IDG Ventures India led a $14 million series B round of investment into BrainBees Solutions Pvt Ltd, which owns the brands FirstCry.com and GoodLife.com. SAIF Partners, the first institutional investor in BrainBees, participated equally in the round. SAIF had invested $4 million in the company in May 2011.
IDG Ventures’ Manik Arora will be joining Ravi Adusumalli and Mukul Arora of SAIF Partners on the board of the company. IDG Ventures had earlier invested in BabyCenter.com, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson.
The funds raised will be utilised for marketing, adding new business categories & brands, and expanding warehousing space. In addition, BrainBees will accelerate its growth across existing categories, recruit people for expanding the supply chain and enhance overall customer experience.
With GoodLife and FirstCry under its banner, BrainBees has also been able to do a lot of cross-selling, especially to young couples. Interestingly, FirstCry.com now has the highest repeat customer base in the Indian e-commerce industry, standing at over 50 per cent. Going ahead, BrainBees could also be looking at other verticals.
According to Arora of IDG Ventures, factors working for Firstcry.com include speedy growth of this market (baby and mother care products) and the lack of quality products in the offline space. Also, the convenience of delivery makes it appealing to young couples.
While the overall size of the market (including online and offline) is $10 billion in India, at least 5 per cent is expected to operate online in an unorganised market in the coming years, said Mukul Arora of SAIF Partners.
Currently, around half a per cent of this market operates online.
Pune-based BrainBees has started operations in late 2010 and operates FirstCry.com, which has now become the top e-commerce platform in India for kids’ products, babycare and maternity care items. The site features leading national and international brands, and offers a plethora of products including infant accessories (diapers, toiletries, baby food, strollers and furniture), apparel, footwear, books, toys, etc., for children up to the age of 15 years.
Around 2-3 months ago, BrainBees also launched personal care products e-tailer GoodLife.com, offering a wide variety ranging from skincare items to healthcare products like protein shakes and weight gainers, among others.
BrainBees currently has one warehouse in Pune from where it ships products to over 2,000 towns and cities across India. The company has a collection of over 25,000 SKUs across FirstCry.com and GoodLife.com, and features brands like Kimberly Clark, L’Oréal, Mattel, Revlon, Funskool and Disney.
Interestingly, quite a few e-commerce start-ups in the baby products space have roped in Bollywood stars as investors. In December last year, Karishma Kapoor became the single largest individual shareholder in Babyoye.com, which is also backed by Accel Partners and Tiger Global Management.
Another player is Hoopos.com, which raised an undisclosed sum from early-stage venture capital firm Helion Ventures Partners.
BrainBees Solutions was founded 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. The e-learning firm, backed by Infiniti Ventures and Sequoia Capital, was eventually acquired by Bangalore-based BPO company Indecomm Global Services.
Saha, co-founder of Firstcry.com, previously headed the sales and business operations at Brainvisa Technologies. The IIM-Lucknow graduate currently heads marketing and customer acquisition for the site.
“Both FirstCry and GoodLife brands have achieved clear leadership in e-commerce for babycare and beauty products. We will continue this dominance and also extend this position into new categories. We are delighted to have IDG Ventures as an investor, given their successful track record with Internet companies globally. We plan to use the funds to focus on providing customer delight by extending our product selection, shipping from multiple warehouses and investing to enhance the overall customer shopping experience,” said Maheshwari, co-founder and CEO of BrainBees.
“IDG is delighted to invest in BrainBees Solutions, the No. 1 online company in both baby and beauty products market. This is over a $10 billion market, which is well-placed to move online. Supam and Amitava are seasoned entrepreneurial leaders who have clearly demonstrated their ability to build and scale up a world-class organisation. As early investors in Babycenter.com, the first global success story in this segment, IDG Ventures looks forward to partnering with BrainBees to rapidly extend the company’s leadership position,” said Arora, founder and managing director of IDG Ventures India Advisors.
IDG has also backed other e-commerce players in India, such as Myntra.com, Valyoo Technologies (Lenskart.com, Watchkart.com, etc.) and fashion e-tailer eShakti.com.
“This second round of funding validates their market dominance. As active investors in Internet companies in Asia, we believe that BrainBees has all the makings of a successful company. It is sustaining its rapid growth trajectory and expanding its customer base while maintaining one of the highest repeat customer metrics in the industry,” said Ravi Adusumalli, Managing Partner at SAIF Partners. The investment firm has backed companies like NASDAQ-listed MakeMyTrip and IPO-bound JustDial.