[Funding Alert] Vernacular Audio Platform Raises Series A Round

Founded in 2018, Mumbai-based Kuku FM houses a wide range of content and has managed to garner a library of over 5,000 hours of content. With the fresh funds, it plans to increase the number of languages on its platform and enhance the production and marketing support to its creator base.

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Vernacular audio platform Kuku FM has raised $5.5 million in a Series A round led by Vertex Ventures, the company said on Thursday. The round also saw the participation of existing investors 3one4 Capital, India Quotient and Shunwei Capital.

Kuku FM

Founded in 2018 by IIT Jodhpur graduates Lal Chand Bisu, Vikas Goyal, and Vinod Kumar Meena, the Mumbai-based start-up aims to reach the common folk of the country with content created specifically for them and resonates with the demographic.

While the cheap availability of smartphones and the Jio revolution has ensured access to cheap data for everyone, over 75 per cent of internet users prefer to consume local language content, a need seemingly unnoticed, according to the company.

In very little time, the company has managed to garner a library of more than 5,000 hours of vernacular content.

Content and Numbers

The app, which has over 1.5 million downloads, houses a wide range of content that includes audiobooks, book summaries, learning courses, and stories. Over the last 1 year, the app has seen 10x user growth and users on average spend 53 minutes on the app everyday.

Currently, they have about 500,000 monthly active users and Bisu told Entrepreneur India that they see that number growing to 10 million by the end of this year. A majority of their audience comes from tier-II cities like Jaipur, Indore and Bhopal, he said.

Kuku FM’s content caters to diverse needs with genres spanning from government exams and personality development to mythology and fiction. “We will also add kids stories, a lot of parents are using the platform for their kids, so that’s something we would be focusing on,” Bisu said.

60 per cent of their users are acquired via Google and Facebook and 40 per cent comes from word-of-mouth promotion.

The company initially had a user-generated content model but the platform has gone through a few tweaks over time. According to Bisu, while anyone that wants to can still submit content, a team now carefully curates what eventually goes through. They currently work with about 3,000 creators.

Using the Funds

With the fresh round of funding, it plans to increase the number of languages on its platform, venturing into Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati by the end of 2020. The company also plans to enhance their production and marketing support to the 3000+ existing creators on their platform, and onboard more talent.

“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,” said Piyush Kharbanda, partner at Vertex, in a statement.

Anurag Ramdasan, principal of investments at 3one4, 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.”