[Funding Alert] Samsung Venture Leads $3 Mln Round In Sourav Ganguly-backed Flickstree
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Flickstree, an artificial intelligence-powered video publisher network, has raised $3 million in a Series A round led by Samsung Venture Investment. LionRock Capital, Accretio Investments, Venture Catalysts, angel investor LD Sharma and SOSV were among the others who also participated in the round.
Sourav Ganguly, former captain of the Indian men's cricket team and currently the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has been one of the company's early backers.
Founded in 2015 by Saurabh Singh, Rahul Jain and Nagendra Sangra, the Mumbai-based start-up helps publishers such as Samsung and Xiaomi offer engaging content through their respective video platforms and monetize it by embedding the Flickstree network.
The new funds would be used to create and aggregate more content as they look to solidify their presence in India as well as expand to certain international markets, on board advertisers, hire more talent and develop their technology further.
Cashing In On the Video Boom
After the spectacular entry of Reliance Jio made data several times cheaper and more accessible to Indians living across cities, especially the smaller ones, video consumption went on an overdrive.
According to co-founder and chief executive officer Singh, when the video boom happened, plenty of publishers also wanted to cash in but content acquisition or even aggregation turned out to be an expensive affair. Many of them didn’t have the technology to stream video content.
“So we said that we will solve this massive worldwide problem for publishers,” Singh told Entrepreneur India.
The company said it currently works with over 100 publishers and has over 50 million users. Publishers like Samsung use the network through a pre-installed application on the phone.
Building Tech, Creating Content
The company spent a considerable amount of time building the technology that powers the network, and at the time worked with content creators to aggregate and offer the right kind of videos to the customers. Through AI, the network detects a customers’ interests and offers curated content accordingly.
Since last year, Flickstree has also started producing its own content, which Singh said was non-fiction, so the costs aren’t too high. A big chuck of their content is available in ten regional Indian languages, ensuring that they cater to the growing video demand in smaller cities.
Singh said the division in terms of consumption was 60-40 in favor of non-metro cities while the Hindi belt consisting of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar contributed majorly to those numbers.
The monetization of content also started in 2019 with the company offering different ways of doing it.
“We largely have two kinds of content; one is entertainment which is monetized through video ads and second is shopping content which is monetized through performance marketing,” said Singh.
Flickstree keeps a certain amount from the advertisers that it on boards and passes on the remaining to the respective publishers.
Albeit still early days, Singh said ever since the advertising was enabled, the company’s topline has grown 100 per cent on a quarterly basis.
Plans Going Forward
Flickstree currently has about 500,000 videos and the plan is to take that to a million in the next couple of years. On the publishers’ side, the targets are aggressive. Singh said he sees the publisher base growing to 5,000 in the same period.
In terms of monthly active users, it is about 10 million currently.
“For us, the good thing is we can crack one large publisher and most of their users consuming content come on our platform because they're embedding. So, the number can actually go higher but from our target perspective, we are targeting about 70 odd million users in the next two years,” said Singh.
Internationally, the company is already doing some business in Singapore and the Middle East but now, there will be a more concentrated effort to focus on markets such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.