Updated April 9, 09:05 EST, to include information from Bigbasket co-founder Vipul Parekh.
Indian e-grocer Bigbasket has secured $60 million in bridge funding from Chinese tech giant Alibaba, South Korean fund manager Mirae Asset, and the UK government’s CDC Group.
The trio had participated in Bigbasket’s $150 million Series F round last May. That investment took the Bengaluru-based startup’s valuation above $1 billion and was one of the world’s biggest agrifood deals outside the US last year, according to AgFunder’s Agri-FoodTech Funding Report 2019.
This latest investment – which was first reported yesterday based on information from unnamed sources familiar with the deal – was today confirmed by Bigbasket co-founder Vipul Parekh in an interview with TechCrunch. He said the startup aims to close a larger round within the next nine months.
This week’s funding comes amid a surge in demand for doorstep grocery deliveries as India’s strict Covid-19 lockdown – which almost completely prohibits people from leaving their homes – enters its third week.
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Parekh said that Bigbasket has seen its order volume increase by as much as 5x of late. But he added that the startup is struggling to find enough manpower to fulfill deliveries, as many potential workers are hunkering down at home – or have returned to their towns and villages of origin for the duration of the lockdown.
However, Parekh said Bigbasket is on an aggressive hiring spree to meet this shortfall. Last week, the startup announced a partnership with Uber, which will see the US ride-hailing giant share its tech and driver corps to help Bigbasket meet increase demand.
One of the unnamed sources familiar with the investment earlier told Entrackr that Covid-19 could prove “a big tailwind” for Bigbasket, which was founded in 2011.
“Even after the [Covid-19] situation improves, there will be a behavioral shift among users which will work in the favor of online grocery companies in the long run,” they said.
“A lot of people who would have never used an online service are now ordering online. [Bigbasket is] getting a lot of traffic without splurging anything on marketing and promotions, which will improve margins.”
Last month, Bigbasket announced its acquisition of Bengaluru on-demand milk ordering startup DailyNinja for a rumored $15 million-plus. The purchase was aimed at increasing capacity of Bigbasket’s staples subscription service, BB Daily, and followed its takeover of two other milk delivery startups in 2018.
According to Entrackr, Bigbasket’s demand numbers “plateaued” at around 150,000 daily orders in recent months, leading some prospective investors to lose interest given lacklustre signs for further growth. But BB Daily has rapidly grown to 180,000 daily orders since launching in December 2018.
Bigbasket did not respond to AFN‘s request for comment.