The Ken closes $2M Series B funding

In October 2016, we started The Ken as India’s first subscriber-only business-news publication. Both our premise and product were starkly simple––we would focus on just one story per day. But that one story would be deeply reported, creatively written, and painstakingly edited. It would be analytical, insightful, and original.

And we believed a sizeable percentage of readers would appreciate and subscribe to such a product offering.

Today, nearly seven years later, we’re embarking on an even more ambitious journey. With the close of our ₹16 crore ($2 million) Series B funding, we’re setting our sights on becoming a business-news company that will be around not just for seven more years, but for decades to come.

Our goal is to establish The Ken as a lasting organisation.

And there are few long-term investors I could count on more to achieve that than our two new investors: Rainmatter Capital and Baskar Subramanian.

Rainmatter Capital is a perennial fund that aims to provide patient capital to Indian companies in areas such as fintech, health, climate change, education, and storytelling.

Baskar is the co-founder and CEO of Amagi Networks, a Bengaluru-headquartered global leader in the space of cloud infrastructure for TV and OTT.

The new round includes a mix of primary and secondary investments by both investors.

The common ground we found easily with Rainmatter Capital and Baskar was the need for quality, unbiased, and sustainable business news in India. We live in a world where businesses influence virtually every aspect of our lives. Thus, understanding their strategies, actions, people, and motivations is of vital importance regardless of who you are.

To do that, young news organisations like ours need to focus on business- model independence.

Business-model independence

For a news organisation to become truly sustainable in the long term, it requires a business model that is resilient, diversified, and independent.

The Ken has had a revenue model since day 1: subscriptions. We’ve stayed focussed on it through ups and downs because we realise that editorial independence and excellence flows from business-model independence. We thank our subscribers for that.

Today, we have over 45,000 premium subscribers spread across India, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world. These include hundreds of teams from organisations in India and beyond, and most leading business schools in India.

Starting with a single feature story a day from India in 2016, we’ve expanded to report and write from Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam as well.

Our subscriber-newsletter portfolio now includes nine different ones, each focussed on delivering sharp insight on a specific sector or theme.

Visual Stories allows subscribers to scan and understand business trends via our exclusive and distinctive daily infographics.

Finally, Podcasts, our youngest editorial offering, gives even non-subscribers a chance to experience our storytelling in the audio format.

The Ken closes $2M Series B funding

Diversification through editorial products has been a critical component of our strategy for years now. That will continue.

What you will also see more of from us is high-quality products that are not editorial-led. In October 2021, we launched Narrative Workshops, a product where we take The Ken’s storytelling techniques to leadership teams within organisations. We have since worked with 15 organisations across India to help them become better business storytellers.

Yes, building all of this has required hard work, innovation, and resilience, but it has also required capital. Between our 2016 and 2018 funding rounds, we raised $1.9 million. That gave us the capital we needed to invest in growth and products, often ahead of revenue.

The Ken closes $2M Series B funding

Our Series B investment now lets us do that on an even more ambitious scale.

Unbiased, original, and valuable business journalism will continue to be what defines The Ken, in India and outside. But from that core we hope to create new products, new formats, and new business models to make The Ken reach exponentially more subscribers.

I’m lucky to count on 50 talented and driven colleagues at The Ken in this journey today. The most recent among them being the three really sharp and enthusiastic graduates who joined our Journalism Leadership Programme—Nuha, Nathan, and Abhirami.

If you’d like to be part of our mission, check out our Careers page. Our blog has introductions to all the wonderful, talented and warm colleagues you would be working with. (And in case you didn’t know, we also love turning our subscribers into colleagues!)

The lede image was Van Gogh’s Wheatfield under Thunderclouds (1890). Original public domain image from Google Arts & Culture. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

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