Self-publishing e-platform Pratilipi, which offers content in vernacular languages, has raised $15 million (Rs 104 crore) in a Series B round led by China-based Qiming Venture Partners, the startup said in a statement.
Existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network India, Shunwei Capital, Contrarian Vriddhi Fund and WEH Ventures also participated in the round.
“Bengaluru-based Pratilipi is well-positioned to capture the next wave of internet users in India, who prefer to consume content in their own vernacular languages. The company has already built a strong community of readers and writers, and the network effect provides a strong barrier to entry,” said Helen Pei-Hua Wong, partner at Qiming Venture Partners. “In China, we have seen the fast growth of user-generated content platforms, some of which became the main source of entertainment for millions of internet users. We hope to share our experiences in China to help the company grow,” added Helen Pei-Hua Wong.
Over the next 12-18 months, Pratilipi will be focusing primarily on improving the technology infrastructure, including its recommendation and personalisation engines, and on increasing the number of writers on the platform. The company will also be focusing on expanding to newer forms of storytelling including audio stories.
The self-publishing platform was founded in March 2014 by Ranjeet Pratap Singh, Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Rahul Ranjan, Prashant Gupta and Sahradayi Modi. Both Singh and Devarajan are from Delhi University. Prior to starting up, Singh worked with Vodafone, while Devarajan was a procurement consultant with market research firm Beroe Inc.
Ranjan holds a computer science degree from KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, and was previously working as a system engineer at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Gupta, who has done his master’s in computer science from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, was a software development engineer at Amazon. Modi has done her MBA from SP University and has worked at DHL and Vodafone India.
Pratilipi, run by Nasadiya Technologies Pvt. Ltd, allows writers to e-publish their poems, stories and other literary works, and allows readers to read them on the platform for free. It acts like a discovery and reading platform for readers. The startup currently offers services in 10 languages – English, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Oriya and Kannada. It plans to add more languages and content formats later this year.
The company claims to have over 100,000 writers who have published over 800,000 stories. It said in the statement that it has more than 5.2 million active monthly readers across its web and Android app platforms.
Pratilipi had last raised a $4.3 million round led by Omidyar Network India in February 2018.
It has also been backed by other marquee investors such as Times Internet, Nexus Venture Partners, and Shunwei Capital.