The growing trend of rollup firms in India: What does the future hold?

In a panel discussion with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch, powered by HSBC, Utsav Agarwal, Co-founder, Evenflow; Damandeep Singh Soni, Chief Business Officer, GlobalBees; and Nitin Agarwal, Co-founder & Chief Growth Officer, UpScalio; discussed the growing relevance of rollup business in India.
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The Thrasio-style rollup ecommerce wave has hit India in the recent years. The space, where small firms are combined into a larger company, is growing by the day, with top players joining in with a vision to acquire and grow small businesses.

Currently, there has been a lot of buzz in the rollup space in India with players like GlobalBees entering the unicorn club and other brands acquiring aggressively.

To discuss this phenomenon, Utsav Agarwal, Co-founder, Evenflow; Damandeep Singh Soni, Chief Business Officer, GlobalBees; and Nitin Agarwal, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer, UpScalio; came together for an insightful discussion with YourStory.

Speaking about the growth of the rollup landscape in India, Damandeep said the concept of rollup business model has always been in India. In the last 18 months, different parts of the brands became modularised as a result of which a number of D2C brands were created and they started gaining momentum. Thus, the idea for the creation of these rollup brands came up.

Nitin adds that there are so many exciting businesses that have hit the threshold in terms of scaling, and that is the reason behind the emergence of the rollup wave. There is competition in the space, he shares, but most of these firms have carved out their niche, like for UpScalio it is-utility brands.

Utsav shares that 2022 is just the beginning of the rollup wave.

“For any ecosystem to develop and form, it takes two to three years,” he says. Therefore, the trend of roll up firms is just starting and there is a lot to come in the future.

In terms of strategy, Damandeep says that going forward, for GlobalBees, building playbooks is going to be in focus. On one side the company is acquiring brands, and on the other side, they are focussing on growing those brands. Apart from that, the company is also focussing on building their teams.

“Over the next three to five years, we will see how each of us mature, what trajectory we take, and what our portfolios finally end up being,” he says.

While talking about acquisitions, Nitin says, there has surprisingly been a lot of receptiveness noticed on the side of the entrepreneurs. “Acquisition road so far has been fairly smooth,” he shares. They are currently in the integration and aggregation space and this will be the area of focus for the next two to three years.

Additionally, UpScalio is also focussing on building talent in the company.

Utsav shares that at Evenflow, they have noticed headwinds and tailwinds in terms of capital. He says that capital is an important factor for a rollup business and it is relatively easier to raise capital in the markets today.

“There’s a law of liquidity in the market and if you’re able to acquire the right brands and show numbers in terms of growth, capital is available, domestically and internationally,” he says.

He adds that Evenflow has done 10 acquisitions in the past and has announced another seven, and it will be announcing the rest in the next two to three months. “The focus is going to move away from acquisitions to growth, platform expansion, and international expansion,” says Utsav.

Damandeep adds to this by saying they are acquiring companies that are generating some amount of profit. Therefore, they have their customer payments as a source of funding but they are looking at external sources of funding as well.

Speaking about rollups vs VCs/PEs, Nitin says that when a brand comes to a rollup business, they get capital, talent, and functional expertise as well, which brands need as they grow and scale their business. “I believe it’s a much faster growth path and a surer growth path,” he adds.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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