Online food and grocery store bigbasket.com, owned and operated by Supermarket Grocery Supplies, on Monday said that it has received ₹100 crore (approximately $14.5 million) of debt funding from venture debt fund Trifecta Capital.
The funds will be used to meet the Bengaluru-headquartered company’s working capital and capex requirements, including setting up new warehouses and strengthening the cold chain. They will also be used to set up facilities for reprocessing of fruits and vegetables, and for scaling up the supply chain for its recently launched milk subscription business, BB Daily, and its speciality vending machine business, BB Instant.
Last year, Alibaba-backed bigbasket forayed into the milk-delivery space. To ramp up its micro-delivery operations, it acquired two subscription-based e-grocery startups—Pune-based RainCan and Bengaluru-based Morning Cart—for an undisclosed amount.
In May, bigbasket's valuation crossed the $1-billion mark when it raised $150 million, propelling the eight-year-old online retailer into the unicorn club—where privately-held startups are valued at $1 billion and above. The funding round was led by Mirae-Naver, a leading South Korean investment firm; CDC Group, the U.K. government’s development finance institution; and the Alibaba Group.
“We have a clearly identified use-case for debt. We are present in 26 cities and continue to optimise our supply chain. A significant part of our business is fresh fruits and vegetables, the bulk of which is sourced directly from farms. It is crucial that we maintain the quality right up to the last mile. Funding such capex requirements is best done through debt,” said Hari Menon, co-founder, Supermarket Grocery Supplies.
Founded in 2011, offers an assortment of over 3,000 brands and 19,000 products across fruits, vegetables, staples, meat, beverages, and personal care categories. Besides Alibaba, Mirae, and CDC, bigbasket is backed by investors such as Bessemer Venture Partners, Helion Ventures, Ascent Capital, and Sands Capital.
“We had taken venture debt from Trifecta Capital in 2017 and realised that it was a more optimal form of financing for working capital and capex. Venture debt not only reduces dilution for all shareholders, it reduces cost of capital, improves RoE [return on equity] and expands runway,” said Vipul Parekh, CFO and co-founder, Supermarket Grocery Supplies. The company recently raised $150 million from marquee investors and decided to supplement the equity capital with additional venture debt, Parekh said. “Given our relationship with Trifecta Capital and their understanding of our business, they were the obvious choice.”
Venture debt is a type of debt financing typically provided to venture capital-backed companies for their working capital needs or other capital expenses. Venture financing is targeted at startups and companies in their growth stage that do not necessarily have positive cash flows or hard assets to provide as collateral.
Grocery is one of the fastest-growing segments in online retail. RedSeer Consulting, a research and advisory firm, estimates that out of India’s over $500-billion grocery market, a mere 0.2% represents online retail.