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[Funding Alert] Kuku FM in Talks to Raise $5-7 Million From Existing and New Investors The Series A funding round will see participation from existing investors including India Quotient and China's Shunwei Capital

By Prasannata Patwa

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Within two months of raising its last round of funds, Kuku FM—a regional language podcast app—is in talks to raise another $5-7 million, two people close to the development said. The Series A funding round will see participation from existing investors including India Quotient and China's Shunwei Capital.

A new investor has also participated in the round whose name Entrepreneur India could not ascertain immediately. The two sources requested anonymity as the discussions are confidential.

Founded in 2018 by Vinod Meena, Lal Chand Bisu and Vikas Goyal, Kuku FM provides podcasts in Hindi across genres including devotional, talk-shows, motivational, comedy, and even jingles. The start-up did not respond to queries sent by Entrepreneur India.

This investment comes almost a year after decline in investments in early stage regional content apps.

Regional content start-ups were operating in the hottest category in 2018. More than a dozen Indian and Chinese apps entered the space in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Tamil, among other regional languages, targeting the next 200-300 million people in India living in tier II and tier III towns. Social media app ShareChat, short-video apps Clip and TikTok, live video app Bigo Live, and voice-based apps such as Bolo App, and Manch were a few notable entrants among a dozen other apps.

Many venture capitalists wanted a piece of this pie and huge funds started flowing in even though there was no clear path towards monetisation.

Bengaluru-based ShareChat saw aggressive growth and raised more than $200 million from major investors. Founded in 2015, the start-up counts Twitter—the Jack Dorsey-founded micro blogging service—as one of its investors.

Since mid-2019, investment in home-grown regional start-ups began to decline as competition from deep-pocketed Chinese giants intensified. ByteDance, world's most valued start-up, was pouring in millions of dollars in TikTok and Helo for customer acquisition.

With rise in podcast consumption, audio entertainment is increasingly gaining traction. Amazon-owned Audible, which launched Suno, Swedish-music app Spotify, and Times Internet-owned music streaming app Gaana, among other local and international player, are pouring in huge funds in production and advertisement to gain customers.

Apart from the biggies, Kuku FM competes with Khabri, and Pratilipi's audio books feature, among other apps, in the audio entertainment space.

Prasannata Patwa

Entrepreneur Staff



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