The Rise of Hike – Indian Unicorn with a strong patent portfolio
The Rise of Hike – Indian Unicorn with a strong patent portfolio: India ranks fourth worldwide in terms of the number of “unicorns” in the country with the US taking the top spot. According to CB Insights numbers, the market leader Unicorn in India is One97 Communications (Paytm), with a valuation of $16 billion followed by Snapdeal $7 Billion and Ola at $6.32 billion.
Growing into a Unicorn
One of the best examples of Unicorn start-up that has a strong IP base is homegrown messaging service Hike, India’s seven-year-old AI-led Unicorn that was recently listed as one of the top three IT patent filers. With 66 patents filed in 2017-2018, Hike joined the ranks of Wipro & TCS in a list released by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Office of the Controller General of Patents, Copyright & Trademarks, Department of Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
Hike, founded in December 2012, with its robust patent portfolio had received initial funding of $21 million from Bharti Softbank and $65 million from Tiger Global. Adam D’Angelo, Ruchi Sanghvi and Matt Mullenweg are other investors in Hike. During August 2016, Hike raised $175 million from Tencent and Foxconn, valuing the messenger app at $1.4 billion. It is one of the fastest growing and IP centric companies globally to enter the unicorn club. It hit the landmark in just three years and seven months.
The company has also introduced the Hike Patent Program, which not only enables Hike employees to earn incentives and grants, but also provides potential patent filers with legal and industry guidance. The company also offers rewards and grants up to ₹60,000 per inventor, depending on the potential of the idea. Staying true to Hike’s vision of “Building a New Social Future” backed by AI & ML, the program is an initiative to cultivate AI innovation internally. The company has also presented papers in IJCAI, ECIR and has represented its IP base in global platforms, including Tensor Flow and the World AI Show.
One of the principles driving Hike’s vision of building a new social future is protection of its advancements in tech & AI. Hike has made several moves with AI at the core of the company to further empower the ecosystem. Hike’s areas of research & work include Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision and Social Network Analysis. It is one of the only players to use NLP for local languages on a mass scale to showcase advancements across domestic and global platforms.
It is one of the first Indian companies to venture into the field of IP protection and instant messaging and its competition includes big names like WhatsApp, Telegram and WeChat. The biggest advantage that Hike has over these global players, is that it knew the regional market better. Therefore, the instant messaging software evolved to make interaction enjoyable and engaging in the local dialects and Indian languages. Hike also launched its multilingual interface in eight Indian languages in 2015, as a first step towards achieving its goal, and made its multilingual keyboards available in eight languages.
Since its launch in 2012, the cross-platform messaging service has acquired over 100 million users, tripling its user base within 9 months. It started off with the goal of creating a Super App that provides multiple services on one platform, much along the lines of Tencent’s WeChat.
Hike’s emphasis on the stickers is one of the key features. The messenger has over 1 million stickers in its patent portfolio with more being added. Hike even has separate apps, called the Hike Sticker Chat, to communicate using stickers. Hike also supports around 40 plus Indian languages, and stickers are available in all respective languages.
With over 66 patents filed in the last year alone, Hike patent program is also seen as a catalyst bringing more innovations to the forefront & co-create new ideas for the ecosystem shared. It is the first homegrown chat messaging service that made it big in the era of foreign companies like Facebook Messenger and WeChat. Hike’s example clearly shows the importance of patents and leveraging the intellectual property for business success.
Since 80% of the assets of a company are intangible property, companies need to ensure that they value their patent portfolio and do their utmost to maximize it to build a defence around their inventions. A strong and robust IP strategy can make businesses stand out from the crowd and provides a better chance of success in the stages of investment.
You need to file early and often for a patent to protect each of your innovation. It is to be noted that the more patents that your start-up files, the harder it will be for rivals to steal your concepts and designs. Any business that invests in research and development must protect its investments and inventions. Such intangible assets of substantial value can help you be a part of the most coveted start-up unicorn club and create your niche in the market.
-The Editorial Team