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Exclusive: Japanese gaming firm Akatsuki joins Wooplr’s latest funding round

Exclusive: Japanese gaming firm Akatsuki joins Wooplr’s latest funding round
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Social commerce platform Wooplr, which has been in the market for a large funding round since late last year, has raised $2.51 million (Rs 17.43 crore at current exchange rates) from new and existing investors.

Venture capital firm Helion Venture Partners led the investment which took place across multiple tranches, show Wooplr Technology Pvt. Ltd’s filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

Japanese mobile gaming company Akatsuki Inc and venture capital fund Sistema Asia Fund also contributed. 

While Akatsuki is investing in Wooplr for the first time, Helion Venture Partners and Sistema Asia Fund are existing investors.

It could not be immediately ascertained whether the latest infusion was a bridge round or part of a larger funding round. TechCircle had reported in August last year that Wooplr was in talks to raise up to $20 million (Rs 137.90 crore then) as part of a Series C round.

Email queries sent to Wooplr co-founder and chief executive officer Arjun Zachariah seeking clarity did not yield a response till the time of publishing this report.

Wooplr had last raised funding nine months ago when Trifecta Capital offered Rs 3.5 crore (around $500,000) in venture debt, show previous filings. 

The startup’s last major funding round took place in February 2017 when it raised $8 million (around Rs 53.6 crore then) in a Series B round from Sistema Asia Fund, Singapore based private equity firm Amereus Group and Helion.

Two months later, the Bengaluru-based startup had received an undisclosed amount from health-tech startup CureFit' co-founder Ankit Nagori. 

Other investors in the company include Astarc Ventures,  former Snapdeal chief product officer Anand Chandrasekharan, InMobi co-founders Naveen Tewari, Abhay Singhal and Amit Gupta, TaxiForSure co-founder Raghunandan G and former Puma India chief executive Rajiv Mehta.

Wooplr

Wooplr was founded in 2013 by four former McAfee employees -- Zachariah, Soumen Sarkar, Ankit Sabharwal and Praveen Rajaretnam. Rajaretnam quit the company two years ago.

The company started off as a social commerce platform where it roped in top social media influencers to act as sellers for fashion brands. Sellers used to share content about the product and the platform facilitated sales. Now, however, anyone with a presence on social networking platforms can come on board as sellers and the company helps them set up a mobile store front.

Each seller on the platform can choose from more than 100,000 products across 500 brands available on the Wooplr network and create a customised store. 

Subsequently, they can start selling products to friends, family and followers on their social media accounts including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Zachariah said that the USP of their business model is that it translates into a zero investment for the brands in terms of marketing costs. Whenever an end consumer shops on the storefront, the sellers get paid a commision and the money is transferred to either their bank accounts or Paytm. Wooplr claims that sellers can earn up to 25% as commission on its platform.

The Wooplr store owner network is more than 3 lakh-strong and claims to have served more than 8 lakh customers. The company is present in 250 tier-1 and tier-2 cities and towns in 29 states across the country. More than 20 brands on the platform also sell directly from China.

Deals in the segment

  • April 2019: Bengaluru-based GlowRoad, an online portal which enables women to sell products in their neighbourhoods, raised $10 million (Rs 69.4 crore) in a Series B round from Chinese private equity firm CDH Investments and existing investor Accel.
  • December 2018: Mumbai-based Shop101, a mobile storefront and commerce platform for sellers, secured Rs 80 crore ($11.37 million then) in a Series B funding round led by venture capital firm Kalaari Capital and consumer goods giant Unilever’s investment arm Unilever Ventures.
  • November 2018: Bengaluru- and California-based Meesho, an online marketplace for resellers, raised $50 million (Rs 365 crore then) in a Series C round of funding from China's Shunwei Capital, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST Partners and RPS Ventures, a fund set up by former SoftBank managing director Kabir Misra.
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