A few curious things just happened to an Indian brand.

  • BabyPro, a “multi-million-rupee” baby-proofing business, gave up a majority stake to a nine-month-old e-commerce aggregator Evenflow.
  • This is the aggregator’s first ever acquisition—closed a few weeks ago, on 15 June.
  • The baby-proofing business claims it had annual growth north of 70% since its founding in 2017, till very recently.
  • BabyPro—which was bootstrapped—had been looking for venture capital investment since 2019.
  • It is also a business that’s baby-proofed some 20,000 pre-schools and homes—including those of actor Shilpa Shetty and cricketer Robin Uthappa.

And yet, Evenflow’s offer elicited a sigh of relief from BabyPro. 

In March 2020, when the pandemic-induced lockdown first hit India, BabyPro founder Rachita Agarwal was stuck. Though people still wanted her products, the courier services Agarwal relied on weren’t functioning, and it was impossible to procure raw materials from China.

She needed funding for revenue growth, and VCs, she claimed, didn’t want to fund a brand that generates 80% of its revenue from marketplaces like Amazon and FirstCry. For them, having a brand generate at least 40% of sales from its own website was a key yardstick to measure customer loyalty, she says. 

Enter Evenflow, which plans to fully acquire BabyPro over the next two years, by which time, it hopes to complete a number of acquisitions in Indian e-commerce. What it promises, in turn, is experienced hands—executives who’ve worked at Amazon and Flipkart, who have the know-how of digital marketing and supply chain management. Brand aggregators invest in multiple digital-only consumer brands that sell on large e-commerce platforms like Amazon and bolster them with marketing, sales, etc

And so, brands like BabyPro make the ideal target for up and coming Indian e-commerce brand aggregators like Evenflow, Mensa Brands, 10club, and others. They’re looking for brands that are best-selling, have good revenue, and that aren’t getting much love from VCs. This may be a new model in India, but it has found much success in the US, pioneered by American firm Thrasio.

Thrasio became a unicorn—a startup valued north of $1 billion—in June 2020, just two years after its founding. In other parts of the world—Europe, Latin America, India, or Southeast Asia—the concept is still in its nascency. (We recently wrote wrote The Ken Una Brands, Rainforest light the brand aggregation match in SE Asia Read more  about the modus operandi of e-commerce aggregators in Southeast Asia—it’s a free story.)

It’s picking up, nonetheless. On Tuesday, there was news was news TechCrunch 10club raises $40 million seed funding to build Thrasio of India Read more  of Bengaluru-based 10club—founded in late-2020—raising $40 million in a seed round.

AUTHOR

Munsif Vengattil

Munsif keeps a tab on what Big Tech has been up to in India and all things OTT. He was with Reuters previously, where he wrote investigative pieces on Facebook’s content moderation operations and WhatsApp’s troubles in the run-up to India’s national elections. If you want to talk to Munsif about journalism, tech policy or his love for seekh kebabs, write to him at his first name @the-ken.com.

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