Bertelsmann India Investments has made initial or follow-up investments in four young Indian companies. The fund has invested in the Licious food delivery service, the online video portal Roposo, the logistics platform Lets Transport and online education company Eruditus. The start-ups are growing rapidly and all rely on digital technologies.
Licious – Fresh meat and seafood products
In the fall, BII had already led a Series C financing round for Licious that raised a total of $25 million; now it has participated in the recently completed Series D round, which raised another $25 million. With more than 300 percent growth in the past financial year, the start-up founded in 2015 reports that it has developed into the leading provider of refrigerated logistics for fresh meat and seafood products in India. Licious has a large customer base: According to the company, 90 percent of customers order food via the website at least once a month. Licious plans to use the fresh capital to expand into other cities and product categories, as well as invest in delivery processes, in the year ahead.
Bertelsmann India Investments’ follow-up investment in Licious strengthens the fund’s involvement in the logistics sector. Licious’ focus is on the Indian fresh meat and seafood products market, with an estimated volume of around $40 billion. Most of the refrigerated supply chains in India are still inefficient. Pankaj Makkar, Managing Director of Bertelsmann India Investments says: “Startups that enable direct-to-consumer fresh food delivery are redefining how India produces, distributes and buys food. Licious, with its robust supply chain and seamless farm-to-fork model, addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the consumer when it comes to their purchase experience and quality of product.”
Roposo – 200,000 new users every day on video clip platform
Roposo, an online platform for video clips that was launched as “TV by the people” in August 2017, is growing just as impressively. Here, too, Bertelsmann India Investments made a follow-up investment as part of a $10 million financing round. Similar to Youtube, users can upload and share their own video clips on Roposo. Based on algorithms, the platform plays out content on more than 25 themed channels (verticals) in as many as eleven regional languages in India.
The app currently has around 25 million users and generates 160 million video views per day. According to the company, the number of daily active users has increased 75-fold within a year, and 200,000 new users are being added daily. Rohit Sood, principal at Bertelsmann India Investments, says, “The company has scaled explosively over the past year but we are most excited about the management’s focus on the quality of user engagement on the platform. We are confident that Roposo will soon be among the leading video creation and consumption apps in India.”
Lets Transport – The Uber of the Indian logistics industry
Bertelsmann India Investments first invested in Lets Transport in its Series B round. The start-up from Bangalore had raised around $6.6 million in capital since it was founded in 2015. The total amount of the current funding round is close to $14 million. Lets Transport transfers the business model of transport service intermediaries such as Uber to the logistics sector. On its online platform, the start-up act as a broker for small and medium-sized freight forwarders to transport goods over distances of up to 300 kilometers.
The market for these intra-city logistics is highly fragmented and lags behind in technological development. Lets Transport’s approach is to connect manufacturers and dealers on the platform. The freight forwarders can improve their capacity usage and invoice their services more transparently, while their clients profit from higher efficiency in their logistics arrangements, less idle time, and thus lower costs. Lets Transport focuses on the consumer goods (FMCG), retail, and e-commerce sectors. Analysis assumes that the intra-city logistics market in these sectors will double to around $4.7 billion by 2023.
Eruditus - Education courses in business and digital topics
The Indian online education provider Eruditus has raised $40 million in fresh capital in a Series C financing round. The Bertelsmann India Investments (BII) fund, which has held a stake in the Mumbai-based start-up since mid-2017, also participated in the investment round. The company now has a valuation of over $400 million. “In the last year and a half that we’ve been with Eruditus, they’ve continued to beat their targets,” says Pranjal Kumar, Vice President at Bertelsmann India Investments.
Eruditus partners with renowned universities in the U.S. and Europe to offer professionals and executives high-quality continuing education courses in business and digital topics. Partner universities include Harvard, INSEAD, Columbia, the London School of Economics, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After almost 10,000 people took a course at Eruditus last year, the company is aiming to triple this number to as many as 30,000 students in 2019. There will also be an expanded offering in emerging technology fields such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, and autonomous driving. The management team announced that in addition to the number of courses, the range of teaching languages would also be expanded. After English and Spanish, courses in Portuguese will be available from the middle of the year and in Mandarin from the end of the year.