Sequoia Capital India and Beenext Ventures are in the last leg to invest in a spiritual startup led by one of the former founders of Trell, according to three people aware of the details of the transaction.
“Sequoia and Beenext are in an advanced stage to pump in $4 million in AppsForBharat,” said one of the people cited above requesting anonymity.
Incorporated last November, AppsForBharat is developing a range of mobile and web apps predominantly focusing on the spiritual and devotional needs of Indian users. According to the person cited above, its maiden app, which is in stealth mode, would centre around devotional space and provide daily aarti, chalisa, panchang, horoscope among others.
“The term sheet has been finalised and the transaction is expected to be announced soon,” said the second source who also requested anonymity. “AppsForBharat would be valued at $16 million (post-money) in this transaction,” said the second source.
Prashant Sachan, the sole founder of AppsForBharat, was the co-founder of the lifestyle centric short video app Trell until March 2021. Importantly, the six-month-old company had already raised about $200K in a seed round from Sequoia Capital India and Trell in April, regulatory filings show.
Queries sent to Sequoia, Beenext and AppsForBharat did not elicit any immediate response. We’ll update the post in case they do.
The potential investment in AppsForBharat validates the fact that venture capitals are open for backing opportunities in the spiritual and devotional space. The space is attractive for investors due to the large audience size and increasing smartphone penetration.
According to an Expert Market Research report, the religion and spirituality market in India was approximately worth $44 billion in 2020 and expected to grow with a CAGR of 10%.
“There is a strong link to commerce in this segment and offers opportunities for companies to create content and build community on top of which they can sell products and services. This can also lead to the creation of D2C brands in this category as the market is mostly unbranded and unorganized,” said Satish Meena, co-founder of mythical storytelling platform Sutradhar.
Sutradhar had also raised seed funds from Titan Capital and a few angels including Suraj Saharan and Nitin Saluja. According to regulatory filings, the company had raised $110K from these investors.
While there were several startups that have cropped up in recent time to capture opportunity through content and commerce, many startups over the years had tried different models but they didn’t scale and failed to attract investors’ attention.
Started around 2014-15, OnlinePrasad, Muhurtmaza and MyPundit were early evangelisers in this domain. However, these companies didn’t grow to any sizable scale. At present, Sutradhar, MyMandir, 27 Mantra among a few others are notable players in the devotional and religious domains.