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Early investors of FirstCry plan to sell their stake for $180 million

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Inside a FirstCry store

Early investors in the baby and mothercare products retailer FirstCry are planning to sell their stakes in a secondary transaction for $180 million (₹1,321 crore).

This will value the company at $2.1 billion (₹15,414 crore), almost double its value during the last round of funding in 2019. Its early backers -Chiratae Ventures, NEA, Vertex Ventures and Elevation Capital, are the ones reportedly planning this sale.

Online to Offline

FirstCry was founded in 2010, by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha. Supam started out as the founder of Brainvisa Technologies, one of the first e-learning platform in India, as early as 2000. The online test-prep platform was later acquired by Indecomm Global for $16 million ($117 crore).

Supam and his colleague Saha started FirstCry from their Pune office. In 2012, it was one of the earliest e-commerce platform to start an offline retail chain. Which was followed by a logistical business to support it, called XpressBees.

Since 2011, FirstCry has raised $504 million ($3,699 crore) through seven funding rounds from investors such as Chiratae Ventures, SoftBank Vision Fund, NEA, Vertex Ventures, Elevation Capital, Valiant Capital, Ratan Tata and Kris Gopalakrishnan.

SoftBank Vision Fund now owns 40% of BrainBees (the company that owns FirstCry), after its investment of $400 million (₹2,936 crore) in 2019, when the company was valued at $1.1 billion (₹8,074 crore).

Largest in Asia

In 2015, FirstCry’s parent company BrainBees, acquired Mahindra BabyOne in an all-stock deal.

Its logistics arm XpressBees was spun off last year and it has raised $110 million (₹807 crore) from private equity firms Investcorp, Norwest Venture Partners and Gaja Capital. XpressBees also has raised capital from Alibaba Group Holdings.

In January 2020, FristCry had a total of 380 stores across India, out of which 350 are franchise stores. Its expansion plans were halted during the pandemic, which will be resumed this year. As of now, FirstCry.com is claimed to be Asia’s largest online shopping store for baby & kids products.

Also read: TVS Capital closes its third fund round with a corpus of $272 million

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eCommerce Startups

Home solutions startup Wakefit offers ESOP buyback options worth $2 million

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Home solutions brand Wakefit.co has announced that it is offering its employees an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) on the course of its Series B funding.

The ESOP buyback will be worth ₹15 crore ($2 million), which will benefit about 15-20 employees. Through this scheme, the company will allocate 6-7% of its shares to the employees’ part of the pool.

Wakefit had raised ₹185 crore ($25 million) from Verlinvest and Sequoia Capital in December 2020.

The Growth journey

Founded by Chaitanya Ramalingegowda and Ankit Garg in 2016, Wakefit started out as a memory foam mattress company and later transformed into an online sleep company.

It sells mattresses, bed frames, pillows and mattress protectors. The Series B funding raised Wakefit’s valuation to ₹1,900 crore ($260 million).

The company expects to reach a revenue figure of about ₹450 crore ($61 million) by FY 2021, and it wanted to make its senior members part of this growth journey.

To promote and protect

Speaking to ET about the latest announcement, Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, co-founder of Wakefit.co said “Promoting and protecting employees’ interests and keeping them motivated is paramount to our success, as we go about achieving our growth targets.”

“During Covid-19, we ensured that our employees felt secure in their jobs and had the financial and moral support needed to battle the pandemic together,” he added.

WakeFit aims to increase its workforce to 3000 employees by March 2021, which would be a 400% increase from its March 2020 figure. It has already started training programs for machine operators, carpenters, and other customer experience executives.

Also read: PagarBook raises $15 million from Sequoia Capital

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eCommerce Startups

Tata Group in final stage of acquiring majority stakes in BigBasket and 1mg

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BigBasket service

Tata Group is reportedly in the final phase of closing a $200-$300 million (₹1,463 crore to ₹2,195 crore) primary cash-infusion, to acquire a majority stake in online grocery delivery platform BigBasket.

In total, Tata would spend about $1.3 billion (₹9,512 crore) in primary and secondary share sale on BigBasket, resulting in a 60% stake in BigBasket, valuing the company at $1.6 billion (₹11,707 crore), as reported by ET.

The deal would mean a full-exit for the most important backers of BigBasket, including Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba and equity firm Abraaj Group. These two entities collectively own about 46% of BigBasket.

In September of last year, BigBasket said that it witnessed an 84% increase in new customers from the pre-pandemic levels. It also claimed to process more than 20 million (2 crore) orders per month to reach an annual revenue runrate (ARR) of $1 billion (₹7,317 crore).

Tata Group is also reportedly planning to infuse $200-250 million (₹1,463 crore – ₹1,829 crore) for a 55% stake in online pharmacy 1mg.

The SuperApp plan

These acquisitions are part of Tata’s larger plan to launch a SuperApp, which would encompass online shopping, digital payments, social media, gaming and ticket/hotel bookings.

By acquiring 1mg, Tata will try to make use of the multi-fold growth in the e-pharmacy segment, following the pandemic. The sector will likely see consolidation between these large players as Reliance has already acquired 60% stake in Netmeds.

As per some reports, Amazon is in the process of acquiring a minority stake in Apollo Pharmacy, India’s largest drugstore chain. And each of these moves will have to follow Reliance JioMart’s entry on WhatsApp, which is expected to be game-changer.

Also read: Swiggy closes its online grocery marketplace and will now focus on Instamart

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Flipkart selects 8 startups for its startup accelerator program

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Flipkart Office

E-commerce major Flipkart has selected eight finalists for its startup accelerator program ‘Flipkart Leap’. These startups will undergo a 16-week mentorship program and receive an equity-free grant of $25,000 (₹18 lakh).

The first cohort of eight startups are ANS Commerce, Entropik Tech, Fashinza, Gully Network, Piggy, Tagbox Solutions, Unbox Robotics and Wolkus Technology.

Nurture and empower

Flipkart Leap was launched in August 2020, for idea-stage startups in the consumer internet technology space to support them to build market ready solutions.

It invited applications from startups across five categories; Design and Make for India, Innovation in digital commerce, Technologies to empower the retail ecosystem, Supply chain management and logistics, and Deep tech applications.

These startups were shortlisted from 920 applications from across India.

Naren Ravula, VP, Product Strategy and Deployment at Flipkart said, “With Flipkart Leap, we aim to nurture promising startups and help them create compelling solutions for customers and bring value to the industry.“

“The quality of the startups and the number of applications we received have been encouraging. We look forward to working with the eight startups, mentoring them and supporting them through industry exposure and strategic partnerships.”

Scale and partner

The mentorship program will be conducted by a team of Flipkart leaders and various industry experts. It will be crafted under two separate tracks.

Track one will offer them one-on-one business & technical mentorship, masterclasses and networking sessions to enable them to develop their venture and scale its business in India, through tools and practices.

Track two will help the startups to partner with business units at Flipkart.

Also read: Flipkart infuses ₹150 crore in PhonePe

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