Vowelor, a mobile app to discover books and connect with other book lovers, has raised pre-Series A funding worth Rs 1 crore ($140,000 at current exchange rate) led by angel investor Sanjeev Juneja, promoter of SBS Biotech, which once made Kesh King hair oil.
Launched in November 2018 by Manik Ghawri, Lalit Sharma and Himanshu Gandhi, Vowelor lets users connect with like-minded book lovers and find interesting books from such connections. Run and owned by Vowelor Books & Media Pvt. Ltd, the platform allows users to discuss books in real time while the in-app tool allows new authors or publishers to promote their books.
Users can join book clubs and micro-communities of writers and readers, to discuss and share their writing or reading experiences, which help authors get honest reactions from readers while book lovers can explore interesting reads. Users can also buy books on Amazon, if available.
The venture was first started as a Facebook group, which the company claims to have grown organically to be a community of over 90,000 readers and authors today.
While working with authors for their book promotion on the Vowelor website, the founders found that their primary pain points were limited budget and reaching real readers who actually engage with the author. To solve this, the founders said they researched and planned to develop an easy-to-use automated tool in the form of an app, where authors can promote their books at an affordable budget and reach maximum readers in India as well as other countries.
The founders said the funds will go mainly into further strengthening and marketing of the mobile application.
Currently, the app is available on Android and the company is planning to release the iOS version by the third quarter of this year.
“With the ongoing developments in the books industry, I see Vowelor as a strongly-rooted platform that focuses primarily on solving the actual problems of the Rs 73,900 crore industry,” Juneja said.
In 2015, Emami Ltd, the flagship firm of business conglomerate Emami Group, acquired Juneja’s hair and scalp care business under the brand Kesh King at an enterprise value of Rs 1,651 crore.
Activity in the segment
Telecom operator Bharti Airtel, in April, launched an app called Airtel Books featuring a collection of over 70,000 e-books for smartphone users, further diversifying its digital content portfolio.
Last year, Amazon had launched the beta version of its audio book service Audible in India, with the subscription starting at Rs 199 per month and a free trial period for a month. Audible lets its customers choose the speed of narration, enjoy offline access and even keep a sleep timer. Customers can also listen to books on tablets or computers. Globally, the service is offered for more than 425,000 books and in languages like English, Mandarin and Spanish.