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Nandan Nilekani’s Fundamentum leads $21.8 mn funding in audio startup Kuku FM

Nandan Nilekani’s Fundamentum leads $21.8 mn funding in audio startup Kuku FM

Kuku FM is Fundamentum’s first investment from its $227-million second fund, which was launched in August. Prateek Jain, who’s Principal at Fundamentum, will be joining Kuku FM’s Board.

This will be the maiden investment of Nandan Nilekani’s venture fund Fundamentum Partnership from its recently launched second fund, which has a corpus of $227 Mn. (Photo: Reuters) This will be the maiden investment of Nandan Nilekani’s venture fund Fundamentum Partnership from its recently launched second fund, which has a corpus of $227 Mn. (Photo: Reuters)

Audio streaming and podcast platform Kuku FM has raised $21.8 million in a Series B1 round led by Nandan Nilekani’s venture fund Fundamentum Partnership and Paramark Ventures. This marks Fundamentum’s maiden investment from its recently launched second fund, which has a corpus of $227 million. Prateek Jain, who’s Principal at Fundamentum, will be joining Kuku FM’s Board.

Kuku FM’s existing investors KRAFTON Inc, 3one4 Capital, Vertex, Verlinvest and FounderBank Capital also participated in the round. The Mumbai-based start-up plans to deploy the capital to expand its regional language catalogue and strengthen its content creation ecosystem to grow from the current 1.5 million to 10 million+ paid subscribers by 2023-end.

Prior to this, in March, Kuku FM had raised a $19.5 million in Series B round led by KRAFTON Inc, with participation from Google and Verlinvest. 

Lal Chand Bisu, co-founder & CEO, Kuku FM, said, “We are excited to have Fundamentum as a partner in our journey. Their founder-first approach will prove valuable to us and we look forward to leveraging the team’s entrepreneurial experiences to propel Kuku FM’s scale-up.”

“We have seen rapidly growing interest for content in regional languages in Tier II and III cities, semi-urban and rural segments. We aim to continue building a strong and diverse creator network that caters to this segment of the Bharat audience,” he added. 

At present, Kuku FM houses over 150,000 hours of programming in seven local languages and across content formats such as audiobooks, stories, book summaries, courses, podcasts, and more. It also offers proprietary content creation tools to its users, enabling them to create, develop and post content on the platform.

Speaking of the investment, Prateek Jain, Principal, Fundamentum Partnership, said, “In its four-year journey, Kuku FM has built a business with robust fundamentals, strong monetization model and a national creator-listener community. Kuku FM’s digital-first, tech-led approach, with its focus on the ‘Bharat’ audience fits ideally into our investment focus.”

Founded in 2018 by Lal Chand Bisu, Vikas Goyal and Vinod Kumar Meena, Kuku FM is one of the category leaders in regional audio content. It competes with the likes of Pocket FM, Awaaz, Headphone, Khabri, and Amazon-owned Audible Suno.

“We’ve been impressed with the rapid trajectory of Kuku FM’s growing subscriber base. We believe that the team has taken a lead in content monetization by serving unmet demands of the Bharat audience for locally-created content and building meaningful consumption habits that translate into paid subscriptions,” Chunsoo Kim, Founder and Managing Partner at Paramark Ventures, stated. 

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