Lightbox leads $3.4 million seed financing round in HaikuJAM, Technology News, ETtech

(L-R): HaikuJAM co-founders Neer Sharma, Dhrupad Karwa, Andy Leung
(L-R): HaikuJAM co-founders Neer Sharma, Dhrupad Karwa, Andy Leung

Mumbai-based venture capital firm Lightbox has led a $3.4 million (about Rs 24 crore) equity financing round in creative writing mobile platform HaikuJAM, with Chamath Palihapitiya-led Social Capital, Dunce Capital and existing investor 2Enable Partners also participating in the transaction.

Proceeds from the seed round of financing will be used by the four-year-old HaikuJAM to further build out and scale its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered consumer research tool INSPO, and ramp up its strategic hires, particularly in its data sciences and AI teams, a senior executive told ET.

INSPO operates as a web platform where clients can search for keywords, and within seconds see what millennials associate with them.

The product, which is currently in beta-testing mode, but is expected to be formally launched later this year, allows clients to set writing prompts and get the inspiration points around them within 30 minutes, as opposed to three months with traditional consumer research, to get fresh data.

“One of the biggest sources of waste is when someone has the right product but is telling the wrong story. It’s a waste of energy, talent, and capital. INSPO helps minimise this waste by inspiring teams with new thinking and guiding them to the narratives that matter, leading to even better product experiences,” Dhrupad Karwa, chief executive of HaikuJAM, said.

Founded in 2015 by Karwa, 27, and two former London-based investment bankers, Neer Sharma, 28, who was previously with Rothschild in London, and Andrew Leung, 29, who was with RBS, HaikuJAM, a Delaware-registered company, with its headquarters in Mumbai, currently has an estimated employee headcount of 20.

The latest round of financing also comes about three years after it raised angel funding in 2015 and again in 2016, with 2Enable Partners coming on board at the time.

“HaikuJAM is building an emotion engine that is unearthing insights about personal wellbeing and views on the world. What’s fascinating about HaikuJAM is how they combine data to understand where and how to create a cost structure advantage in every aspect of their business, from product to content,” Sandeep Murthy, partner at Lightbox, said.

The latest investment by Lightbox, which also counts consumer startups Droom, Furlenco, Rebel Foods and Dunzo among its portfolio, comes about four months after it announced the final close of its third India-focused fund at $209 million in September last year.

Over the past four months, the VC firm has announced a string of investments, including in hyperlocal delivery platform Dunzo, apparel company Bombay Shirt Company, online fine jewellery retailer Melorra and generic drugs retail chain Generico.

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