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Vertex Ventures lead USD 5.5 million Series A round in vernacular content startup Kuku FM

The company will use the fresh cash to increase the number of local languages on its platform.

Source: Kuku FM

Online audio content startup Kuku FM said Thursday it has raised USD 5.5 million in its Series A round of funding led by Vertex Ventures, the venture capital arm of Temasek Holdings, and with participation from existing investors Shunwei Capital, 3One4 Capital, and India Quotient.

The new investment comes only three months after the firm raised an undisclosed amount of money from the same three investors, KrASIA reported.

Started in 2018 by Lal Chand Bisu, Vikas Goyal, and Vinod Kumar Meena, KuKu FM is an online podcast that provides audio content in vernacular language.

In a statement, Kuku FM said it will use the fresh round of funding to enhance production and marketing support to its over 3000 creators on the platform. The firm added that it will also onboard more talent this year, and will increase the number of languages from only Hindi to other vernacular languages such as Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, and Gujarati. Kuku FM works with professional radio jockeys who create podcasts out of novels and short stories that the company acquires from publishers.

“While a lot has rightfully been said about the opportunity in the content space in India, we have really not seen many companies vying for the share of the ear of the Indian consumer. We believe that there is a fairly large opportunity in catering to the audio content needs of the regional language user,” said Piyush Kharbanda, partner at Vertex Ventures.

Kuku FM allows its users to upload original podcasts, as well to work with professionals to translate well-known books into podcasts. It claims to have over 5,000 hours of content in an array of categories such as personality development, fiction, motivation, mythology, spirituality, and religion.

“I’ve always believed in the power of knowledge and education. Growing up in a small town of Rajasthan, I have experienced, first-hand, the impact that easy access to quality content can have on a person. With Kuku FM, we are aiming to democratize audio content in languages that are close to the hearts of Indians,” said Lal Chand Bisu, CEO and co-founder of the company.

The firm competes with Bengaluru-based Headfone, which raised USD 750,000 from Fosun RZ Capital in a seed round in July last year. Another competitor, Khabri, was chosen for the Y Combinator’s summer batch last year. Apart from these firms, self-publishing platform, Pratilipi is also entering the podcast and audiobook market, after raising USD 14 million from Qiming Ventures in 2019.