Local retailer digitisation platform m.Paani, operated by Mumbai-based Mpaani Solutions, has raised $5.5 million in a Series A investment round from a group of new and existing investors.
The round was led by AC Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Mexican beverage firm Arca Continental; Germany-based consumer goods firm Henkel; and British entrepreneur Nick Candy’s investment firm Candy Ventures.
Kevin Aluwi, CEO and co-founder of Indonesian ride-hailing unicorn Gojek; Ryu Suliawan, head of merchants at Gojek; and Suvir Varma, board member and senior advisor at Bain & Company participated in the funding round.
Existing investors Chiratae Ventures and Blume Ventures also chipped in, the company said in a statement.
Including this round, the startup has raised a total of $7.4 million in three rounds since inception, according to data sourced from VCCEdge.
In its previous funding round, m.Paani secured $1.35 million from Chiratae Ventures (formerly known as IDG Ventures India), Blume Ventures and Saha Fund in March 2017.
In April 2016, m.Paani had raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Blume Ventures.
A Google Launchpad and Google Studio company, m.Paani plans to use the fresh funds to invest in product development, accelerated growth and expansion, and key hires, the statement added.
“We have always believed in the local retailer. They win on every consumer consideration: service, quality, product selection, value, credit and delivery speed. Small businesses also account for more than 40% of employment,” Akanksha Hazari-Ericson, CEO and founder of m.Paani, said.
The Mumbai-based company was founded in March 2014 by Hazari, a Princeton University and Cambridge University alumnus.
The platform focuses on the daily needs categories such as grocery, chemist, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dairy. Consumers can discover their local shops, products and offers online. Users can also order online by creating a single shopping list across all their daily needs or shop directly online from their preferred local shops and also avail offline shopping experience via in-store features.
m.Paani claims it currently has more than 50,000 retailers and 7 million consumers on its platform.
“m.Paani has a very strong team, and a deep understanding of the local retailer reflected in a great product and sound strategy for solving for this important user’s problems and aspirations. I am very excited to be a part of m.Paani’s journey and also see huge potential for them to empower local retailers beyond India,” Gojek CEO Aluwi said.
A number of companies, including Mukesh Ambani's energy-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries and a bunch of internet-based startups, are trying to crack this massive opportunity of digitising India's 15 million kirana or 'mom and pop' stores. These companies try to bring together all the elements of this process - producers, merchants, and consumers - on to a single digital platform in an attempt to organise the heavily unorganized retail market.
According to recent media reports, Amazon is in talks to partner with ShopX, a B2B e-commerce platform for small traders, to on-board small sellers on its platform while Flipkart invested in logistics startup Shadowfax to leverage kirana stores for hyperlocal delivery and to scale its grocery and fresh produce delivery.
However, all online wholesale marketplaces combined have onboarded merely one lakh retail shops of the 1.5 crore kiranas in India, a Redseer report said.