Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Earlier this week we published an interview with Rajesh Sawhney — the man behind GSF India and its new accelerator program — in which he voiced his expectation that “nine or ten” of the inaugural class of 15 startups will close funding in the coming months. That first step has been taken after Delhi-based event discovery app Playcez, became the first graduate of the GSF India accelerator to raise investment.
It has closed an undisclosed 6-figure US dollar seed round — which is said to be just short of $1 million — led by Sawhney himself (representing GSF India) and Mukul Singhal of SAIF Partners. The planned use for the funds is fairly vague — “penetrating a rising class of smartphone users in India” — but the two investors will play prominent roles helping it grow.
Long-term seed-stage investor Singhal will provide advice and support around the company’s business model, while Sawhney — who told TNW he “gets excited about people [in India] who think global” — will help Playcez develop its business to expand overseas.
“What impresses me is [founder] Ashwani [Gaur]’s obsession with building a world-class product,” Sawhney says. “Ever since I met him six months ago, Playcez continues to evolve as a product and build great consumer traction.”
The startup comes out of private beta next week with a bold claim that “boring weekends and evening will soon be history”. Playcez says it will take a data-centric approach to event discovery, monitoring social networks, and in particular check-in services like Foursquare, using algorithms that can tell which locations are the most popular in a given locale. It then provides recommendations based on what is hot in each city.
Gaur says the company is mobile-first, which is certainly the way to go in a country where reports suggest mobile Internet usage surpassed PC-based Web browsing last year. He reveals that the app was built in just five weeks, during the GSF India incubator period.
Sawhney says he wants to see at least 40 startups pass through the incubator this year. The program has already expanded to Chennai and the immediate goal is to have 10 accelerator ‘centers’, some of which may be located outside of the country, he says.
GSF India has a network of more than 200 investor partners and 17 entrepreneurs-in-residence across the world. The company teamed up with Seedcamp and 500 Startups last year, and plans to bring on half a dozen more partners in 2013.
Users can sign up for the waiting list for Playcez here, but note it will only be operational in India initially.
Headline image via 401(K) / Flickr
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