One year ago, cold-pressed juice manufacturer Raw Pressery was looking to juice up. It was ready to raise fresh funding to the tune of $3 million, and had multiple prominent suitors—including FMCG majors Dabur and ITC—ready to fund its expansion. 

Instead, its existing investors—DSG, Saama Capital, and Sequoia Capital—stepped up, offering the company a term sheet in March. At the time, the company’s monthly topline was nearly Rs 8.2 crore ($1 million), with a burn of around Rs 1.25 crore ($170,000). Raw Pressery was gunning for a Rs 11 crore ($1.5 million) topline to become EBITDA positive. Nothing could stop it.

But something did. By end-March, forget summer drinks, India was under a nationwide lockdown, courtesy the Covid-19 pandemic. Production stalled. Stores shut. By June 2020, Raw Pressery’s investors withdrew the term sheet owing to “disagreement with each other on deal terms”, a banker aware of the deal told The Ken. The banker and other company executives mentioned in the story requested anonymity as they didn’t want to be seen commenting publicly on the company.

Just over six months later, in January, Raw Pressery was sold to sold to The Economic Times Scoop: Wingreens Farms acquires Raw Pressery at a fifth of its 2018 valuation Read more dips and sauce maker Wingreens Farms in a share swap deal. Its valuation was a far cry from the juice company’s glory days. Valued at Rs 500 crore ($69 million) in 2018, the Wingreens deal saw Raw Pressery change hands at a price of Rs 100 crore ($13.7 million). It’s no coincidence that Sequoia is also an investor in Wingreens.

Raw Pressery founder Anuj Rakyan will oversee the transition, exiting the company in a week or two once the transaction closes, the banker told The Ken.

Raw Pressery’s pandemic woes began the moment the pandemic did. The lockdown shuttered manufacturing at a time when the company had stockpiled both raw materials and finished goods in anticipation of the summer months. Overnight, its inventory—worth Rs 10-15 crore ($1.3-2 million)—became a liability.

Things only became worse when, despite its FMCG roots, it was categorised as a non-essential product. This stopped distribution, with its products starting to approach their sell-by date on store shelves. While Raw Pressery was classified as an essential a few days into the lockdown, the damage had been done. Most stores that it retailed at were shut, and the demand for cold products—its main offering—fell due to the Covid scare. 

AUTHOR

Bhumika Khatri

Bhumika covers e-commerce, consumer internet, and everything startup for The Ken in Delhi. In her previous stint at Inc42, she spent two and a half years writing about a breadth of startups and topics. A commerce graduate, Bhumika completed her postgraduate in journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bengaluru. You can reach her at Bhumika@the-ken.com

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