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Content startup Pratilipi in funding talks to raise $20 million

Prasannata Patwa
When contacted, Pratilipi—which offers content in regional languages—said it was well-funded and did not need to raise fresh capital immediately

Bengaluru: Regional language publishing platform Pratilipi is in talks to raise $15-20 million in fresh capital from new and existing investors, including Omidyar Network and Nexus Venture Partners, two people close to the development said. One of the new investors could be a Chinese investment firm, the people cited above said. Mint could not immediately ascertain the name of the investor. Both of them requested anonymity as the discussions were confidential.

When contacted, Pratilipi said it was well-funded and did not need to raise fresh capital immediately. “While we continue to talk to various investors at all times, we are not actively raising money and there is nothing conclusive for our Series B round yet. Whenever we do raise our Series B, I am confident that our existing investors will participate in a meaningful manner,” said Ranjeet Pratap Singh, co-founder and CEO, Pratilipi, in an e-mail response.

Queries to Nexus Venture Partners and Omidyar Network went unanswered.

Pratilipi raised $4.3 million in a Series A round led by Omidyar Network in February last year. The platform counts China's Shunwei Capital, Times Internet Ltd and Atul Goel, managing director of Essel Group's E-City Ventures, as its existing investors. Goel has invested in other content companies, including PopXo and YourQuote, according to data from Crunchbase.

Chinese venture capital firm Shunwei Capital has invested in major Indian language content companies, including social media app ShareChat, short video app Clip, and question-and-answer platform Vokal. Pratilipi was incorporated in 2015 by ex-Vodafone executive Singh, Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Rahul Ranjan, Sahradayi Modi and Prashant Gupta.

In earlier interviews with Mint, Singh had said that he came up with the idea when he was unable to find any platform to read books in Indian languages.

Pratilipi, which is one of the fastest-growing platforms in the vernacular publishing space, allows users to create and share content in nine local languages, including Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali.

The platform claims to have more than 53,000 writers and over 3.3 million readers.

One of the most famous books on the platform is Meri Avantika, which, according to Singh, is longer than all Harry Potter novels combined.

Content startups, especially ventures that are targeting regional language content, are seeing strong investor interest, considering the rising demand for local language content across smaller towns and cities.

Mint had reported earlier that at least a bunch of content startups are in talks to collectively raise at least $500 million in fresh funds from top-tier investors.

Last week, discussion platform Manch raised $700,000 in a seed round led by Stellaris Venture Partners and individual investors, including Udaan's Sujeet Kumar.

Experts tracking the space have expressed concerns that many local content startups do not yet have a business model, raising fears of a bubble.