US-based Thrasio Holdings which has created a niche in the e-commerce space by introducing the model of acquiring third party brands on Amazon and scaling them up has forayed into India with an investment commitment worth ₹3,750 crore ($500 million). The company has acquired a majority stake in local direct-to- consumer (D2C) firm Lifelong Online to build its India play. Thrasio will use the investment to acquire Indian digital-first brands, it said in a statement on Friday.

India with its rich base of over 750,000 sellers is a lucrative market for Thrasio which has acquired more than 200 brands globally and raised over $3.4 billion in funding. “India is one of the fastest growing regions for Amazon’s third-party marketplace, making it enticing for aggregators,” the company says.

The idea behind partnering with Lifelong Online is to be able to navigate the local nuances of the Indian market. The country with a huge population and a diverse set of customers is quite distinct from Western markets like the US and Europe. “Their (Lifelong Online’s) team of proven executives has already built an amazing business and their understanding of the Indian consumer is unparalleled,” says Carlos Cashman, CEO at Thrasio.

Founded in 2015, Lifelong Online sells a spate of local consumer products across segments ranging from home & kitchen and lifestyle to fitness and healthcare. The company’s existing investors Tanglin Venture Partners and the Hero Group will continue to stay on board. CEO Bharat Kalia will lead the Thrasio business in India and the company will now be called Lifelong- A Thrasio Company.

Thrasio buys brands from small and medium e-commerce marketplace sellers. The sellers who often lack the financial muscle to scale up their brands see an opportunity in the Thrasio model. Launched in 2018 by Joshua Silberstein and Carlos Cashman, Thrasio claims that it uses its understanding of rankings, ratings, and reviews to identify and acquire brands. It then applies data science, logistical expertise and marketing acumen to expand product lines, helping them reach customers around the globe.

“In addition to acquiring and growing digital-first businesses, we plan to participate in the make in India movement by transitioning the manufacturing for some of our products to the country,” says Cashman.

The Indian market of late has seen a boom in Thrasio-style startups like Mensa Brands and GlobalBees. Both the firms have been on an acquisition spree and have already turned unicorns. Led by CEO Ananth Narayanan, Mensa Brands became the fastest local startup to turn unicorn in six months.

“We are already in active discussions with a number of sellers, and we’re excited to help Indian entrepreneurs realise the full potential of their brands and products. With lucrative exit options for founders, we hope to encourage even more brands and sellers to join the D2C ecosystem in India,” says Bharat Kalia, CEO at Lifelong Online.

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