Bengaluru-based 1Bridge, a last-mile supply chain and distribution network with a focus on rural India, has raised $2.5 Mn in a pre-series A round led by Netherlands-based C4D Partners and angel investor Prashanth Boccasam. C4D and Boccasam, existing investors of 1Bridge, also acquired an additional stake through a secondary transaction, providing an exit to a few early shareholders.
The round also saw participation from new investors including BV Jagadeesh-led KAAJ Ventures, founding partner of Accel Partners, Prashanth Prakash, Happiest Minds cofounder, Puneet Jetli, VC executive Aradhana D Chatterjee. Additionally, 1Bridge also raised a maiden working capital facility from Ananya Finance, an Ahmedabad-based NBFC marking Ananya Finance’s first attempt to invest in companies beyond the microfinance sector.
The company will utilise the funds over the next 1.5 years to expand its supply chain network and experience centres. 1Bridge also aims to expand its product offerings including consumer durables brands as well as fintech and credit products with strategic partnerships. The rural tech supply chain startup will also improve its tech platform offering rural outreach and assisted services to local micro-entrepreneurs.
Launched in May 2016 by Madan Padaki, Anil Kumar and M Chakrawarty, 1Bridge is a village commerce platform that provides products and digital services at the doorsteps of village consumers. It works with local rural entrepreneurs or “1Bridge Advisors” to help with the last-mile delivery of products and services.
Since its inception, 1Bridge has claimed to have grown with over 75% y-o-y growth. It also announced that it turned EBITDA positive in FY20-21 when it grossed a revenue of over INR 52 Cr. It has built a presence in 70+ districts in states including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.
Prior to this, the company has raised a total of $1.5 Mn in an angel round from significant investors Ronnie Screwvala, Eruditus founders Ashwin Damera and Chaitanya, Manipal group chairman Dr Ranjan Pai and Conzerv cofounder Hema Hattangady, among others.
The rural population of India boasts around 70% of the total population in the country. A McKinsey report states that despite the prominence of urbanization, the rural population is likely to account for 63% of the total market in India by 2025. Undoubtedly, the digital empowerment of rural India is important to bridge the digital gap.
According to a report by Accenture, today’s rural customers are becoming more aspirational, selective about brands, value-seeking, and connected. Some startups apart from 1Bridge, connecting brands to these rural customers include HESA, Frontier Markets, Deal share and Udaan among others.