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Ratan Tata invests in baby products portal FirstCry

Ratan Tata

Tata has invested in about 22 startups
since retiring as the Tata Group chief

Pune-based Brainbees Solutions Pvt Ltd, which runs baby and kids focused e-commerce site FirstCry.com along with associate company Digital Age Retail Pvt Ltd, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Tata Sons’ chairman emeritus Ratan Tata.

“A positive nod from a business leader of Tata’s stature is a great vote of confidence in the way we have created the ecosystem and validation of the business approach leading to definitive path to profitability,” said Supam Maheshwari, founder and CEO of FirstCry.

This is the fourth investment in 2016 for Tata, one of India’s most active angel investors last year. Earlier this month, he had put money in animal lovers’ portal Dogspot, startup analytics firm Tracxn and coupons site CashKaro. Tata has invested in about 22 startups since he hung up his boots as the chief of the Tata Group in December 2012.

Founded in 2010 by Maheshwari and Amitava Saha, FirstCry operates a hybrid online-offline model for retailing kids’ products. It has about 100 FirstCry-branded franchisee stores across 85 cities besides its e-commerce site. In addition, Brainbees also has distribution partnerships with over 6,000 hospitals across the country.

FirstCry runs its private label under the BabyHug brand.

Brainbees has raised nearly $70 million in capital over multiple rounds of investments from venture capital firms including IDG Ventures India, SAIF Partners, Vertex Ventures, Valiant Capital and NEA.

The latest round of investments adds to the $10 million it raised in Series D round of funding from NEA and existing investor Valiant Capital Partners in April last year and $26 million in February last year.

FirstCry is the largest player in the baby products vertical which has seen some consolidation over a period of time. BabyOye, a key rival of FirstCry, had failed to raise fresh funding and was acquired by Mahindra Group (which runs offline baby products retail chain Mom & Me and is now using BabyOye as its online sales channel).

Its major rival, Hit The Mark Inc., which runs Mumbai-based curated baby and kids products flash sales site Hopscotch.in, raised $11 million in its Series B round of funding led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s VC fund Velos Partners last month. The round also saw participation from US-based Rise Capital, Middle East-based Jabbar Internet Group as well as existing investors Singapore-based Lionrock Capital and Skype co-founder Toivo Annus.

All these firms also compete with top horizontal e-tailers such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal which also sell baby products.

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