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VCCircle_Shradha_Sharma_Ratan_Tata Photo Credit: Shradha Sharma, founder and chief editor of YourStory.com, with Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata

YourStory raises under $5M from Kalaari, Ratan Tata & others

18 August, 2015

YourStory Media Pvt Ltd, the privately held Bengaluru-based company behind showcasing Indian startups through YourStory.com, has raised a venture funding round from Kalaari Capital with participation of Ratan Tata, former Infosys board member T V Mohandas Pai and Qualcomm Ventures.

Shradha Sharma, founder and chief editor of YourStory.com, posted the news on her website on Monday morning. She said the company is launching a tech product that will help people to write, talk and view their own stories in native Indian languages.

Shradha later told VCCircle that the investment is between $3 million and $5 million (Rs 20-32.5 crore) but did not disclose the exact amount. Vani Kola, co-founder and managing director of Kalaari Capital, has joined the board of YourStory following the investment. This is the first external funding for the digital media company.

Shradha, who launched YourStory.com in October 2008, began her career as a brand advisor with The Times of India, India’s largest-selling English newspaper, and was later an assistant vice president with business news channel CNBC TV18.

YourStory primarily generatesrevenues from advertisements on site besides the events it hosts. It has about 50 employees of which 18 are in editorial, according to an employee who did not want to be named.

Shradha said the company would launch a listing business for small and local enterprises on the back of its platform for entrepreneurs to recount their stories on regional languages. She said the company has been profitable for the last three years but did not share the exact figures.

One source said the company ended FY15 with revenues of around Rs 5 crore. However, this could not be confirmed independently.

The investment comes as another sign that high-profile angel investors in India are willing to bet on niche content-led digital brands, many of which are primarily based on advertising with some ancillary revenue opportunities, such as events and job-boards.

In January, Ver Se Innovation Pvt Ltd, which runs mobile news aggregation and book downloads app NewsHunt, raised $40 million from Falcon Edge Capital, Omidyar Network Advisors, Matrix Partners and Sequoia Capital India in a Series C round, just four months after raising a $18 million Series B round.

In July, mobile news curator News in Shorts, which aggregates third-party news and presents it in 60 words, received $20 million in a Series B round from existing investor, Tiger Global.

Reflecting the challenges of monetising news in India, both companies have since renamed themselves with NewsHunt becoming DailyHunt and News in Shorts becoming InShorts.

Kalaari Capital, which has invested in around a dozen startups in India since January, has previously backed two firms in the digital publishing field—Pressmart Media and Lexicon Publishing, according to VCCEdge, the data research platform of VCCircle. While it has exited Pressmart, its other portfolio firm Lexicon merged with Datamatics two years ago. It is not clear if Kalaari still remains invested in the merged company. Both these investments were made through its previous avatar IndoUS Venture Partners, which had partnered US-based VC firm NEA for a joint fund.

Kalaari, which is now raising $275 million through two separate fund vehicles, was floated as an independent VC firm after separating its working relationship with NEA that has built its own India practice.

Meanwhile, for Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, the private holding arm of the business conglomerate, this is the 10th known investment.

He has been investing in Indian as well as international tech startups for the past year or so.

He has also backed ventures like Ola, Paytm parent One97 Communications, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Bluestone and CarDekho besides investing in Chinese handset maker Xiaomi. Last month he invested in electric vehicle company Ampere.

Tata is also closely associated with Kalaari Capital. In February he joined the board of the VC firm in an advisory role.

YourStory’s content and eventscompete with some of the offerings from VCCircle, which are both part of the 10-year-old VCCircle Network. The parent of VCCircle Network—whose business lines include subscription data products, events, training programs and a subscription-led news website and app focused on the startup ecosystem as well as business at large in India—was acquired by News Corp in March.

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YourStory raises under $5M from Kalaari, Ratan Tata & others

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