“We consider the whole team entrepreneurs in every sense. The first value of our culture is being dreamy-eyed, but the second pillar is excellence. So it’s not just about dreaming up the idea but executing it with excellence.”
For brand new unicorn Licious’ cofounder and CEO Vivek Gupta, this attitude has driven the startup in creating an entirely new supply chain for meat and seafood products, changing the narrative in this industry around quality, and also creating quality jobs in the meat industry. “More than the unicorn status and anything, all of us are just feeling so happy that this industry has got its long-due share of recognition from consumers and investors,” he added
The Bengaluru-based meat delivery startup became India’s 69th unicorn and 28th this year with its $52 Mn Series G round led by IIFL AMC’s Late Stage Tech Fund, Avendus FLF (Future Leaders Fund) and other private equity investors announced earlier today (October 05). The round comes at the heels of the startup raising $192 Mn in its Series F round led by Singapore-headquartered Temasek and others earlier this year. To date, Licious has raised more than $250 Mn in funding.
Licious Eyes Branded Offline Experience
Armed with the more capital, the company is now looking to expand to retail sales with company-owned Licious-branded outlets. These will start appearing in December this year, Gupta told Inc42.
“D2C and online will always be our strong suit. It will be powered by our offline experience. That’s how we are envisioning it right now,” added the CEO.
It’s likely that the company will focus on the ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook category for the retail stores, as that is also a big focus area for Licious in the next 12-24 months, besides entering new cities. While the company has built a brand and network in the metros and Tier 1 cities, the next stop will be Tier 2 and 3 cities, where the problem of meat delivery is yet to be addressed by dedicated players.
Founded in 2015 by Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta, Licious is built on a farm-to-fork model, and the company owns the entire supply chain from butchers to delivery agents. It operates on a hub and spokes model, where meat is sourced from farmers and processed at the processing centres, which is the hub and the spokes are the delivery centres in various cities.
This also includes the cold chain, which is essentially for quality control through procurement, processing and storage till the time the products reach consumers.
As it expands to smaller cities and towns, Licious will bank on its network of processing centres to cater to more postal codes. Gupta added that currently Licious is a network of six processing centres that meet the demand of 12-14 cities each. The delivery to consumers is managed through 120 delivery centres.
Ecommerce, D2C Competition Grows
The D2C meat category, a $40 Bn sector globally, is still widely untapped in India. But consumer attitudes towards online meat shopping have changed drastically since February 2020.
While Licious has a large market base in the meat segment, major companies in the delivery of meat and meat products include — BigBasket, JioMart, FreshtoHome, ZappFresh, Amazon India, Flipkart, Swiggy and other online delivery platforms. Most of these connect meat retailers to customers, whereas Licious, FreshtoHome, Zappfresh have looked to create a supply chain for a farm-to-fork meat delivery model.
So what exactly is the competitive edge that Licious will bank on going forward as more and more players enter the market? “If you ask me, it’s the supply chain. It’s one of the most unique supply chains which we know of and it is unmatched in India. I can say that nobody has done it. And that is directly linked to our growth as a brand and business.”
Managing and creating a brand new supply chain has helped create repeat business, he claimed, because the quality of product is more or less consistent and this is what meat consumers want. “90% of our revenue comes from repeat customers.”
Currently, Licious claims to have an annual revenue rate of INR 1,000 Cr and says it has a year-on-year growth of 500%. The company claims to have over 2 Mn unique customers.
IPO On The Cards?
With this round, Licious has got domestic investors such as IIFL and Avendus on its captable, after bagging a number of foreign backers in previous rounds. The profile of the new investors is interesting, since it raises the possibility of an IPO for Licious in the near future.
IIFL AMC’s late-stage fund was launched earlier this year, with pre-IPO rounds for tech companies being one of its core focus areas. The other new investor, Avendus FLF, has also invested in Lenskart, Delhivery and Dailyhunt, so Licious is the fourth unicorn in its portfolio. Among that group of startups, Delhivery is close to an IPO. So is Licious also chasing an IPO in the near future?
Gupta replied, “IPO is surely part of the plan, but not in the short term. It’s at least two-three years away. Abhay and I are really excited that Indian investors are coming out of the shell and backing Indian tech. And these investors [IIFL, Avendus] are in it for the long haul. So we are in no hurry.”