How The First Unicorn In D2C Space Licious Tackled Challenges Of Growing in Meat Sector
How The First Unicorn In D2C Space Licious Tackled Challenges Of Growing in Meat Sector

When the founders of meat delivery start-up Licious Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta started their entrepreneurial journey, their families did not approve of them being in the business due to the existing hypocrisy around meat consumption and building a brand around it. However, they put in their best foot forward to build the brand which has recently raised $52 million at a valuation of $1 bn, becoming the first unicorn in the D2C space. 

“Since our inception in 2015, Licious has not just worked towards building India’s largest tech-first, full-stacked, D2C animal protein brand, but also revolutionizing the category itself,” said Hanjura. “We are extremely proud of the fact that we have yet again shifted the paradigm and become the first unicorn in the D2C space.”

Licious has raised total funding to the tune of $337 million so far.

According to a report, the Indian meat market is US$ 31 billion growing at a CAGR of 20 percent and is expected to reach US$ 65 billion by 2022. Still largely unorganized and unregulated, the market is mostly handled by individual outlets at various points. In the delivery start-up space, firms working to bring fresh meat to your homes are only a few, viz. FreshToHome, Zappfresh, TenderCuts, Crowd Cow, Muscle Food, Butcher Box, Licious. 

The main challenges these start-ups face are the absence of an unbroken cold chain, quality standards, and protocols. There is no regular skilled workforce to handle and process meat and seafood. Also, the prevailing stigma amongst people regarding the industry is a challenge that causes a common hindrance in hiring. 

Vivek Gupta said, “We had to ensure the following to enable a proper foundation for the business was laid: build a robust cold supply chain to enable storage and an in-house capability for all business functions including customer service and the delivery fleet.”

In the traditional retail channels, supplies move from farmers to wholesalers to butchers and then to the retailers, often through various middlemen. However, in the D2C space, farmers are directly linked to butchers and then to start-ups. 

Licious, also, holds tie-ups with livestock farmers and fishermen and trains them to enable the delivery of desired product quality and constant monitoring of their processes. 

The Bengaluru-based company had recorded a 500 percent growth during the last financial year and has a current revenue run-rate of Rs 1,000 crore. The company claims to deliver around 1.5 million orders per month. In fact, Licious prides itself to have built a cult following with 90 percent of the business consistently coming from repeat customers. The typical Licious consumer is urban, Sec A, A+. 

“In the coming years, you will see Licious work towards building a sustainable, responsible business that will reimagine the animal protein category in India through an optimal mix of global influence and products curated for the Indian palate,” Hanjura further added.

The company will be using the recently raised funds to grow our offline business, further our ready to eat product portfolio, and for our geographic expansion.” 

What Now For The D2C Space?

The D2C market in India is currently at an inflection point and is expected to attain a size of over 100 billion by 2025. Despite being one of the most talked-about sectors in recent times and which further accelerated with the pandemic, the sector failed to produce a unicorn until Licious. 

Gupta stated, “D2C has the obvious advantage of direct consumer connect that helps them identify gaps and position their products accordingly. However, they also must go through the rigor of building a robust infrastructure that can sustain growth and enable quick scale-up.” 

“This needs a bottom-up approach and discipline from Day 0 - a rare accomplishment that Licious was able to unlock. The achievement of Licious Unicorn status is expected to not only further the journey of the brand but unlock the next level of opportunities for the animal protein sector through an inflow of investment, talent, and the emergence of more start-ups that will help raise the bar in all aspects,” Gupta further added. 

Certainly, the development has made all the buzz in the entrepreneurial space and more D2C players who were missing the mark will now have a reference model to scale - thus more are now expected to join the unicorn bandwagon. 

Gupta stated, “As the category leader, we aim at paving the way for the second wave of young start-ups that can join hands in fully harnessing the potential that the industry has to offer. We will continue to build the category through investments in technology for supply chain excellence, product innovation, talent, and vendor partner upgrades.” 

At present, Licious operates in 14 Indian cities, viz, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, NCR, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Kochi, Puducherry, Vizag, Vijayawada, and Kolkata. The company has been planning to consolidate its presence in India and expand to global markets.

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