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Saama Capital backs Homescreen Network in latest consumer internet bet
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Venture capital firm Saama Capital has struck another deal in the consumer internet segment by backing multilingual media production startup Homescreen Network.

Saama has invested $2 million (Rs 14 crore at current exchange rate) in the Series A round of the Bengaluru-based platform owned by Visitorweb Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

The funds will be used by Homescreen to build a scalable professional-generated content platform, to cater to India’s rapidly growing vernacular audience.

The online-based live and interactive TV network, promoted  by serial entrepreneur K Ganesh’s venture-building platform GrowthStory, is aimed at smartphone users and was started in early 2018 by Soum Paul and T V Mahalingam.

"With a partner like Saama, we will be able to strengthen our content delivery and quality and diversify into more languages," said Paul.

Homescreen generates custom-made content for regional audiences across India through its platforms SparkTV and TheBigScope. Their content -- available in five languages: Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada and English -- is distributed through partner platforms including JioNews, Dailyhunt, ShareChat and SonyLIV.

"Homescreen is producing rich editorially-driven content at scale from deep within India, and we believe it is a highly effective way to engage India's emerging audience that’s growing at the rate of 40 million year-on-year," said Suresh Shanmugham, managing partner and co-founder of Saama Capital.

Homescreen, which claims to have recorded over 17 million video views across platforms in April 2019 alone, aims to launch more language services in the future.

A graduate of Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, Homescreen founder Paul has worked at cloud telephony firm Knowlarity, web platform State.com and multimedia startup Mixercast.

Saama Capital

The venture capital firm was set up in 2006 and was part of SVB Capital Partners. It was spun off into an independent firm in 2011 by Ash Lilani and Shanmugham.

Saama last year raised $100 million for its new fund. A year before that, it had marked the final close of its third investment vehicle.

Saama’s other bets in the consumer internet segment include hyperlocal delivery startup DailyNinja, restaurant discovery platform EazyDiner and jewellery e-tailer BlueStone.

Its most recent investments include eatables maker Nourish Organic Foods, driving assistant firm Kruzr, digital lending platform Shubh Loans, digital lending platform Lendingkart, and wealth management app Fisdom.

Deals in the segment

In the broader sector, video-based social networking platforms have begun to catch the fancy of investors in recent times as cheap data fuels higher usage. Streaming sites such as Netflix and short-video platforms such as TikTok have also captured Indian audiences.

Bengaluru-headquartered Mohalla Tech Pvt. Ltd, which operates vernacular social networking platform ShareChat, raised Rs 720.3 crore ($99 million) in a fresh funding round led by previous investor Shunwei Capital in September 2018.

VCCircle reported last month that Nexus Venture Partners had invested in a native-language social and content platform co-founded by a former employee of portfolio firm Unacademy.

In January 2018, Chennai-based online video software service provider Hippo Video raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A round of funding from early-stage investor Kae Capital.

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