Bengaluru-based self-publishing platform Pratilipi has raised INR 105 Cr in a funding round led by China-based venture capital Qiming Venture Partners.
The startup’s existing investors including Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network India, Shunwei Capital, Contrarian Vriddhi Fund and WEH Ventures had also participated in the round. With this, the total funds raised by Pratilipi has crossed over $20 Mn.
Pratilipi was founded in 2015 by Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Rahul Ranjan, Sahradayi Modi, Prashant Gupta and Ranjeet Pratap Singh. It is an Indian language self-publishing platform currently operational in nine languages including Tamil, Bengali, and Marathi.
It offers a self-publication platform which allows both professional and hobbyist to write and publish their stories in different regional languages. According to the startup, nearly 100K users have written over 800K stories. Pratilipi claims to have more than 5.2 Mn active monthly readers.
“With this fundraise the company will be focusing primarily on improving the technology infrastructure including its recommendation and personalization engines and on expanding the number of writers on platform. The company will also be focusing on expanding to newer forms of storytelling including Audio Stories,” said Pratilipi founder Ranjeet Pratap Singh in response to Inc42’s query
The Pratilipi android app has recorded over 5 Mn downloads in the Google Play store. According to Singh, users spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the android mobile app. About 2.5 Mn messages exchanged between users every month.
In February 2018, Pratilipi run by Nasadiya Technologies had raised $4.3 Mn in its Series A round of funding led by Omidyar Network. Prior to this, it had also raised $1 Mn in funding its seed round in February 2016 led by Nexus Venture Partners and other investors.
This development comes in at a time when the vernacular content market is gaining popularity in India. With deeper penetration of smartphones and the internet, more and more content is being consumed from the non-urban areas.
According to a study by KPMG India and Google, regional language India users are predicted to account for almost 75% of India’s internet user base by 2021. The Indian language internet users are expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% to reach 536 Mn by 2021 as compared to the English users at a CAGR of 3% to reach 199 Mn by that time.
Apart from domestic players, international companies are also stepping up their vernacular content game to strengthen their presence. In March, it was reported that social media giant Facebook is exploring investments in the regional content startups in India. It is speculated that Facebook is in early talks with several content startups, including PopXo for potential investments.
Google-owned YouTube is also looking forward to growing its business in India via its vernacular content. It expects viewership to grow by 40% for the contents produced in Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali by this year.
In February, Matrix Partners India had invested an undisclosed amount in Awaaz, video news and entertainment platform focusing on regional and hyperlocal content.
Last year, search giant Google also announced a new initiative called Navlekha to help Indians publish their content in regional languages.