DealShare, a startup in India that has built an e-commerce platform for middle and lower-income groups of consumers, said on Tuesday it has raised $21 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its footprint in the world’s second-largest internet market.
WestBridge Capital led the Series C round of the three-year-old startup, which is based in Bangalore. Alpha Wave Incubation, a venture fund managed by Falcon Edge Capital, Z3Partners and existing investors Matrix Partners India and Omidyar Network India also participated in the round, bringing DealShare’s to-date raise to $34 million.
DealShare kickstarted its journey the day Walmart acquired Flipkart, the startup’s founder and chief executive Vineet Rao said at a recent virtual conference. Rao said that even as Amazon and Flipkart had been able to create a market for themselves in the urban Indian cities, much of the nation was still underserved. There was an opportunity for someone to jump in, he said.
The startup began as an e-commerce platform on WhatsApp, where it offered hundreds of products to consumers. It didn’t take long before a major consumer spending pattern was visible, Rao said. People were only interested in buying items that were selling at discounted rates, said Rao.
Over time, that idea has become part of DealShare’s core offering. Today it incentivizes consumers — by offering them discounts and cashbacks — to share deals on products with their friends. The startup, which has since launched its own app and website, now operates in over two dozen cities in India.
Consumers wanted products that were relevant to them and they wanted to buy these items at a price that instilled the most value for their bucks, said Rao. “We focused on locally produced items instead of national brands. Even today, 80% to 90% of items we sell are locally produced,” he said.
“We started building a network of these suppliers. It was very tough because none of these guys fancied joining modern retail like e-commerce. Some of them had tried to work with e-commerce firms before but the experience left a lot to be desired,” he said.
Sandeep Singhal, co-founder and managing director of WestBridge, said in a statement, “Majority of Indian population is currently residing in the non-metros and there is a huge business opportunity in these regions. The buying pattern of low and middle-income group is different especially in smaller markets and DealShare seems to have understood the nuances very well. We are very impressed with how the team has scaled up in the last 2 years, while retaining a sharp focus on low cost, high impact model.”
The startup says it spent the last 18 months to improve its finances and is nearing profitability. Now it plans to invest in its technology stack and expand its platform to 100 cities and towns in five states of India in the next year. It did not disclose how many customers it serves today, but said it is working to reach 10 million customers and clock $339 million in annual GMV.