Tencent is no stranger to the Indian startup ecosystems having already invested in MX Player, MyGate, besides Flipkart, Ola, Swiggy and Byju’s. And now the Chinese internet giant is reportedly close to adding edtech startup Doubtnut and regional language publishing platform Pratilipi to its basket.
As per an unconfirmed report in ET, Tencent is in advanced talks to invest in the Gurugram-based edtech startup and the Bengaluru-based self-publishing platform, to diversify its portfolio and broaden its investments in vernacular or regional language platforms and startups.
The report further adds that Tencent is also in talks with six other companies and is looking to seriously ramp up its investment in the country.
The Chinese tech company is planning to lead a $12-$15 Mn funding round at a valuation of around $50 Mn for Doubtnut, and $10-$20 Mn funding round for Pratilipi at a valuation of over $100 Mn.
Doubtnut did not respond to Inc42’s queries about the potential investment, till the time of publication. The company’s ministry of corporate affairs filings do not indicate the investment either. We will update the story with the company’s responses as soon as they come in.
Why Doubtnut and Pratilipi?
So far, Tencent’s bets have been in startups that have a wide appeal among English-speaking urban audiences, but its most recent investment in MX Player indicated that it’s now moving to back products and services in the regional language segment, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
Launched in October 2017 by Tanushree Nagori and Aditya Shankar, DoubtNut is a comprehensive edtech platform app which offers test prep modules as well as NCERT course curriculum. It features a simple vernacular user interface and uses AI algorithms to surface the right answers and video lessons in response to questions by users, which can even be in the form of a photograph from a school textbook. In April, it raised $3.3 Mn (INR 23 Cr) in a Pre-Series A round of funding led by Surge, Sequoia’s startup accelerator and incubation programme.
Pratilipi was founded in 2015 by Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Rahul Ranjan, Sahradayi Modi, Prashant Gupta and Ranjeet Pratap Singh. It’s an Indian language self-publishing platform that supports nine languages including Tamil, Bengali and Marathi. The startup had earlier raised INR 105 Cr ($14.8 Mn) in a funding round led by China-based venture capital Qiming Venture Partners.
The self-publication platform allows professional and hobbyist to publish stories in different regional languages. Pratilipi claims to have over 100K users and over 800K stories, with 5.2 Mn active monthly readers.
In India, Tencent has been a key player for investing and promoting early-stage startups to leading funding rounds in well-performing companies. Among its investments this year, Tencent has led funding in Bengaluru-based neobank NiYO Solutions and Khatabook which enables small and medium enterprises to record and track business transactions digitally. The Chinese investor was also reported to be in talks with PoS major Pine Labs in October 2019 in for fresh funding.
UPDATE: November 06, 2019 | 14:59 PM
Pratilipi Declines Comment
Pratilipi founder Ranjeet Pratap Singh declined to comment on the Tencent investment.