[Funding alert] Vernacular audio startup KukuFM raises $5.5M in Series A round led by Vertex Ventures

With this fresh round of funding, vernacular audio startup Kuku FM plans to widen the scope of its audience by increasing the number of languages on its platform.

After registering a 10x user growth over the last year, Mumbai-based vernacular audio platform KukuFM has raised $5.5 million in a Series A round of financing, led by Vertex Ventures with existing investors Shunwei Capital, India Quotient, and 3one4 Capital participating.

Co-founded by IIT-Jodhpur alumni Lal Chand Bisu, Vikas Goyal, and Vinod Kumar Meena, Kuku FM claims to be India’s biggest vernacular audio platform with over 5,000 hours of content in regional languages. The app houses a wide range of audio content, like audiobooks, book summaries, learning courses, stories.

This Series A round of investment comes right after the startup had raised its seed funding in November 2019.

The Kuku FM team

Commenting on the funding round, Lal Chand Bisu, CEO and Co-founder, said,

“I’ve always believed in the power of knowledge and education. Growing up in a small town of Rajasthan, I have experienced, first-hand, the impact that easy access to quality content can have on a person."

Kuku FM has a 4.9 user rating on the Google Play store. Over the past one year, the app has seen 10x user growth and has over 1.5 million downloads. According to Lal Chand Bisu, daily users spend an average of 53 minutes on the app every day.

With the average cost of 1GB of mobile data at just Rs 18, India has the cheapest internet in the world. With easy access to smartphones, India has seen a remarkable 17x growth in digital content consumption over just two years. The internet has become a mass product, and yet, over 75 percent of users prefer local language content over English.

Piyush Kharbanda, Partner at Vertex Ventures, said,

“While a lot has rightfully been said about the opportunity in the content space in India, we have really not seen many companies vying for the share of ear of the Indian consumer. We believe that there is a fairly large opportunity in catering to the audio content needs of the regional language user, and Bisu, Vinod, and Vikas are building a platform that is well positioned to be the market leader in the space. We are excited to partner and team along with Shunwei, 3one4, and IQ to support and be a part of the journey.”

By the end of 2020, the Kuku FM team plans to venture into Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, and Gujarati. The startup also plans to enhance its production and marketing support to the 3,000-plus existing creators on its platform, and on-board more talent this year.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)


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