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IFC-backed WayCool raises $40 mn from US investor 57 Stars Global
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Private equity-backed B2B food and agritech platform WayCool Foods & Products Pvt Ltd has raised $40 million (around Rs 313 crore) from US-based alternative investment firm 57 Stars Global Innovation Fund.  

This is the second round of funding this year for the Chennai-based startup.  In January, WayCool had closed its Series D round to raise $117 million from LightRock, LightBox, FMO, Lightsmith, World Bank Group’s private investment arm International Finance Corporation (IFC), Redwood Equity and Gawa Capital.

The valuation of the fundraise remained undisclosed.

"We have raised $25 million in equity and the rest as debt. 57 Stars led the current round along with our existing investors also participating," a WayCool spokesperson said.

57 Stars LLC is a Washington-based global alternative investment firm targeting high-growth sectors driven by technological innovation.  

“The investment is the first transaction for 57 Stars’ Direct Impact Fund and the second investment for 57 Stars Global Innovation Fund 2 (GIF 2)," 57 Stars said in a statement.  

“We believe our investment in WayCool is highly impactful, generating significant positive social and environmental outcomes at scale and addressing massive challenges in the food supply chain, where an estimated 30% of food is wasted before it reaches the end consumer. This deal provides our investors with participation in India’s leading crop-tech company with potential to outperform,” said Gene Pohren, 57 Stars Co-Founder and Managing Director.

In February 2021, the company raised Rs 227 crore in a combination of equity and debt funding led by VC firm Lightbox. Early backers FMO and LGT Lightstone Aspada had also invested in that round. In December of 2019, it raised Rs 57 crore in a structured debt-funding round from non-banking financial company (NBFC) Samunnati, RBL Bank, and venture debt firm InnoVen Capital.

WayCool was founded in 2015 by Karthik Jayaraman, Sanjay Dasari, Vignesh Kumar Manogaran and Sendhil Kumar Natarajan. The startup distributes a wide range of directly-sourced fresh produce, it works with more than 150,000 farmers, and operates a full stack, product range across multiple channels, to 100,000 clients, the company said.

A number of tech startups focused on agriculture have attracted funding in the past year.  Some of these include Ninjacart pocketing $145 million from Walmart, DeHaat raising $115 million, Absolute bagging $100 million, AgroStar at $70 million, Arya.ag raising $60 million, AgNext and Animall also raising funds recently.

According to a Bain report last year, private equity and venture capital investments in the agritech segment increased to $329 million in 2020 from $296 million in 2019. The segment will see significant investment and is projected to grow to a $30–$35 billion market by 2025, it said. 

For FY21, WayCool's operating revenue grew 40% in FY21 to Rs 382.3 crore and its losses jumped 53% to Rs 148.69 crore in the fiscal year ending March 2021.

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