Pune-based BrainBees Solutions Pvt Ltd, which runs the online baby products shop Firstcry.com, has raised $4 million from private equity major SAIF Partners. This is its first institutional round and was concluded very quickly, according to sources. A member of SAIF Partners will be joining the board at BrainBees.
The funds will go into scaling up its operation staff, adding more inventory and categories, as well as setting up more warehouses.
Recently, Babyoye.com, another online retailer of baby products, had raised $2.5 million from Accel Partners and Tiger Global.
BrainBees Solutions was formed by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha. In 2007, Maheshwari exited his e-learning company Brainvisa Technologies, an organisation he had co-founded and built over the course of eight years as its CEO, and employed 450 people. An IIM-A graduate, Maheshwari had also worked at Vivendi and Pepsi. Brainvisa was seed-funded by Infiniti Ventures, which was headed by Saurabh Srivastava, Bharti Jacob and Pravin Gandhi, and in 2005, it raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital.
Saha, the co-founder at Firstcry.com, previously headed the sales and business operations at Brainvisa Technologies. The IIM-L graduate currently heads marketing and customer acquisition for the site. The start-up has now 30 people on board and will be scaling to 80 by year-end.
Launched in November, FirstCry.com is currently doing 250 transactions a day, with an average ticket size of Rs 1000. The site now hosts 10,000-12,000 visitors every day and is expected to reach 1000 transactions a day by year-end, Maheshwari said Techcircle.in.
Although it is named Firstcry.com, the website offers a range of products that target expecting mothers, parents and teenagers. Explains Maheshwari, “Our idea is to tag along with parents who start buying before their first baby is born and we continue to cater to them over a longer period of time – for 14-15 years. By that time there may be a second child to take care of while we continue to offer toys and clothes and shoes for the firstborn.”
FirstCry has 4000 products in its inventory and sells over 100 brands of toys and baby care products including Mattel, Ben10, Pigeon, Funskool, Hotwheels, Nuby, Farlin, Medela, Pampers, Disney, Barbie, Gerber, Zapak, Mee Mee and so on. It also works with 150 vendors internationally and the categories include diapers, skin care items, toiletries, feeding accessories, stationery, medicinal accessories, toys, apparel, books, CDs and games, gifts and gift certificates.
The start-up faces challenges including poor logistics infrastructure in the country and stock-outs by suppliers. “It is not an easy business. The market size is very large – in my opinion, it is a $5 billion opportunity. And it is rising fast, thanks to tier 2 and 3 cities. Already, 30-35 per cent of our orders come from towns and the demand is huge, considering the lack of options, access and range. It is a prime market for e-commerce firms,” said Maheshwari.
Within two months, Maheshwari plans to set up two more warehouses in North and South India. Currently, the company owns a warehouse in Pune, has partnered with Aramax and First Flight couriers, and also used speed post. It ships products to 26,000 towns and villages. The company offers free shipping on orders worth Rs 1000-plus and also accepts cash on delivery (CoD) to woo users.