Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Former Warburg Pincus executives have raised $4.3 million (about Rs 33 crore) to launch a celebrity fan engagement platform, TrueFan.

The first round of funding was led by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayfield India, and Saama Capital.

The platform aims to connect fans with A-list celebrities in Bollywood, cricket and music through personalized, interactive experiences.

For about Rs 50, users can play quizzes around their celebrities, and winners get a personalized video message or an interaction from their favourite stars.

“We are starting with Bollywood, where the top 5-10% own 90% of the market. We are curating these select celebrities and creating a content plus gaming platform for fans to connect with them…while offering the celebrity a channel for direct monetization on their brand by building fan community,” said Nimish Goel, who founded the company in January along with colleague Nevaid Aggarwal and college batchmate Devender Bindal. TrueFan has a 30-member team.

Brand partnerships are under way and the company plans to go live next month.

Direct celebrity connect is an emerging sector in India, enabling fans — mainly from small towns and or middle-class income brackets — to engage with their dream stars at an affordable price.

“This is the perfect blend of gamification meets media meets content,” said Screwvala.

US-based video app Cameo is also thinking of venturing into the Indian market, ET reported in February.

At the same time, a new set of startups, including Tring, Wysh, YoShot and Celebrify, are helping fans mainly from smaller towns connect directly with their favourite television and regional movie stars. The business models and approaches, however, differ across startups.

“The celebrity-fan engagement market in India has huge growth potential,” said Nikhil Khattau, Managing Director at Mayfield India.

Goel and Aggarwal’s move to entrepreneurship is also the latest example of venture capitalists moving to start businesses.

In March, ET reported that a fresh set of about a dozen venture capitalists in the junior to mid-levels had left prominent funds including SAIF Partners, Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Sequoia Capital to establish their own businesses.





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