Just Buy raises funds from Alpha, others

Just Buy has partnered with 1,100 brands and provides retailers with access to 300,000 products across 11 categories including food, beverages and personal care.

Just Buy has partnered with 1,100 brands and provides retailers with access to 300,000 products across 11 categories including food, beverages and personal care.

Mumbai: Just Buy Live Enterprise Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai-based e-distributor that connects local retailers with manufacturers, has raised $20 million (Rs.136 crore) from Alpha Capital and others in its first round of funding.

The firm, founded in 2015 by Sahil Sani and Bharat Balachandran, is looking to use the funds to develop technology, expand its network of retailers to one million and add 10,000 brands by the end of 2016.

“We are like an e-commerce company that connects sellers and consumers, but for businesses. Our consumers are local retailers and sellers are brands and manufacturers like HUL (Hindustan Unilever Ltd), Marico and others,” said Sani.

Just Buy has partnered with 1,100 brands and provides retailers with access to 300,000 products across 11 categories including food, beverages and personal care. It plans to reach out to a million retailers by December 2016 and expects to report revenue of Rs.1,000 crore by that time.

The Indian retail sector is estimated to be valued at $676 billion in 2015, representing a 13% growth over the previous year, according to Pinakiranjan Mishra, national leader for retail and consumer products at consulting firm EY.

The sector is highly fragmented with 12-15 million outlets, with 92% of the business coming from the unorganized sector. India’s retail market is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020, driven by income growth, urbanization and attitudinal shifts, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group and Retailers Association of India.

While the overall retail market is expected to grow at 12% per year, modern trade will expand at a faster 20% pace.

“The average value of the transaction is $200, and the basket of products includes 15-16 items across four to five brands,” said Balachandran. Just Buy supplies goods directly from companies to retailers and every product sold by it is listed and priced by the manufacturer.

Just Buy operates on a 10% margin and retailers can buy the products from the company for about 5-10% cheaper than what they do traditionally. It has also partnered with two banks to provide credit to these retailers.

“There are a lot of challenges that we face. Getting retailers to believe that there is a more efficient way of procuring products through technology is very hard. Timings, quantities and logistics of such deliveries works differently,” said Sani.

To address this problem, Just Buy has rolled out a television advertisement campaign to build the brand and has hired 1,000 people on contract to create awareness among the small retailers.

[“source-Livemint”]

CREO raises $3 million from Sequoia Capital, others

Analysts say there is space for home grown phone-makers as India is seen as the growth engine in the global smartphone business, but are doubtful of the prospects of another OS. Photo: BloombergAnalysts say there is space for home grown phone-makers as India is seen as the growth engine in the global smartphone business, but are doubtful of the prospects of another OS. Photo: Bloomberg

Bengaluru: Motiveprime Consumer Electronics Pvt. Ltd has raised $3 million from venture capital firms Sequoia Capital, Beenext Ventures and India Quotient to manufacture smartphones and its own Android-based operating system under the brand name CREO.

The company was established by the makers of TeeWe, an HDMI dongle device that enables users to stream content to their television sets.

The company wants to differentiate itself from current phone makers with its software, by offering updates to the OS and new features regularly.

“There is a lot of premium hardware that’s built but when it comes to software everybody’s the same. That’s where we want to step in,” said Sai Srinivas, founder and chief executive officer, CREO.

“Everything has been designed in Bengaluru. We’re still testing the devices, but we hope to go to market sometime this year,” he said.

Srinivas did not reveal specifics of the make of the phone, the features it is expected to have, or a potential price point because the details may change by the time the devices ship, but said that it would “not break your bank”, and that their target market are aspirational millennials.

Eventually, the company also plans to license its operating system to other phone makers.

Cyanogen is the most popular customized version of Android that’s available in the market today, and the start-up that makes the OS has raised about $85 million so far, with its OS on phones made by Micromax, OnePlus and France-based Alcatel, among others.

Analysts say there is space for home grown phone-makers as India is seen as the growth engine in the global smartphone business, but are doubtful of the prospects of another OS.

“I’m a bit skeptical because most of the [OS] launches in the past have remained less successful (relatively). Android continues to be dominant and with many forked versions of Android currently available in the market, there is very little that a platform maker can do to differentiate and enrich the customer experience at the end of the day,” said Kiran Kumar, research manager, client devices, International Data Corporation (IDC).

Smartphones are a lucrative market in India, with every major global phone maker vying for market share. Chinese market leader Xiaomi has been aggressively trying to push its products in India, as has OnePlus, with its OnePlus Two and OnePlus X devices. Even, Apple Inc. has filed applications to the Indian government to open its own stores in India, signalling the promise of the market here, which the US-based company had so far not paid attention to.

