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Exclusive: Rural commerce enabler StoreKing raises $3 mn in fresh funding round

Exclusive: Rural commerce enabler StoreKing raises $3 mn in fresh funding round
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Bengaluru-based e-commerce enabler StoreKing, which helps small town retailers offer digital services, has raised $3 million (Rs 21.08 crore at current exchange rates) in a fresh round of funding.

According to the company’s latest filings with the Registrar of Companies, Localcube Commerce Pvt. Ltd, which operates the venture, raised this sum last month from British Virgin Islands-based investment entity Silver Cap Limited. The company has received $1.98 (Rs 13.91 crore) out of the total infusion.

As per TechCircle estimates, the company is expected to be valued at around $100-110 million (Rs 702.81-773.09 crore) post-money at the end of this fundraising exercise.

It could not be ascertained whether this was part of a larger funding round. E-mail queries sent to Sridhar Gundaiah and Govardhan Krishnappa, co-founders of the venture, seeking more information on this development did not elicit a response at the time of filing this report.

In 2016, the company raised $16 million (Rs 112.45 crore at current exchange rates) from Axiata Digitial, a subsidiary of Malaysian telecom operator Axiata Group Berhad.

Earlier this month, Axiata Digital announced that it had sold its digital ventures portfolio to Singapore-based investment fund Pegasus 7 Ventures in a deal valued at $140 million.

Prior to that, in 2015, it had also raised $6 million (Rs 42.16 crore at current rates) from Luxembourg-headquartered early-stage venture capital firm Mangrove Capital Partners. The investment firm counts voice chat app Skype and instant messaging aggregator Nimbuzz among its portfolio companies.

The latest capital infusion comes amidst a recent CNBCTV18 report, which said that Walmart was in talks to acquire the e-commerce enabler after initially tying up with it. However, in 2016 StoreKing struck a partnership with Amazon as part of Project Udaan, the Seattle-based e-commerce major’s assisted shopping project aimed at serving Indian consumers in the hinterland. A potential acquisition by Walmart or Amazon will likely expand their reach in the hinterlands.

Besides Amazon, StoreKing also has partnerships with brands like Paytm, BabyOye, ShopClues and Delight Foods.

StoreKing

The venture was founded in 2012 by Gundaiah, a computer science engineer who previously worked with online travel agency Via.com, and Krishnappa, who previously worked with Via Adz and MACS Infosolution. Gundaiah had also founded a location-based startup Yulop and in the past worked at Yellow Tag and EDS.

The seven-year-old company ties up with retail or kirana store owners in small towns and offers them its platform on which they can provide their customers an array of over 40 digital services including assisted e-commerce shopping, payments, logistics, insurance, lending and travel services.

For the store owners, the services require no additional capital investment while they earn a commission on all transactions facilitated through StoreKing’s platform. In 2017, the company partnered with online small and medium sized lender Capital Float to offer working capital loans to retailers.

According to information available on the company’s website, StoreKing operates more than 40,000 stores across more than 2,600 towns in 10 states that include Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Recent media reports stated that the company is also looking to expand to Chhattisgarh and Odisha. StoreKing also expanded its operations to Indonesia last year.

StoreKing, which claims to have more than 5 million registered customers, claims to offer over 1 lakh stock keeping units on its platform. It aims to be the digital touch point for rural India and to connect brands with consumers in the hinterland while enabling access to technology for rural consumers, who constitute 70% of the country’s population.

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