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Pocket FM raises $65 Mn from Goodwater Capital, Naver and Tanglin Venture

Pocket FM, an audio over-the-top platform, has raised $65 million in its Series C round from Goodwater Capital, Naver and an existing investor Tanglin Venture Partners. Three months ago, the Gurugram-based firm had scooped up $22.4 million in a round led by Lightspeed.

Pocket FM has raised nearly $94 million since its inception from investors including Tencent and Times Group. The company, however, did not disclose its current valuation.

The freshly raised capital will be invested for expanding into new languages, investing in AI capabilities, and building the largest audio creator community, said the company in a press release. 

Four-year-old Pocket FM is an online marketplace that offers long-form audio content including audio shows, stories, novels and podcasts. The startup claims that its app has over 100,000 hours of content across various genres from more than 17,000 writers and voice artists creating content in eight languages—Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bangla, English, Kannada and Marathi. 

Founded by Rohan Nayak, Nishant KS and Prateek Dixit, it also claims to have over 50 million users on the platform and more than 3 billion monthly listening minutes. 

According to Nishanth KS, the company saw 12x growth in consumption of self-help books and audio courses in addition to audio entertainment and it’s targeting 5 million paying users in the next 12 months.

Pocket FM competes with KuKu FM, Awaz, Headfone and to some extent with Pratilipi.  While KuKu FM, Awaz, Headfone are in their early stage of funding, Pratilipi had raised $48 million in its Series D round led by South Korean gaming giant, KRAFTON Inc in July last year. Naver, which is an investor in Pocket FM, is also a South Korean powerhouse like KRAFTON, especially strong with its eponymous search engine there. 

Pocket FM is among the handful of companies that have raised funding from Tencent in the past couple of years. The list includes Gaana, ShareChat, Pratilipi and Cars24.

The big challenge for platforms like Pocket FM is protecting their IP, as that remains a grey spot in India leaving ground for many challenges. 

For the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2021, Pocket FM recorded operating revenue of Rs 1.44 crore which was nil in the previous year. According to the company’s regulatory filings, its expenses shot up around 5.8X to Rs 19 crore in FY21 from 3.28 crore in FY20 and it posted a loss of Rs 17.13 crore in FY21 as compared to Rs 3.28 crore in the previous fiscal year.

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