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Ratan Tata reads YourStory, and writes a cheque for it

Vani Kola, Karthee Madasamy, T V Mohandas Pai also invest in the media startup

BS Reporter  |  Bengaluru 

Ratan Tata
Ratan Tata

YourStory, an online media entity that profiles start-ups and entrepreneurs, has raised an undisclosed amount from Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons.

The investment round saw participation from veterans, including Vani Kola, managing director of Kalaari Capital; Karthee Madasamy, vice-president and managing director, Qualcomm Ventures; and former Infosys board member T V Mohandas Pai.

“I decided to take external funding because I realised I needed strong wind beneath my wings if I were to achieve my vision of making every story matter. And I was clear that I wanted people who believed in the same values and principles to be part of this story,” said Shradha Sharma, founder and chief editor of YourStory, in her post announcing the fund-raising.

The company was initially funded by Sharma for seven years. YourStory is among media entities attracting investors in India. She said the portal would soon launch a product that would help people to write, talk and view their own stories in local languages on their mobile phones.

YourStory is one of the first Indian portals that focused on telling stories of entrepreneurs “who are not superstars but have the spark, drive and hope”.

Tata has been investing in Indian, as well as international technology start-ups for about a year. He has invested in companies such as Ola, PayTM, Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Bluestone, and CarDekho. Tata has invested in 10 start-ups.

The Centre’s Digital India campaign, as well as the ever-increasing tech-savvy youth in India, has resulted in more takers for digital content. The rising popularity of apps that offer news in capsules indicates this.

Delhi-based news curation app inshorts (earlier News in Shorts) recently raised $20 million in funding from existing investor Tiger Global. This was five months after it had raised $4 million from Tiger Global, Rebright Partners of Japan, Ankush Nijhawan, Gaurav Bhatnagar, Manish Dhingra, and Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal. “The perception of news has been something that the mainstream media covers. We believe it is time to evolve beyond the news format,” Deepit Purkayastha, co-founder and chief strategy officer, inshorts, had told Business Standard.

Ver Se Innovation, which runs mobile news aggregation and book downloads app DailyHunt (previously NewsHunt), raised $40 million from Falcon Edge Capital, Omidyar Network Advisors, Matrix Partners, and Sequoia Capital India in January.

Both DailyHunt and inshorts have plans to diversify. Inshorts announced its expansion to videos, blogs and podcasts. DaliyHunt plans to enter shopping and test preparation. Inshorts, like YourStory, also has plans to delve into content-generation in vernacular languages.

According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India this month, the number of users accessing content in local languages in India is rising 47 per cent annually. Of the 269 million Internet users in India, 127 million access content in local languages.

First Published: Tue, August 18 2015. 00:50 IST
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