Meesho raises $300 million led by SoftBank, enters unicorn club

a group of people sitting at a table: Meesho raises $300 million led by SoftBank, enters unicorn club

© Chandra R Srikanth
Meesho raises $300 million led by SoftBank, enters unicorn club

Social commerce startup Meesho said it has raised $300 million in a new round of funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The round values Meesho at $2.1 Billion, making it the latest entrant to India’s unicorn club.

Existing investors Prosus Ventures, Facebook, Shunwei Capital, Venture Highway and Knollwood Investment also participated in the round.

Meesho helps small businesses and individuals become sellers on social platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. The Bengaluru-based startup, founded by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal in December 2015, competes with firms such as GlowRoad and Shop101.

“With the new round of funding, we are extremely thrilled to have SoftBank onboard. We are focused on expanding our vision — from helping aspiring women entrepreneurs to creating Meesho as a single ecosystem that will enable all small businesses in India to succeed online. In the last one year, we have seen tremendous growth across small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to move their businesses online. And with our new vision we will enable 100 million small businesses to start, succeed and lead their operations online with Meesho as their partner in their journey,” Vidit Aatrey, Founder & CEO of Meesho said.

This also makes it the fifth unicorn (privately funded company valued at $1 billion and above) to emerge from India this year – others being Digit Insurance, Innovaccer, Infra.Market and Five Star Business Finance. Moneycontrol had recently reported that Chargebee and Moglix are also in talks for funding that will value them at over a billion dollars.

This is also SoftBank’s first big investment in an Indian startup this year, with a few more in the pipeline.

“By using the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Meesho has created a platform for many small business owners to sell to the next cohort of internet users. We look forward to being a part of this journey”, Munish Varma, Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said.

At the same time Sumer Juneja, who leads SoftBank’s investments in India said: “We have been closely tracking Meesho for the last 18 months and have been impressed by its growth, daily engagement metrics, focus on unit economics and ability to create a strong team. We believe Meesho provides an efficient platform for SME suppliers and social resellers to onboard the e-commerce revolution in India and help them provide personalized experience to consumers.”

Meesho last raised $125 million in its series D round of funding in August 2019, which saw participation from Sequoia, Shunwei, Elevation Capital, Venture Highway, RPS, Facebook and former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin.

According to a recent report by Bain and Sequoia titled ‘Unlocking the Future of Commerce in India’ released in December 2020, while India’s e-commerce has been dominated by a few large players, social commerce is paving the way for a more distributed model built on community, connection and trust.

‘We expect social commerce, which is a $1.5 billion to $2 billion market today, will be worth as much as $20 billion in just five years — and will likely hit nearly $70 billion by 2030. In short, India’s social commerce sector will be twice the size of the current e-commerce market within 10 years,’ the report said.