[Funding Alert] OTT Platform STAGE Raises INR 8.5 Cr Funding From Venture Catalysts The platform aims to create unique and original content for Indian users in local dialects such as Haryanvi, Rajasthani, Bundelkhandi, Bhojpuri and Konkani, among others

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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Integrated incubator and accelerator Venture Catalysts on Thursday announced to have recently led an INR 8.5 crore investment in STAGE, a dialect based hyper-local over-the-top (OTT) platform.

The funding round also saw participation from several organizations and investors such as Aavishkaar, Bulbul.tv, MakeMyTrip, Sarcha Advisors, POSist, VIU, Hetal Sonpal, Beyond Key Systems, Workie, Janarthan Balasubrramanian, KAAF Investments, and ConversionX.

In 2014, Vinay Singhal, Shashank Vaishnav, and Parveen Singhal created WittyFeed, a content curation website that became the world's second-largest content company after BuzzFeed.

"Our platform is built to capture and celebrate the sense of community that exists in Bharat on the basis of dialects, art forms, and artists. The extensive Indian market is looking to consume high-quality professionally-generated content but no one's creating it. That is the need gap that our company is solving under this new vision of building a premium and sensible content company for Bharat. The investment will help us increase our rate of content creation and scale distribution in order to hit the next 2 million users," said Vinay Singhal, founder, STAGE.

In 2019, WittyFeed pivoted to launch its dialect-based OTT platform STAGE, featuring art forms like folk, poetry, storytelling, comedy and motivational content in local Indian dialects. It will also feature weekly information-led satire-based content by fictional characters.

With a potential addressable market of 450 million, it is a dialect-based content platform that focuses on artist-led content instead of movies and Web series.

"Building an OTT platform requires a deep knowledge of both technology and content. By shifting their focus on performing arts instead of falling into the already saturated market of movies and web series by other OTT giants, STAGE has created a perfect niche for them. The required set of experiences under their belt in content creation and using technology to monetize content will help them build a profitable business out of their fresh vision. Since the WittyFeed founding team has already made their mark by becoming the second largest content creators in the world, it's only a matter of time before STAGE will receive similar success in India," added Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, co-founder, and president, Venture Catalysts.

STAGE is driven by the mission to create high quality informational and entertainment content for Indian users by utilizing the potential of various performance-based arts deeply embedded in the lifestyles of billions of Indians. Dialect makes up a major part of an individual's identity in India and is deeply intertwined with their culture. By turning the spotlight on dialects, the platform seeks to celebrate all the shades of India's cultures.

The company is currently pre-revenue and plans to launch a subscription for monetization at the end of January 2021.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

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