UTA, Softbank Invest in Storytelling Startup Radish

Radish App - Publicity - P 2017
Courtesy of Radish

The company distributes short-form serialized fiction through its mobile app.

Radish, a one-year-old app for serialized fiction, has raised $3 million in seed funding from a group of entertainment, technology and publishing industry investors. 

Talent agency UTA invested alongside Greylock, Lowercase Capital, Softbank's Next Media Innovation Fund, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Sherpa Capital. The company's individual investors include author Amy Tan and ITV chairman Peter Bazalgette. Tinder's vp product, Ankur Jain, is joining the company's board. 

Radish currently works with more than 700 authors who self-publish on the internet, offering them an app through which they can distribute their fiction through a series of installments. The company employs a freemium model through which it entices readers with free chapters and then asks for small payments for additional installments. 

This form of storytelling, often likened to how television shows are dolled out in once-a-week installments, has taken off in Asia, especially China. According to a government study reported on by The Wall Street Journal last year, 43 percent of internet users in China read online novels in 2015. Toronto-based Wattpad has popularized online fan fiction in the United States and Canada and claims a global audience of 45 million users. Paramount in 2014 acquired the rights to one popular Wattpad story, After from author Anna Todd. 

Radish has not disclosed how many users it has but says it has hundreds of thousands of app downloads. 

"Our content is perfect for a quick read while riding the subway, waiting in line or grabbing a bite to eat," said founder and CEO Seung-Yoon Lee. 

Sam Wick, head of UTA Ventures, added: "With the evolution of media we are seeing IP and valuable franchises emerging from new platforms. We see Radish fiction as a continuation of this trend. Their authors have strong followings that can be translated to other entertainment media."