Since my new Artha Venture Fund has only two investments to its name, I have to dig into Artha India Ventures, my family office’s portfolio, to provide insights on a company that I missed out investing in. In 2013-14, I was in a room full of angels when Anuj Rakyan presented his idea to prepare cold-pressed juices made at a shared kitchen in Mumbai. He wanted to deliver these juices directly to the customer daily, by utilizing the spare time of Mumbai’s dabbawalas.
As a part of the presentation, Anuj brought in a large tray, full of juice bottles of various flavours and everyone in the room drank at least two. In fact, I even took one home.
Anuj’s start-up went on to pick up a $1.8 million round from Sequioa Capital and has become a well-known brand in urban India—Raw Pressery.
Although, the angels rejected the deal, I continued to pursue it outside the group. There were a lot of things I liked about Raw. For starters, Anuj had done a lot of the heavy lifting required to develop a consumer product in India and his delivery strategy to utilize dabbawalas was unique if not ingenious.
However, there were lots of pressing concerns: 1. In a non-GST world, it was difficult to imagine how this brand would scale outside Mumbai with the limited amount of capital that angels could provide; 2. The inter-state trade opportunity required various registrations and licences. This involved the risk of the product being held up at check points for days, something that worked against the limited shelf life of the juices; 3. There were limited options of cold chain logistics for the supply of raw materials as well as delivering the finished product outside Mumbai. Additionally, the logistics costs were prohibitive unless Raw delivered at scale. Therefore, in my opinion, the macros were definitely against the investment.
But what acted as the final nail in the coffin to pass on this investment, was the failure of the brand to deliver the promises made by the founder in his presentation. I registered on their website to become a subscriber for the daily delivery of Raw’s products but did not get a call back. Despite having my office call them a several times, I was unable to get the deliveries started or any kind of follow up to resolve my issue. This experience left me disillusioned and I had to pass.
Things turned around for Raw Pressery under Sequoia. They were able to increase the shelf-life of the product and the large investment made into logistics, provided Raw Pressery with access to fresh and high-quality ingredients.
However, I still do not rue that I missed out on investing in Raw Pressery. The solutions required a large amount of capital to be placed on risk and I still do not believe that my ROI would have covered the risks my capital would have to endure.