After registering a 10x user growth over the last year, Mumbai-based vernacular audio platform Kuku FM has raised $5.5 million in a Series A round of financing, led by Vertex Ventures with existing investors Shunwei Capital, India Quotient, and 3one4 Capital participating. This Series A round of investment comes right after the startup had raised its seed funding in November 2019.
Founded in 2018 by Bisu, Vinod Meena and Vikas Goyal, Kuku FM is a podcast platform trying to reinvent traditional radio by allowing listeners to discover new, emerging and diverse audio content in various languages, and also engage with creators. Over the past year, the company claims that the app has seen 10x user growth and has over 1.5 Mn downloads.
A non-music audio platform, Bisu said the content ranges from long-form audio stories to podcasts, fiction and nonfiction audiobooks, self-help titles and more in genres such as education, entertainment, news, mythology, spirituality, learning and inspirations, stories, poems, and even jingles.
Kuku FM has a 4.9 user rating on the Google Play store. Over the past one year, the app has seen 10x user growth and has over 1.5 million downloads. According to Lal Chand Bisu, daily users spend an average of 53 minutes on the app every day. With the average cost of 1GB of mobile data at just Rs 18, India has the cheapest internet in the world. With easy access to smartphones, India has seen a remarkable 17x growth in digital content consumption over just two years. The internet has become a mass product, and yet, over 75 percent of users prefer local language content over English.
Commenting on the funding round, Lal Chand Bisu, CEO and Co-founder, said, “I’ve always believed in the power of knowledge and education. Growing up in a small town of Rajasthan, I have experienced, first-hand, the impact that easy access to quality content can have on a person.”
Piyush Kharbanda, Partner at Vertex Ventures, said, “While a lot has rightfully been said about the opportunity in the content space in India, we have really not seen many companies vying for the share of ear of the Indian consumer. We believe that there is a fairly large opportunity in catering to the audio content needs of the regional language user, and Bisu, Vinod, and Vikas are building a platform that is well positioned to be the market leader in the space. We are excited to partner and team along with Shunwei, 3one4, and IQ to support and be a part of the journey.”
Anurag Ramdasan, principal – Investments, 3one4 Capital, said, “We continue to be highly impressed by the phenomenal growth and engagement metrics exhibited by Kuku FM and the continued interest they have received from the investor ecosystem.”
For 2020, Kuku aims to bring monetisation into play and grow its community of creators 10x with support for three new regional Indian languages. By the end of 2020, the Kuku FM team plans to venture into Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, and Gujarati. The startup also plans to enhance its production and marketing support to the 3,000-plus existing creators on its platform, and on-board more talent this year.
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