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Desi Hits: South Asian Entertainment Portal and Social Networking Site receives $1M Funding

San Francisco-based South Asian entertainment and social networking site DesiHits has received $1 million in first round funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Trident Capital.

The term Desi refers to subculture from South Asia. Desi Hits has a urban twist to it but it competes with several others in the same genre including WahIndia, which received angel funding and will be relaunching the site. Badmash.com, desiparty.com and others are targeting the same audience.

To Desi Hit’s credit, their podcast and vidcast has seen a great run on iTune and has acquired some following. Desi Hits has Bollywood gossip, celebrity interviews, music videos and streaming clips targeted at the South Asian audience in the US.

“We, at Trident Capital are really impressed with the founding team behind Desi Hits! With their intense passion, insight and expertise in capturing the diversity and depth of contemporary Desi-inspired entertainment in a powerful format, we are confident that they will be a leader in this next wave of social networking,” said Trident Capital managing director Evangelos Simoudis.

This is really dejavu (or desi-javu). I was actively involved in a similar effort called GoYogi in late 1999. With a total staff of 70+, go yogi tried to capture the south asian matrimonial market and did a great job of providing cutting edge news and current event information. The launch of goyogi.com was attended by Kapil Dev, the captain of the Indian Cricket team.

I remember drafting the term sheet for the purchase of goyogi.com by Excite, Inc. I don’t recall the exact numbers but it had at least six zeros in it. Excite got into its own problems at that time and the deal was never consummated but I have very fond memories of passion and hard work that the people put in there.

On the path of reminiscing, I had the opportunity to buy bollywood.com for $1,000 in 97-98, somehow it slipped away!

There is certainly a need for a good desi social networking site which is not a matrimonial site. I don’t think Desi Hits is going to be it, but I wish them success. I have seen them go from a blogger site to a funded company and I will watch them with great interest!

Desi Hits
San Fransisco
$1M
Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Trident Capital.


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February 5th, 2007 Posted by Sunny Kalara | Startup | 3 comments

GreenDot : The Ubiquitous Pre-Paid Card Gets Funded at $20M

Green Dot, the market leader in pre-paid Visa/ Mastercard was funded by the Tech Coast Angels in 2001 followed by a Series A in the round in 2003 from Sequoia Capital. Sequoia followed up with a Series B round in December of 2006 where the company raised a further $20M.

Green Dot sells reloadable, prepaid cards at retail locations around the country, such as Rite Aid. Though originally conceived as a card for parents to give to their kids when they went to college, the card has found wide acceptance in many immigrant communities where there is a high demand for virtual cash, as well as with the large sub-par credit market, which does not have access to traditional credit cards.

The strength of GreenDot has been its strong distribution system. In a market where the usefulness of the card depends very much on the proximity of the closed reloading station, Green Dot, with its 150,000+ retail locations in the country is far ahead of the its competitors. The Amigo money card has a much smaller but strong base in the US Spanish speaking population, as well as a large network in South America.

With Green Dot already having a commanding 90% market share in the prepaid business, one can only speculate that the latest cash infusion will mean expansion overseas, where a pre-paid product that allows customers to buy over the internet would be very welcome.

Company: Green Dot
CEO: Steven Streit
Funding Raised: $20M+
Investors: Sequoia Capital, Tech Coast Angels


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February 5th, 2007 Posted by Toni DasGupta | Startup | one comment