In a country with over 650 million internet users, it is a no-brainer that innovative start-ups have seen a rapid surge in terms of their growth and other prospects. The Indian start-up ecosystem accommodates around 40,000 active start-ups operational in different fields. And in that, the direct-to-consumer model is seeing a surge in popularity as small brands use it to survive and thrive in a market dominated by giants. Consumers today are choosing to shop from D2C brands due to the better engagement they offer to their consumer base and this has widened the growing opportunity for D2C brands.
Also, with such a large system, investors as well do not fall behind as India is home to around 6,000 active investors who are keen to put their bucks in promising ideas and innovative entrepreneurs.
A report by PGA Labs and Knowledge Capital suggested that investors had put in US$ 1.4 billion into D2C companies between 2014 and 2020. The sector saw an investment of close to US$ 417 million in 2020.
Overall, the strength of India’s VC and start-up ecosystem has driven real economic growth with the D2C retail start-ups being the frontrunners. In lieu of the same, here are few D2C start-ups that secured funding in the past 2 months.
The Man Company
Founded by Hitesh Dhingra, a serial entrepreneur with start-ups like Letsbuy.com and trulymadly.com to his credit, The Man Company is a premium men’s grooming products manufacturer, the USP of which lies in quality and selection of handpicked natural ingredients. With a wholesome product portfolio for men-grooming across categories like beard, face, fragrance, shave, hair, and body, the brand is among the very few in the country with high-quality ingredients and are SLS and paraben-free.
Recently, TMC raised a second round of funding worth Rs 50 crore from its existing investor Emami which previously invested in the company in 2017. This deal has taken the company's valuation to approximately Rs 270 crore with Emami holding almost 30 percent of the company shares hinting at a prospective takeover.
With innovative marketing campaigns and vlogs and blogs being promoted by the brand, it has been successful in creating the much-needed buzz in a high-potential untapped market of men’s grooming.
Hitesh Dhingra has also expressed his willingness for corporate tie-ups and explore experiential marketing as an attempt to get to the right channels and target the discerning customer well.
With the single idea of making looking glamorous effortless, MyGlamm was founded by Darpan Sanghvi in 2017 and offers more than 600 vegan and cruelty-free products across categories like make-up, skincare, and personal care.
In 2020, MyGlamm acquired women-centric digital platform POPxo bringing in entrepreneur and journalist Priyanka Gill to the brand’s board as a co-founder. MyGlamm has already sold upwards of a million products and claims to have over 45,000 influencers. The brand enjoys a presence across more than 10,000 offline points of sales across 70 Indian cities along with almost all online channels although in a tightly fought competitive space with names like Sugar Cosmetics, Plum, and Juicy Cosmetics vying for the top spot.
The brand has raised upwards of US$ 56 million in funding in a total of 8 rounds beginning 2016 and the most recent one in June 2021 by Shraddha Kapoor along with having giants like Amazon and Wipro as its investors which speaks volumes of the promise MyGlamm has to offer as a brand and a profitable business prospect. Shraddha Kapoor will also endorse the brand’s products going forward.
Pilgrim is a D2C beauty and personal care start-up founded by Anurag Kedia and Gagandeep Makker in 2019 to meet the unmet desire of well-traveled and aware millennials.
The band has raised Rs 13 crore as part of its Series A fundraise, in June 2021. The round was led by Fireside Ventures, Rukam Capital, and founding teams of Boat, NoBroker, and the founder-CEO of Bewakoof.com.
The brand is committed to using this fund to enhance R&D capabilities, team expansion, and brand investments. Amongst the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer brands in India, the brand offers breakthrough innovation and has two best-selling ranges. This includes - ‘Secrets of Jeju Island, Korea’, inspired by the secrets of the pristine island of Jeju, also known as the island of Gods, and ‘Secrets of Vinotherapie’, inspired by the tradition of Vinotherapy in France, which uses red wine as a key ingredient.
In its very short period of operations, Pilgrim has created a differentiated position in the market with excellent customer feedback and relies on product innovation going forward on its journey to becoming an international beauty brand serving millennial customers.
With a demonstrated history of working in retail, FMCG, media industries, Founder and Investor Avnish Chhabria launched Wellbeing Nutrition as a way to help people prioritize their nutrition no matter how busy or involved they were.
