WaterBridge Ventures bets on online poker startup 9stacks
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SparSkills Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which owns online poker platform 9stacks, has raised Rs 28 crore (around $3.8 million at current exchange rates) in a Series A round of funding led by early-stage VC firm WaterBridge Ventures.

According to multiple media reports, around 30 existing angel investors also participated in the round.

Founded in April last year, 9stacks offers an online platform for playing poker to users across 24 states in India. The stakes involve real money.

The Delhi-headquartered company had previously raised Rs 10 crore ($1.5 million then) in an angel round in December last year from senior-level executives of firms across industries.

Among them were Swati Gupta, founder of business-to-business online commerce portal Industrybuying.com; Purnima Khandelwal, founder of horticulture company INI Farms; and Maheshwer Peri, founder of career information portal Careers360. 

“India is at the cusp of massive online gaming adoption with an exponential increase in players and revenue expected in this sector,” Manish Kheterpal, managing partner at WaterBridge Ventures, was quoted as saying. 

A handful of online gaming startups have raised funding in the recent past as the boom in mobile wallets and digital payments has made these platforms more accessible.

Last month, Tencent Holdings Ltd led a large investment in Mumbai-based Dream11 Fantasy Pvt. Ltd, as China’s biggest gaming and social media company ramps up its India bets amid intensifying pressures at home.

Also last month, fantasy football portal LeagueSX received an undisclosed amount from high net worth individuals.

Deals in the online poker space include Goa-based Casino Pride Group, which bought 30% stake in online gaming startup Baadshah Gaming in June last year.

In April 2017, Hyderabad-based online rummy gaming firm Ace2Three raised $73.7 million (Rs 474 crore) in a fresh round of investment led by Canadian private equity firm Clairvest Group.

In March this year, Ace2Three acquired a majority stake in fantasy gaming platform FanFight for $1 million (Rs 6.50 crore).

WaterBridge Ventures

WaterBridge Ventures, which typically participates in seed and Series A rounds, has so far backed at least 10 tech-focused companies across various sectors. 

Its most recent investments include LetsMD, a fintech startup in the healthcare space, and ed-tech startup Doubtnut. Among its earlier investments were online lending platform ZipLoan and hyperlocal discovery and rewards platform Magicpin.

Last month, the firm exited its investment in online learning platform Unacademy with high returns.

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