Optical network startup American Vision raises angel funding

American Vision Pvt. Ltd, a Pune-based startup that aggregates optical stores, has raised an undisclosed amount in its second round of angel funding from a high-profile investor, a top company executive told VCCircle.

The company will use the amount raised from Satish Jamdar, former managing director at air-conditioning firm Blue Star, to fuel its expansion to Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

“Jamdar will be playing a key role as mentor and strategic advisor for our company,” said Ajay G Kashikar, founder director, American Vision.

A person privy to the development said Jamdar has invested Rs 1 crore (nearly $149,000) in the company.

When contacted, Jamdar said he has backed the company as he believes “American Vision can create sustainable value for independent opticians.”

Jamdar, who has decades of experience in the corporate sector, has earlier served Siemens, Voltas, GEC Alstom, BPL Sanyo Appliances and Real Value Appliances, besides Blue Star.

The company had earlier this year raised Rs 55 lakh in its first external round of funding from two angel investors.

Kashikar had then said the capital would be used to upgrade the existing stores in Pune and for brand building. Part of the money will also be used to expand to Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

The company was also in an advance stage of discussions with a VC firm to raise nearly $3 million.

The firm follows an asset-light model. It has tied up with about 150 individual opticians in Pune, whose stores are then branded as an American Vision outlets. The startup brings these outlets under one umbrella and also provides them an online platform.

The firm, which was launched in 2013, offers spectacles, sunglasses, contact lenses and accessories for men, women and kids.

Kashikar had earlier worked at Melstar Singapore Pte Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank and Blue Star Ltd before launching the startup.

The company aims to create a chain of 15,000 stores in three to five years. Kashikar said his goal is to have one store in each of the 25,000 pin code areas in India.

Titan Eye, Vision Express and Lenskart are among the players with nationwide presence in India’s eye-wear retail sector. GKB, Himalaya, Lawrence & Mayo are the other players with 60 to 80 stores each in select locations in the country.

The sector hasn’t witnessed too many deals in the recent past. Last month, eyewear e-tailer Lenskart Solutions Pvt. Ltd had raised Rs 400 crore ($60 million then) in its Series D round of investment from International Finance Corp, TPG Growth and other investors.

Last year, private investment firms Ventureast and Asian Healthcare Fund had jointly invested Rs 40 crore ($6.5 million then) in Hyderabad-based Eye Gear Optics India Pvt. Ltd, that runs a chain of optical retail stores under the brand name Ben Franklin across the country.

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