Self-publishing platform Pratilipi has raised INR 70.68 Cr in its Series C funding round led by Chinese Internet giant Tencent. Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited (Times Group), Nexus Ventures, Shunwei Ventures and Omidyar Network were also a part of the fund mop-up of the Bengaluru-based startup.
According to the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) filings accessed by Inc42, Pratilipi’s parent organisation Nasadiya Technologies raised INR 57.39 Cr from Tencent, INR 5.38 Cr from Shunwei Ventures, INR 4.31 Cr from Omidyar Network, INR 1.8 Cr from Nexus and INR 1.8 Cr from the Times Group.
As part of the deal, Pratilipi has issued 3,379 preference shares to Tencent while Shunwei Ventures got 317 preference shares. Meanwhile, ON Mauritius bagged 254 preference shares while Nexus Ventures and Times Group got 106 each.
Earlier, reports had surfaced that Tencent was going to lead the Series C round of Pratilipi to bolster its portfolio on Indian regional startups. Prior to this funding round, Pratilipi had raised INR 105 Cr in a round led by China-based venture capital Qiming Venture Partners in June 2019. Moreover, Pratilipi raised $4.3 Mn in its Series A round of funding led by Omidyar Network in February 2018.
Founded in March 2015 by Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Rahul Ranjan, Sahradayi Modi, Prashant Gupta and Ranjeet Pratap Singh, Pratilipi is self-publishing platform currently operational in twelve Indian languages — Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu, Telugu, English, Punjabi and Odia.
On the online platform, both professional and hobbyist writers can publish their books, stories, essays, which is read by millions. The startup claims that there are over 15 Lakh stories available online on the platform. The mobile application also has audio story content of more than 1,000 hours.
Readers can discover thousands of stories, poems, articles, magazines, novels, essays, among others in vernacular languages for free. Pratilipi offers an option to create a separate library for users. On the Google Play Store, the application has been downloaded by more than 10 Mn users.
A KPMG India and Google study notes that regional language Indian 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.
Based on these numbers, investors have turned bullish on vernacular startups in India. Recently, Mumbai-based vernacular audio platform Kuku FM raised $5.5 Mn Series A funding round while vernacular edtech startup Entri has closed a seed round of $1.4 Mn led by Good Capital in February 2020.