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In the biggest seed funding raised for an online poker site in the country till date, Delhi-based online gaming startup 9stacks has received $1.55 million (~approx. ₹10 Crores) from a clutch of investors that includes Swati Gupta (Founder, IndustryBuying), Purnima Khandelwal (Founder, INI Farms), Maheshwer Peri (Founder, Careers360) and Kartik Sheth (Chief Executive, Wynk Music).
9stacks is the brainchild of four extremely experienced professionals namely Sudhir Kamath, Pratik Kumar, Abhinav Nigam and Rishab Mathur who launched the poker site just before Diwali this year. The online startup plans to utilize the investment to improve its platform, add more resources in their product and design teams and prepare a marketing strategy for increasing its customer base in the country.
9stacks has also been developing its own poker specific content to help users elevate their poker skills and now, the company plans to focus more on the its online poker platform.
Sudhir Kamath is a product of the Delhi Institute of Technology and IIM Ahmedabad. He was the MD / CEO of Suntera Energy – one of India’s few oil exploration companies successfully producing hydrocarbons outside of India. Prior to 9stacks and Suntera Energy, Sudhir worked at McKinsey & Co.
Pratik Kumar is a postgraduate in Computer Science & Engineering from IIT-Kharagpur, and was part of the founding team of Zivame, heading marketing and product. He then joined Nykaa as Chief Marketing Officer and then went on to start Green Giraffes, a consulting firm that advises Internet based start-ups. He is heading marketing at 9stacks.
Abhinav Nigam is a IIT-Kharagpur alumnus and has worked at Accenture Strategy and later at The Boston Consulting Group.
Rishab Mathur is a graduate in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from IIT- Kharagpur and is in charge of the technology platform at 9stacks.
With several decades of corporate experience between the founding members of the company, 9stacks has a distinct edge in this largely unorganized market and now with adequate funding, the company seems all set to take flight.
PokerGuru spoke to 9stacks CEO Sudhir Kamath who told us about the funding process. “We mainly reached out to people who we have worked with in the past, we all have worked in different corporates in the past so we reached out and had our first round of funding.”
Clarifying how the capital raised would be utilized, Kamath said, “We have developed most of our tech in-house in terms of our platform and features we are offering to our customers. A great deal of emphasis will be on that and on the product. We are already live on all the platforms that users are comfortable in i.e. Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and HTML. In terms of platforms we are there but we are adding features for specific platforms as we go ahead. Development wise, we are currently focusing only on India. In the future, we do plan to take it abroad and also take it to different sectors other than poker. This round of funding, we are using solely on Poker.”
Kamath further added, “We do plan to have the largest poker specific data in the country on our content site. We do want to spend some money in broadening the content and having more specific content for different types of users. Not just for experts but for absolutely new players as well. That we will continue to do but the bulk amount of money will be used for customer acquisitions, marketing and the tech. Our investors will definitely help us with more resources apart from the money and that was a major reason we picked the investors we did. When we were reaching out, we made sure they were people who either have start up experience or consumer marketing experience. We are picking their brains every opportunity we get and every time we start something new.”
On a parting note Kamath said, “Vision is to make 9stacks the best online poker platform in the country. We are focusing on user friendly interface, easy and clear payouts and deposits system and clear policies of tax deductions. We hope to have many new players joining us.”