we put on the lives of start-ups that could very well shape the market we need to see in the future.
But, there are countries where their pride and honor to nationalism and home-grown start-ups are a thing. An app that now put TikTok and Bigo Live in a dizzy. This app was home-grown in the Phillippines during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it allowed users to engage with people across the country and talk, have fun and enjoy together. The app KUMU (1) has taken the southeast Asian market by storm, and it’s not too long before it expands to the world, and TikTok, like apps, must make ways to survive against this rocket of a kind. KUMU has now been making millions of dollars and now plans to venture across the continental market, and that is what makes Chinese apps like TikTok and Bigo Live awaken up from sleeping success (2)
So, what’s KUMU got to do with TikTok and BIGO live’s community, and how will it impact?
Launching KUMU: a Dream come true
While both the founders, Roland Ros and Rexy Josh Dorado grew up in the United States, the motherland was always attracted. They took part in humanitarian projects in the Philippines and sought to bring about social change. Guided by their numerous mentors, their minds seemed to have sown seeds. What started as late-night conversations eventually flourished into exciting and concrete thoughts. They soon realized that there was an exciting opportunity for them; it was just a matter of figuring out the next thing.
The goal was always to engage the diaspora of the Philippines all around the world. That is how, in February 2018, KUMU (3), ultimately came to be. The word KUMU comes from the Tagalog word kumusta, meaning “how are you? “. KUMU wanted to be a space for all Filipinos to feel at home, much like how the salutation evokes a sense of warmth and family. While it started as a messaging application, it eventually evolved into a different kind of social networking platform, like what Line is in Japan and WeChat is in China. KUMU pivoted towards live streaming, wanting to adapt to the changing digital behavior of its users. The team realized that authentic and real content would also provide a space for this.
Investments and fundings helped KUMU launch.
Kumu Holdings (4), a Philippines-based live streaming company, revealed it had raised around five million in Series A funding, earmarked for new features and expanding its operations. Openspace Ventures (5), an early investor in Go-Jek, with participation from Kickstart Ventures (6), ABS-CBN media conglomerate (7), Gobi-Core Philippine Fund (8), and Summit Media (9), and Foxmont Capital Partners (10), returning investors, led the round. Kumu says that media and entertainment apps have increased, with most of the nation under lockdown or curfew orders from COVID-19. Over the past month, the start-up has introduced new features to allow organizations such as churches and business groups to host online events to meet demand. Kumu had declared that it has grown to three million subscribers and broadcasts over 25,000 live streams per day with an average of about one hour of regular use.
Created by Roland Ros and Rexy Josh Dorado two years ago, Kumu aspires to be a super app for Filipinos worldwide, combining live streaming, video chats, and gaming, as well as plans to incorporate online payments and e-commerce functionality. Kumu’s new features include an e-commerce platform that enables users to purchase products during live streams, providing an additional revenue source to content creators.
Growth, Expansion and the numbers
As the growth of modern social networking such as TikTok and live streaming apps gains popularity with the millennial population, local content and hyper-local networks found to have a significant gap” for local content and hyper-local networks, With youth overwhelming its 100 million people, Goh said, Kumu is a lucrative addition to the Philippine media landscape. “Filipinos spend more and more time online consuming content and finding and connecting with like-minded individuals, and Kumu has developed an ideal path for many to develop apps that could help capture the community’s Pinoy spirit uniquely,” said Joan Cybil Yao, vice president of investment at Kickstart Ventures (11).
Kumu said that from a previous 1.2 million seed round of funding, Gokongweis’ Summit Media and Foxmont Capital Partners followed. “As a media company, it is our idea to be on the tip of what technologies will revolutionize our landscape,” said Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng, president and CEO of the Summit (12). Roland Ros, the co-founder of Kumu, said This investment from the country’s leading corporations and existing foreign investors reinforces our purpose of providing a world-class streaming live platform for Filipinos, by Filipinos.” Kumu recently crossed 3 million registered users (13), making it the Philippines’ fastest-growing social app, with almost 1 hour of average daily use from most registered users. Twenty-five thousand live streams are hosted daily by the network. The Kumu app was listed in the Google Play Store in the Philippines as the top-grossing social app, number 10 in Canada, and ranked among the top 50 grossing social apps in 12 other nations, including the US (14).
