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Nandan Nilekani's Fundamentum Partnership leads $21.8 million funding in Kuku FM

Kuku FM currently has a base of more than 1.6 million active paid subscribers and aims to achieve over 10 million paid subscribers by the end of 2023.

September 21, 2022 / 06:44 PM IST

Nandan Nilekani-led Fundamentum Partnership has led a $21.8 million investment into audio content platform Kuku FM, marking its first investment from the recently launched second fund of $227 million.

Prateek Jain, a Principal at the Fundamentum partnership will join the company board as part of this investment.

The round also saw participation from new investor Paramark and existing investors such as South Korean gaming giant Krafton, 3one4 Capital, Vertex Ventures, Verlinvest and FounderBank Capital.

This is the startup's second fundraising this year after bagging $19.5 million funding from Krafton, Google, and Verlinvest among others earlier this year. It has raised a total $47 million financing to date.

Kuku FM will use the funds raised to expand its catalogue by foraying into new categories, adding support for more languages and strengthening its content creation ecosystem, the company said.

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"The India-digitization story has opened up opportunities across sectors. The content ecosystem has particularly benefited from rapid growth in internet users. In its 4-year journey, Kuku FM has built a business with robust fundamentals, strong monetization model and a national creator-listener community" said Prateek Jain, Principal, Fundamentum Partnership.

Jain said Kuku FM’s digital-first, tech-led approach, with its focus on the ‘Bharat’ audience fits ideally into their investment focus.

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Started in 2018 by Lal Chand Bisu, Vinod Meena and Vikas Goyal, Kuku FM provides content creation tools to its users enabling them to create, develop and post content. It claims to currently have over 30,000 creators on its platform and more than 1.6 million active paid subscribers with plans to achieve a base of over 10 million paid subscribers by the end of 2023.

Kuku FM currently offers over 150,000 hours of content across audiobooks, stories, book summaries, courses, and podcasts in seven Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam on its platform, with a majority of the content exclusive to the platform.

The startup said the content offered on the platform spans across various genres including fiction and non-fiction audiobooks, personal finance, self-help education titles, entertainment, news, mythology, spirituality, learning and inspirational content, among others.

Kuku FM CEO Lal Chand Bisu said "Their (Fundamentum's) founder-first approach will prove valuable to us and we look forward to leveraging the team's entrepreneurial experiences to propel Kuku FM's scale-up. Kuku FM’s growth demonstrates the Indian audience’s appetite for premium, unique, and immersive digital audio experiences.

Bisu said they have seen rapidly growing interest for content in regional languages in Tier II and III cities, semi-urban and rural segments and they aim to continue building a strong and diverse creator network that caters to this segment of the "Bharat" audience.

In March 2022, rival Pocket FM had also bagged $65 million in Series C funding led by Goodwater Capital, South Korean internet giant Naver and existing investor Tanglin Venture Partners.

NoteA Kuku FM representive had previously said the $21.8 million funding round included the $19.5 million financing round it raised earlier this year. However, after the story was published, they have clarified that both are separate funding rounds.
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Vikas SN
first published: Sep 21, 2022 04:25 pm
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