In a country like India where the population is diverse and number of languages exceed 1650 mark, selling a smartphone in just two languages (English & Hindi) seems like a bad idea. The Mumbai-based company Indus has transformed Android from English to regional languages.
Indus OS has raised $5 million from Omidyar Network in Series A round of funding. Omidyar Network is venture capital firm founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and it follows small investments from India based angel investors. The VC network has already committed more than $917 million to profit and nonprofit companies. Its areas of investment include sectors like financial inclusion, governance & citizen engagement, internet & mobile and education.
Indus OS was previously known by the company FirstTouch. The company is targeting the rural population of India and they came into this market prepared. FirstTouch did three years of extensive research on consumer attitudes, mobile devices and possible technology solutions. They have also partnered with the local mobile company ‘Micromax’, which revamped its software on selected devices last year.
The company was founded by three IIT graduates Rakesh Deshmukh, Akash Dongre and Sudhir B, Indus OS currently works on 12 regional languages: Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Assamese and Urdu. Also, the company is working on more languages and has tied up with Department of Electronic and Information Technology (DeitY), which is supposed to look after the text-to-speech part.
Talking to a leading Techcrunch, the founders quoted, “the language options [in India] are very limited [and] there’s no company developing solutions for these consumers. It’s a big market and big problem.”
One of the founders, Rakesh said, “With the help of new OEM partners in the $200 handset space that it targets, this DeitY partnership could boost the company’s reach to tier-two and tier-three cities and push Indus OS closer to its goal of bringing 300 million Indian consumers online over the next five years.”
The company is expanding internationally and moved to Bangladesh last year, Rakesh wants to add one more country to the company’s portfolio by the end of 2016.