Venture Catalysts, India’s first and largest integrated incubator and accelerator, has recently led an 8.5cr investment in STAGE, a dialect based hyper-local OTT platform. The funding round also saw participation from several eminent investors such as Sushma Kaushik (Partner at Aavishkaar), Sachin Bhatia (Co-founder – Bulbul.tv, former Co-founder – MakeMyTrip), Rohit Chanana (Sarcha Advisors), Ashish Tulsian (Co-founder – POSist), Vishal Maheshwari (India Head – VIU (OTT)), Hetal Sonpal (Prolific Angel Investor), Piyush Goel (Founder – Beyond Key Systems), Sawan Laddha (Founder – Workie), Janarthan Balasubrramanian (angel investor), Nandi Mehta (CFO – KAAF Investments) and Abhishek Shah (Founder, ConversionX).
In 2014, Vinay Singhal, Shashank Vaishnav and Parveen Singhal created WittyFeed – India’s fastest growing content curation website that slowly became the world’s second-largest content company after BuzzFeed. The modern-day blogging, charticle, and listicle platform shifted its focus on infotainment targeted towards ‘Bharat’ last year.
In 2019, WittyFeed pivoted to launch its dialect-based OTT platform ‘STAGE,’ featuring art forms like folk, poetry, storytelling, comedy and motivational content in local Indian dialects. It will also feature weekly information-led satire-based content by fictional characters. With a potential addressable market of 450 million, STAGE is world’s first ever dialect-based content platform that focuses on artist-led content instead of movies and web series.
Speaking on the investment, Vinay Singhal, Founder, STAGE said, “Our platform is built to capture and celebrate the sense of community that exists in Bharat on the basis of dialects, art forms, and artists. The extensive Indian market is looking to consume high quality professionally-generated content but no one’s creating it. That’s the need gap that our company is solving under this new vision of building a ‘premium and sensible content company for Bharat. The investment will help us increase our rate of content creation and scale distribution in order to hit the next 2 million users’’
Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Co-founder & President – Venture Catalysts, said, “Building an OTT platform requires a deep knowledge of both technology and content. By shifting their focus on performing arts instead of falling into the already saturated market of movies and web series by other OTT giants, STAGE has created a perfect niche for themselves. The required set of experiences under their belt in content creation and using technology to monetize content will help them build a profitable business out of their fresh vision. Since the WittyFeed founding team has already made their mark by becoming the second largest content creators in the world, its only a matter of time before STAGE will receive similar success in India.”
STAGE is driven by the mission to create high quality informational and entertainment content for Indian users by utilizing the potential of various performance-based arts deeply embedded in the lifestyles of billions of Indians. Dialect makes up a major part of an individual’s identity in India and is deeply intertwined with their culture. By turning the spotlight on dialects, the platform seeks to celebrate all the shades of India’s cultures.
STAGE is currently pre-revenue and plans to launch subscription for monetization at the end of January 2021.