Paavan Nanda The Termsheet Podcast

Winning Bharat with Winzo Games – Paavan Nanda

Episode 4

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Gaming in India

India is already one of the top 5 mobile gaming markets in the world. In 2020, according to a report by Deloitte, there are 326 million online gamers in the country. The report says that this number will grow to 368 million in the next two years. In 2019, the online gaming market in India is about USD 1 billion and will grow at a CAGR of 40% over the next two years to reach a market size of USD 2 billion. Unsurprisingly, mobile gaming constitutes over 85% of the market.

Two things occurred in 2020 that pushed gaming in India to new levels. 1) The Covid19 pandemic and 2) the ban of popular Chinese apps. But, even before these two defining events occurred, online gaming has been on the upswing. Thanks in no small part to cheap and fast data, world class payment infrastructure and more affordable and powerful smartphones. As a result record amount of Venture Capital funding went into this sector. According to Tracxn, 12 companies attracted USD 131 million in funding in 2020. And early this year we have also seen the first gaming unicorn in Dream11.  

Winzo Games is one of the leading gaming platforms in India. It targets gamers residing in smaller cities and towns of India. Winzo offers such games as carom, cricket, memory mania, bubble shooter, and trivia games in over 10 languages. Until recently game developers and studios in India focused primarily on the gamers available in Tier I cities. Because, that’s where most of the discretionary spending happens. But, as much as 80% of all online gamers in India reside in Tier 2 plus cities and an innovative model was required to monetize gaming. Winzo has identified this gulf and introduced its micro-transaction led social gaming platform.

First Impressions

I’ve personally known Paavan Nanda for over three years now. Paavan is a repeat founder and he first founded a well known hostel chain called Zostel. After exiting Zostel he co-founded Winzo Games along with Saumya Singh Rathore. Winzo raised its seed fund from Kalaari Capital. And, I know Paavan from there. The company is recently in the news for raising USD 18 million in its Series B funding round led by Makers Fund and Courtside Ventures.

Paavan had a very interesting entrepreneurial journey. His first shot at entrepreneurship has left a bad taste in his mouth. The botched acquisition of Zostel by Oyo has been mired in controversy which led to a recently concluded arbitration. But, not to be deterred, Paavan rebounded with another entrepreneurial venture this time in mobile gaming. Now, with over 25 million registered users and 5 million monthly users Winzo Games is one of the most valuable gaming companies in the country.

In this episode.. .

I spoke with Paavan about why he took up entrepreneurship again and why he set his eyes on mobile gaming. We also discussed about the ups and downs of his Zostel journey. This is one of the most candid conversations a guest has had with me to date. Do not miss this inspiring conversation.

Do checkout some of the previous episodes with Pulkit Agrawal of Trell and Dharmil Sheth of Pharmeasy.

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