Iluminar Media Pvt. Ltd, which owns and operates curated local discovery and e-commerce platform Little Black Book (LBB), has raised $5 million (Rs 34.5 crore) in a Series A round of funding led by investment firms Inventus India and IAN Fund.
Japanese investors Dream Incubator and Akatsuki Entertainment Technology (AET) Fund also contributed, as did existing investors including Blume Ventures and Chiratae Ventures.
“We will be adding tools for small businesses to come online on LBB,” the Delhi-based startup’s co-founder Dhruv Mathur told TechCircle. “While we are not selling solutions, we are providing these businesses tools for efficiencies which will help them improve sales or increase footfalls, intelligence on the kind of inventory needed and what price points do well.”
LBB will also utilise the capital to strengthen its personalisation interface and product with a focus on machine learning.
The platform has a presence in eight cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
LBB had previously raised $1.2 million from IDG Ventures (now Chiratae) and Indian Angel Network in 2016 .
Founded by Suchita Salwan and Dhruv Mathur, LBB started out as an online discovery platform for food, events, lifestyle, culture, travel and shopping. The service focuses on curated and recommended listings in the city.
The platform, which has a model similar to Chinese content-based social commerce app Little Red Book, had introduced advertising and content-based commerce a year ago.
At present, the primary monetisation channel continues to be advertising, followed by e-commerce.
“We also plan to on-board mature companies or brands who want to reach out to their customers through content,” Mathur added.
The company said it has registered 30% month-on-month growth in e-commerce revenues and has a user base of 35 lakh Monthly Active Users.
“What attracted us most to LBB is how they’ve made community a continued narrative in their promise to make local brands and businesses more accessible,” said Rutvik Doshi, managing director at Inventus India.
Inventus, which backs Indian and US startups, typically leads the first institutional round in startups in the digital services sector, particularly in consumer and business software and technology-enabled services. Its investment sweet spot is in the $1-5 million range.
Co-investor IAN is one of the most active angel networks in India. It has invested in more than 110 startups so far including Druva Software, Sapience Analytics, SP Robotics, Far Eye and Unboxd Ltd.
IAN’s Rs 450-crore fund invests in sectors such as healthcare and medical devices, software-as-a-service, marketplaces, fintech, big data, artificial intelligence, and hardware.
Deals in the content commerce space
The content commerce space has recorded multiple deals riding on the popularity of the model in China and South East Asian markets.
- Social commerce platform Roposo raised $10 million last December from existing investors.
- Lifestyle and entertainment content platform MissMalini secured $1.4 million from Orios Venture Partners and NEA in August 2018.
- Women’s content platform POPxo raised $5.52 million from South Korean firm Neoplex Technology Fund and device maker Oppo in April.