India-Based Social Commerce Company Meesho Raises $125 Million

By Annie Baker ● August 20, 2019
  • India-based online marketplace Meesho announced it closed $125 million in funding led by Naspers. Facebook and several existing investors also joined the round.

Meesho — an India-based online marketplace — recently announced it closed $125 million in funding led by Naspers. Facebook and existing investors SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway also joined the round. And former Vodafone Group CEO Sir Arun Sarin also joined.

How does Meesho work?  Meesho essentially enables independent resellers to build small businesses by connecting them with suppliers to curate a catalog of goods and services to sell. And the company also provides logistics and payment tools on the platform. These “social sellers” are able to sell within their social networks on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.

Meesho has a network of more than 2 million “social sellers” across 700 towns in India. And it has created a disruptive distribution channel for 15,000 suppliers in traditional manufacturing hubs. Meesho has a focus largely on apparel, home, wellness, and electronics items. And the company has a mission to create 20 million entrepreneurs by 2020.

The new funding round will help the company get closer to achieving the goal by allowing the company to make deeper inroads in areas outside India’s major metro regions by creating more entrepreneurs — and as a result, reaching remote customers not serviced by traditional e-commerce marketplaces. The latest funding round will also strengthen Meesho’s aim to grow its community of women entrepreneurs who have wanted to run their own businesses but lacked the funds and expertise to do so. 

“I am particularly proud that Meesho has cut across gender, education levels, risk appetites and vocations to create livelihoods for people with no investment of their own. Our social sellers are small retailers, women, students, and retired citizens, with 70% being homemakers who have found financial freedom and a business identity without having to step outside their homes,” said Meesho co-founder and CEO Vidit Aatrey.

IIT-Delhi graduates Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal had launched Meesho in December 2015. And it quickly became India’s largest social commerce platform that enables individuals to start an online business with zero investment.

“The exciting growth of e-commerce in India has hidden the fact that over 90% of Indians either can’t or won’t use it in its current form. They want online shopping that enables them to buy from small businesses they trust. Meesho provides a way for these customers to get what they need – and we believe it is the future of online shopping for the next 500 million consumers,” Aatrey added. “We are delighted to welcome Naspers as our new investment partner. The company has a great track record in the Indian market, helping to support and build some of the leading Indian e-commerce businesses. We are excited to tap into their operational expertise scaling companies as we enter into our next stage of growth.”

Meesho is also planning to use the new funds to further build its technology platform to accommodate new product lines. And the funding will also be used to evolve its analytics and machine learning platforms to handle national scale. And at the same time — in addition to expanding its network coverage to new geographies — the company will further deepen its operations in existing geographies.

“Globally, Naspers identifies big areas of consumer spend that have not yet been significantly disrupted by technology and India e-commerce certainly fits the bill.  We were attracted to Meesho because the team have built a uniquely Indian solution that utilizes the reach and scale the internet enables, and harnesses and makes it available for small sellers to better serve customers no matter where they live, for the benefit of all,” explained Ashutosh Sharma, the Head of India Investments at Naspers Ventures. “The phenomenal growth they are already experiencing shows that Meesho has hit a sweet spot in the market and is well-poised to serve the next 500 million online shoppers in the country.”