GlobalBees, which secured one of the largest Series A funding rounds in India earlier this year, has joined the unicorn club as the New Delhi-based company scales up its Thrasio-esque brand house.
Premji Invest, the investment firm controlled by Indian tycoon Azim Premji, led the Series B financing round of the nine-month-old startup, the fledgling company revealed in a registration filing. The round, about $110 million, values GlobalBees at more than $1.1 billion, the filing showed.
Steadview Capital and existing investors Lightspeed, SoftBank and FirstCry also participated in the $110 million equity round. Trifecta Capital also invested $30 million in debt in the new round.
GlobalBees, founded by Nitin Agarwal, formerly of Edelweiss Financial, and Supam Maheshwari, a founder of FirstCry, acquires and partners with digitally indigenous brands in categories such as Beauty, Personal Care, Home & Kitchen, Food & Nutrition, and Sports & Lifestyle, with a turnover rate of $1 million to $20 million.
GlobalBees helps these companies scale and sell in marketplaces and through other channels in India and outside the South Asian market.
“We have created and interacted with brands in the past and realized that most of these brands reach a scale where it becomes too difficult to scale them,” Agarwal told BestFitnessBands earlier this year. He declined to comment on the new fundraiser.
“Supam and I have been talking about this for years and trying to find ways to disrupt this market. We think there is an opportunity to create a new house of brands that is digital native.”
At the time, Agarwal said GlobalBees was looking for three dozen brands. Indian news and analytics publication the CapTable, which reported on GlobalBees’ talks to hold a roundup on unicorn valuation in October, then said GlobalBees was in several stages of talks to strike deals with at least 15 brands.
Numerous startups in India today are trying to replicate the so-called Thrasio model. (Although it’s worth noting that it took Thrasio about two years to become a unicorn.)
Mensa Brands, a similar venture to the former CEO of fashion e-commerce Myntra, recently raised a $135 million Series B funding round, valuing the startup at more than $1 billion. It was six months old at the time of the funding announcement. Titan Capital, which has backed about 200 startups in India, has invested in Powerhouse91. 10club, another similar startup, raised $40 million earlier this year, though much of it was in debt.
Like Thrasio, several of these companies are trying to acquire brands that sell midrange to high-end products in categories where competition is limited. In fact, some of the categories common to these brands are so undervalued that even Amazon and other e-commerce companies haven’t explored them through their private label ecosystems.
With more than 800 brands, India is quickly becoming a fast-growing market for direct-to-consumer brands.
Many investors believe that the Amazons and Flipkarts of the world have paved the way for digital commerce and that smarter and more profitable businesses can be built on top of it.
New social trading models will continue to penetrate deeper into Bharat, while revenue-based financing models will provide an alternative financing option for smaller D2C brands aware of equity dilution. At the same time, consumers will demand a smooth journey after checkout (automatic completed card/customer details, predicts RTO, one-step checkout).Startups that deliver kicks in the gold rush (Shiprocket, GoKwik) have the potential to achieve big wins,” according to a recent analysis.
GlobalBees joins more than 40 other India-based startups that have joined the unicorn club this year, up from 11 last year. Several leading investors, including SoftBank, Falcon Edge Capital and Tiger Global, have doubled their investments in the South Asian market in recent quarters.