Pankhuri, a social community platform for women, on Tuesday said it has raised USD 3.2 million (about Rs 23.8 crore) in funding from Surge, a rapid scale-up programme by Sequoia Capital India for startups in India and Southeast Asia, and others.
India Quotient and Taurus Ventures also participated in the funding round, a statement said.
Pankhuri is backed by India Quotient, Taurus Ventures, and angel investors Farid Ahsan, Krishnan Menon, Kunal Shah, Sai Srinivas, and Sweta Rau, it added.
The startup is part of Surge's fifth cohort of 23 companies that have developed new digital solutions to help companies and individuals work, live, and learn better in a rapidly evolving post-pandemic world.
Founded in 2019, Pankhuri is a platform for women in India to network, learn and shop through live streaming, chat, and cohort-based sessions, enabling them to be active participants in beauty and lifestyle conversations online instead of being passive consumers.
While there are over 240 million digitally connected women in India, only 27 per cent of social media users in India are women. However, more Indian women are also going on the internet for the first time, with the country adding 15-20 million new users every month.
This has led to a rise in female digital consumers who are now accessing content and buying products online. This digital influence has become a game-changer for India's USD 18 billion beauty market as women are replacing traditional ways of discovery (print and TV ads) with social media and creator-driven discovery of products, the statement said.
Pankhuri was founded in 2019 to harness this opportunity by creating a safe, inclusive space for women to engage online, it added.
The platform currently provides users with information on topics such as beauty and personal care through various video formats - live and short videos, and encourages ongoing conversation with expert creators through hosted live sessions. Pankhuri currently has a community of over 250,000 active women, of which more than 60 per cent have transacted via micropayments on the platform since January this year.
Pankhuri was created with the ambition to break down these barriers facing millions of women in India, improving their digital literacy and empowering them to regain their right to expression. In building this inclusive online community, we want to provide them with a safe space to fulfill their aspirations, explore, get answers and engage with experts and creators for all things beauty and lifestyle related," Pankhuri Chief Executive Officer and founder Pankhuri Shrivastava said.
Shrivastava had previously co-founded home rental startup Grabhouse, which was backed by Sequoia Capital India, Kalaari Capital, and India Quotient. The entity was acquired by Quikr in 2016.