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Iluminar Media, which owns and operates Little Black Book/LBB, has raised $5 million in Series A led by Inventus India and IAN Fund. Japanese investors Dream Incubator and Akatsuki Entertainment Technology (AET) Fund as well as existing investors Blume Ventures and Chiratae Ventures participated in the round.

LBB will use the newly raised funds to expand the technology and product team with focus on machine learning (ML) for discovery, and integration of content with commerce. The company plans to strengthen its footprint in India and scale by integrating discovery with commerce for small-medium sized businesses.

LBB reaches out to over three million users every month, connecting them with over 60,000 local brands and businesses across eight markets in India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai. Over the past year, LBB has doubled its audience, grown its customer retention, and registered a growth of over 75% in revenue. Newly launched content to commerce on the platform is seeing a 30% M-o-M growth, with over 500+ brands and 15,000+ products selling through LBB.

On the new investment, Rutvik Doshi, Managing Director, Inventus India, said, “We are excited to partner with Suchita, Dhruv and team LBB in their next phase of growth. The LBB team has built a product and brand that has garnered immense organic traction and loyalty pan-India. What attracted us most to LBB is how they’ve made community a continued narrative in their promise to make local brands and businesses more accessible. They have demonstrated their ability in building a platform that consumers love while also building a robust monetisation model that has powered their growth.”

Speaking on the investment, Saurabh Srivastava, Co-Founder, Indian Angel Network (IAN) Fund, said, “In a relatively short time since its inception, LBB has emerged as the preferred platform for new-age Indians to discover engaging local activities, experiences, and independent brands in their cities. Having invested in LBB in the pre-series A stage, we are delighted to participate in this round and support their vision to build an integrated discovery platform that is driven by content, community and commerce for small-medium sized businesses. We have full faith in the strength of the team and are confident that they will continue to build on their strong growth momentum to emerge as a clear domain leader.”

Existing investor Sanjay Nath, Managing Partner at Blume Ventures, said, “LBB has grown phenomenally in the past few years driven by Suchita and Dhruv’s inspiring leadership and stellar execution. They are reinventing how content, recommendations and information can drive meaningful connects and enable seamless commerce between users and businesses. We are happy with the progress and pleased to further support LBB in this new round, as they chart the path ahead.”

On investing in LBB, Munehiko Eto, Managing Director, DIAI India, said, “We’ve been closely watching LBB’s growth and performance since 2017. The growth numbers have been fantastic and a validation of the concept. Suchita and Dhruv have grown LBB to become one of the most sought after recommendation and discovery platforms in India. They made local discovery fun and created content to commerce solutions for local businesses. With this, DI intends to accelerate its investment in India’s digital media sector, including socio-consumer tech.”

Yuki Kawamura Principal at AET Fund (Akatsuki Entertainment Technology Fund), said, “We are thrilled to be part of LBB's growth in the local discovery space in India. Together with the strong leadership of Suchita and Dhruv, we aim to support local experiences' discovery space, which we believe solves multitudes of problems for people and communities and also brings joy to them. Location-based inspirational storytelling is at the heart of LBB and it offers something for everyone. This investment will enable us to continue our support for developing content-based businesses and assist heart-driven businesses in their journeys."

Dhruv Mathur

On the fundraise, Dhruv Mathur, Co-founder, Little Black Book (LBB), said, “We’re glad to have found partners in Inventus Capital, IAN Fund, Dream Incubator and AET as we move into the next phase of growth which will primarily be focused on integrating discovery with commerce and open up a platform and space for SMBs in India. Our thesis is that small to medium businesses find it very difficult to get discovered on social media and large marketplaces. LBB seeks to solve that and give today's young consumers access to new brands and businesses.”

Co-founded by Suchita Salwan and Dhruv Mathur, LBB has raised a total of $7.5 million to date with this round. Apart from institutional investors, they also have angel investors such as Rajan Anandan, Sachin Bhatia and Niraj Singh supporting the company since its founding.