Social networking giant Facebook has invested an undisclosed amount in social commerce platform Meesho to mark its first equity investment in an Indian startup.
Meesho, which is essentially an online marketplace for resellers, said in a post on its website that the investment will enable independent entrepreneurs to build businesses and grow their customer base via social channels.
“With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India,” said Ajit Mohan, vice president and managing director of Facebook India.
“We love that the company is translating the power of online communities to expand economic opportunity for all of India, and especially women,” he added.
While the investment in Meesho marks Facebook’s first equity bet on an Indian startup, it had previously acquired Little Eye Software Labs Pvt. Ltd, which created a performance analysis tool for developers, back in 2014.
Meesho operates out of Bengaluru and California. Meesho’s Indian entity is registered as Fashnear Technologies Pvt. Ltd while its American counterpart is Meesho Inc.
The startup was founded in 2015 by Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi alumnus Vidit Aatrey (chief executive officer) and Sanjeev Barnwal (chief technology officer).
Meesho allows sellers to set up an online shop through its platform and share content on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Pinterest.
It facilitates a three-way marketplace enabling resellers, small and medium businesses, and micro-entrepreneurs across India to connect with potential buyers. The majority of these entrepreneurs are women.
“Over the last four years, we've grown from our humble beginnings at IIT, to 15,000 suppliers and 2 million resellers throughout India,” said Meesho co-founder Vidit Aatrey. “We share a common goal with Facebook -- to enable community and help small businesses grow.”
Before setting up Meesho, Aatrey worked with ad-tech unicorn InMobi and diversified conglomerate ITC. Barnwal was previously with consumer electronics companies Sony and Samsung.
Meesho was among the three Indian startups chosen by Y Combinator for its summer 2016 batch. That was the first time the Silicon Valley accelerator had taken Indian startups on board.
Facebook’s investment comes months after Meesho had raised $50 million in a Series C round of funding last November 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.
Existing investors Sequoia Capital India, SAIF Partners, Venture Highway and Y Combinator also took part in that round.
The round came just four months after Meesho had raised $11.5 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia.