You’d think that a company whose flagship product is called “Qtiyapa” wouldn’t be an ideal candidate for investment from a big top-tier VC, but you’d be wrong. The Viral Fever, the comedy collective that has made hit online series including TVF Pitchers and Permanent Roomates, has just raised $10 million from Tiger Global. The investment values the six year old company at Rs. 270 crore.
Founded in 2010, The Viral Fever started off with making short comedy videos on Youtube. It gained prominence through its Qtiyapa series, and then slowly went on to create longer, more sophisticated content. It gained national prominence with its megahit TVF Pitchers, which was a 5 episode long web-series about a group of young graduates who try to start a company in India. The series had struck a chord with India’s growing entrepreneur population, and had seen cameos from industry biggies like Kunal Shah.
TVF initially made money by ads off its Youtube videos. In a bid to have more control over its platform, it had launched TVF Play, a streaming website where its fans could watch its shows. The company had been uploading its latest offerings first on TVF Play, and only uploading them on Youtube up to a week later, a strategy that met with limited success. TVF also generates revenues through product endorsements into its shows – the first season of Permanent Roommates was sponsored by Commonfloor, and the second season, which premiered this Valentine’s Day, is sponsored by Ola. Interestingly, Tiger Global has invested in both Commonfloor and Ola.
TVF was founded by IIT Kharagpur graduate Arunabh Kumar and was later joined by Amit Golani and Biswapati Sarkar. Prashant Raj,former colleague who had quit in 2014, had dragged the other founders to court over a dispute about his stake in the company.
With investments in traditional startups slowing down and VC firms being more circumspect with their money, this investment in TVF shows that even in a difficult funding environment, an unconventional startup with good traction is always a good bet for investors.