Crowdfunding platform Wishberry has raised Rs 10 crore ($1.4 million) in a Series A round of funding in which Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment and early-stage investment firm 3one4 Capital participated.
Wishberry said in a statement that Sunil Patil, director on the board of digital cinema firm Scrabble Entertainment, had also contributed to the round.
The Mumbai-based firm plans to use the fresh capital to launch what it says is India’s first crowdfunded film studio for low-budget cinema.
Named Wishberry Films, the platform will help high net-worth individuals (HNIs) discover and invest in low budget regional and content-driven cinema in exchange for a share of the film’s profits. Wishberry Films will produce, finance, market and distribute the movies.
According to the company, the platform has already raised more than Rs 5 crore for four feature films from a clutch of HNIs.
Wishberry plans to roll out around 10 films this year for production under this crowd-financing model.
The company will also use the fresh funds to expand its team, especially to hire experienced talent in the film production and distribution space.
“Low-budget cinema has a good opportunity to be monetised with the right strategy,” said Shibasish Sarkar, chief operating officer of Reliance Big Entertainment.
Wishberry’s primary offering is a platform where artists can raise funds for creative projects through rewards-based crowdfunding. The company said it will continue to operate its Kickstarter-style platform, which depends on fan funding for creative projects such as short films, documentaries, and music videos in exchange for non-monetary returns such as invitations to film premieres, dinner with cast/crew, and exclusive first- access to the projects.
Wishberry was founded by ex-McKinsey consultants Priyanka Agarwal and Anshulika Dubey in 2012.
In January last year, the company had raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A funding led by iSPIRT’s Sharad Sharma; Rajan Anandan, Google’s vice president for South East Asia and India; SlideShare co-founder Amit Ranjan; Indifi Technologies founder Alok Mittal and Kyron Global chief executive Venkat S Raju.
Wishberry had previously raised $650,000 in an investment co-led by Anandan and Sharma. The round also saw participation from 42 other investors, including entrepreneurs such as MakeMyTrip chief executive Deep Kalra and Ranjan of SlideShare, music composer Shankar Mahadevan, and former Infosys executive Mohandas Pai, among others.
Other online-based companies in the broader crowdfunding space include BitGiving, IgniteIntent, Milaap, Ketto,Crowdera and FundMyPitch.
Crowdera, a cloud-based fundraising platform that provides a framework for non-profits and social innovators, recently secured an undisclosed amount as part of its pre-Series A funding round.
In May, social-impact crowdfunding platform ImpactGuru said it had raised $2 million (Rs 13 crore) in a Series A round led by Apollo Hospitals Group and Venture Catalysts, a seed fund and incubator.
Ketto, which is co-founded by actor Kunal Kapoor, had raised Rs 4.4 crore in 2016 in an angel investment round led by existing investor Pradyumna Dalmia, co-founder of Calcutta Angels; and Sudhir Rao of The Chennai Angels, who is also co-founder of IndusAge Partners.
Also in 2016, BitGiving raised an undisclosed amount from Wazir Advisors’ founder Harminder Sahni, Capillary Technologies’ co-founder Krishna Mehra, Impulse Marketing’ co-founder Sanjay Bakshi, among others.
Part of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, Reliance Big Entertainment was incorporated in 2006. Its primary segments include internet & new media, film & television entertainment, and games. It focuses on film production and distribution across several Indian languages and is involved in Indian film distribution worldwide.
Sunil Patil is a whole-time director on Scrabble Entertainment, in which digital cinema distribution firm and ad platform UFO owns 91.32% in the company. Previously, he was the CEO of Mukta Adlabs Digital Exhibition Pvt. Ltd and has also worked as the head of PVR’s digital cinema division and as chief operating officer of South and West India for PVR.
Founded in 2015, 3one4 Capital is managed by Pranav Pai and Siddarth Pai, sons of former Infosys executive Mohandas Pai. The firm operates separately from Aarin Capital, the proprietary investment vehicle of Mohandas Pai and Manipal Group scion Ranjan Pai.
It invests in machine intelligence services for enterprises, automation, ambient intelligence technologies, ed-tech, fin-tech, media and content development, and health. 3one4 also allocates a portion of its capital for US-focused companies having an India play.
A prolific investor, it has backed 43 companies from its first fund, which was launched in 2016 and had a corpus of Rs 100 crore.
Among its recent investments include background verification startup Betterplace.
In January, the venture capital firm had marked the final close of its second fund at Rs 250 crore ($39 million), exceeding its target corpus after exercising the over-allotment option.
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