Curio, the burgeoning audio platform that offers a curated library of “expert” journalism, has closed $9 million in Series A round funding.
The round is led by Earlybird, with participation from Draper Esprit, Cherry Ventures and Horizons Ventures. It follows $2 million in previous backing from Cherry, 500 Startups and unnamed private angel investors, bringing the total amount raised to $11 million to date.
Founded in 2016 by Govind Balakrishnan, an ex-BBC strategist, and Srikant Chakravarti, a former solicitor, London-based Curio offers a curated library of journalism translated into and presented as audio, letting listeners get their daily fix of news and analysis. More than 50 publications are curated on the app, including the likes of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Financial Times, and specialist titles such as Wired, MIT Technology Review and Aeon.
The audio articles are narrated by professional voice actors. Listeners can browse by new stories, most played, categories and publication, and also discover new tracks on playlists curated bi-weekly by the Curio editorial team. In addition, you can click on “read along” on the app to access the original text via the publisher’s website, therefore helping to drive traffic to the original publisher.
“We are here to help people learn through quality journalism and great stories,” says Balakrishnan. “Curio is a premium audio platform with a curated library of expert journalism. It provides listeners with stories and insights on critical topics shaping our world, helping them learn and grow.
“Journalism has come to be narrowly associated with breaking news. However, it encompasses thoughtful opinions, insightful analyses and bold investigations. Some of the biggest ideas shaping our world are being discussed by opinion formers on our publisher partners, and offer an unprecedented opportunity for consumers to learn and grow. Audio allows people to go deeper and learn as they go about their everyday lives.”
That thesis appears to be resonating with users. Balakrishnan tells me that Curio’s largest subscriber group is 24 to 35-year-olds, and the service reaches roughly the same number of women and men. “Over 60% of our current subscribers are not existing podcast/audio listeners,” he says. “In this sense we see a big opportunity in helping a broader range of people who are interested in quality journalism.” Noteworthy, 70% of Curio’s audience is outside the U.S. and roughly 40% is non-western markets.
To that end, Curio says it will use the injection of capital to strengthen its position in the U.S. and U.K. markets, while also expanding to other English-speaking parts of the world, including India, Australia and South Africa. It also has a number of co-produced series and guest curations in the pipeline, alongside what it describes as “AI-led” personalisation and commissioning based on more than 2 million monthly data points.