TMT
By
Ronnie Screwvala
Ronnie Screwvala

TrueFan, a platform focussed on engagement between celebrities and fans, has raised $4.3 million (Rs 32 crore) in a seed funding round.

Investors in this round include Bollywood producer and upGrad co-founder Ronnie Screwvala, India-focussed venture capital fund Saama Capital, and the domestic arm of the United States-based Mayfield.

TrueFan was founded in January this year by Nimish Goel, Nevaid Aggarwal, and Devender Bindal. Chief executive Goel has worked at global private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

The platform, run by Hogwarts E-Learning Pvt Ltd, says it aims to connect fans with celebrities through personalised and interactive experiences. The platform will allow users to play quizzes around celebrities, with winners receiving personalised video messages as prizes.

“The celebrity-fan engagement market in India has huge growth potential. Tapping into this, TrueFan has successfully on-boarded some of the topmost celebrities with an innovative business model,” Mayfield India managing director Nikhil Khattau said.

Separately, Screwvala said he was confident of his investment in the company because of its blend of media and content as well as the ability of the product to reach a wide audience because of its concept.

Investors

Apart from upGrad, Screwvala also co-founded Unilazer Ventures, which has invested in companies such as Techbins Solutions Pvt Ltd, ShopClues, and Lenskart.

Saama Capital began in 2006 as part of SVB Capital Partners. It was spun out as an independent firm in 2011 by Ash Lilani and Suresh Shanmugham. The firm’s maiden fund had a corpus of around $54 million.

In April 2018, it raised $100 million (around Rs 650 crore then) for its fourth fund – Saama Capital IV Ltd – from a set of 59 investors, including large family offices and endowments based outside of India.

Investments it has made include SKS Microfinance, Veeba, Paytm, and Bluestone. In May, Saama Capital led a Rs 45 crore (around $5.9 million) funding round in agricultural-technology startup Intello Labs Pvt Ltd.

Mayfield India is part of the larger eponymous firm. It has had operations in the country since 2006 and, according to its website, has a total of $219 million worth of assets under management.

It is currently investing out of its $108 million Mayfield India II. The firm says it invests across the seed to Series A stages, with focus sectors including consumer and business across non-technology, technology-enabled and full-technology verticals.

In June 2020, it participated in a $5.5 million (around Rs 41.82 crore) funding round in hyperlocal contactless delivery service and grocery startup Milkbasket.

The round was led by Inflection Point (IP) Ventures, with participation from Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Singapore-based BeeNext, and Unilever Ventures.

In March 2020, Mayfield India and SAIF Partners led a $1.5 million (around Rs 11 crore) seed round in Strata Property Management Pvt Ltd, a real-estate investment tech startup.

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