Bengaluru: Fireside Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on consumer brands, on Tuesday announced that it has closed its first fund with a corpus of Rs340 crore. The venture capital (VC) fund plans to invest in 20-25 consumer brand businesses from this fund over the next two to three years.

The current fund drew investor attention and investment from established FMCG brands including Unilever Ventures, Emami Ltd, and ITC Ltd.

Other prominent investors including Premji Invest, Westbridge Capital, Mariwala Family Office, Sanjiv Goenka Family Office, and Sunil Munjal’s Hero Enterprise Investment Office also invested in the fund.

The VC fund, which was founded in 2017, currently has investments in 10 consumer brands in segments such as personal care, processed foods, lifestyle and home products. These include brands like Yoga Bar, Samosa Singh, Goodness Beverages, Design Café, Bombay Shaving Co., Mama Earth, Vahdam Teas, Kwik 24, Magic Crate and Frog Bikes.

Apart from funding, the portfolio companies managed by Fireside will also receive assistance in business processes and areas like brand building, distribution, manufacturing, and digital marketing among others.

Fireside Ventures is led by Kanwaljit Singh, Vinay Singh and V.S. Kannan Sitaram. It makes investments at the seed level and in pre-Series A rounds.

The fund also announced a new advisory board comprising industry veterans like Amit Agarwal, senior vice president at Amazon, and country manager India; Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico Ltd; and Sri Rajan, chairman, Bain & Co. India.

According to Kanwaljit Singh, managing partner of Fireside Ventures, consumer behaviour has changed over the years.

Consumers have started demanding better quality products for which they are willing to pay a premium.

The demand for better quality products is largely coming from millennial customers in large cities.

Additionally, the growth in disposable income in large cities in India is also helping emerging brands capture the consumer market, said Singh during a phone interview with Mint. This evolved consumer class, i.e. the millennial shopper, is looking for factors like authenticity, clean labels, ethical sourcing and production etc. while buying products off the shelves or even online.

Fireside is helping offline consumer brands reach the right set of customers with guidance from its advisory team and from industry veterans who already have experience building and scaling consumer brands.

One of Fireside’s portfolio companies, Yoga Bar, sells nutrition bars starting from 40, and its target customers are gym goers and fitness enthusiasts. Similarly, Goodness Beverages, which produces packaged smoothies, is sold via tie-ups with brick-and-mortar cafes, supermarket chains, and on platforms like Swiggy, Faasos and BigBasket.

“The rhythm of consumer brand businesses is unique and requires an investor with a different DNA. The union of digital proliferation and demand for consumer brands is creating new opportunities and business models that will allow multiple new brands to be built in India more efficiently and in faster time frames. It is this trend in the consumer brand space that lights up Fireside Ventures. We see this as a big opportunity and stand committed to introduce, mentor and promote brands in this space," Singh said.

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