Dec 16, Colombo: Roar Media, the Sri Lanka-based new-media platform that publishes content across South Asia, recently announced a $1 million raise in funding.
The round was led by BOV Capital and the Digital Innovation Fund (DIF), who also invested in Roar's previous round of funding. BOV and DIF are joined by Hyperion Ventures, Striders Corporation, and two angel investors based in Bangladesh and Singapore.
The funding follows in the steps of the company raising its first growth round in October 2017, which saw it through significant expansion.
Roar Media has seen considerable success covering current affairs, business, lifestyle, technology, arts, and culture, across South Asia. With a physical presence in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India, Roar publishes content in five languages across eight different sites. Since its founding in 2014, Roar Media has seen engagement grow to 4M+ sessions and over 30M+ video views a month. Publishing reliable, credible content in the vernacular has fueled much of this growth.
The new raise will focus on consolidating existing presences in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and bolster sales and operational teams to increase revenue and reach. Roar Media is also scaling up internal technology teams in order to seamlessly automate the content creation process and also build up their own distribution platforms, thus having to rely less on third party social media sites for distribution.
Besides existing operations and revenue models, the funding will serve to break digital ground in the region in terms of how content can be monetized. Along with the current branded campaign model, Roar Media will strengthen its existing Content-As-A-Service model and further bolster its capacity as a one-stop digital marketing solutions provider to businesses. In addition, the company will monetize its extensive content creation expertise by launching a premium content service on its platforms, allowing access through subscriptions or through a pay-per-view model.
"Roar is changing the way digital media functions in Sri Lanka and the subcontinent," said Mustafa Kassim, Founder and CEO of Roar Media.
"We don't chase clicks, instead, we focus on creating content that is credible and engaging. The approach is working well for us, so we applied it across languages with remarkable success. There is a tremendous market for good quality content in the vernacular, and we are breaking new ground by significantly leveraging technology to scale our content creation efforts and to push high impact distribution. We also hope to offer subscription models for premium content in a way that no one else has done. South Asia is an exciting place for new media organizations and we aim to take full advantage of it, which is why we are so delighted to have a diverse pool of investors coming on board with us, who, with their collective expertise, will help us enter these new markets."
Striders Corporation had this to say about their involvement: "With the development of digital infrastructure, supported by fast-growing economies, expanding middle class and young population in the South & South-eastern region, we believe that the emergence of a digital economy is inevitable. The diversified young talent pool and experienced strategic investors of Roar's team, made it more attractive for us, to be a part of Roar's growth story. We have also identified business synergies between Roar and our Indonesian advertising agency (PT Citra Surya Komunikasi), which may create opportunities for joint projects in future. This also marks expansion of Striders' footprint from Sri Lanka to Indian and Bangladeshi markets. Due to these strategic reasons, Striders decided to be a part of Roar's journey to grow its presence from South to South-East Asian region."
Digital Innovation Fund is a $15M Venture Capital Fund that invests in Sri Lankan based digital companies. The Digital Innovation Fund is backed by Sri Lanka's largest telco, Dialog Axiata PLC and managed by BOV Capital.
BOV Capital is a Venture Capital firm with offices in Sri Lanka and Singapore that invests in early stage start-ups. The firm is headed by Rajan Anandan and Prajeeth Balasubramaniam.
Striders Corporation is a diversified investment company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange under the JASDAQ market. The company mainly operates in real estate, hospitality, IT, and advertising and has a strong presence in South and South-East Asian markets such as Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. Striders Corporation has nearly 10 subsidiaries and more than 200 employees working within the group. The company with JPY 10Bn in turnover, considers the South and South East Asian region as the next growth driver.
Hyperion Ventures (Formed in 2018) is a Sri Lankan based venture capital firm that is stage agnostic and partners with seed to late-stage companies across all sectors.