The start-up took roots in September 2019. The brand rests its operation on 4 USPs which are – right amounts of active ingredients, quality food from the best sources worldwide, sustainable packaging and sourcing, and making healthy food too good taste-wise to resist.
“Consumers want to engage with companies that have a strong ethos and validation for the niche they operate in. Skin health and gut health will become the largest drivers in the coming months, and that is where the brand is trying to create a difference by putting out a clear picture of the idea that they stand for,” said Avnish Chhabria.
Wellbeing Nutrition has a retail presence across 600 stores in India while also opening up a large export opportunity with sales to markets like the United Arab Emirates, the UK, Germany, and the US.
The whole-food nutrition company raised US $ 2.2 million this June, in a Series A round led by Fireside Ventures. The company will use the funds to strengthen research and development and create the next generation of nutraceuticals or nutrition which will rely on advanced nanotechnology, delayed-release technology, and sustainability to launch products, acquire talent and create better reach.
With the idea that men deserve basics that are beyond boring and merely functional, Yogesh Kabra launched XYXX as a premium men's innerwear brand with the idea of changing dynamics in the premium segment and bridging the gap between premium and luxury.
The company has already received two rounds of funding in a very short span of worth Rs 6 crore in September 2019 and Rs 30 crore in June 2021, both by a Mumbai based Venture Capital Sauce.vc, the testimony of the promise XYXX offers as a revenue-generating brand backed by product innovation and extensive marketing campaigns.
The brand specializes in loungewear and innerwear manufactured from eco-friendly and naturally sourced fibers and adds a fashionable edge with colors, prints and designs to appeal to the conscious customer who believes an all-around experience is what they need rather than just a piece of clothing.
With plans already in place for entering the athleisure and performance-wear category, the brand is all set to utilize the newly raised fund in product and market development.
Founded by Abhishek Shah, Muskaan Jain, along with core team member Chhavi Bhardwaj in 2020 in an attempt to re-invent men’s essential wear experience, Almo as a clothing brand, focuses its operations on sustainable sourcing of fabric and world-class manufacturing with their SEDEX and WRAP certified factories ensuring highest precision levels.
The brand offers two plush collections as unique propositions to the target audience in the form of Rico – Organic Cotton and Fresco – BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) Cotton bring in effortless sophistication derived from Italian designs.
The brand has raised its seed round of funding led by Angelist India and a group of industry angels. With its recent advances into the winterwear and athleisure categories coupled with the introduction of smaller segments like the BCI Cotton, the brand is expected to grow big in a coming couple of years.
“Almo’s vision is to evolve into a one-stop destination for premium men’s essential needs for the evolved Indian men, to meet their aspirations of upgrading to international trends, styles, and quality,” said Abhishek Shah.
Founded by Ganesh Balakrishnan and Utkarsh Biradar in 2018, Flatheads aims to create versatile sneakers suited for both work and fun, designed specifically for the Indian climate and use cases.
The online footwear brand has raised an undisclosed amount in growth funding from e-commerce investment marketplace GetVantage, this June. After almost 3 years of operation and receiving two rounds of funding, including the latest one, the brand is valued currently at US $ 725k and is expected to grow rapidly in the next 3 quarters boosted by the new seed fund.
Product differentiation in the form of communicating their shoes as ridiculously comfortable and all-day wear has helped the brand tap that niche audience looking for durable and semi-formal options in men's footwear, the gap which the founders saw and took note of. Successfully catering to the modern, consumer-centric problem of being able to wear their personality types and own real lifestyle shoes, the brand has great potential going forward in an ever-expanding footwear market.
Founded by Prabhleen Kaur and Harshal Patel in 2020, Kwik Foods is a D2C and social commerce brand that aims to disrupt India’s ready-to-cook space.
Already a disruption to the Indian ready-to-eat market, Kwik Foods has secured Seed funding from VC Fund – 9Unicorns (India’s first idea phase accelerator VC fund) at such an early stage of operations. Arguably, one of the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer brands in India, Kwik Foods is all set to tap the much larger ready-to-cook food products market valued at a whopping U $ 50 Bn.
Prabhleen Kaur maintained, “We believe that a kitchen is a place of joy, and when cooking is stress-free, the food is always honest and delicious. Our range of product offerings consisting of fresh, healthy, and easy-to-cook, food items falls in line with this belief. We are delighted to secure the support of 9Unicorns. We will leverage the capital infusion to strengthen our product line and bolster our marketing operations.”