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Facebook makes first start-up investment in India, picks up stake in Meesho

Romita Majumdar/Mumbai 13 Jun 19 | 08:56 PM

Facebook on Thursday announced an investment in Meesho, a platform that enables Indian entrepreneurs to establish online businesses via social channels. The social media giant said it would pick up a minority stake in the social commerce platform, though it declined to give the financial details.

This is Facebook's first investment in an India-based start-up, though the California-headquartered company back in 2014 had acqui-hired a Bengaluru-based startup, Little Eye Labs.

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“It’s a minority stake and the idea is that the financial stake opens the door for conversation between the two companies," said Ajit Mohan, vice president and managing director, Facebook India.

“We are excited about India and its rapidly rising internet ecosystem. With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India," said Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director, Facebook India.

Founded in 2015, Meesho is one of the country's fastest growing social commerce platforms, and provides small and independent entrepreneurs with products and tools to start, maintain, and grow their businesses. So far, the Bengaluru-based start-up has raised around $65 million over three rounds of funding from the likes of SAIF Partners, Sequoia India, Y Combinator and Shunwei Capital.

Meesho facilitates an innovative three-way marketplace enabling resellers, SMBs, and micro-entrepreneurs across India to connect with potential buyers using social media. “We love that the company (Meesho) is translating the power of online communities to expand economic opportunity for all of India, and especially women," said Mohan.

The company has over 1 million resellers on its platform and a  large regional language user base. For every transaction, a reseller makes a 10-20 per cent commission. Other companies in this space include Shop101, Glowroad and Ezmall. 

“It's been an amazing journey for the Meesho team and we cannot wait to do more as we work towards our goal of building a bigger community and enabling millions of entrepreneurs to be successful," said Vidit Aatrey, co-founder, Meesho. Over the last four years, Meesho's base has grown to 15,000 suppliers and 2,000,000 resellers.

Facebook's interest in the digital commerce follows Reliance Industries' entry into the hybrid e-commerce ecosystem with acquisitions of rural consumer-focused start-ups, including logistics company Grab, software firm C-Square and vernacular language-as-a-service platform Reverie Language Technologies. The other investments by the Mukesh Ambani-led company include government schemes/services aggregator EasyGovt, AI start-up Haptik, simulation services SankhyaSutra labs and music streaming platform Saavn.

Similarly, Google has invested in hyperlocal delivery app Dunzo, apart from the recent announcement of its second batch of start-ups for their Launchpad accelerator programme. These start-ups range from health care to fintech and many other segments.

"Social commerce space is fuelling entrepreneurship and trust in ecommerce across India, specially in  tier 2 and 3  towns and this will give a boost to jobs and economy in India. Players like Meesho are at the heart of fuelling this change and creating new sources of income across India, " said Arpan Sheth Senior Partner Bain Digital and Private Equity Practices

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