Sampling and engagement platform for D2C brands Smytten has raised $6 million in Series A led by Fireside Ventures. The round also saw participation from Sharrp Ventures (Mariwala family office), Survam Partners (Suman Kant Munjal family office), and Waao Partners (Pratul Shroff family office). Existing investor Roots Ventures also participated in the round.
The startup said the new investment will primarily be used for building many industry-first tech and data solutions to optimise the marketing funnel for D2C brands supported by a best-in-class servicing infrastructure for consumers to try products on-demand.
Kannan Sitaram, Venture Partner, Fireside Ventures, and new board member, Smytten, said,
“With D2C becoming mainstream, brand marketers need fresh, sharper solutions that can help in creating the right brand experience for consumers who are on the lookout for superior quality products. We at Fireside believe the development of an enabling ecosystem presents a great investable opportunity and will be a big game-changer for the consumer brand revolution that’s shaping up in India.”
“We are very excited to partner with Swagat and Siddhartha as they create data-driven experiential solutions for brands to engage with the right users, based on very accurate behavioural targeting which helps reduce their CAC and engagement cost.”
What does it do?
The startup was founded in 2015 by ex-Googler Swagat Sarangi, and ex-Unilever executive, Siddhartha Nangia.
Speaking of the funding, Swagat told YS:
“We are primarily disrupting the pre-purchase buying experience of users. We see there is a lot of interesting data technology at play, which is a whitespace that we have identified, and that’s where Smytten was born. We’ll be investing a lot in building some new-edge technology for consumer brands, especially D2C brands.”
At present, Smytten hosts over 700 D2C brand partners on its platform across varied categories and enables millions of product sampling every month for them. It follows a data-driven targeted sampling approach and takes real-time feedback from millions of users post sampling.
Many leading D2C brands like Mamaearth, Plum, mCaffeine, etc., are already leveraging Smytten’s platform to reach relevant users at scale and deliver first-hand product experience through sampling.
Varun Alagh, Co-founder, MamaEarth, said,
“Smytten has worked out to be one of the most efficient, targeted, and data-driven sampling platforms for us as we aggressively scale our business. Our sampling ROI has been great on Smytten and it has helped us drive trials amongst a lot of first-time users for mamaearth very efficiently.”
The problem it addresses
Before Smyttem, Swagat was with Google India, and spent close to half a decade there working on building the early-stage Internet ecosystem in India.
“When I joined Google, we were talking about 10 million smartphone users in the country. And by the time I left, Google India was almost seeing like a 200 million smartphone users. In my last role, I was heading the business product marketing and a lot of brand initiatives at Google. I worked on things like online shopping festival and evangelising digital and internet in the ecosystem,” added Swagat.
He explained when they came up with this idea, they had realised that in 2016, India was a very under branded market compared to the consumer market in the US or any other developed nation.
“Consumerism was rising in India, and we realised a lot of new brands are going to come up. There was also a lot of content consumption happening in the online ecosystem as purchases were moving online. There was a lot of repurchase research, and then we saw an opportunity where these brands were going to come in,” said Swagat.
He explained that digital was clearly going to be the primary medium of engagement. The third insight they saw was that while people were engaging and interacting online, there was a gap when it came to people buying the product online.
“We realised that as digital became the primary medium, it would also become expensive and impossible for smaller D2C brands to win the game of conversion and adoption.”
At Unilever, Swagat and Siddharatha worked together in Southeast Asia and London. The duo were close to the consumer brand space and were driving many sampling and visibility initiatives for the Unilever brands.
“We realised that no matter what we did, there is massive pilferage that happens in the whole value chain and there is absolutely no data feedback loop that existed, which would kind of lead to at least prove an ROI for the brands or help them make certain actionable decisions based coming out of this sampling,” said Swagata.
Japan Vyas, Managing Partner, Roots Ventures, said:
“Smytten’s revenue has grown 8X since the time we invested. We strongly believe the integrated approach taken by the startup to solve the pre-purchase conundrum for consumers in the D2C space will see them lead a potentially $10 billion sampling and advertising market in the projected $100 billion D2C brand market by 2025.”
“It also has a great product-market fit for large international markets like Southeast Asia and the Middle East, making them the first port of call for every consumer brand,” he added.
Smytten counts some marquee angel investors such as Rajan Anandan, ex-MD of Google India & South East Asia, and many other industry veterans as its early backers.