MadRat games raises funds from Blume Ventures and First Light Ventures

The startup has raised more than $500k from Blume Ventures, Unitus Seed Fund and First Light Ventures. Adit Parekh of Blume Ventures will join the company’s board.

MadRat games, a venture started by IIT grads Madhumita Halder, Manuj and Rajat Dhariwal in 2010 has raised funds from Blume Ventures and two others.

The startup has raised more than $500k from Blume Ventures and First Light Ventures. Adit Parekh of Blume Ventures will join the company’s board.

This funding is for expansion beyond Educational games and to setup recurring revenue models via Retail channel for physical games and App stores for digital games.

There is no one creating games in an Indian context and we see a huge opportunity there. Similarly we are the only company creating both Physical + Digital games – currently there are old traditional players in Physical gaming space who mostly import games or create copy versions of western games, or new age Digital game companies.

We see our games reaching every Indian household and for all ages – which is why we have created titles like  Aksharit (first word game for Indian languages, whose senior version targets housewives / third generation),  Catch Cricket (tapping into the Cricket craze – age and demographic agnostic), Gatory (English word building game combining story and games for young children); and we are the proud owners of license of  Chhota Bheem, which is the biggest character for Indian kids, and of  9X music channel for teens.

The Bangalore based company initially had a business to business approach to selling boardgames and later started retailing at malls.

Co-founder Rajat, after his MS from Carnegie Mellon University came back to India and instead of taking up a corporate job, he (and other co-founders) took up a job of Teacher at Rishi Valley School, a Bangalore based residential school.

After 4 years of teaching at Rishi Valley school, the team decided to launch MadRat games, a company that develops board games for Indian Languages. While teaching, the team realized that there are ways to get kids to learn without getting into the incentives (or carrots?) of ‘you have to be the number 1, you have to be the first’.

While researching, the team found out that there were hardly any word games in Hindi and while games like Scrabble existed for more than 30 world languages, but none in Indian languages.

MadRat Games’ flagship product is Aksharit – the first Indian language word game (i.e. Indian Scrabble). The game has reached 3000 schools in 1.5 yrs through four state govt partnership. Also, digital versions have been launched in partnership with Nokia (on 5 Lakh touchphones), Intel (AppUp store) and Google (official partner for Chromebook’s India launch).

Watch this interview with co-founder Manuj sharing how the company took a different approach to build the gaming business. The logical route would have been – “hey! first sell it to retail customers. Cracking government is not the startup way to do things.”.

They instead took the sell-to-government route and later, retail. So when you sell to government, how do you track product feedback? Whether the product is useful or not? After all, there is one thing as buying and another as using the product (and with most of the government/big corporate process, the two do not meet ever).

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