Near.Store, a startup that operates a plug-and-play e-commerce platform for physical stores, has raised $300,000 (Rs 2.15 crore at current exchange rates) in seed funding.
The company says its platform allows a store to create an online presence and let customers access its product inventories. This is done through its proprietary dongle, which can be inserted into a store’s existing barcode scanner or billing system.
“For many stores, who have attempted to go online, the first step of uploading the SKUs (stock-keeping units) is often daunting and acts as a deterrent,” company co-founder Ashish Kumar said. “Our users, therefore, do not need to assign extra resources for going online and can focus on increasing their sales with no extra effort,” he added.
Sauce.vc founder Manu Chandra said the early-stage firm was confident in its investment because of the founding team’s understanding of India’s digital ecosystem and their previous expertise with running companies.
Near.Store’s other co-founders include Ramakrishnan A and Diwakar Mitr. While Kumar has previously founded and operated a location marketing company, Ramakrishnan has been associated with software services firm Mindtree. Mitr, meanwhile, has worked as an investment banker.
Sauce.vc invests in companies in the food and beverage, apparel and lifestyle, and personal care sectors. Previously, it has invested in Surat-based XYXX Apparels Pvt. Ltd, which runs an eponymous innerwear brand; food and beverage brand &ME; protein bar maker And Nothing Else; and personalised hair care brand Bare Anatomy.
The investment in Near.Store represents another bet on a startup focussing on the hyperlocal ecosystem. Perhaps one of the biggest recipients of funding in this space is the Bengaluru-based Dunzo, which earlier this month raised $11 million (about Rs 78.8 crore) in venture debt from Alteria Capital. Other investors in Dunzo include Blume Ventures, Google and Lightbox.
Other startups operating in the hyperlocal segment include discovery and rewards platform Magicpin, which raised $20 million (around Rs 142 crore) in funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners in November 2018.
In 2017, Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led payments giant Paytm had engineered a merger between Little and Nearbuy to create the largest online deal discovery platform in India. Paytm holds a majority stake in the combined entity.