Vernacular hyperlocal short news app Way2News Pvt. Ltd on Thursday said it has raised $16.75 million (Rs 130 crore) in its Series A funding round from WestBridge Capital and venture capitalist Sashi Reddi.
The Hyderabad-based company will use the fresh capital to expand in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, said Way2News in a statement. Part of the funds will also be deployed to hire and to strengthen its artificial intelligence (AI) based technology to help deliver news with minimal human intervention, it added.
Way2News, which was founded in 2016 by Raju Vanapala, provides short news updates vetted by its editorial staff. It allows verified stringers to write regularly, it added.
"At a time when existing social media and news syndication platforms may falter to find reliable local news, Way2News has cracked the code, enabling users to find credible news from small towns and villages while ensuring depth of coverage," said Vanapala.
"Our mobile-first, crowdsourced News Platform, coupled with smarter AI-based quality checks, is revolutionary and sustainable," added Vanapala, who previously founded data driven marketing company Way2online Interactive India Pvt Ltd in 2005 and co-founded ready to eat food brand The Taste Company, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Sumir Chadha, co-founder and managing director at WestBridge Capital, noted that the company has shown a remarkable ability to scale and grow capital efficiently.
"Their user acquisition approach, engagement, and retention rates are unique and best-in-class in the industry," added Chadha.
WestBridge Capital's investment in Way2News is its first bet on a startup in the media and entertainment space.
Westbridge Capital manages assets under management (AUM) worth $7 billion across funds in India and Mauritius that focus on investments in India. It is said to have invested in more than 130 companies.
Its other recent investments include furniture brand WoodenStreet, flexible workspace provider IndiQube, telehealth platform Truemeds and fintech platform Propelld.
Startups in the broader media, news and content space that have attracted significant funding are VerSe Innovation Pvt. Ltd, which operates technology platforms like news and content aggregator Dailyhunt and short video editor Josh and Inshorts.
In April, VerSe Innovation raised $805 million as part of its new Series J funding round at $5 billion valuation led by CPP Investments.