Mobile-first publishing startup, Juggernaut, has raised about $2.2 Mn (INR 15 Cr) in a funding round led by FabIndia’s founder William Bissell, Infosys’ co-founder Nandan Nilekani and Boston Consulting Group’s MD Neeraj Aggarwal.
Founded by former publisher and editor-in-chief of Penguin Random House India, Chiki Sarkar, and former vice president (growth) at restaurant search service Zomato, Durga Raghunath, Juggernaut aims to create a world-class Indian publishing company that will give authors both a digital and a physical platform. The startups plans to establish new ways of commissioning and rethinking the reading experience, book distribution and payments.
The firm has group editor of ABP Group, Aveek Sarkar; founder and CEO of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma; former CFO of Hindustan Unilever, D Sundaram, among its advisers.
Durga Raghunath, who brings 13 years of her experience in Juggernaut, will be the CEO of the company. Her previous stints include heading digital operations for Mint and The Wall Street Journal in India, founding Indian news organization-Firstpost, leading Network18’s digital businesses and responsibility for customer acquisition and retention at Zomato.
On her new venture, Durga said, “There are more Indians accessing the internet, reading, writing and paying online than five years ago. I cannot imagine something more exciting than rethinking the underdeveloped book market and getting Indians to read.”
According to report published by IAMAI and KPMG, India had 159 Mn smartphone users as of August 2015. According to Durga, Mobile is the superset, but all books published in print cannot be on mobile. Similarly, everything published on mobile does not necessarily have a physical book.
This emulates that e-books account for only 7-8% of publishing revenue, this is what Juggernaut aims to tap, putting the mobile ahead of print to target India’s mobile boom.
Juggernaut plans to publish 50 titles each year, starting from April 2016. It will be distributed and warehoused by French publisher Hachette India.
Juggernaut aims to keep low cost for the mobile books and follow freemium model to encourage users to sample Juggernaut’s offerings.
Chiki Sarkar said, “At Juggernaut, we want to create a world-class Indian publishing company that will be recognized internationally and pioneer new ways of publishing and reading. My ambition has been to build the strongest, most respected publishing team in the country with the best partners and advisers in every field.”
Sarkar also hopes that Juggernaut can address publishing’s existential crisis.
Along with Sarkar and Raghunath, Juggernaut’s founding team includes some of the country’s most experienced publishing professionals like Gavin Morris, a senior art director who has worked with publishers like Transworld, Faber and HarperCollins; Jaishree Ram Mohan, industry’s most senior managing editor, who ran the country’s largest copy-editing team; Nandini Mehta, editor of non-fiction books authored Ramachandra Guha, Katherine Boo, Naseeruddin Shah and B.N. Goswamy; and R. Sivapriya, whose translation list was shortlisted for the London Book Fair’s Industry Excellence Awards and whose authors include Perumal Murugan, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi and Sudhir Kakar.
The digital and business teams include Saurav Roy (CPO) and Neel Karinje.
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