MS Dhoni bets on SME-focussed fintech Khatabook
Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni | Photo Credit: Reuters

Kyte Tehcnologies Inc., which operates the small- and medium-enterprise-focussed financial technology firm Khatabook, has raised funding from former India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

As part of the investment, Dhoni will also become Khatabook’s brand ambassador, the company said in a statement. It didn’t disclose the amount it has raised.

The commitment from the sports celebrity comes after the startup raised $25 million (around Rs 176.94 crore) in its Series A funding round in October last year.

The Bengaluru-based startup said it will use the funds to expand its product portfolio and enhance its technological infrastructure and capabilities. “There are many new-age companies in the country, only a few like Khatabook, are making a difference at the grassroots level,” Dhoni said.

Khatabook was founded in December 2018 by Naresh, Ashish Sonone, Jaideep Poonia, and Dhanesh Kumar. Its platform allows small- and medium-sized merchants to record and track business transactions.

It claims that its platform supports 11 languages and it has recorded cash transactions worth over Rs 3.7 lakh crore in the last one year. Merchants from more than 5,000 cities in the country use Khatabook’s services, and the startup says it has also acquired users in other parts of the sub-continent like Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

The company says it is planning to onboard at least two crore merchants on its platform over the next year.

Other companies that are present in the transaction recording space include OkCredit, which in September last year raised $67 million (around Rs 476.2 crore) in its Series B round led by Lightspeed and Tiger Global. That June, OkCredit raised $15.5 million (Rs 107.73 crore at the current exchange rate) in a Series A funding round, which was also led by Tiger Global.

Celebrity investments in India’s startup ecosystem

Apart from representing a continuing interest in the larger fintech space, the bet on Khatabook by Dhoni also represents another commitment by a celebrity on an Indian startup.

One of the most prolific celebrity investors in recent months is Bollywood actor, who usually commits to companies through Ka Enterprises LLP, her family office. In September last year, for example, the office took part in a $3 million (around Rs 21.22 crore) funding round in electric taxi startup Blu Smart.

In June, Padukone’s office was among a clutch of investors that funded a $3 million (around Rs 21 crore) pre-Series A round in Bellatrix Aerospace. Similarly, in May, the actor invested in Drums Food International Pvt. Ltd, which sells yogurt under the Epigamia brand.

Also in June last year, actor Akshay Kumar invested an undisclosed amount in GOQii Inc. as part of the Series C funding round of the wearable fitness devices maker. Separately, cricketer Kapil Dev led a Rs 1 crore ($145,000) angel funding round in WizCounsel, an online marketplace for freelance legal, tax and accounting experts.

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