Unilever Ventures invests in Saas start-up Peel-Works
New Delhi: Unilever Ventures, the investment arm of consumer packaged goods company Unilever Plc, has picked up an undisclosed stake in Peel-Works Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based Saas (software-as-a-service) start-up, in its first investment in India.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
This follows a $10-million capital infusion by Unilever Ventures in IDG Ventures’ third fund this November.
To be sure, IDG is an existing investor in Peel-Works and has also invested as part of the latest round. Inventus Capital Partners, the other follow-on investor, also infused funds.
Peel-Works offers a software platform to consumer packaged goods companies to better understand how their products move in the supply chain till the end-buyer, and derive insights. It does this through its own network of 5,000 pan-India retailers that feed data to Peel-Works’ platform on products sold at their stores.
“Our products help generate insights to consumer goods companies in the value chain that is after the distributor,” founder and chief executive officer Sachin Chhabra told Mint over the phone.
Chhabra, who has spent over a decade in Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), started Peel-Works in 2010. The firm went on to raise $2 million from IDG and Inventus in 2014. As of today, its platform is used by about 15 clients, which also include HUL.
Chhabra said funds from the latest round will be used to increase its network of retailers, add more functionality to the platform and explore expansion in developing economies outside of India.
“There is a great opportunity to empower the large traditional trade in fast-growing markets leveraging technologies at the point-of-sale. Insights generated can be used by consumer packaged goods, e-commerce, FinTech or Cash & Carry players to develop innovative solutions, improve services and sales force performances,” said Olivier Garel, head of Unilever Ventures, in a statement.
Headquartered in London, Unilever Ventures invests in early-stage companies in food, personal care, digital media, e-commerce and consumer products segments primarily in Europe, North America and Asia. Its portfolio spans over 40 ventures and €450 million in assets under management.
The investment in Peel-Works suggests a likelihood for more direct investments in Indian consumer internet space. It also announced a separate partnership with IDG and Amazon Web Services recently for small ticket-size investments in Indian start-ups.
“Globally they (Unilever Ventures) invest in companies that have some strategic relevance for Unilever as an operating company… the driving force is what they (investee companies) can bring to the table outside of money, because they are not a traditional VC,” said Chhabra.