Penbound Partners, which operates interactive fiction platform Plop, has raised an undisclosed amount in an angel funding round led by Better Capital, an AngelList syndicate fund run by Vaibhav Domkundwar.
Other angel investors in the round include EaSyndicate on LetsVenture, apart from multiple high net worth individuals, according to a company statement. The round was closed in the month of February, co-founder Anushka Shetty told TechCircle on Tuesday.
Plop employs gig writers who are paid on a commission basis. Its user base is split between an unpaid readership and paid or subscribed readership. The fictional stories on the mobile-only platform are formatted using text, video, audio, simulations and role-playing, which makes the content interactive.
The fresh infusion will primarily be used to broaden the platform’s content catalogue and to onboard more content creators. It currently has over a 100 content creators, earning incomes in the range of $20 to $250 on a monthly average, Shetty told TechCircle.
“We believe short-form interactive content format is the future and Plop is enabling just that. Plop’s interactive story-writing platform is enabling writers to create highly engaging content that users are not only consuming but also paying for,” Better Capital’s Vaibhav Domkundwar said.
Better Capital has made early bets in companies such as neo-banking platform Open, digital ledger platform Khatabook, agritech business to business trade platform Bijak and bike rental platform Yulu.
Penbound Partners was founded by Shetty and Vineet Shetty in 2019. Prior to the angel investment, the only external investment in the company was an award in the form of a convertible debt investment from a startup incubation programme at IIM Bangalore which was held in partnership with Goldman Sachs.
Anushka Shetty is a Chartered Accountant by qualification, an IIM Bangalore alumnus and has worked with Pricewaterhouse Coopers for about 5 years. Co-founder Vineet Shetty is an ISB-Hyderabad alumnus and a software engineer by qualification, who has previously worked with Ernst & Young. Plop is Vineet Shetty’s third startup after Codeniti, which organised hackathons for non-governmental organisations and Geekout, a co-working space provider for software coders.
“We believe we are re-introducing storytelling to the youth. We aim to be the first global platform for immersive story-telling on which writers and even traditional publishing houses around the world could create and monetize their interactive fiction,” Anushka Shetty said.
In light of the Covid-19 crisis, Plop has waived off its commission from creators, largely gig workers, for a five-week period from March 24 to April 30.
Plop claims to have a user base spread across geographies, with over half of its users in the United States, 20% in Europe, 20% in Asia and about 10% in India. It has seen a 400% rise in user activity especially from the US and UK, with the Covid-19 lockdowns in place and a 800% increase in in-app purchases, the statement added.