From Near Death To Audio Revolution: How Pocket FM Turned Desperation Into A $150M Revenue Stream

In late 2019, Rohan Nayak faced a stark reality. His startup, Pocket FM, was on the verge of collapse, with only enough capital to survive three more months. Together with co-founders Prateek Dixit and Nishanth Srinivas, Rohan approached 30 investors, only to face scepticism about the future of audio content.

Despite the daunting odds, the team’s persistence paid off when Lightspeed India and Tencent Holdings handed them a lifesaving $5.6 million lifeline — the company and its founders haven’t looked back since.

What to know: The infusion of funds arrived just in time, extending Pocket FM’s lifeline by a mere week. This early crisis tested their resolve but ultimately highlighted the importance of resilient partnerships and optimistic tenacity.

Identifying a gap in the audio entertainment market during his lengthy commutes, Rohan envisioned a platform that could rejuvenate the rich Indian tradition of storytelling. The early days involved numerous pivots, from podcasts to an episodic fiction model similar to TV shows adapted for audio, which proved to be a game changer.

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Fast-forward: As Pocket FM honed its product-market fit, the platform saw user engagement skyrocket from five minutes to two hours daily. These metrics fueled further investments, culminating in a staggering $103 million in a recent funding round. Today, with an annual recurring revenue surpassing $150 million — $100 million of which comes from the U.S. — Pocket FM is leading the audio entertainment landscape and also among the top 20 startups on the rise in India, per LinkedIn.

The success of flagship shows like ‘Saving Nora’ and ‘Insta Millionaire,’ which have generated multimillion-dollar revenues, illustrates Pocket FM’s potential to evolve into a major entertainment entity.

Looking ahead, Rohan aims to expand into new markets and explore innovations in generative AI, while continuing to build on the strong foundation of content creation that has characterized Pocket FM’s journey.

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