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Exclusive: PepperTap co-founder reboots with B2B marketplace GramFactory

Exclusive: PepperTap co-founder reboots with B2B marketplace GramFactory
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Navneet Singh, a co-founder of shuttered hyperlocal services startup PepperTap, has started up again with a business-to-business marketplace for small retailers called GramFactory, two people privy to the development told TechCircle. 

“The startup has already begun operations and is currently serving the Delhi and national capital market,” one of the people cited above said on the condition of anonymity. 

The new startup comes nearly three years after PepperTap, backed by marquee investors such as Sequoia Capital India and SAIF Partners, shut down operations chiefly because it was unable to sustain itself due to its high cash burn.

Email queries to GramFactory and messages to Singh via social networking platform LinkedIn didn’t elicit any response till the time of publishing this report. However, Singh’s LinkedIn profile lists him as the founder and CEO of GramFactory.

It isn’t immediately clear how GramFactory, owned by Gurugram-based Addistro Technologies Pvt. Ltd, is funded. 

The company positions itself as a members-only B2B marketplace that serves small retailers, entrepreneurs, departmental stores and kirana shops. It makes items such as housekeeping supplies, personal care and groceries available for bulk purchase to its members at wholesale rates. 

Small retailers, the company claims, can use the platform to streamline sourcing, monetise assets better and get access to trade credit.

Riding the early hyperlocal wave

Singh had launched PepperTap, owned by Gurugram-based NuvoEx Logistics Pvt. Ltd, with Milind Sharma in 2014  as a mobile-first hyperlocal grocery delivery service that delivered products on-demand to consumers. Riding the initial wave of investor enthusiasm around hyperlocal services, PepperTap quickly became the third-most -funded player in the segment after Bengaluru-based BigBasket and Gurugram-based Grofers.

It last raised equity capital in September 2015 when it closed a $36 million Series B funding round from Gurugram-based Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd, owner of e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal, and venture capital firms Sequoia and SAIF Partners. A couple of months later, it raised $4 million in venture debt from InnoVen Capital.

Less than a year later, in April 2016, the founders decided to shut down PepperTap after months of rapid expansion showed no signs of profitability and deep discounts led to high cash burn. (Read more: Why VC-backed Peppertap shut its hyperlocal grocery business)
However, Singh and Sharma continued to run the B2B business and successfully sold it to logistics player Shadowfax in October 2017. After the deal, Sharma joined Shadowfax.

Second coming

Singh joins a long line of local entrepreneurs who are making a renewed bid to tap into new opportunities in a homegrown consumer internet market that is just starting to get to critical mass. 

In November last year, Kunal Shah, co-founder of mobile wallet FreeCharge announced his new venture Cred. FreeCharge was first acquired by Snapdeal and subsequently bought by Axis Bank.  

More recently, Ashish Kashyap, founder of travel booking firm Ibibo Group, launched a fintech startup named INDwealth. The startup began its operations in January and has raised $30 million from Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital. 

Satyen Kothari, founder of fintech startup Citrus Pay, established Cube Wealth, a platform that helps individuals plan and manage their money and that also offers investment advice. The startup raised $2 million in October 2018 from Singapore-based venture fund Beenext, Hong Kong's Asuka Holdings and US-based early-stage venture fund 500Startups.

Amit Gupta, who co-founded ad-tech unicorn InMobi, launched bicycle sharing app Yulu. The new venture has raised Rs 8-10 crore in tranches over the past few months from VC firms Blume Ventures and 3one4 Capital.

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