A Chinese startup, which gave the all-too-common Q & A website formula a brilliant twist, has successfully secured a valuation of $100 million just 24 days after launching.
Fen Da is an app that takes inspiration from Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” (or AMA), where featured guests (celebrities, politicians etc.) answer questions posted by online users in a live format. The difference is the integration of a payment system that would reward both the users and responders, reported Forbes.
For a fee, Fen Da users are allowed to post their questions directly to the chosen expert, celebrity or public figure who shall provide answers in the form of 60-second voice messages.
The app also offers a sneak peak function where other users can pay 1 yuan ($0.15) for an access to replay the answer. The feature, which has been quite popular among Chinese social-media users, gave birth to the now common salutation, ““Have you eavesdropped on Fenda yet?”
The amount paid for a reply is split between the respondent and the user who originally paid for the question. Depending on how many hits the replay button gets, a user may not only recover the money he used for the question, but also possibly even get some profit.
This means that asking the right questions to the right persons could be very financially rewarding to the user. Fen Da, for its part, gets 10% commission fee from the respondents’ generated income.
According to the company’s founder, Ji Xiaohua (also known as Ji Shisan), since the app’s launch in May, Fen Da already has acquired five million registered users in less than a month. In just 24 days, Ji claimed that his new app has processed 18 million yuan（$2.7 million) in total transactions.
On Monday, the 38-year-old Ji, who is also the founder of science newsbased website Guokr.com, announced that Fen Da has secured $25 million in funding at a valuation of $100 million following its first round of fundraising led by Sequoia Capital China and entrepreneur Wu Yongming’s Vision Plus Capital.
The company plans to use some of its new budget in talent acquisition, marketing and product development.
“It is hard to get people to pay for written answers, but voice messages are more personal and intimate,” Ji said. “Chinese internet companies used to attract users by offering cheap or free products, but now it seems people’s views can be directly monetized as well.”
While the current traffic involves feeding curiosity on the lives of celebrities, Ji is aiming to develop his app into a professional consulting platform that would provide access to any type of expert.
Among its millions of users are hundreds of thousands of experts, composed of doctors, professors, psychiatrists and other experts who provide their answers on Fen Da to share their expertise and earn extra income.
“So many people share their thoughts through the internet and I have been thinking if there is a good way to monetize their knowledge,” he said during the Monday press event. “If you have some loyal fans and you are willing to spend a few minutes a day answering questions, then you can make money on Fen Da.”
The company has set its eyes on further developing the product with plans of integrating a host of other features involving Ji’s other products.