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These Startups From 9Unicorns’ Latest Cohort Are Spicing Up India’s Digital Entertainment

SUMMARY

Powered by the latest technology trends in digital gaming and augmented reality, four startups from 9Unicorns’ startup pitch event, DDay are blending innovation and entertainment for the digital-age audience

Tamasha, Flam, KalaGato and Rooter are among the 20 startups that are part of the third DDay cohort

DDay will see early and growth stage startups virtually pitch their businesses to 1.5K Indian and global investors on April 18

The media and entertainment landscape has undergone a massive transformation since the onset of the pandemic. Over-the-top (OTT) platforms emerged as a new mode of entertainment. Gaming platforms and short-video apps kept the masses hooked. In brief, digital entertainment made a deep foray into our life as people turned to the internet to interact and unwind.

According to Invest India, online video consumption per week rose 30% YoY to 10 hours and 54 minutes, during the peak pandemic months of 2020. On the other hand, according to an Inc42 report, the digital gaming space clocked 481 Mn online gamers in FY22, an 11% rise from 433 Mn in FY21.

As a result of the widespread adoption of digital entertainment, India has emerged as the world’s second-largest market by app downloads and the largest fantasy sports market with 130 Mn users. 

More interestingly, digital-native entertainment channels have also thrown open a lucrative monetisation stream for content and advertising. Consider this. Within the OTT space, AVoD’s (advertising-based video-on-demand) appeal has surged among the audience in the past few years, and its market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 24% to reach $2.6 Bn by 2025.

The narrative continues, powered by the latest tech adoption across OTT, gaming, animation, VFX and more. But the scope has grown beyond mere content consumption or the ‘fun’ part. Deeptech applications enhancing media and entertainment are also impacting many other industry segments and reshaping business. 

Given this scenario, new-age disruptors must have access to the right resources and mentorship to grow, scale and reach new audiences.

To support media and entertainment tech startups in their pursuit of success, Mumbai-based 9Unicorns and Venture Catalysts will host the third edition of their startup pitch event called DDay (Demo Day).

In a virtual event on April 18, 2023, 20 early and growth stage startups across sectors will come together to pitch their businesses to 1.5K Indian and global investors. 

REGISTER FOR THE THIRD EDITION OF DDAY

Here are the four media and entertainment startups that will pitch for funding at 9Unicorns’ DDay event. 

Tamasha

tamasha factsheet

Real-money gaming (RMG), especially card games like poker and rummy or fantasy sports, has skyrocketed since the pandemic. It is now one of the fastest-growing sub-sectors in the gaming space, according to a RedSeer report, estimated to grow at a CAGR of 25% to $5 Bn in 2026 from $1.6 Bn in 2021. 

With the rise in live gaming and game streaming, many Indian startups have entered this space. However, IIT-Bombay alumni Saurabh Gupta and Siddharth Swarnkar wanted to do things differently. In 2020, the duo founded Mumbai-based Tamasha, an RMG platform that allows users to play popular board games like ludo and tambola (housie/bingo) in real time and earn money. 

Users can instantly withdraw their winning amounts using UPI (on Paytm, PhonePe and Google Pay) and claims to be ‘trusted’ by 3 Mn+ Indian users.    

Tamasha leverages the power of the creator economy to gain traction as the app allows influencers and creators to host games and interact with gamers. While a host earns commission on each game, the startup generates revenue by taking a cut from the contest fee.

Flam

flam factsheet

As the Industrial Revolution 4.0 gradually takes over, consumers today increasingly explore mixed reality for immersive experiences and innovative digital products. In fact, many industry segments such as retail, education, media and entertainment have already leveraged the power of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) to build enhanced engagements. According to IBEF, AR/VR has seen large-scale adoption in India, and the Indian market is estimated to reach $14.07 Bn by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 38%. 

Realising the potential of the deeptech segment, BITS Pilani alumnus Shourya Agarwal teamed up with serial entrepreneur Malhar Patil to set up Flam, a startup bringing AR UX to consumers at large.  

Its flagship product is FlamCard, which allows users to turn printed photographs into AR videos, thus taking them further into the AR realm of social media networking. 

Essentially, one has to upload a selected photograph and a video, and Flam leverages its proprietary and patented cloud AR tech to juxtapose the two. Once it is done, the snapshot needs to be scanned using the Flam app, and the video will play on the user’s smartphone. Businesses, too, can use Flam’s white-label offering to produce generic/customised FlamCards, adding the AR edge to traditional greeting cards and artworks.

Based on its AR tech, users can also create AR versions of their photos/videos and use these avatars on social media.

When raising its seed funding in July 2021, Flam claimed that more than 40 Mn FlamCards were scanned in just three months and says that it has grown significantly since then.

KalaGato

KalaGato-factsheet

Founded by serial entrepreneur Aman Kumar and data scientist Himanshu Dhakar in 2017, Delhi-based KalaGato began its journey as a big data provider and analytics platform catering to enterprises and VCs such as Flipkart, AC Nielsen, Bain & Co. and more. 

But in 2021, the startup pivoted to a data-driven app buyout company based on a roll-up model. Its core focus is identifying and acquiring high-performing but undervalued mobile apps and tools, as only a few businesses in this space manage to raise institutional funding and grow optimally. In contrast, the global market for mobile apps is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 13.8% between 2023 and 2030 from $206 Bn in 2022. 

To identify the best prospects, KalaGato uses its proprietary data platform developed since its inception, with data points from more than 20 Mn users and counting. While the startup paves a smooth exit for app publishers/entrepreneurs within 30 days, it helps all acquired entities flourish by consolidating costs, enhancing inventory and increasing cash flow through optimisation at tech and marketing levels, creating network effects and ensuring substantial value arbitrage. 

KalaGato currently operates in  South Asia, the EU and the MENA countries. It has also acquired 10 mobile apps in the gaming and entertainment as well utility apps such as GST Calculator, EMI Calculator among others . The startup aims to reach a billion users by acquiring 70+ apps by 2025 and has committed $100 Mn towards this goal. 

Rooter

Rooter-factsheet
The explosive growth of esports and other online games was not so pronounced in India during the pre-pandemic days. But for years, gaming enthusiasts worldwide have found a new outlet for entertainment in this space and built long-lasting communities around it. Aware of this global trend and how gaming content would eventually impact Indians, Piyush Kumar, former head of marketing at Rado India, and first-time entrepreneur Dipesh Agarwal launched the live streaming platform Rooter in 2016.

Delhi-based Rooter allows online gamers to broadcast their high-octane gaming action in real time to a live audience. Gamers can create exclusive and engaging content to build their fan communities and connect with them on this platform. Moreover, users can live stream gaming content in 10 languages, including Hindi, English, Kannada, Tamil, and Telugu as well as international languages such as German and Italian

Taking the community experience a notch up is the focus at Rooter. In fact, it serves as a better YouTube alternative in this respect as fans watch their favourite creators/gamers in action, chat with them and watch videos and reels for an immersive experience. The startup claims it has built a community of 1.2 Mn content creators/gamers and clocks 15 Mn+ monthly active users (MAU).  

In December 2021, the startup roped in Indian cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal to stream exclusively on the platform. It has also teamed up with major esports teams such as GodLike, Orange Rock, Orangutan and Revenge Esports to make the gaming content more attractive on its platform. In 2022, Rooter signed a one-year exclusive media rights deal with Skysports, which claims to be South Asia’s biggest esports tournament organiser.

Update | April 13, 17:45

Flam’s funding details have been changed as per the company’s request.

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