Quikr Mauritius Holding Pvt Ltd, the parent company of Quikr India Pvt Ltd which runs online classifieds site Quikr, has raised $32 million in its fifth and also its largest round of funding, led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus. Existing investors Matrix Partners India, Norwest Venture Partners and eBay Inc also participated in the latest round that took the total funding into the company to $50 million or close to Rs 260 crore – making it one of the heavily funded consumer Internet firms in India.
This is Warburg Pincus’ first Internet-related investment in the country in more than a decade, after it invested in Rediff.com.
Pranay Chulet, co-founder and CEO of Quikr, said, “We are delighted to have a strategic partner like Warburg Pincus. The current round, also our largest to date, will enable us to diversify our offerings across online and mobile platforms, intensify our product development efforts and further strengthen our marketing capabilities.”
According to the company, its platform is used by more than 17 million unique users and small businesses across 83 cities, on a monthly basis. Its online and mobile platforms provide local destinations for each of these cities. People can go to their local Quikr platforms to sell, buy, rent or find products and services across 165 categories, such as electronics, cars, bikes, real estate, services, jobs, education and entertainment, among others.
Nitin Nayar, managing director of Warburg Pincus India, said, “We were impressed by the dynamism and the vision of Quikr's management team. We look forward to working closely with the management team to build on the company’s success and accelerate its growth plans.”
According to Chulet, Quikr has more than doubled its user base in the past one year and hence, the requirements for managing the business in terms of technology and product management have also gone up. Therefore, part of this funding will be used to make sure that the business continues to receive the resources it needs.
Also, as the company already has a decent user base, it now wants to get more aggressive in terms of marketing. “Our platform is not limited to the elite; instead, it appeals to the masses. As a result, we will be really aggressive not only online, but also on other mediums like Print and television. You can’t rule out celebrity endorsements either,” said Chulet.
The company is also building the mobile side of its business. It already has apps, is active on SMSes and has a mobile site. The current round of funding will be used to innovate further along these channels.
Quikr will also add more cities as part of its expansion plans and Chulet believes that the service will be available in more than 100 cities (from the current 83) before the end of this year.
Finally, given the company’s size, one can’t also rule out acquisitions. “We are not currently in talks with anyone, but are definitely open to look at companies with good synergies. If the opportunity presents itself, we will be ready for it,” mentioned Chulet.
How long will the funding last?
The company generates revenues from three defined revenue streams – advertising, premium listing and providing lead generation for small-scale businesses. And Chulet believes that the company will not need more funding in the near future as the current round is a relatively large one. Secondly, the economics of Quikr’s business is such that the company doesn’t burn a whole lot of money.
Quikr’s existing investors (apart from those mentioned above) include Nokia Growth Partners and Omidyar Network. It had earlier raised $8 million in its fourth round of funding, led by Nokia Growth Partners and returning investors Norwest Venture Partners and eBay Inc. In April 2010, the horizontal classifieds player raised $6 million in Series C, led by Norwest Venture Partners, besides Omidyar Network, Matrix Partners India and eBay Inc. In July 2009, the company raised around Rs 20 crore in Series B, led by Omidyar Network, and with commitment from Series A investor Matrix Partners.
IPO on the cards?
“An IPO is a definite possibility in the future but we are in no rush for it. Currently, we are only focused on building our business further. However, it doesn’t mean that we are not open to other possibilities like an acquisition,” said Chulet.