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NDTV enters wedding market online, secures funding from CerraCap Ventures at valuation of $20 mn

MUMBAI: Media company NDTV Ltd has entered the online wedding market and has raised capital for the venture at a valuation of $20 million.

The new entity, Special Occasion Ltd, has got funding from US-based venture capital firm CerraCap Ventures. The valuation of the deal is pegged at $20 million. Sports marketing, entertainment and licensing firm Baseline will also invest in this project.

NDTV has been expanding in the digital space. After raising funds for fashion retail venture IndianRoots and e-commerce ventures in the gadgets and auto space, the company is stepping into the $40-billion wedding industry.

Chandra VikramNDTV group CEO Vikram Chandra said, “This investment is a validation of our digital strategy. We have been able to demonstrate our capability with indianroots.com, gadget360.com, carandbike.com, all of which have seen keen investor interest. Weddings is yet another business where we already have a high brand recall through our marquee shows in the wedding space. We are confident that with CerraCap’s investments, we will be able to roll out the latest of NDTV e-commerce ventures, successfully.”

Sachin Singhal has been appointed as CEO of Special Occasion. With 10 years of experience in key start-ups in the country, Singhal has been instrumental in setting and scaling up brands like naaptol.com and letsbuy.com among others. A technology entrepreneur, he had started his career with Tata Consultancy Services.

Special Occasion will compete with other online wedding players like WeddingPlz, WedMeGood and PlanningWale.

The wedding industry in India is highly disorganised. CerraCap Ventures managing partner Saurabh Suri said, “The wedding industry in India is a $40-billon market. It is also highly disorganised and has operated the same way for decades. With India’s growing tech-savvy population, this market is ripe for disruption. Special Occasions has the right team, vision and platform to enable this disruption and be a leader in this space.”

The wedding business in India is growing at 20 per cent. There are 10 million weddings taking place in the country. NDTV president of revenue Smeeta Chakrabarti added, “I am delighted to welcome CerraCap and Saurabh Suri as a partner in this exciting venture. The wedding business in India is growing at huge 20 per cent year-on-year. There are 10 million weddings every year in India and this is a massive opportunity. Not just weddings, festival spending is also huge and this platform will be the go to destinations when you are getting married or attending a wedding or celebrating any special occasion.”

Baseline catalysed this partnership between NDTV and CerraCap.

“We are also investing in the venture,” said Baseline MD Tuhin Mishra. The new platform will be a game changer and will provide 360-degree solutions in the wedding and festival space. With the growing internet population and the adoption of smartphones, this space will disrupt too.”

NDTV has been raising funds for its ventures. While it raised $5 million for IndianRoots at a valuation of $85 million from KJS Group, One97 Communications (owner of consumer brand Paytm) invested in Gadgets 360° at a valuation of close to $50 million.

Funding has also been secured from a clutch of individual investors, including Inflexionpoint (co-founded by former Apple CEO John Scully), Genpact founder Pramod Bhasin, Sixth Sense Ventures (founded by Nikhil Vora), former Unilever chairman Vindi Banga, and M&S Partners founder and director Hiro Mashita.

IndianRoots, an online marketplace for ethnic wear, was floated in 2013. Earlier this year, the gadgets news and reviews website became a gadget e-commerce marketplace called Gadgets360. NDTV, which has auto content in NDTV Auto, has developed a new portal called Fifth Gear Auto.

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