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Mexican beverage firm Arca Continental takes a sip of VC-backed m.Paani
Team m.Paani

m.Paani Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which offers a loyalty and marketing platform where local retailers can set up an online storefront, has raised $5.5 million (Rs 38.9 crore) in its Series A round of funding from a clutch of new and existing investors.

New investors who led the round include AC Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Mexican beverage firm Arca Continental SAB de CV, m.Paani said in a statement on Wednesday.

Other new investors who pooled in capital are Henkel, global chemical and consumer goods company; Candy Ventures, an investment vehicle of British entrepreneur Nick Candy; Kevin Aluwi and Ryu Suliawan, executives at Gojek; and Suvir Varma, an executive at Bain.

Existing investors Chiratae Ventures and Blume Ventures also participated in the funding round.

The development comes after VCCircle reported in September that m.Paani will be raising fresh capital from Arca.

The Mumbai-based company said it will use the funds for expansion, product development, and hiring.

m.Paani was founded in March 2014 by Akanksha Hazari, a Princeton University and Cambridge University alumnus. The company is a mass-market loyalty platform that brings primarily offline consumers and unorganised retailers online. Customers can redeem points when they shop at m.Paani retail partners through discounts, talk time and other offers.

The startup, which currently has more than 50,000 retailers and 7 million consumers on its platform, seeks to tap into 60 million local businesses, that represents a $1.1 trillion informal market or more than 95% of total retail, the statement added.

This informal market has more than doubled in the past five years, and 86% of the average Indian consumers continue to shop within 3-4 kilometres of home, it noted, underlining the opportunity that exists in the country.

Jesús Eduardo García Chapa, executive director of at AC Ventures, said m.Paani’s vision to foster local retailers is something that the firm share and are absolutely convinced is a game-changer for the traditional trade channel and the retail industry.

In March 2017, m.Paani said it raised $1.35 million in its pre-Series A investment round led by Chiratae (then IDG Ventures), Blume Ventures and Saha Fund.

Existing investors Adil Allana of The Allana Group, Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder of Taxiforsure, and serial mobile and fintech investor Gautam Ivatury also participated in that round.

In December 2017, search giant Google said shortlisted four Indian startups including m.Paani for the fifth edition of its Launchpad Accelerator programme.

The deals and rewards segment in India is dominated by companies such as Nearbuy, Mydala, Crownit and CashKaro. A few startups have managed to raise funding in the past.

Last month, Walmart-owned e-commerce giant Flipkart has invested in EasyRewardz Software Services Pvt. Ltd, a company that offers services related to loyalty-based rewards, as part of the startup’s Series B funding round.

Nanolocal Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs rewards app Bounty, had raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Fireside Ventures, Mumbai Angels and MAPE Advisory Group in late 2015.

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