The direct-to-consumer model is seeing a surge in popularity as small brands use it to survive and thrive in a market dominated by giants.
Post-COVID, consumers – with an eye on safety and convenience – are choosing to shop on ecommerce platforms and online D2C channels, which has widened the growing opportunity for D2C brands.
These brands bypass the conventional method of multiple supply chain partners, and reach their target audience directly by marketing and selling products directly to customers.
A report by Avendus Capital on D2C brands in India stated that the addressable market size for this industry would be $100 billion by 2025. Another report by Praxis Global Alliance Labs and Knowledge Capital suggested that investors had put in $1.4 billion into D2C companies between 2014 and 2020. The sector saw an investment of close to $ 417 million in 2020.
India has more than 600-plus D2C brands, including well-known names like Wakefit, Licious, Wrogn, MamaEarth, MCaffeine, and Mom’s Co. Many others are waiting in the wings to become big businesses: NuttyGritties, Itsy Bitsy, Cosmix, and Captain Zack. All of them plan to scale up their ecommerce channels to capture growing consumption in India. Several brands such as boAt, Wow Skin Science, MCaffeine, and Wakefit have been profitable from the very beginning.
The future looks bright for D2C, and YourStory has zeroed in on eight D2C startups that have raised funding this year and are poised for growth and advancement.
Veena Ashiya launched Monrow in September 2016 in Bengaluru in association with Future Group as the retail partner. Monrow aims to make heels more comfortable, bridging the gap between design and comfort. They started selling online in December 2016. The startup currently sells across 14 locations in India through partnerships with top retailers, including Shoppers Stop, Future Group, and Reliance, among others.
In March 2021, women’s D2C footwear brand Monrow had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from venture capital fund 9Unicorns. It has received a total of Rs 5 crore in funding so far. The funds will be used for expansion in India’s Tier II and III towns through its omni-channel approach.
Founded by Puru Gupta and Sreejith Moolayil in 2014, True Elements offers plant-based, wholefood breakfast, and snack products. The startup, which uses Indian local produce like millets, grains, and seeds, employs 75 percent women in its production factory based out of Pune.
In January 2021, the D2C health food brand raised Rs 10 crore from Maharashtra State Social Venture Fund (MSSVF), a fund managed by SIDBI VC. The startup will use these funds to strengthen its brand and product innovation.
Starting from a 10×10 make-shift kitchen with Rs 5,000 and a dream to change how the beauty and cosmetics industry was perceived in India, Coimbatore-based organic skin and personal care brand Juicy Chemistry was founded in 2014 by husband-wife duo Megha and Pritesh Asher.
The D2C brand claims to offer a 100+ product range of natural and organic skincare products consisting of cleansers, moisturisers, floral waters, gourmet soaps, hair masques, baby massage oil, cold pressed oils, and lots more in relation to face, body, hair, and aromatherapy and kids’ products.
In March 2021, Juicy Chemistry raised $6.3 million in a Series A funding round led by Belgium-based investment firm Verlinvest.
Founded in 2012 by IIM Ahmedabad alumni and husband and wife duo, Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee, Mumbai-based digital-first beauty brand SUGAR works on a hybrid model with both offline and online presence across 2,400 outlets in over 130 cities.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns, the D2C brand saw almost 70-80 percent of sales coming from the online channel. The cruelty-free brand clocked net revenue worth Rs 105 crore in FY20 itself.
In February 2021, SUGAR Cosmetics raised $21 million in Series C funding round led by Elevation Capital (formerly, SAIF Partners), with existing investors A91 Partners, India Quotient participating, and strategic venture debt from Stride Ventures.
In February 2021, Onelife Nutriscience, which owns and operates the consumer healthcare brand Onelife, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Wipro Consumer Care Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting.
The D2C healthcare brand has a diverse set of offerings focusing on wellness, immunity, and overall nutraceutical segment. The Mumbai-based company was founded in 2019 by Gaurav Aggarwal, who has over 20 years of experience in the nutrition industry. The company plans to use the fresh funds for its next level of growth.
Founded in 2017 by Darpan Sanghvi and Priyanka Gill, Mumbai-based D2C beauty startup MyGlamm offers a range of over 600 cruelty-free and vegan products across makeup, skincare, and personal care. While it is digital-first, the startup has more than 10,000 offline points of sales across 70 cities in India.
In March 2021, the startup raised Rs 175 crore in Series C funding with investments from Ascent Capital, Amazon, and Wipro Consumer – Ventures. With this funding, MyGlamm crossed the $100 million valuation milestone within three years of its launch. This was one of the first investments made by Amazon in a beauty brand in India.
Founded in 2016 by Aarti Gill and Mihir Gadani, the Mumbai-based D2C nutrition brand provides plant-based products to empower individuals to become healthier. The products are divided across women’s health, skin, hair, men’s health, and general wellness, and developed using natural, plant-based ingredients. It claims to combine modern science and technology with the goodness of Ayurvedic herbs to enable holistic living.
In addition to products, OZiva also provides its customers with access to personalised diet and fitness consultations, nutritional and fitness content, and community-based events through its technology platform.
In March 2021, OZiva raised $12 million in a Series B round led by Eight Roads Ventures, with participation from F-Prime Capital and existing investor Matrix Partners India. The funding will be used to build out the team, enter new product categories, and build out its technology platform to provide more value-added services.
Backed by institutional investors like Investcorp, Uniqorn Ventures, Pratithi Trust, and Angels like Kunal, Rohit, Kaushal Aggarwal, Bewakoof was founded in 2012 by IIT alumni Prabhkiran Singh and Siddharth Munot. The D2C online apparel company focuses on providing creative and distinctive fashion at affordable prices for trendy and contemporary Indians.
In March 2021, Bewakoof raised Rs 30 crore from IvyCap Ventures. The startup intends to invest the funds in enhancing customer experience, upgrading technology, and launching newer product categories as it prepares for the next phase of growth.
(With inputs from Vishal Krishna, Sindhu Kashyaap, and Sujata Sangwan)