As the New Delhi-based startup develops its Thrasio-like house of brands, GlobalBees, which received one of the largest Series an investment rounds in India earlier this year, has joined the unicorn club. According to a regulatory filing, Premji Invest, the investment business run by Indian entrepreneur Azim Premji, led the nine-month-old startup’s Series B fundraising round. According to the filing, the $110 million round values GlobalBees at around $1.1 billion.
The $110 million equity round included new investors Steadview Capital and Lightspeed, SoftBank, and FirstCry, as well as previous investors Lightspeed, SoftBank, and FirstCry. In the current round, Trifecta Capital also made a debt investment of $30 million. GlobalBees, founded by Nitin Agarwal, a former Edelweiss Financial executive, and Supam Maheshwari, a co-founder of FirstCry, acquires and collaborates with digitally native brands in categories such as beauty, personal care, home and kitchen, food and nutrition, sports and lifestyle, with revenue ranging from $1 million to $20 million.
GlobalBees assists these businesses in scaling and selling to marketplaces and other outlets in India and beyond the South Asian market. In an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year, Agarwal said, “We have established and associated with brands in the past and discovered that most of these companies reach a scale after which it becomes too tough to expand them.” He remained tight-lipped about the new fundraising effort.
“Supam and I have been discussing this for years, trying to figure out how to disrupt this business.” We believe there is a chance to establish a new digitally native brand house.” GlobalBees was aiming to buy up to three dozen brands at the time, according to Agarwal. GlobalBees was in various stages of negotiations to finalize deals with at least 15 companies, according to Indian news and analysis magazine CapTable, which reported on the company’s efforts to raise a round at unicorn value in October.
Today, a large number of entrepreneurs in India are attempting to duplicate the Thrasio-model. Mensa Brands, a similar business led by the former CEO of fashion e-commerce Myntra, just secured $135 million in a Series B funding round, valuing the company at over $1 billion. It had been six months since the financing announcement. Titan Capital, which has invested in over 200 Indian businesses, has funded Powerhouse91. A comparable firm, 10club, raised $40 million earlier this year, albeit much of it was debt-financed.
Several of these companies, like Thrasio, are attempting to buy brands that offer midrange to high-end items in markets with little competition. In fact, some of these businesses’ common categories are so underestimated that Amazon and other e-commerce companies have yet to explore them through their private label ecosystems. India is soon becoming a fast-growing market for direct-to-consumer brands, with over 800 brands. Many investors feel that the Amazons and Flipkarts of the world have set the foundation for digital commerce, upon which smarter and successful enterprises may be formed.
“Newer social commerce models will continue to penetrate further into Bharat, while revenue-based financing models will give an alternative financing option for equity-dilution-averse smaller D2C firms.” Consumers will desire a seamless post-checkout journey (auto-filled card/customer details, RTO predictions, one-step checkout) at the same time. According to recent research, “startups that provide shovels in the gold rush (Shiprocket, GoKwik) have the potential to reap large rewards.” GlobalBees is one of nearly 40 Indian firms to reach the unicorn club this year, up from 11 the year before. In recent quarters, a number of high-profile investors, including SoftBank, Falcon Edge Capital, and Tiger Global, have increased their stakes in the South Asian sector.