Esports and gaming have become a mainstay in the Indian market since the pandemic. Recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India should lead digital gaming sector. One such platform is Rooter which started as a fan engagement platform and then leveraged its live content technology to deliver live action sports, commentary, live quizzes, etc., to its users and then moved on to game streaming content as live action halted during the pandemic. Since then, the app has seen an incredible growth with more than 25 million downloads in the last 12 months and ranking No. 1 on the Google Play Store under sports genre. The Playknox spoke with Rooter’s co-founder Dipesh Agarwal to know more.
Tell us about Rooter.
Rooter is a community of 30 million gamers across the Indian subcontinent. Gamers engage with each other through Live streams, VOD. It’s a new form of entertainment which has grown massively over the last 3 years in India, after the launch of games like Pubg, Free Fire, etc. Gamers watch streams for entertainment, improving their gameplay and to interact with creators and esports players. We have created a tech platform to enable such engagement and create a community for millions of gamers.
You recently raised $25 million (Rs 185 crore) in a Series A funding round led by Lightbox, March Gaming and Duane Park Ventures. How will you use the capital?
The new funds will enable us to create a better tech product for the gamers, and improve their experience further on the platform. It will also help us reach new markets and onboard thousands of new gaming creators on the platform. We want to make gaming and creation of gaming content mainstream in India. The idea is to create a very strong and sustainable creator economy & create a tech infrastructure to support that. We want to bring a difference to the way gamers consume content in the Indian subcontinent and facilitate better distribution. We also plan to launch our Esports calendar in a few weeks across three major gaming titles and build partnerships with gaming publishers and developers.
Who are the other investors in Rooter?
We are grateful to have a bunch of investors who have supported us from Day 1. Aside from the Lightbox, March Gaming and Duane Park we have raised funds from Paytm, leAD Sports & Health Tech Partners, Venture Catalyst, Anthill Ventures, Goal Ventures, Capital A, Anthill Ventures, actor Boman Irani and other angel investors. https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/rooter/company_financials
What is the marketing and branding strategy in place?
We want to be at the forefront of the gaming revolution in India and create a brand that resonates with our community. Our brand ambassadors are the thousands of creators who stream on the app everyday, we believe nobody can endorse our brand better than them and they also enable us to reach new markets.
Which all sports organisations have you partnered with and why?
We, recently, signed Indian cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal to create gaming content on the platform. The idea was to get someone who is popular and more importantly a regular gamer. Yuzi has been streaming on the platform since the last one month and is among our Top 5 streamers in terms of viewership.
We are always actively looking at new interesting partnerships that can help us serve the gaming community better and can imagine a lot of synergies between sports & esports. We have also seen the launch of eISL this year which is the esports tournament of the Indian Super League. The inclusion of Esports in the Asian Games 2022 is huge for the gaming community and that should also enable a lot of partnerships between sports & esports organisations in the future.
What is the future of gaming in India?
Smartphone and internet penetration over the last few years has made India a strong mobile-gaming market. It is expected to scale aggressively from here and become a $5 billion market by 2025 with 600-700 million gamers. We are already among the Top 5 mobile-gaming markets and the launch of mobile versions of some of the most popular games by major publishers will help this market grow further. Gaming is on track to become the biggest form of entertainment in India over the next few years.