Shunwei Capital continues to back regional content platforms in India

Indian podcast platform ropes in Xiaomi Ventures, Shunwei Capital and others to invest in the company.

Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash

India’s burgeoning vernacular language content market is receiving another boost as Mumbai-based local language podcast company Kuku FM said Tuesday it has raised an undisclosed amount of money from Shunwei Capital, India Quotient, and 3One4 Capital.

Currently available only in Hindi the most-used language after English in India, the company plans to include other regional languages and will use the fresh funding towards that effort. It said it is actively working with local content creators who are able to create podcasts in India’s major 23 languages.

Co-founded by Lal Chand Bisu, Vinod Meena, and Vikas Goyal the company publishes audience generated audio content in the form of podcasts that includes stories, poems, quotes by famous personalities, among many other topics.

“We knew people prefer content in their regional language over English. So we decided to test our hypothesis by launching an MVP with Hindi audio content. We did exactly that. The response we got from the get-go was overwhelming. People loved consuming news, stories, spiritual and mythological content, ” Vinod Meena, co-founder at Kuku FM, said in a statement.

The company arms its content creators with production capabilities, as well as distribution and marketing. It claims in a year it has managed to produce over 2100 podcasts, with 1000-plus creators.

Kuku FM said in the name of audio content people mostly listened to music. It believes consumers are now looking for different, inclusive, and enhancing listening experiences.

“All those famous niche poetry, investigative story narrations, mythological storytelling, comedy shows, game shows, all of it is now no more just video-only content. That’s where podcasts are changing the game of audio content,” the company said in a statement.

It seems that companies with the capabilities of providing local language content creators a platform has caught the fancy of Chinese VCs. After backing short video platforms, VCs are now looking at platforms with user-generated non-rich content in vernacular language that showcase news, entertainment, and content that gets quickly viral.

Local investors have been watching and staking on the country’s growing online audio market. Anurag Radasan, principal at 3One4 Capital, said that they’ve been “tracking the rise of vernacular audio consumption as it becomes more deeply embedded in our daily routines.”

Gagan Goyal, partner at India Quotient, also told local media Mint in an interview that “with the rise in internet penetration we saw a huge demand for regional language content. Along with that, there were strong signs of audio content demand.”

One of its competitors Pratilipi, a digital platform for self-publishing books in a vernacular language that also uploads audio-books raised USD 14.8 million led by Qiming Ventures, with participation from Shunwei Capital. It has also invested in platforms with a focus on vernacular content such as social networking site ShareChat and news aggregator in regional languages Dailuhunt.

Late last year, Shunwei Capital raised USD 1.21 billion for global investments and considers India as the second most important market after its home-country.