Bengaluru-based gamified audio-based romance and friend discovery startup FRND has raised $6.5 Mn in a Series A round led by South Korean gaming giant and PUBG maker KRAFTON. Existing investors India Quotient and Elevation Capital also participated in the round.
The funds raised will be used to increase the number of languages FRND is available in, strengthen the technology ecosystem and expand national and global footprint.
KRAFTON’s $6.5 Mn infusement in FRND is also the most recent investment in an Indian startup. Its previous investments include $9 Mn in the homegrown video game streaming platform Loco, $22.5 Mn in esports firm NODWIN and $48 Mn in storytelling platform Pratilipi.
The latest stream of investment in Indian companies lies in line with KRAFTON’s announcement last year. When it had revealed its plans to invest a whopping $100 Mn to cultivate the local video game, esports, entertainment, and IT industries in India.
“FRND is a unique product that is disrupting an entire category with a unique local solution that global companies will find tough to adapt to. We see great potential in this high-volume transaction digital startup and are happy to invest in its growth story. We are driven to make a difference to the digital ecosystem in this country and will continue exploring more such opportunities where we can back young and growing startups,” Sean Hyunil Sohn, head of the India division at KRAFTON said in a statement.
KRAFTON saw one of its biggest markets India – lose last year when the central government was on a spree to outlaw Chinese apps citing security reasons. Though PUBG was created by KRAFTON, the publishing rights of the game were given to Chinese company Tencent. Since then KRAFTON has been walking on the eggshells trying to capture the Indian market — majorly via acquisitions.
Founded in 2019 by three IIT Kanpur alum Bhanu Pratap Singh Tanwar, Hardik Bansal and Harshvardhan Chhangani, FRND, is a first-of-its-kind dating app. It allows youngsters to connect through live-streamed formats like FRND dating and games such as ‘Raja Rani Chor Police’, ‘Voice Match’ with a focus on creating one-on-one connections.
Users can connect via audio in a pseudo-anonymous manner and start conversations through a matchmaker. The matchmaker-led game and chat rooms on the platforms come with certain moderation systems that allow boys and girls to connect and have safe yet engaging conversations.
FRND is currently available on the Google Play Store, and an average user spends approximately 25 minutes each day using the app. In 2019, FRND has raised an undisclosed amount from India Quotient.
According to Inc42 Plus analysis, the mobile gaming industry in 2020 was a market worth $1.2 Bn, while online dating was worth $323 Mn in 2020. While the former will be a market of $7 Bn by 2025, the latter is expected to reach a market value of $791 Mn in the same period.