Kuku FM, a Google-backed audio content platform, has raised $25 million in its latest funding round as it tries to expand its audiobook services in the South Asian market.
Fundamentum Partnership, directed by Indian billionaire and inventor Nandan Nilekani, co-led the Series C fundraising in Kuku FM with the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank. The latest funding round was also attended by Temasek-backed Vertex Ventures, Google, Krafton, 3one4 Capital, Indian Quotient, and FounderBank Capital, according to the six-year-old business.
Kuku FM, which has funded over $60 million to date, maintains an eponymous radio platform with over 150,000 hours of content in genres such as personal finance, romance, religion, and self-help. This content, which is available in six Indian languages and English, is relevant to the local environment and has assisted Kuku FM in making greater inroads with listeners in smaller Indian cities, towns, and villages.
The startup does not display ads or provide complimentary content, instead allowing consumers to sample parts of episodes within a series. Instead, it charges 99 Indian rupees (equal to $1.2) per month and 999 Indian rupees per year for unrestricted access to its content.
Kuku FM co-founder and CEO Lal Chand Bisu in an interview with reporters said that the firm has more than doubled its sales in the previous year and is on course to make $15 million in revenue yearly. He expects it to be profitable by the end of next year.
Audio content consumption is becoming more popular in India, mainly due to the broad availability of low-cost cell phones and internet connections. As more Indians join the online community, there is a growing demand for content that is relevant to their needs and available in their preferred language.
Amazon is also expanding its presence in India via Audible, partnering with local production companies to enhance the platform’s offerings.
Kuku FM has gained a larger market share because to its unlimited consumption approach, which does not charge customers for each piece of material. Bisu stated that the platform works with over 30,000 professional content creators who provide titles to the marketplace. The startup implements a thorough vetting procedure to ensure quality.
“Kuku FM has created a niche category which caters to the unique and rapidly evolving demands of the new digital natives of India,” said Prateek Jain, a Principal at Fundamentum Partnership, in a statement. “Moreover, Bisu and team have demonstrated a great understanding in terms of creating a business model with a strong focus on unit economics and robust fundamentals.”
According to Bisu, Kuku FM intends to use the extra cash to grow its inventory, with a special emphasis on expanding its educational content offerings.