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Video blogging platform Trell closes bridge round at $4 mn

Video blogging platform Trell closes bridge round at $4 mn
(From left) Trell founders Pulkit Agarwal, Prashant Sachan, Arun Lodhi and Bimal Kartheek Rebba

Trell Experiences, the Bengaluru-based startup that owns an eponymous video blogging (vlogging) platform, has raised $4 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital India's startup accelerator programme Surge, Fosun RZ Capital and KTB Network. 

Returning investors in the round include venture capital firms Beenext, WEH Ventures and Sprout Ventures, Trell said in a statement. 

The latest infusion takes the total capital raised by the startup to about $5.5 million.

Trell last raised $300,000 in a debt round in November last year from Singapore-based Beenext. Earlier, in August 2018, it raised a $1.25 million seed round from early stage investors Beenext and WEH Ventures and Sprout Ventures.

The latest round is a bridge round that the company has dubbed a ‘pre-Series A’ round. Such bridge rounds typically occur when a startup is compelled to postpone an upcoming Series A round on account of varying factors. Out of the $4 million announced today, $2 million was committed in December last year by Fosun RZ Capital and KTB Network, according to regulatory filings at the time.

The latest capital infusion will be used to improve the startup’s platform technology, penetrate Tier 2 and 3 cities, and add more regional languages by the end of this calendar year. 

Founded in 2017 by IIT Bombay alumni Arun Lodhi, Prashant Sachan and Pulkit Agrawal, and National Institute of Industrial Engineering alumnus Bimal Rebba, the platform allows users to post product recommendations and reviews on various segments such as personal care, fashion, cooking, wellness and movies. 

The vloggers or KOLs (key opinion leaders) can share content in five languages including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, English and Hindi. The company claims that the app has registered 15 million downloads since inception and has five million monthly active users. In January, the platform uploaded 1.2 million videos, which got more than 300 million views, the company said.

“It's about telling your story and personal experiences which has led to a word-of-mouth organic growth and a sharp decline in customer acquisition cost (for companies). Brands, as well as sellers, have been approaching us, realising the long-term potential of content-commerce in the presence of a strong community,” Prashant Sachan, co-founder of Trell, said. 

Trell mainly competes with newly founded SimSim, which is backed by Shunwei Capital Partners and Accel. The company was part of the second cohort of Sequoia Capital's accelerator programme Surge, which was announced in October last year. 

Beijing headquartered Fosun RZ Capital invests in mobile internet, finance, education, consumer retail, cultural and entertainment and automotive sectors in startups across the entire spectrum of development -- from seed to secondary market. It has offices in China, US, India, Israel and Singapore. Other than Trell, travel booking app ixigo is the only other Indian startup in its portfolio, as per information on its website.

Founded in 1981, KTB Network has several businesses such as private equity, asset management, credit services and venture funding. Its venture capital unit has managed funds over $3 billion with more than 250 portfolio companies, some of which are already listed on bourses. Other than Trell, Indian startups in its portfolio are online grocery startup Grofers and digital realty platform NoBroker.