FarMart’s turnaround

SaaS-led B2B food supply platform FarMart is Alekh Sanghera and Mehtab Singh Hans’ third innings. It now has some top investors, and about 90,000 retailers connected to 2 million farmers.

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Global venture capital firm Accel has announced a new $4 billion global late-stage fund as it aims to double down on investing in companies within its portfolio and new startups.

The development comes at a time when some of its peers such as Tiger Global Management and SoftBank have either slowed their investments in startups or have not announced any new funds.

In India, Accel has been an early backer of companies like Flipkart, Freshworks, and Swiggy. The market value of Accel's portfolio of companies from the country crossed the $100-billion mark earlier this year. In March, YourStory had caught up with Accel’s partners to understand its investment philosophy

In other news, home furnishing and decor giant IKEA opened its fourth–and largest–store in Bengaluru, today. The company is also launching a new virtual design tool that helps users imagine how its furniture would look in their homes. 

FarMart’s turnaround 

Childhood friends-turned-co-founders Alekh Sanghera and Mehtab Singh Hans have weathered many storms. They refused to go home when their first two business models–a tractor marketplace and an agri fintech platform–didn’t succeed. 

Building their third model, a SaaS-led B2B food supply platform, hasn't been a cakewalk either. The duo has had to live through demonetisation, term sheets being pulled out twice, and a negative cash flow. 

“We thought what the hell are we doing? Are we just ruining our lives? At one point I thought I was going to have an attack and die. There were times when we used to get scared driving to our office, thinking how we were going to pay the dues,” Alekh tells YourStory

However, today their startup FarMart has some of the top investors on its cap table, and about 90,000 retailers connected with two million farmers, across 600 districts. 

Ebb and flow:

  • FarMart has raised a total funding of $48 million so far.
  • Its early investors IAN (India Angel Network) and LetsVenture got an exit of 35-50X, during the Pre-Series A round.
  • The startup aims to become a pan-India sourcing platform and is looking to expand in 12 states besides going export-heavy in the next one year. 

Hari Menon’s journey

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur podcast, Hari Menon, Co-founder and CEO, Bigbasket, delves into the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial journey.

Before launching Bigbasket, Hari’s journey in the Indian ecommerce market started at the age of 37 with Fabmart in 1999.

In its first year, Fabmart did zero transactions and failed. However, this didn’t stop the entrepreneur from pursuing his dream. The egrocery store Bigbasket was eventually launched in 2011. 

Add to cart:

  • Early ecommerce platforms, those that emerged in the late 90s,  were run on slow dial-up lines, and the access to technology was limited to desktops. 
  • Hari calls the year 2000 an “absolute bloodbath year”. Funding had dried up and internet companies began shutting down. 
  • He was in his 50s when Bigbasket was launched. 

“We were one of the oldest entrepreneurs because we started late, but everybody else was 25 or 26. Our investors come and say we’re investing in old people. So 50 is young. At 50, you don’t necessarily retire. And the exits those days were reasonably good. But I don’t think you would be comfortable saying that is all I need for the rest of my life,” Hari shares in the podcast.

WEH Ventures prescribes caution

WEH Ventures has backed companies like content-led commerce platform Trell from which it recorded a partial exit, as well as Sequoia-backed Animall, D2C (direct-to-consumer) food brand Masterchow, savings app Jar, and others. 

The Mumbai-based firm, which is currently deploying from its second fund of Rs 120 crore and is yet to announce its final close, has said it will conserve 60 percent of the cash for follow-on rounds, taking a conservative approach to the current cycle.

Key takeaways:

  • Since its inception, WEH Ventures has had a portfolio of 18 companies, with Assets Under Management (AUM) at Rs 140 crore. 
  • It typically bets on startups across fintech, content, and commerce, with cheque sizes between Rs 1 crore and Rs 3 crore.
  • The company says it will continue to pace its investments in nearly six deals annually. 

Rohit Krishna and Deepak Gupta, General Partners at WEH Ventures

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