Online poker platform 9stacks has raised INR 28 crores from the early-stage venture capital firm WaterBridge Ventures in a Series A round of funding. The capital investment in SparSkills Technologies, the company which operates 9stacks, signals the growing interest of investors in India’s nascent real money gaming sector.
The 14-months old startup plans to utilize the funds to expand its team, and further build its technology platform. 9stacks has earlier raised INR 10 crores from a bunch of angel investors last year in December. Founded by Sudhir Kamath, Pratik Kumar, Abhinav Nigam and Rishab Mathur in 2017, the startup claims to have a monthly active user base ranging between 5,000-10,000.
“We have sharp focus on analytics. Therefore some of the money will go towards deepening that side, as we get more into machine learning. We are looking at newer markets, therefore some of the proceeds will go towards that,” Sudhir Kamath, chief executive of 9stacks told ET.
Kamath previously worked at Suntera Energy where he headed oil and gas exploration. Pratik headed the marketing team at Nykaa whereas Abhinav worked at Boston Consulting Group. Rishab led mobile technology for Nearbuy. The company also counts on Swati Gupta, founder of Industry Buying and Anant Daga, MD of fashion retailer W.
“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,” Manish Kheterpal, managing partner at WaterBridge Ventures, said.
In April this year, Dream 11 won a case from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court had held that playing fantasy games and poker required sharp skills and judgement and thus cannot be considered gambling. The judgement opened roads for startups operating in the space, with investors across the globe striking deals in the segment. The online poker industry in India is estimated at INR 500-700 crores.