The universe of Indian firms attempting to replicate Thrasio’s success in the world’s second-largest internet market just got bigger. Three-month-old GlobalBees said on Monday it has raised $150 million in a Series A financing round led by FirstCry.
Lightspeed Venture Partners also invested in the new financing round, which is $75 million in equity and $75 million in debt. Even with a $75 million equity raise, Monday’s announcement makes GlobalBees’ round the largest Series A funding in India.
Founded by Nitin Agarwal, formerly of Edelweiss Financial, and Supam Maheshwari, a founder of FirstCry, GlobalBees acquires and partners with digitally native brands across categories such as beauty, personal care, home and kitchen, food and nutrition, and sports and lifestyle with a revenue rate of $1 million to $20 million.
The New Delhi-based startup then helps these firms scale and sell to marketplaces (such as Amazon and Flipkart) and through other channels in India and outside the South Asian market, Agarwal told TechCrunch in an interview. He said GlobalBees has already acquired or partnered with more than a dozen brands and they are selling both in India and outside of the country.
“We have created and engaged with brands in the past and realized that most of these brands reach a scale after which it becomes too difficult to scale them,” he said. “Supam and I have been talking about this for several years, trying to find ways to disrupt this market. We think there’s an opportunity to create a new house of brands that is digital-native.”
Agarwal said GlobalBees will attempt to build a distribution and enterprise ecosystem in the online space similar to how traditional firms have established those connections in the offline world. (Not all brands GlobalBees engages with will get acquired on day one, Agarwal said. Typically, some brands get acquired in a span of three years or so, he said.)
"The time it takes for D2C brands to go from 0 - 100Cr (about $13 million) in revenue has more than halved over the past few years,” said Harsha Kumar, partner at Lightspeed Venture, in a statement.
“We believe that this creates a unique opportunity to create a brand house much faster as well. With their past entrepreneurial stints together and their experience in building one of the largest ecommerce platforms in India, the duo of Supam and Nitin is the perfect team to go after this idea. Lightspeed is thrilled to be part of this journey!" said Kumar, who is joining the board of GlobalBees.
Scores of startups in India today are trying to replicate what is popularly known as the Thrasio-model. Titan Capital, which has backed about 200 startups in India, has invested in Powerhouse91. Mensa Brands, a similar venture by former fashion e-commerce Myntra's chief executive, recently raised $50 million in equity and debt. 10club, another similar startup, recently raised $40 million -- though much of it is in debt. TechCrunch reported last month that UpScale, another prominent player in this space, is in advanced talks with Germany’s Razor Group to raise capital.
Like Thrasio, several of these firms are trying to acquire brands that sell midrange to high-end products in categories where competition is limited. In fact, some of the categories that are common among these brands are so underappreciated that even Amazon and other e-commerce firms have not explored them through their private label ecosystems.
GlobalBees' Agarwal agreed with this assessment, though he added that not all brands are operating in niche categories.
New York-headquartered Thrasio, which has raised over $1.3 billion in equity and debt since December last year, had acquired or otherwise consolidated about
6,000 100 third-party sellers on Amazon as of earlier this year.
"India is at the cusp of a D2C revolution with an estimated market size of $200 billion in the next 5 years. Indian brands have shown great promise in the recent years, and we believe that GlobalBees is building great assets to accelerate the growth of digitally native brands in the country,” said Vikas Agnihotri, operating partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement.
Agnihotri, alongside Atul Gupta of Premji Invest, Sudhir Sethi of Chiratae Ventures and Kshitij Sheth of Chrys Capital are also joining GlobalBees' board.