Currently, though, the market leader for smartphones in India is Samsung, with 21.6% share, followed by Micromax with 16.7%, Intex with 10.8%, Lenovo with 9.5%, and Lava with 4.7%, according to an August 2015 report by IDC, which also expects India to overtake the US as the second largest smartphone market globally by 2017.

[“source-Livemint”]

Ratan Tata invests in baby products retailer FirstCry

FirstCry offers 1,200 national and international brands with over 90,000 unique products. The range serves the needs of children ranging from new born to six years.

FirstCry offers 1,200 national and international brands with over 90,000 unique products. The range serves the needs of children ranging from new born to six years.

New Delhi: Baby products retailer FirstCry on Thursday said it has raised an undisclosed amount in a fresh round of funding by Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons Ltd.

Brainbees Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which runs FirstCry, has in the past raised $69 million in multiple rounds from investors, including early stage venture capital firm IDG Ventures India, SAIF Partners, San Francisco-based Valiant Capital and venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), among others.

The company was started by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha in 2010 and is an omni-channel platform for baby and maternity products in India. It currently operates over 150 franchisee offline stores across 100 cities in the country, besides its online store. It has also partnered with 7,000 maternity hospitals across the country.

“Our vision is to simplify parenting by creating the necessary eco-system. A positive nod from a business leader of Ratan Tata’s stature is a great vote of confidence in the way we have created the eco-system and validation of the business approach leading to definitive path to profitability,” said Maheshwari, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Brainbees.

The company offers 1,200 national and international brands with over 90,000 unique products. The range serves the needs of children ranging from new born to six years.

“As early investors in Brainbees, we have seen the company grow at a tremendous pace. Their omni-channel approach will continue enabling them to build a disruptive and rapidly scalable model,” said Sudhir Sethi, founder, chairman and managing director of IDG Ventures India, who is on the board of Brainbees.

Tata has invested in over 20 home-grown start-ups, including online marketplace Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd), digital wallet provider Paytm (One97 Communications Ltd), cab hailing service Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd), data analytics company Tracxn Technologies Pvt. Ltd, online pet supplies store Dogspot.in (PetsGlam Services Pvt. Ltd) and online lingerie store Zivame (Actoserba Active Wholesale Pvt. Ltd) in the past 18 months.

[“source-Livemint”]

Housing.com raises Rs100 crore from Softbank

Currently, Housing.com has 1.7 million verified listings and is working with over 40,000 developers and agents. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Currently, Housing.com has 1.7 million verified listings and is working with over 40,000 developers and agents. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

New Delhi: Mumbai-based Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which operates the online real estate web site Housing.com, has raised an additional Rs.100 crore in funding from Japan’s SoftBank Corp., the company said on Thursday.

“We are delighted to confirm our investment of additional Rs 100 crores in Housing.com. We continue to remain excited by Housing’s prospects and we know that this infusion will help Housing get to the next level and further consolidate its presence in the Indian real estate market,” said Jonathan Bullock, SoftBank’s representative on Housing’s board.

Housing plans to use the funds to drive its new strategy of building scalable revenue streams and going deeper in the value chain towards facilitating and fulfilling property transactions.

“Softbank is one of the world’s largest and most successful investors. Their continued support as both investors and advisors to Housing.com is invaluable to us and signifies their long-term commitment to the company. We are now well-capitalized to aggressively execute on our focused strategy and growth plans and believe 2016 will be a great year for the company,” said Jason Kothari, chief executive officer with the company.

The company raised $90 million in a round led by Softbank in December 2014.

Last year was a largely forgetable one for Housing, whose board in July fired mercurial and controversial founder-CEO Rahul Yadav. Yadav’s departure from the firm was followed by the exit of other senior management.

Rishabh Gupta, who was appointed as interim CEO was also asked to leave by the board of directors, and was replaced by Kothari in November. Over 600 employees were also asked to leave.

There were rumours that the company could be merged with Snapdeal (run by Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd), in which Softbank is a major investor.

In August 2015, it was in talks to raise $100 million from Chinese conglomerate and investment firm Fosun International Ltd, but nothing came of it.

Also in August, Housing hired restructuring advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal Holdings LLC to help it streamline its investment plans, reduce cash burn rate and move towards profitability.

Since Kothari’s appointment, Housing has changed its business model. Founded in 2012 as a property listing portal, Housing started focusing on transactions.

Currently, Housing.com has 1.7 million verified listings and is working with over 40,000 developers and agents. It has acquired entities including India Real Estate Forum, an online community for real estate; HomeBuy360, a sales management platform for developers; and Realty Business Intelligence, a data analytics and due diligence company for real estate.

[“source-Livemint”]