BCCL backs online home decor firm Livspace

Media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd (BCCL) has invested in Bangalore-based online home decor startup Livspace, a person aware of the development told VCCircle.

Livspace, operated by Home Interior Designs E-commerce Pvt. Ltd, has allotted a share and a warrant to BCCL. The total deal value is Rs 11.05 crore, the person said.

Livspace co-founder Ramakant Sharma confirmed the fundraising and said BCCL’s investment is via an ad-for-equity deal.

BCCL, which publishes The Times of India newspaper and operates television channels as well as a host of websites, actively strikes ad-for-equity deals that involve the media house taking an equity stake in companies in lieu of advertisements.

In November, BCCL made similar investments in e-commerce firm ShopClues and food-tech startup FreshMenu. In July, it invested $1 million in Mumbai-based online home services marketplace Timesaverz.

Livspace’s last major funding round was in August 2016, when it received Rs 100 crore (around $15 million) from existing investor Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Helion Ventures and Jungle Ventures. In December 2016, media reports stated that it raised venture debt from Trifecta Capital.

Till date, the five-year-old company has raised a total of around $28 million in equity funding from investors.

The company, which was founded by in 2012 by former Google and Myntra executives Srivastava and Sharma, helps home owners discover pre-created looks for rooms, kitchen and storage areas. Customers can select and purchase these looks, which are created by international designers and personalise them for delivery on the basis of material, colour, style and so on. Users can also get tailor-made designs by visiting Livspace’s offline showrooms.

In 2016-17, Livspace’s gross revenue rose more than doubled to Rs 22.4 crore from Rs 9.13 crore the previous year. Operational revenue, or income from its core services, rose to Rs 21.4 crore from Rs 8.9 crore.

Gross expenditure surged to Rs 70.16 crore from Rs 18.9 crore, as employee expenses soared to Rs 39.38 crore from Rs 11.2 crore. Other expenses rose to Rs 27.7 crore from Rs 7.2 crore. This included costs on operating leases for office spaces, brokerage fees, recruitment expenses and sub-contractor fees among others.

Consequently, losses widened nearly five-fold to Rs 47.74 crore from Rs 9.82 crore in the previous year.

BCCL makes its ad-for-equity investments mainly through unit Brand Capital. Another BCCL unit that makes investments is Times Internet Ltd, which acquires stakes in tech firms in media and entertainment. A VCCircle analysis last month showed that BCCL, along with Brand Capital and Times Internet, is one of the most prolific private equity and venture capital-style investors in India.

*This article has been updated to add deal details.

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