Mumbai-based AFK Gaming has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A funding. The round was led by Akshat Rathee, Managing Director, NODWIN Gaming and saw funds coming in from NODWIN Gaming, SMAAASH Innovations and three other angel investors in exchange for a 25% stake in the company. Wherein, SMAAASH Innovations has invested nearly 10% of the total amount raised.

AFK Gaming is an esports content and news media startup based in the country. Founded in 2012 by Nishant Patel, Rakesh Ramchandran and Siddharth Nayyar, AFK Gaming has quickly established itself as a top platform for quality esports content and news. Today, the company is the preferred content partner for several renowned endemic as well as non-endemic brands, organisations and tournaments.

It was revealed that the funding will be used to scale up its operations in Mumbai. Currently, AFK Gaming’s content caters to the audiences of DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike, the two popular competitive gaming titles in the country. But, this will change as the funds will allow AFK Gaming to expand its operations across game titles and geographies through written, digital, live and video content for the same. Similarly, the company’s website, will undergo a rework with features targeted towards a global esports audience.

Sharing his thoughts on the funding, an ecstatic Nishant Patel, Co-Founder and Director, AFK Gaming said, “This is an important milestone in our journey and we’re thrilled to have an experienced set of investors putting their faith in us. Our goal has always been to create quality esports content. With this, we hope to deliver a much better online esports experience for both existing and new audiences.”

Meanwhile, Shripal Morakhia, Chief Imagination Officer & Chairman of SMAAASH Entertainment Pvt. Ltd mentioned “SMAAASH has big plans for the esports industry in 2018. Given our experience in delivering entertainment innovations to the masses especially the youth and AFK Gaming’s expertise in esports content creation, our investment in them is sure to bring out a lot more innovation in this booming esports industry. We are excited to be a part of AFK Gaming’s growth story as they embark on the next phase of their esports journey.”

Finally, Akshat Rathee, Co-Founder and Managing Director, NODWIN Gaming stated, “AFK Gaming remains a phenomenal group of talent led by Nishant. We have had a privilege to work with them over the last 3 years as clients and our investment into the next phase of growth for AFK was a natural fit. We look forward to the content and innovations they are working on”

Through this strategic investment, NODWIN Gaming and SMAAASH have made a clear commitment towards their intention of growing esports in the country.

Esports is currently one of the fastest growing entertainment cum sport industries around the world. The global esports audience totalled 322 million in 2016, up 86 million since 2015. This number is likely have grown to almost 386 million in 2017 and will continue to increase rapidly, at a CAGR of 14.0%, reaching 665 million in 2021. The Indian esports audience is still very small, with an estimated 2 million enthusiasts and 2 million occasional viewers, but this crowd is expected to grow more than fivefold by 2021 (Source: Industry Insights for Online and Mobile Gaming in India, Frost and Sullivan, January 2018); (Source: Newzoo)

About AFK Gaming

AFK Gaming is an esports content company based in India, presently catering to Counter-Strike and Dota 2 audiences. The company aims to bridge the gap that exists due to the lack of Asia focused content for the global audience. The co-founders, Nishant Patel, Rakesh Ramchandran and Siddharth Nayyar come from finance, IT and marketing backgrounds. With extensive knowledge and experience in the esports industry, AFK Gaming is the preferred content and knowledge partner for major prominent Indian teams, brands and event organizers.

About NODWIN Gaming

The premier and most recognized esports company in India, NODWIN Gaming has played a pivotal role in developing the esports scene in the country. Co-founded in January 2014 by Akshat Rathee and Gautam Virk along with Rajan Navani came on as an investor through Jetsynthesys. The company has been instrumental in popularizing competitive gaming in the country through its exclusive license partnerships with ESL, ESWC and Valve. NODWIN Gaming works actively to run other marquee esports IPs such as the Dew Arena by ESL, The CII India Gaming Show among others. NODWIN Gaming additionally produces online content on gaming and esports such as Esports Center, The Games & Gadget Show, The Cosplay Genie Show and Live content from pop culture events in India and abroad. Recently, Nazara Technologies picked up a 55% stake in NODWIN Gaming.

About SMAAASH Innovations

Launched in 2012, SMAAASH is one of India’s most acclaimed gaming and entertainment centers that marries sports, virtual reality, music and dining into an immersive, evolved, interactive and innovative social experience for family, friends and children alike. SMAAASH offers Larger than life’ sports experience across 27 locations in 14 cities in India and at 1 location in the US. With the latest acquisition of PVR BluO and SVM, the SMAAASH brand journey has seen a steady growth to becoming one of the most loved entertainment destinations for many around the country and overseas. Continuous product innovation and IP development is at the core of SMAAASH. SMAAASH has one of the largest gender neutral & geography-neutral portfolios of games comprising a current library of 15 games and 45 games under development. The in-house SMAAASH Labs (R&D) team has developed Virtual Reality (VR) Games, Interactive VR, Interactive + Competitive VR, VR + AI (Artificial Intelligence), VR + Real World, Augmented Reality on Hololens platform.

Source: Press release