India’s appetite for audio content continues to rise, driven by affordable smartphones and internet access, making it a hotbed for audio-focused startups. Kuku FM, the Google-backed audio content platform, discovered the same early on, and now has secured $25 million in a new fundraise to further those ambitions. The platform’s unique subscription-based model and localized content have contributed to impressive growth, doubling its revenue in the past year, and it aims to achieve profitability by the end of next year.
The Series C funding round for Kuku FM was co-led by Fundamentum Partnership and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is part of the World Bank. This latest funding round also included the participation of Vertex Ventures, which is supported by Temasek. Going forward, Kuku FM aims to deploy the fresh capital towards the expansion of its content, along with bringing improvements to its technology. So far, the startup has raised over $60 million.
“In our journey towards creating a sustainable business model with a clear path to profitability, Fundamentum team’s insights and support have been invaluable,” Lal Chand Bisu, co-founder and CEO of Kuku FM, commented on the matter. “We look forward to leveraging IFC’s valuable experience and expertise in scaling up Kuku FM’s business.”
Kuku FM, a five-year-old startup, has made a significant impact on the audio content landscape. Today, it operates an audio platform with an extensive library offering over 150,000 hours of content, and claims to have over 2.5 million paid subscribers. This content spans various genres, such as personal finance, romance, religion, and self-help. The startup is also known to deliver content that is highly relevant to local contexts, contributing to its popularity in smaller Indian cities, towns, and villages.
Kuku FM adopts a unique business model. It refrains from displaying ads and providing complimentary content. Instead, users are offered a subscription model. For 99 Indian rupees (approximately $1.2), users gain access to a monthly subscription, while an annual subscription, priced at 999 Indian rupees, grants users unlimited access to the platform’s extensive content library. The startup has witnessed remarkable growth, more than doubling its revenue in the past year.
Currently, the audio startup is on track to generate an annual revenue of $15 million. “India’s creative industries have the potential to reach diverse populations and unlock income opportunities at scale,” said Wendy Werner, IFC’s India country head. “Our partnership with Kuku FM aligns with our shared gender and inclusion priorities and aims to empower underrepresented voices, especially those of women, fostering upward mobility and sustainable economic growth.”
“We want to leverage cutting edge technology to build India’s most intuitive, immersive and transparent content platform here at Kuku FM,” said Vikas Goyal, co-founder and CTO at Kuku FM.