Pocket FM: The Saga of Audio Entertainment Startup Rising Globally

Pocket FM
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About six years ago, when Harsha Kumar of venture capital firm Lightspeed was two years into her investing career, video content was booming globally, especially in India, fuelled by Reliance Jio’s data revolution. At the same time, Kumar noticed the rise of podcasts in Western countries. While podcasts were popular, they lacked a clear monetization strategy.

“Monetization of a platform is a product problem,” Kumar told the sources.

Recently, Pocket FM has generated significant buzz with its impressive $150 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) and its pioneering efforts in creating a new entertainment category with audio series.

Partnering closely with a category-defining team from seed to Series D and witnessing their evolution first-hand is rare.

In 2018, audio content formats were emerging worldwide, yet monetization remained elusive. This was when Kumar met Rohan Nayak, Prateek Dixit, and Nishanth KS, the founders of Pocket FM. From the very first pitch meeting, their customer-centric approach, resourcefulness, keen instinct for spotting opportunities, and determination stood out, leading to a term sheet within 24 hours. Kumar and her team wanted to join their journey.

Initially focused on podcasts, Pocket FM quickly adapted to market trends and embraced the audio series format. Today, Pocket FM stands out as the leader in fictional audio series, with users averaging two hours of daily listening.

Constant innovation and fearless experimentation have been key to their success. Their early adoption of AI for content production, discovery, and recommendations, along with their deep understanding of global user listening behavior, enabled them to seamlessly expand into the US market, where they now generate $100 million in annualized revenue.

Pocket FM’s journey toward becoming a global leader in audio series and an IP powerhouse is just beginning. At Lightspeed, we eagerly anticipate the next chapter in Pocket FM’s story, confident that the future holds exciting and promising developments.

Pocket FM has an overall employee rating of 4.1 out of 5, based on over 146 anonymous reviews. 80% of employees would recommend working at Pocket FM to a friend, and 81% have a positive outlook for the business, though this rating has decreased by 12% over the last 12 months.

Pocket FM is one of the most popular audiobook platforms in India, boasting 15 million active listeners monthly and over 3 billion minutes of audio streaming per month. It offers content in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, and other regional languages, including All India Radio broadcasts. Premium app users can download content for offline listening, though free access to Hindi audiobooks is also available.

Founded in 2018 by Rohan Nayak, Nishanth KS, and Prateek Dixit, Pocket FM has quickly grown to a Series C stage company, becoming a significant player in audio storytelling. The app features a wide range of stories, ensuring something for everyone. Many stories offer free chapters to help users decide if they like them.

Pocket FM uses digital advertising channels, such as online display ads, search engine marketing (SEM), content marketing, and social media advertising, to reach a wider audience and promote its platform. It features various audio series in multiple genres, including romance, horror, thriller, and drama, attracting millions of listeners worldwide.

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