The new year kicks in with early-stage content generation platform, Manch raising seed funding of $750,000 from Stellaris Venture Partners on Thursday, January 3.
The platform will be using the seed funding to build its technology and fuel product innovation. Rahul Chowdhri, Managing Partner at Stellaris Venture Partners, in a statement, said:
"India has close to 230 million Indian language speaking internet users today who lack a platform to express themselves as the existing platforms cater to only 175 million English speaking internet users of the country. The existing platforms catering to the vernacular audience focus on content consumption use cases and nobody has tried to build a community or discussion platform for the local audience. This audience uses chat groups for following their interests (jobs, jokes, news etc) but the user experience is broken."
Bengaluru-based Manch was founded by IIT-Bombay alumni Pritam Roy in April 2018. With more than 30,000 monthly active users, Manch focuses on creating content across formats - video, audio, image and text, in vernacular languages.
The idea of Manch came to Pritam when he was travelling across rural India. While there, he participated in local Panchayats held in the villages and saw that conversations mostly revolved around news and content relevant to their interest.
"There is a need for a medium where people can express their opinion on everyday news and event and can explore content mapped to their interest in their own language," said Pritam.
Manch thus focussed on capturing the 'next 500 million' Tier II and Tier III market who are conversant with Indian languages.
"We feel that Manch is solving for a huge latent need by creating a discussions platform for the vernacular audience," Rahul Chowdhri said.
Manch allows its users to create their own feed by following other users, to discuss topics - religion, food, romance, cricket, news, festivals and events.
Pritam has previously worked with Walt Disney's product team and started up FLatPi, a talent management space.
Last year has been all about the 'next 500 million users'. Content platforms such as ShareChat, DailyHunt, Vokal, Newsdog and Pratilipi saw exponential growth in the number of users, and investors and the ecosystem put their faith in them. All of them raised funding.
Thanks to the growing number of internet users. Of the total internet users, close to 95.78 percent access the internet through their mobile phones, a TRAI report added.
News aggregator Newsdog, which focuses on Indian language content, raised $50 million in a round led by Tencent and others. Vokal raised $6.5 million, ShareChat raised $118 million across two funding rounds and DailyHunt raised $6.5 million.
It just isn't Indian investors, even foreign investors have been closely looking at Indian language content platforms. Shunwei, in 2018, focused on Indian language content, investing in Vokal, which is TaxiForSure co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishnan’s new peer-to-peer knowledge sharing platform for non-English internet users. It also backed the Indian language self-publishing platform Pratilipi, which raised $4.3 million in a Series A round in February.
It looks like the trend to focus on Indian language content will continue in 2019 as well.