Regional language audio content platform Khabri has raised $ 2.1 Mn in a Pre-Series A funding round led by Liquid 2 Ventures, Pioneer Fund, and Rebel Fund. Angel investors such as Runway cofounder Siqi Chen, former Google India MD Shailesh Rao, Goody cofounder Edward Lando and others also participated. The company is also backed by Y Combinator.
The company said the funding will be used to strengthen its product and tech offerings. Additionally, it will look to strengthen capabilities such as improving the recommendation and search engine for easing content discovery. For creators, the company will be focusing on adding more content creation tools such as noise cancellation and volume normalization with machine learning techniques.
Currently, the app has close to 4 Mn downloads, and recently launched over 40 audio courses in Hindi for aspirants who are preparing for government job exams. The startup said that its future plans entail launching in multiple languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, etc, in the next two quarters.
“Around 850 Mn Indians, below the age of 35, are looking at financial stability. This is achievable via learning, upskilling, and upgrading in the language of their comfort. What better way to do it through a medium which is completely non-intrusive i.e. audio,” Pulkit Sharma, cofounder and CEO of Khabri, said.
India’s Growing Podcast Appetite
A 2019 report by Deloitte found that globally, podcasts could be a $3.3 Bn+ business by 2025. According to KPMG, India is the third-largest podcast-listening market globally and is expected to be valued at INR 17.62 Cr by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 34.5%. As the popularity of the new content format is growing at a fast clip, major music-streaming platforms, from Spotify to JioSaavn to Gaana and more, are adding podcasts to their offerings.
According to a FICCI-EY report released last year, 47% of Indian internet users in the 16-64 age group listen to podcasts. India’s podcast landscape comprises more than 40 multilingual podcast companies, including popular content startups such as Tencent-backed Pratilipi (20 Mn MAU), Fosun RZ-backed Headfone, IVM Podcasts and Suno India, among others.
Companies apart from Khabri that offer their users free, end-to-end platforms to create, filter, edit, distribute and monetise podcasts and other forms of digital audio content include HubHopper, Vaaka Media, and Kuku FM. In February this year, Hubhopper raised funds from media giant Hindustan Times Media as part of a strategic investment.
Besides these dedicated platforms, Spotify and Amazon Music have also launched regional language podcasts for the Indian market in the past year. In April, Amazon launched a slew of Indian original podcast shows. The first set includes shows by creators such as Jay Shetty, Cyrus Broacha, Neil Bhatt, Robin Sharma, Sadhguru, Anupam Gupta as well as international Amazon Originals such as The First One with DJ Khaled, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, Disgraceland for its users.
In the same month, Spotify announced new podcasts from India including four new Spotify Originals and one exclusive podcast partnership. The original content includes Tamil talk show The RJ Balaji Podcast, Hindi comedy podcast Andar Ki Baat by Amit Tandon, psychological horror show Darr Ka Raaz with Dr. Phobia, and true crime series Crime Kahaniyan.