Paytm buys home services marketplace Near.in

Mobile wallet and e-commerce venture Paytm has acquired Near.in, a marketplace app that connects users with local businesses for home services.

The Economic Times, which first reported the development, said the deal is valued between $1.5 million and $2 million. A formal press release on the announcement is expected shortly.

The Paytm-Near.in deal is the latest instance of consolidation in the online home services segment. Last month, Mumbai-based Crenovative Ideas Pvt Ltd, which operates home services startup Taskbob, acquired Zepper Services Pvt Ltd. 

The acquisition allows Paytm, run by One 97 Communication Ltd, to strengthen its tentacles in the online-to-offline (O2O) commerce space.

"O2O is a focus area for Paytm. Local commerce has massive potential in India, and this acquisition will help us grow the business even further," Kiran Vasireddy, Paytm’s senior vice president, told the newspaper.

Gurgaon-based Thumbspot Inc, which owns Near.in, had received Rs 1.8 crore (under $300,000) in seed funding about a year back. The startup went live last December. It offers services across categories such as home services, health professionals, repair, fitness, beauty, events and photographers besides others.

Fund raising and consolidation

The broader local services category is becoming a hotbed of consolidation activity and investor traction with a bunch of players in the space securing funding from investors.

In October, hyperlocal grocery delivery app Grofer acquihired food delivery mobile app Spoonjoy and on-demand hyperlocal delivery player Townrush.

Gurgaon-based Easyfix Handy Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates an online aggregation platform for home maintenance and repair services under EasyFix, raised an undisclosed amount in its first round of institutional funding from Axilor Venture Capital, a seed stage investment and incubator set up by Infosys co-founders SD Shibulal and Kris Gopalakrishnan. The Economic Times had reported that Amazon was in advanced stage of talks to acquire a stake in HouseJoy.

Fixy, a Mumbai-based startup that provides maintenance services on demand, had raised seed funding from members of VentureNursery, an angel-backed accelerator for startups in September. Another on-demand home services startup DoorMint raised nearly $3 million in Series A funding led by Helion Ventures and Kalaari Capital recently.

Paytm’s O2O push

Paytm has been upping the ante in the O2O space. Its parent recently led a $3 million Series B funding round in SoCoMo Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs on-demand delivery services startup Jugnoo.

Local deals discovery Little, founded by online fashion brand Zovi promoters Manish Chopra and Satish Mani, had raised $50 million from Paytm, SAIF Partners, Tiger Global Management and others. Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma recently joined Little’s board.

Paytm had also tied up with BookMyShow (movie tickets), Zomato (food delivery) and others to enable hyperlocal services for its users.

The Near.in buyout is Paytm’s first acquisition after it raised an undisclosed amount in fresh funding from NYSE-listed Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and existing investor Ant Financial, three months ago.

Paytm had previously raised funding from SAIF Partners, Intel Capital and Silicon Valley Bank (now InnoVen Capital). It also counts small shareholders like IDFC, Reliance Capital besides individual investors such as Nikhil Vora as backers.

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