Singapore’s Jungle Ventures, which has backed unicorns such as Moglix and Livspace, has led a $11 million (Rs 91 crore) round of funding in Pune-based ice cream brand NIC.
NIC, operated by Walko Food Co. Pvt. Ltd, will use the fresh capital to boost production, enhance product offerings and broaden distribution reach, with an aim of capturing a larger share of the rapidly growing ice cream market, the company said in a statement.
VCCircle was the first to report in January this year that Jungle Ventures had emerged as frontrunner to invest in the ice cream maker and that the company was likely to raise as much as $40 million.
"Through disruptive innovation across the entire value chain, from supply chain optimization to pioneering modes of preparation, Walko is poised to become a major food company," said Arpit Beri, principal, India Investments at Jungle Ventures.
The transaction also marked one of Jungle’s rare consumer sector bets in India. In December 2021, it led a $20 million growth funding round in Mumbai-based consumer appliances startup Atomberg.
Jungle had marked the final close of its fourth Southeast Asia and India-focused VC fund in May last year. The company also counts education financing platform Leap Finance, HR tech startup BetterPlace and healthtech startup NirogStreet in its portfolio.
Walko Food was co-founded in 2012 by Jeetendra Bhandari, Sanjiv Shah, and Raj Bhandari.
The company retails its products through a chain of parlours as well as quick commerce platforms. It sells more than 50 ice cream flavours through 16 parlours. It also has a presence at 250 pickup points in more than 86 cities across 20 states.
"Besides expanding our reach and enhance our product portfolio, the company plans to invest heavily in the systems and other resources required to achieve the growth," said Sanjiv Shah of NIC.
In June 2021, JM Financial Private Equity Fund II had invested Rs 35 crore into the brand.
NIC’s gross sales have grown from Rs 9.3 crore in FY18 to Rs 55.3 crore in FY21.The company hadn’t achieved operational breakeven till FY21, as per VCCEdge.
However, the latest financials couldn’t be immediately ascertained.
Besides popular brands such as Amul and Mother Dairy, regional players that populate the domestic ice cream market include Arun Icecreams, Havmor and Dairy Classic. International brands such as Baskin-Robbins, Häagen-Dazs and London Dairy have also marked their presence in the country.