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Matrix Partners India leads Series A funding round in gaming app Zupee

Online skill-based gaming app Zupee on Wednesday said it has raised $8 million (Rs 60.38 crore) in its Series A funding round led by Matrix Partners India.

Other new investors Falcon Edge Capital, WestCap Group and Orios Venture Partners also participated in the round. Existing investor Smile Group also pooled in the capital, Zupee said in a statement.

Dilsher Singh Malhi, CEO at Zupee, said the company will use the fresh capital to invest in technology, team and marketing.

The startup, which was incubated by Smile Group since November 2018, is a real money question-and-answer app that allows users to compete live. Users can pick any topic ranging from movies to sports and academics.

The online gaming market is growing at 40% annually and is expected to reach a $14 billion market in India by 2025, the statement added.

Tarun Davda, managing director at Matrix Partners India, said India leads the world in mobile game downloads with more than 5 billion downloads in 2019. “Zupee’s strong growth in users and total gameplay is a testament to the potential of the platform,” he added.

The startup had raised $1 million in its seed round of funding from Smile Group last year, VCCircle reported.

Zupee founders Malhi and Siddhant Saurabh are alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur. Before starting the company, Malhi was a research associate at Switzerland-based EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) while Saurabh was a software engineer at investment management firm Graviton Research Capital LLP.

Deals in the gaming segment

The rise of digital gaming’s popularity in India is largely due to the widespread use of smartphones. Many game developers are capitalising on rising smartphone usage to build their businesses, and some have scaled up rapidly and reaped dividends for investors.

Last year, Dream11 Fantasy Pvt. Ltd became the first unicorn in the space in India after Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital completed an investment in the fantasy sports platform through a secondary share purchase.

Earlier in February, The Economic Times had reported that several investors in the fantasy sports platform Dream11 are in talks to undertake a secondary transaction that may value it at $2.25 billion.

In December last year, Rein Games Pvt. Ltd, a real money-based skill gaming startup, raised Rs 5 crore in a seed funding round led by the family office of Ranjan Pai’s Manipal Education and Medical Group, and Titan Capital, a venture capital firm.

In September, mobile games developer Nazara Technologies acquired a majority stake in Delhi-based SportsUnity Pvt. Ltd, a gaming platform that operates online multiplayer quiz service Qunami.

In the same month, LivePools Pvt. Ltd, a startup whose online platform offers fantasy games based on skill, raised funding from Dan Bilzerian, a professional poker player, and Instagram influencer.

In March last year, Mumbai-based fantasy sports startup HalaPlay Technologies Pvt. Ltd had raised Rs 40 crore ($5 million at current exchange rate) in a Series A round from mobile game developer Nazara Technologies Ltd and casino gaming company Delta Corp Ltd

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