How South-Asian apps have taken the world by storm
For Chinese technology firms, pursuing Expansion internationally has become an emerging issue because foreign markets represent great possibilities instead of the increasingly crowded home market. As of November 2019, Bytedance’s flagship Douyin leads the scene, claiming 530 million MAUs, out from under a total market of over 878 million active users, as per the latest figures from data consultancy Analysis (15). With 425 million MAUs, Kuaishou is the runner-up, while Xigua and Huoshan, both produced by Bytedance, share the third place with 114 million MAUs each. However, data also shows that the growth of MAUs in China was slow, partly due to the already colossal base, which stood in February at 1,138 billion, or 81 percent of the country’s population. Looking abroad, these companies leading China’s fierce short-video race know that timing matters, and the early bird captures the worm.
In 2017, Bytedance (16), the holding company of TikTok (17), absorbed Musical.ly for roughly 1 billion dollars and combined the two apps later in 2018 to extend the global appeal of TikTok on Musical.ly’s shoulder. As TikTok crossed the 1 billion mark for worldwide installs on the App Store and Google Play (the number excludes Android installs in China) in February 2019, the cultural shift proved to be shocking. Mobile analytics company Sensor Tower, TikTok exceeded Instagram’s 444 million new installations with over 663 million of these installations in 2018 (18). In Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia, the software has also seen a rapid increase. In 2016, YY Inc, another Chinese media and webcasting firm, also started to look abroad, beginning with Southeast Asia and extending its footprint to the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and North America. It currently houses Bigo Live, Nimo TV, Yome Live, Cube TV, and live streaming applications.
According to the nation’s 1.3 billion growth and increasing mobile internet adoption, India is considered a robust market by these Chinese short-video app providers. TikTok is the top dog, followed by YY’s Likee, Helo, and Alibaba’s VMate (Indians have downloaded the app 277.6 million times, accounting for 45 percent of its total global installs this year as of November) (19) Money-bleeding is the rapid ascendance of TikTok. Bytedance, its parent, had shelled out big bucks on ads since July 2018, when TikTok and Musical.ly were formally integrated. Chinese media outlet Jiemian reported that at its peak, the company spent 500,000 dollars on ads every day, citing local sources familiar with the situation. TikTok put ads on multiple channels and charged an estimate of 0.3 dollars for each installation developed from advertisements, multiplying the average market value (20). According to a local industry insider, TikTok invested nearly 10 million on promotions in the Philippines alone. At the same time, its total net loss reached 1.2 billion.
How KUMU could be the opponent, TikTok deserves
With modern generations, global digital channels like TikTok will strike a nerve. Even, they lack the chance to push hyper-local content and form transnational cultures that are tight-knit. Kumu, a Filipino-centric networking app and live streaming site, is trying to fill a large and growing void with personalized content platforms (21). Communication, commerce, and culture allow fans to connect with their favorite live streamers and buy items while watching them. As networks everywhere globally are building partnerships to become Super Apps, it is a wise move. But content is going to be the aspect that makes some of these Super Apps stand out. They will target viewers with entertaining content that encourages enduring enthusiasm, not just one-off transactions, through fostering partnerships with media firms and content creators.
It’s a roadmap that makes economic sense for businesses lined up in developing markets to engage Internet-addicted communities. The Center for Consumer Analysis of the Boston Consultancy Group predicts that Internet users in emerging markets, including India, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and the Philippines, would lead to 3x the number of new Internet users than developed markets. It’s a young generation that can indulge in content that is “digitally influenced.” By 2022, they’ll already be making transactions worth a whopping 4 trillion.
Younger audiences are keen to engage on platforms that help them feel engaged and accepted. Ros explains that GenZ and Millennials (22) are wary of the social anxiety that pretends that life is perfect. Since members no longer value millions of likes or hundreds of thousands of followers, authenticity has replaced attention. He says the payoff is positivity. The “Kumu” of Kumu appreciates “microtransactions and virtual gifts that simply say thank you” for the content you create.”
Ros reports that the fastest-growing enterprise on the Kumu network is powered by influencers and developers chatting about their desires and desires on the platform. This understanding prompted him to partner with media companies to launch the idea of an interactive social television network, amplifying the creators of content and content that the community loves. Ros also talks about merging content and commerce to open the way for relations and microtransactions that grow Super Social Apps. He again lifts a lid on best practices that allow Kumu and its partners to achieve “up to 10%” conversion rates on the platform for live streaming trade (23).