The retail tech start-up will use the funds primarily for R&D to adopt its autonomous retail solutions across 10 million retail points in India and over 400 D2C brands in the F&B sector
Retail tech start-up Daalchini Technologies has raised $4 million in a Series A round led by Unicorn India Ventures. The round also saw the participation of investors like Artha Venture Fund, Ajay Kaul, former CEO of Dominos India, and VSS Investco, the investment vertical of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO of Paytm. The company claimed this is the most significant round raised by an entity in the smart vending segment.
Daalchini will deploy a major part of this funding to expand its industry footprint and further its tech capabilities. It wants to make its solutions asset-efficient and accessible to over 10 million retail points in India and more than 450 food and beverages (F&B) D2C brands.
Founded in 2017 by ex-Paytm colleagues Prerna Kalra and Vidya Bhushan, Daalchini takes snacks and home-style meals to customers through technology-efficient models like automated kiosks, mobility retails, and smart vending machines. Its app has more than 2 lakh monthly active users.
The retail tech start-up claims to have grown 300 per cent in the last year, achieving a Product Market Fit with Rs 12 crores of revenue in FY2022. More than 90 per cent of their vending machines are EBITA positive within 45 days.
Daalchini aims to clock Rs 50 crores in revenues with a GMV of Rs 130 crores in 12 months. It intends to grow from 850 to over 5,000 smart and autonomous retail points in the next 18 months. The new funding will enable it to continue executing its growth strategy and strengthen its position as the largest network of smart retail stores.
Ruchi Pincha, an investment associate at Unicorn India Ventures, says, “India’s retail tech segment is going through a massive transition from its traditional physical store form to a digital one, the speed of which has been intensified by the pandemic. In this phase, Daalchini represents the best of both worlds with a ubiquitous physical presence backed by a strong technological framework that prioritizes its customers’ needs and convenience.”
Daalchini’s vending machines are in corporate and co-working spaces, educational institutes, hospitals, and railway stations, offering food and beverage products from over 160 brands. It has tied up with companies including Reliance, Aditya Birla Group’s Hindalco, Vodafone, GE, Genpact, NITI Aayog, Housr, MX Player, Samsung, Paytm, Snapdeal, Byjus, EY, OLX, OYO, Loreal and VIVO.
Kalra, co-founder and CEO of Daalchini, said, “Daalchini aims to establish its footprints at every 200 meters of habitable area with its autonomous smart stores and vending machines. Today, our country has just a few thousand vending machines, while the US or Japan has more than one autonomous store for every 200 people. We are far from the true potential of this kind of retail.”
“We quickly expanded our network to 11 states and 23 cities with 850+ stores. We will continue leveraging our unique tech and supply chain for fresh and packaged food to reach 50+ cities”, she added.
Providing a high-return customer acquisition platform for D2C brands, Daalchini has collaborated with more than 160 brands. These include Sleepy Owl, The Whole Truth Foods, Open Secret, Yoga Bar, Slurrp Farm, BRB, Cremica Opera, Cravova, Millet Bowl, Yogapulp and Dabur, Nestle and Mars.
Anirudh A Damani, Artha Venture Fund, says, “As the earliest backer of Daalchini, we are excited to see the company deepen its footprints within the industry through its fully integrated IoT solutions. They provide a convenient, safe, and affordable snacking solution for the working population while delivering real-time insights, vast reach, increased accessibility, and better control of marketing spending to food brands, all at the click of a button.”
According to the Kearney India Retail Index, the retail industry, dominated by the food and groceries sector, will grow at a 9 per cent rate from $779 billion in 2019 to $1,407 billion in 2026 to $1,884 billion in 2030. Despite the pandemic, research finds that the industry has and will continue to grow on the back of value e-commerce and an unprecedented reach across tier 2 and 3 cities.