Kuku FM, an audio content platform backed by Google, has raised $25 million in a recent funding round. The company aims to expand its reach and enhance its audiobook offerings in the South Asian market. Leading the Series C funding was Fundamentum Partnership, the investment firm founded by Indian billionaire Nandan Nilekani. The International Finance Corporation, a division of the World Bank, also participated in the funding, along with Temasek-backed Vertex Ventures.
Kuku FM, a Google-backed audio platform, raises $25 million in a funding round led by Fundamentum Partnership. The company plans to expand its audiobook offerings in the South Asian market and aims to achieve profitability by the end of next year.
Kuku FM, which has accumulated over $60 million in funding since its inception five years ago, operates a platform that provides more than 150,000 hours of audio content in various genres, such as personal finance, romance, religion, and self-help. Its extensive library is available in six Indian languages as well as English, catering to the local market and appealing to consumers residing in smaller Indian cities, towns, and villages.
The platform’s revenue has more than doubled in the past year, reaching a current annual revenue of $15 million. Kuku FM aims to achieve profitability by the end of next year. The company charges a subscription fee of 99 Indian rupees per month ($1.2) or 999 Indian rupees per year, granting users unlimited access to its content. Instead of displaying ads or providing complimentary content, it allows users to sample portions of episodes within a series.
The popularity of audio content consumption in India has been growing due to the widespread availability of affordable smartphones and internet access. As more Indians enter the online community, there is an increasing demand for content that resonates with their preferences and is accessible in their desired language. Amazon, for example, is also strengthening its presence in India’s audio content market through its partnership with local production entities to enrich its platform, Audible.
Kuku FM has garnered a significant market share through its unlimited consumption model, contrasting with other platforms that charge users for individual content pieces. The company collaborates with over 30,000 professional content creators who provide their titles to the platform. It employs a stringent vetting process to ensure content quality.
Prateek Jain, a Principal at Fundamentum Partnership, stated, “Kuku FM has created a niche category which caters to the unique and rapidly evolving demands of the new digital natives of India.” He also highlighted the company’s strong focus on unit economics and robust fundamentals in creating their business model.
Kuku FM plans to use the funding to expand its catalog, with a specific emphasis on enhancing its educational content offerings.