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Celebrity engagement startup Gonuts raises seed funding
(Left-Right) Gonuts founders Vinamra Pandiya, Joji George, and Mayank Gupta

Celebrity Connections Tech Pvt Ltd, which operates celebrity and fan engagement startup Gonuts, has raised Rs 3.5 crore (about $471,650) in a seed funding round.

The round in Pune-based Gonuts has been led by marquee angel investors Sweta Rau and Archana Priyadarshini.

Other participants in this round include 9Unicrons, the fund set up by startup incubator and accelerator Venture Catalysts; AngelList; LetsVenture; Pankaj Chaddah, co-founder of Mindhouse and Zomato; Ramakant Sharma, co-founder of Livspace; and the IIM Indore Alumni Fund.

Harshal Morde, founder of Morde Foods Pvt Ltd, and other angel investors also took part in this seed round.

Gonuts was set up earlier this year by Vinamra Pandiya, Mayank Gupta, and Joji George. The company says its platform bridges the gap between celebrities and fans, as well as creates a celebrity experience-based e-commerce platform.

It claims a portfolio of over 700 celebrities in categories such as film, music, sports, and television. Some personalities include singer-composers Shankar Mahadevan, Shibani Kashyap and Shaan, cricketer Jonty Rhodes, celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, and actor Upasana Singh.

Pandiya said Gonuts will plan to strengthen its market presence through investments in its team and technological infrastructure. It is also aiming to onboard over 5,000 celebrities on its platform by the next financial year.

“Experiences are so much more valuable than anything else. Gonuts is creating a category in this by building [a] marketplace that helps create experiences of joy, excitement and fun. It is making it easy for fans and celebrities to connect in a deeper way through personalised videos to begin with,” Rau said.

The investment by Rau, Priyadarshini, 9Unicorns and other investors represents another bet this year on a startup focussing on the celebrity engagement space.

Last month, over-the-top streaming and subscription video-on-demand service ALTBalaji acquired a 17.5% stake in celebrity digital engagement platform Tring. The investment valued Mumbai-based Tring at Rs 100 crore (about $13.62 million), ALTBalaji said at the time.

Prior to this, in August, investors including upGrad co-founder Ronnie Screwvala and India-focussed Saama Capital bet $4.3 million (around Rs 32 crore) on TrueFan. The celebrity engagement startup was set up earlier this year by co-founders including Nimish Goel, who has worked at Warburg Pincus.

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