Whatsapp founder Jan Koum migrated from Ukraine to the US when he was 16 and his family got an apartment on a social support scheme. Co-founder Brian Acton was turned down for a job by Facebook. The hardships Kavin Bharti Mittal has had to face in life are decidedly of a different nature. His father, Sunil Bharti Mittal founded India’s largest telco, Bharti Airtel, and is among the country’s richest men. While Sunil Bharti Mittal has been on the forefront of India’s telecom revolution, with his backing, Mittal Jr. is aiming to ride the next communication wave, through an instant messaging app his company built—Hike.
Whatsapp currently dominates India’s instant messaging scene—it has 60 million active users in the country. The $19 billion price tag Whatsapp got earlier this year was a reminder of the value in getting young people in the developing world depend on you for their communication. From its launch in 2012, Hike has grown rapidly. In July, it was the most downloaded app in India on both the India Apple app store and the Google Play store for Android devices. The company claims 35 million users, of which about half are active. Some 80% of the users are under 25 years of age, according to the company. Whatsapp is still way ahead in India, having been popular even before Hike was born. But the two-year old Hike is confident that it can carve a niche for itself in the Indian market.
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