Fireside Ventures, an early-stage consumer-focused venture fund, has marked the final close of its debut fund at Rs 340 crore (about $52 million), surpassing the original target corpus of Rs 300 crore.
The new limited partners (LPs) to the fund include Unilever Ventures, Sunil Munjal’s Hero Enterprise Investment Office and ITC Ltd. Existing LPs include the family offices of Wipro promoter Azim Premji, PremjiInvest, and consumer goods maker Marico’s Harsh Mariwala’s Sharrp Ventures; private equity firm WestBridge Capital; RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group; and Emami Ltd.
The firm targets to invest in 20-25 consumer brand businesses from this fund over the next two to three years.
The company had hit the first close of the fund with commitment of Rs 180 crore (about $28 million) in June 2017.
Fireside Ventures was founded by Helion Venture Partners’ co-founder Kanwaljit Singh. A veteran investor with around three decades of experience, Singh quit Helion after spending a decade with the firm he helped start in 2005. At Helion, he primarily invested in consumer companies.
A year after his departure from Helion, he came back as an independent director on the boards of several consumer portfolio companies of the VC firm. These included North Indian vegetarian quick service restaurant (QSR) chain Mast Kalandar, Vas Data Services, which owns fashion brand YepMe, and ID Fresh Foods.
At Fireside, Kanwaljit is joined by Vinay Singh and VS Kannan Sitaram. Vinay has over 10 years’ experience in consumer brands in the digital marketing space and as an entrepreneur. He was co-founder of Stepni.in, an online platform that connects vehicle owners with service providers, which he sold to online classifieds site Quikr. Sitaram is a venture partner who has more than 36 years of experience across business, brands and investing. Prior to Fireside Ventures, he served as the CEO of Innovative Food Ltd and has worked with Hindustan Unilever and Dabur in the past.
Fireside Ventures’ current portfolio includes Yoga Bar, Samosa Singh, Goodness Beverages, Design Café, Bombay Shaving Company, Mama Earth, Vahdam Teas, Kwik 24, Magic Crate and Frog Bikes.
“The rhythm of consumer brand businesses is unique and requires an investor with a different DNA. The union of digital proliferation and demand for consumer brands is creating new opportunities and business models that will allow multiple new brands to be built in India more efficiently and in faster timeframes. It is this trend in the consumer brand space that lights up Fireside Ventures. We see this as a big opportunity and stand committed to introduce, mentor and promote brands in this space,” Kanwaljit Singh, managing partner, Fireside Ventures said.
The company has also set up an advisory board comprising Amit Agarwal, senior vice president and country manager at Amazon India; Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico Ltd; and Sri Rajan, chairman, Bain & Company India.
Singh said that Fireside focuses on consumer brands in India as consumer buying behaviour has changed. Millennial shoppers look for values from their products like authenticity, clean labels, ethical sourcing and production and are willingness to spend on brands that cater to their personal preferences. The growing modern retail infrastructure and the emergence of the digital economy offer better discoverability and accessibility to these brands.