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New energy: $1.5 million pre-Series A round to help Josh Talks go international

Josh Talks’ focus in the upcoming fiscal year will be on product development of the Josh Skills’ vertical which includes building up our current technology and introducing more courses keeping in mind the need of our users.

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2020, 05.26 PM IST
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Five-Year-Event---Josh-Talk
Since its inception, the startup has conducted events, conferences and workshops in more than 75 Tier-II and Tier III cities partnering with organizations like Facebook, ITC Ltd, UNDP and ByteDance.
Gurugram-based social tech startup Josh Talks is expanding its vernacular reach in Southern and Northeastern India by launching channels in Kannada and Assamese. Also in the works are plans to go international.

The startup, which announced a $1.5 million in pre-Series A funding led by New York-based fund Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) on Thursday, said the new funds will fuel its expansion. This latest round also pegs the valuation of the startup to over Rs 100 crore.

Founded in 2015 by Supriya Paul and Shobhit Banga, Josh Talks is advancing its mission of unlocking human potential by building tools and services that enable the youth in Tier II & Tier III cities to do more with their life.

Josh Talk says it is trying to address issues that low-income households in India face, with respect to jobs, career opportunities, acquiring skill sets and more. Within the next three years, the number of vernacular language users is expected to grow to 550 million and the aim is to build solutions that are affordable and accessible for all.

At present, Josh Talks’ content is disseminated in eight vernacular languages- Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Malayalam and English which is viewed by over 45 million people every month. “We are also planning to target diverse geographies by creating content in Vietnamese and Mandarin very soon,” co-founder Supriya Paul told ET Digital.

What started as a startup that conducts on-ground events has expanded to also include Josh Kosh and Josh Skills within a span of five years. Josh Kosh is an inclusive career-guidance platform, while their recently launched vertical, Josh Skills is equipping low-income students and job seekers in India with the training and tools they need to get a job.

When asked about the response of users from Josh Kosh and Josh Skills, Paul said, “Since 45 million people watch our content in eight languages, it was an absolute necessity for us to expand and build tools and products that create social and economic value for our audience. Over 5 lakh people turn to Josh Kosh, a comprehensive and free platform to make key career decisions every month,” she said.

Meanwhile, Josh Skills has acquired over 50,000 paid users in less than six months. Paul said that they are aiming to increase this number to 3 million in the next 18 months.

“Through our Josh Skills app, which has over 100,000 app downloads, we are equipping the youth with relevant and adequate skills sets that will enable them to become meaningfully employed,” she said.

She mentioned that while they started with just one course, Spoken English, over time because of the user’s response and demand, the courses expanded to financial literacy, personality development and computer skills.

“We see an exciting intersection between our mission to support companies that support the flow of reliable, quality information between people in challenging environments and Josh Talks’ belief in content, community and empowerment,” Key Kiarie, the Chief Investment Officer from MDIF, in a statement said.

Kiarie will be joining the Board of the organization as part of this round.

According to Paul, Josh Talks’ focus in the upcoming fiscal year will be on product development of the Josh Skills’ vertical which includes building up our current technology and introducing more courses keeping in mind the need of our users.

“We are currently on track to do Rs 13.5 crore revenue this financial year, while we target to grow 2-3X next year by mainly focusing on revenue generation from our skills vertical,” she said.

Since its inception, the startup has conducted events, conferences and workshops in more than 75 Tier-II and Tier III cities partnering with organizations like Facebook, ITC Ltd, UNDP and ByteDance. According to Paul, with over 10,000 events and workshops in 7000 Indian colleges, Josh Talks has reached over 1,500,000 people offline.

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