AppyHigh recorded turnover of INR 64 Cr in FY21: business success story

House of Apps company AppyHigh, launched in 2018, has scored over 20 productivity and utility apps with over 500 million downloads and 50 million active users.

As of June 2020, 59 apps have been banned by India’s IT Ministry under Section 69 of the IT Act. Banned apps included TikTok, ShareIt, UCBrowser, WeChat and many more. Since then, the Indian government has banned many more Chinese apps due to international disputes. The ban paved the way for Indian-made apps to catch the eye of their Chinese counterparts.

The app ban created a huge gap and millions of people in non-metro cities started looking for alternatives that did their jobs just as well.

Gurugram-based app house AppyHigh was among the apps that jumped into the boat to take advantage of the demand.

Launched in 2018, AppyHigh was already in the race to develop utility apps targeting mass user segments in Tier II cities and beyond.

Venus, in an interview, said there was a huge void there, and they were asked to choose products that matched the company’s DNA and emphasized productivity, utility and mass user play.

When there is a gap, people start looking for apps that meet the best in the market sooner. Users always want a similar product.

AppyHigh has successfully tapped into the vacuum and between July and September 2020, the company launched three browsers including Share Karo India, Browser Go and Scanner Go. These three apps have a total of 136 million downloads and at least 20 million monthly active users.

The apps tried to capture consumers by using colors, logos and an interface similar to the banned apps.

Venus, the founder, further added that brands have spent millions of dollars to create brand identity and acquire users. These users associate specific applications with specific use cases. It’s more like a perception game. For example, JioMeet’s logo and interface were initially similar to Zoom.

But the differences between the appearance and interface of Chinese apps and Indian apps. The number of users of Chinese apps was so huge that spending a lot of money could not acquire such a fan base. But, acquisition was accelerated when people could relate to products that were already popular.

This is the strategy AppyHigh opted for in 2017.

AppyHigh was started by PEC Chandigarh graduate Venus and IIT Bombay alumnus Aneesh. They first met in 2012 while working for Reckitt, and they had a common interest in entrepreneurship and seized the opportunity by launching Rutugo in 2014. They expanded their services to include 20 cities before to sell the startup to Ixigo in 2015.

The app dealt with innovative, economical and exciting modes of travel under the parent organization The Treaveneus Technology Limited. The idea behind the app was the development of Skyscanner for taxis. Rutugo was merged with online travel portal and renamed Ixigo Cabs, which scaled to 10,000 bookings per day. The duo worked for Ixigo until 2016, during which time the IxigoCabs app was developed.

The ixigo cabs application exceeds 200,000 downloads 1,000 trips per day

The duo also launched several consumer apps, including job search engines like AnyJob and a shopping navigator Smartshoppr in 2017. The team faced equal challenges in increasing investment from Rutugo due to the unfavorable market sentiment.

The duo initially focused on building a business rather than fundraising. Additionally, they didn’t hire staff until they achieved a eureka moment for startup AppyHigh in 2018. The duo said the startup had scaled and generated over $3 million in revenue. That’s when they decided to incorporate the company and hire a team. Currently, AppyHigh has a group of 135 people.

The founders took the digital analogy of Maslow’s hierarchical approach that explains the uses of the app and the audience the app is intended for.

The base level of the approach includes apps that help gain traffic with people who use them to scan, lock phones, and clean up residual data. The middle class is highlighted in apps that allow consumers to browse, post to social media, and edit media, while the top tier includes apps that help users share files and connect socially.

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AppyHigh has focused on launching apps that meet user needs. The company has launched more than 20 apps, including AppLockGo, MVideo Maker, Screen Recorder, etc.

The company targets an audience that started using the Internet six years ago. The app has been downloaded over 500 million times. And the company said it has 55 million monthly active users.

Reports show that 28% of users come from metros and 53% belong to Tier II cities. Around 40% of the company’s user base of the app comes from Hindi speaking states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh.

Apps are gaining popularity with users during the pandemic. The company reported the expansion of apps’ usefulness after the first wave of covid-19. The requests have relatively increased, including those that were launched before covid-19.

The main reason for the success of the applications was the changing needs. The company is following the same approach as TikTok ByteDance owner Xiaomi. They aimed to adopt an ecosystem to bring a large number of users into an ecosystem, and moreover, they launched services after adoption and then started monetization.

The success of AppyHigh:

The founders launched AppyHigh with an initial investment of INR 5,000 and used the earnings as capital to continue their growth. In the financial year 2021, the company generated revenue of INR 64 crore. Since then, the company has experimented with many apps, shutting down apps that weren’t generating enough revenue. These included AnyJob and a news aggregation app, Samachari.

The apps are free and revenue comes specifically from ads and in-app purchases. Currently, the majority of AppyHigh’s revenue is generated by the top eight apps.

Besides the app collection, AppyHigh has invested in more than 75 early-stage startups. 70 to 80% of the company’s capital goes to the startup with which AppyHigh has partnered.

The startup has even taken a step Annualized recurring revenue (ARR) 10 million USD in October 2021. Its revenue has increased by more than 60% in 2021. In terms of advertising impressions, it is growing at the rate of 300%.

AppyHigh is expected to achieve 20X scaling over the next five years.

Edited by Prakriti Arora

Sallie R. Loera