India’s Licious becomes unicorn with $52 million fresh fundraise

Licious, a Bangalore-based startup that sells fresh meat and seafood online, said on Tuesday it has raised $52 million in a new financing round and become the first direct-to-consumer startup to attain the unicorn status in the world’s second-largest internet market.

The new round — a Series G — was led by Mumbai-headquartered IIFL. It comes just three months after Licious — which counts 3one4 Capital and Temasek among its investors — raised $192 million at a valuation of about $650 million, TechCrunch reported earlier.

Licious operates an eponymous e-commerce platform where it sells meat and seafood in 14 Indian cities. The startup has built a supply chain network across several Indian cities to be able to procure meat and seafood, keep them fresh and deliver within hours of the order.

“Even though the funding for the DTC sector has grown significantly, FMCG is still not considered the most attractive category,” said Vivek Gupta and Abhay Hanjura, founders of Licious, in a joint statement. “We expect that Licious’ unicorn status will change that. The fresh meats and seafood sector is still largely underserved and unorganised [and] holds a vast opportunity of $40 billion. As the category leader, we aim at paving the way for a second wave of young startups that can join hands in fully harnessing the potential that the industry has to offer.”

Licious has not disclosed several of its performance metrics — such as its sales and margin figures — but says it has grown over 500% in the past one year. It also says it has amassed over 2 million unique customers. In recent months, the startup has spoken about its intentions to expand to international markets.

“Licious has disrupted the meat and seafood category, which has largely been unorganized and underserved,” said Chetan Naik of IIFL AMC. “Today, Licious is amongst the fastest-growing DTC brands and is one of the few consumer businesses in India with very strong revenue retention metrics. We are excited to partner with them in this journey of creating India’s most-loved meat and seafood brand.”

The arrival of IIFL on Licious’ cap table suggests that the startup is planning for its IPO within the next two years.

The Bangalore-based firm joins another two-and-a-half-dozen startups in India that have attained the unicorn status this year. Scores of high-profile investors including Tiger Global, SoftBank, Falcon Edge Capital and Temasek — as well as local giants such as Sequoia Capital India — have significantly increased the pace of their investments in recent quarters as they double down in the country.