FreeCharge is an e-commerce website headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It provides online facility to recharge any prepaid mobile phone, postpaid mobile, DTH & Data Cards in India. On 8 April 2015, Snapdeal acquired Freecharge what is being referred as the biggest take over in Indian e-commerce sector so far and the biggest Venture Capital exit in India to date. According to The Economic Times, the deal is expected to be anything around US$400 to 450 million.
FreeCharge was started in August, 2010 by Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon. After getting seed funding of an undisclosed amount from Tandon Group and Sequoia Capital in 2010, the company secured Series A funding of INR 200 million from Sequoia Capital in 2011. In November 2012, the company claimed to be doing online recharge of INR 6 million on a daily basis, translating to INR 2.19 billion a year.
On 1 September 2014 Freecharge received $33Million Series B Funding from Sequoia Capital, Sofina and Ru-Net. One of the biggest fund raising by an Indian Technology Startup. On 6 February 2015, FreeCharge further raised $80Million from Hong Kong-based fund Tybourne Capital Management and SF-based fund Valiant Capital Management and existing investors. FreeCharge is building an advertising platform that will capture online and offline purchase behavior and brand preferences of consumers, by offering incentives and discount coupons to users to transact on its platform.
It provides online facility to recharge any prepaid mobile phone in India. The amount paid by the user for recharge is returned in form of shopping coupons of some of the top retailers in India, thereby making the recharge virtually free. The first two retailers for which coupons were available were McDonald's and Barista. and were followed by other big retailers such as Café Coffee Day, Domino's Pizza, Cromā, Puma, Shoppers Stop and Jet Airways.
By January 2012, the number of registered users of the website were 1.5 million which increased to 2.8 million by November 2012. The company currently has a patent pending status for its business model.
Through its app, Freecharge also offer the online wallet features to its users. On 19th May 2016, Freecharge announced that its users on Android can now send and receive money via WhatsApp.
Social media is the primary platform used to reach out to new customers. Rather than relying on direct advertising, the company focuses on unconventional advertising to reach out to customers. In May 2013, the company in association with TheViralFever.com (TVF), an online youth entertainment network, launched a video on YouTube which was a spoof of Emotional Atyachar, a TV show. The name of the company was not directly mentioned so that the video does not look like an advertisement. The company has launched campus marketing program by the name of "FreeCharge Campus Rockstars" to directly reach out to students in campuses of IITs and IIMs.
In March 2013, FreeCharge tied-up with production houses Sony Pictures, Yash Raj Films, UTV Motion Pictures and Viacom 18 to promote their upcoming movies through its portal. Consequently, FreeCharge was the recharge partner of the movies released by these houses such as Man of Steel, Django Unchained, Mere Dad Ki Maruti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.