Ronnie Screwvala's Unilazer Ventures invests in grocery e-tailer EkStop, picks up 25% stake
EkStop Shop Pvt Ltd, the company that owns and operates the online grocery store EkStop.com, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Ronnie Screwvala's Unilazer Ventures Ltd. As part of the investment, Unilazer Ventures has picked up 25 per cent stake in the company. The funds will be invested in building technology, hiring talent and increasing the company's reach in the country.
While the exact amount invested is not disclosed, Sumat Chopra, co-founder and CEO, EkStop, had earlier (Aug 2013) told VCCircle that the company was close to raising $2.5 million in a Series A funding round.
"I see tremendous potential and scalability for the e-grocery space in India. A disconnected last mile experience for the customer, high customer lifetime value, and an ability to build local monopolies in the top metros of India are all exciting opportunities for this kind of business to grow exponentially," said Abhishek Shah, AVP, private equity at Unilazer Ventures.
The Mumbai-based startup was founded by Chopra and Shaurya Mehta in May 2012. The company is an e-commerce retailer specialising in home deliveries of groceries, supermarket products and all kinds of daily essentials. As of now, EkStop delivers all across Mumbai. It is now planning to launch its services to Navi Mumbai and Thane by February 2014.
The company has partnered with over 500 brands to offer more than 8,000 products and has its own in-house logistics and warehousing capabilities. Targeted at working professionals and housewives alike, the service lends itself well to the urban population that faces constraints due to their busy lifestyle.
Prior to this round, the firm had raised an undisclosed amount in angel funding from a group of investors, including Jayesh Parekh (co-founder of Sony Entertainment Television), Deepak Shahdadpuri (head of Beacon India Private Equity Fund), Patrick Turner (he runs the entrepreneurship department at INSEAD), Jungle Ventures, Sanjay Kamlani (co-chief executive of Pangea3), and some senior executives of Google and McKinsey.
"The website provides consumers a convenient, efficient and cost-effective alternative to the local kirana store and the supermarket. The investment by Unilazer will further help us build best-in-class technology, bring in key hires and increase reach and depth to the consumer," said Chopra.
In the online grocery space, the company competes with players like AaramShop, BigBasket, ZopNow, MyGrahak, and LocalBanya. In July 2012, Mumbai-based MN&C Supply Links Retail Pvt Ltd, which runs and owns LocalBanya.com, an online supermarket, had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL)'s Springboard fund.
A private equity fund set up by Indian film producer Screwvala, Unilazer Ventures has a leaning towards sectors like agriculture, healthcare, education and e-commerce domains. Last month, the fund had led a $6 million round in Bangalore-based Actoserba Active Wholesale Pvt Ltd, the company behind online lingerie store Zivame. Existing investors Kalaari Capital and IDG Ventures also participated in the round.
Prior to that, Noida-based Valyoo Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs a string of e-shops (Jewelskart.com, Watchkart.com, Bagskart.com and Lenskart.com), had raised $10 million in its Series B round of funding. Unilazer Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investor IDG Ventures India. The fund had also invested in employment portal OnContract.com and InI Farms Pvt Ltd, which specialises in modern horticulture and exports the produce.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)