9stacks, India’s fastest growing online poker platform, has raised ₹28 crore (~ US$3.84 million) in a Series A Funding Round led by WaterBridge Ventures, an early stage venture fund, and the startup’s existing pool of investors. This is the first Series A raised by any Indian online poker company, announced the startup in a press release.
Other niche players in daily fantasy sports/online rummy platforms like Dream 11 (Fantasy Cricket), Ace2Three (Rummy) and RummyCircle (Rummy) have previously raised institutional investment rounds for other segments of the rapidly growing Real Money Gaming market in India. However, 9stacks is the first Indian online poker company to raise an institutional Series A round.
In December last year, the startup had raised ₹10 crore in angel funding (Pre-Series A) from clutch of investors that include Swati Gupta (founder, IndustryBuying), Maheshwer Peri (founder, Careers360), Sanjay Singh (founder, Swas Healthcare), Kartik Sheth (chief innovation officer Airtel and CEO, Wynk), and Shubhajit Sen (ex-CMO, Micromax).
Started by IIT & IIM alums Sudhir Kamath, Pratik Kumar, Abhinav Nigam and Rishab Mathur in 2017, 9stacks is a professionally run Indian online poker platform and 100% legal in India. The platform was started with the ambition to provide an authentic, transparent and simple online poker experience, which would make poker a fun sport for everyone.
Launched in 2017, 9stacks claims to have a user base of 1 lakh+ subscribers. More than 30 lakh hands of poker are being played every month on its platform, with monthly gross transactions exceeding INR 35 crores approximately.
As a member of the All India Gaming Federation, 9stacks has also been a strong voice advocating poker as a game of skill. On its own platform, 9stacks recently launched India’s first skills dashboard where gamers can carry out in depth analyses of their own strategy, and become better players.
9stacks users can play seamlessly across all platforms including iOS, Android, Windows and Macs.
“India is at the cusp of massive online gaming adoption with an exponential increase in players and revenue expected in this sector. Real Money Gaming will have a significant wallet share of online due to ubiquitous mobile access, increasing disposable income, convenience and superior user experience. Having said that, it is an execution heavy space and we therefore chose to back a highly professional and accomplished team of founders comprising of Sudhir, Pratik, Abhinav and Rishab. We are proud to partner with this founding team with great pedigree and a proven track record,” said Manish Kheterpal, Managing Partner, WaterBridge Ventures.
In August WaterBridge had invested in MedCords, an AI-enabled healthcare startup based out of Kota, Rajasthan with a technology center in Pune. Prior to this, Waterbridge led ₹3.5 crore funding of Gurgaon-based Doubtnut, a multi lingual online learning platform for students.
“With Waterbridge Ventures becoming the lead investor in our Series A fund raise, we are delighted to announce that 9stacks is India’s first online poker company to reach this funding milestone. This is a great sign of confidence in the 9stacks team, the systems and processes we’ve put in place, in addition to the rapidly growing market itself. We will use these funds to ramp up user acquisition, data analytics, machine learning, and product & market expansion. We want 9stacks to be the preferred platform for poker in India, especially for new players, where anyone can discover, learn and play poker, any time, anywhere,” said Sudhir Kamath, CEO, 9stacks.
Recently, 9stacks took 25 of its users to Las Vegas for the 2018 World Series of Poker. ‘9stacks Team India’ came out with flying colors, with two players finishing in the top 100 of the main event; the best ever finish by any Indian.
About 9Stacks’ founders, Sudhir Kamath is an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus and ex-McKinsey consultant with over 17 years of experience. Prior to 9stacks, he was CEO of Suntera Energy, a privately held oil and gas exploration company. While, Pratik Kumar is an IIT Kharagpur alumnus, with over 12 years of experience in e-commerce and online marketing. He was the CMO of Nykaa.com and founding team member of Zivame.com.
Abhinav Nigam and Rishab Mathur are also IIT Kharagpur alumni. Abhinav is an ex-BCG consultant, with over 12 years of experience with Accenture Strategy and the Boston Consulting Group.
Rishab Mathur, on other hand has over 12 years of experience in technology. He was head of mobile technology for Nearbuy and CTO of 9monks and Blot Canvas.
[Top Image – YourStory.com]