[Funding Alert] FrontRow Raises $3.2 Mn From Deepika Padukone, Lightspeed And Elevation Capital The platform will use this capital to add more courses and categories, expand community offering, and go deeper into various course formats

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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Learning and community platform FrontRow announced on Wednesday that it has raised a seed round of $3.2 million led by venture capital firms Lightspeed and Elevation Capital, along with Deepika Padukone's family office.

Founded by Mikhil Raj and Shubhadit Sharma with Ishaan Preet Singh earlier this year, the company aims to help people learn from the very best and get better at their passion, be it music, comedy, cricket, among others.

The company will use this fundraise to add more courses and categories, expand its community offering, and go deeper into various course formats.

There is a massive demand for learning in non-academic fields according to FrontRow co-founder Singh who estimates "there are 26 million-plus people who already pay to learn in these categories. There is little to no structured curriculum available, the entire teaching market is unorganized and the quality of resources available for learning is very low. In fact, the decades of learnings amassed by the best singers, cricketers, or writers are often inaccessible to most learners."

The platform offers classes taught by some of the most renounced celebrities in the field, paired with a community platform that gives learners regular activities, competitions, and peer engagement to practice and showcase their talent.

The company already has tens of thousands of beta users participating in their community groups pre-launch. According to FrontRow co-founder Sharma, "A big part of learning is interacting with peers and mentors as we did in school and college, which is even more important in non-academic fields. Typically, these happen offline, on a cricket ground, or in comedy clubs, but the vast majority of people do not have access to these. In our communities, we see users from across the country, with the massive pull from small towns such as Shivpur, where a user actually set up their own comedy club."

FrontRow's first set of instructors includes industry stalwarts such as Neha Kakkar, DIVINE and Gully Gang, Suresh Raina, Amit Trivedi, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

"Growing up, I was not exactly academically inclined. My interests lied in diverse spheres and activities outside of the traditional classroom- dance, sports, music, modeling, and performance arts, to name a few. And if there's one thing I wish I had access to while growing up, it would be a platform like FrontRow - one that gives individuals access to abundant knowledge in non-academic fields as well as connects them to a community of peers and professionals in their field of interest. I am glad that this gap in education has now been identified, and I look forward to partnering with this dynamic team on what I believe is going to be an exciting journey ahead," said Deepika Padukone, while commenting on the investment.

The establishment is a multi-disciplinary team based in Bangalore and Mumbai, combining product and technology with experts from the production and content creation.

"We've known this team for years and are extremely excited to back a team building a new paradigm for learning – a cross between learning, entertainment, and community," shared Lightspeed partner Akshay Bhushan. "We have been early investors across these categories with Byju's and Sharechat and believe that a solution needs to pick the best from all of them."

The company's vision is to make this knowledge accessible to a wide audience. Hence, even though the courses are developed over months of deep interaction with the celebrity instructors and created with movie-level production quality to make them fun and engaging, the price points remain affordable.

Bringing A list instructors on board was a major milestone for the company, FrontRow co-founder Raj adds, "Each one of them recalled that they faced problems while learning as well and they wished they had access to courses like this when they were starting out. The instructors are all extremely bought into the concept and we are excited to have them."

"We love companies that discover a problem that's massive but just hidden below the surface and this is exactly what FrontRow has found. Our past investments in the education, social and creator space such as Unacademy, Sharechat, and CampK12 have made us extremely bullish on the opportunity to create large learning and community platforms in India. Once we spoke to FrontRow's early users, we saw similar potential, and the need for a platform like this became very clear," added Elevation Capital partner Mayank Khanduja.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

Former Staff

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