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Naspers leads $125 mn funding in social commerce firm Meesho
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Bengaluru- and California-based Meesho, an online marketplace for resellers, on Monday said it has raised $125 million (Rs 885.7 crore) funding in a round led by South African tech conglomerate and investor Naspers.

Social networking giant Facebook Inc., which had invested in Meesho earlier in June, also participated in this round, the marketplace said in a statement.

Other existing investors that contributed to the round include venture capital firm SAIF Partners, Sequoia Capital India, RPS Ventures, a fund set up by former SoftBank managing director Kabir Misra, and Venture Highway. Former Vodafone Group chief executive Arun Sarin also participated in the round, Meesho added.

Meesho, run by Fashnear Technologies Pvt. Ltd, will use the funds to expand beyond India’s major metros, enhance its analytics and machine learning platforms and upgrade its technology platform to sell new product lines. It currently focuses largely on apparel, home, wellness and electronics items.

Founded in 2015 by IIT Delhi alumni Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, Meesho allows sellers to set up an online shop. It also facilitates sharing on other social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Pinterest. Meesho is based out of Bengaluru. It also has an entity incorporated in California, US, called Meesho Inc. It has a network of more than two million "social sellers" across 700 towns in India. 

"Our social sellers are small retailers, women, students and retired citizens, with 70% being homemakers who have found financial freedom and a business identity without having to step outside their homes,” said Aatrey, co-founder and chief executive, Meesho.

Meesho was among the three Indian startups chosen by Y Combinator for its summer 2016 batch. That was the first time the Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator on-boarded Indian startups.

Earlier in June, Facebook invested in Meesho five years after first acquiring an Indian startup, Little Eye Labs.

In November last year, Meesho raised $50 million in a Series C round of funding from China's Shunwei Capital, billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST Partners and RPS Ventures. Sequoia Capital India, SAIF Partners, Venture Highway and Y Combinator also took part in this round.

Meesho had raised $11.5 million (Rs 77 crore) in a Series B round of funding led by Sequoia Capital India in June last year. SAIF Partners, Y Combinator and Venture Highway had also participated in the round.

In 2017, VCCircle had reported that the startup raised $3.44 million (Rs 22.4 crore then) from a group of angel investors. However, TechCrunch later reported that it was a Series A funding round led by SAIF. The company had also raised a couple of angel rounds in 2016.

Naspers 

The South African conglomerate's appetite for deals in India only appears to grow. 

"We were attracted to Meesho because the team has built a uniquely Indian solution that utilises the reach and scale the internet enables, and harnesses and makes it available for small sellers to better serve customers no matter where they live, for the benefit of all,” said Ashutosh Sharma, head of India investments, Naspers Ventures. “The phenomenal growth they are already experiencing shows that Meesho has hit a sweet spot in the market and is well-poised to serve the next 500 million online shoppers in the country,” he added.

Naspers had led an investment of $540 million in ed-tech startup Byju's in December last year. In the same month, it led a $1 billion investment in food-tech unicorn Swiggy to mark one of the single-largest capital infusions into an Indian startup.

Earlier in April, Naspers said it is fully exiting MakeMyTrip Ltd by swapping the online travel agency's stake with China’s Ctrip (now Trip.com).

In May last year, Naspers harvested more than $2 billion by exiting its six-year-old bet on Flipkart after the e-commerce giant was acquired by Walmart.

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