Radish Fiction announced it has secured $63.2 million in a new financing round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and Kakao Pages.
This round represents a major step up in funding, not just for Radish, but also compared to other startups in a relatively nascent market.
One of the ideas Radish took from the Asian markets is rapidly updating its stories. For example, its most popular title, “Torn Between Alphas” (a romance story with werewolves) has released 10 seasons in less than a year, with each season consisting of more than 50 chapters — later seasons have more than 100 chapters — that are released multiple times a day.
“Instead of becoming YouTube or Wattpad for serial fiction, we want to be more like Netflix and create our own originals,” founder and CEO Seungyoon Lee told me. “I got a lot of inspiration from platforms in Korea, China and Japan, where serial fiction is huge and established on mobile.”
“On Netflix, you can binge-watch three seasons of a show at once,” Lee said. “On Radish, you can binge-read a thousand episodes.”
Lee pointed to the fall of 2019 as Radish’s “inflection point,” where the model really started to work. Now, the company says its most popular story has made more than $4 million and has received more than 50 million “reads.” Radish stories are mostly in the genres of romance, paranormal/sci-fi, LGBTQ, young adult, horror, mystery and thriller, and Lee said the audience is largely female and based in the United States.
By raising a big round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and Kakao Pages. Lee said he can take advantage of their expertise in the Asian market to grow Radish’s audience in the U.S. That will mean accelerating content production in the hopes of creating more hit titles and also spending more on performance marketing.
“With its own fast-paced original content production, Radish is best positioned to become a leading player in the global online fiction market,” said SoftBank Ventures Asia CEO JP Lee in a statement. “Radish has proven that its serialized novel platform can change the way people consume online content, and we are excited to support the company’s continued disruption in the mobile fiction space. Leveraging our global SoftBank ecosystem, we hope to support and accelerate Radish’s expansion across different regions worldwide.”