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With the latest round of funding from Sequoia Capital, Bira 91 craft beer maker B9 Beverages has so far raised around $30 million, says founder Ankur Jain. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
With the latest round of funding from Sequoia Capital, Bira 91 craft beer maker B9 Beverages has so far raised around $30 million, says founder Ankur Jain. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Bira 91 raises fresh funds, to enter new markets

B9 Beverages, the maker of Bira 91 craft beer, will use the funds from investor Sequoia Capital to enter the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and UAE

New Delhi: B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd has raised around $8 million from venture capital fund Sequoia Capital India Advisors, said Ankur Jain, founder of the company that sells the popular Bira 91 craft beer. With the latest round of funding from Sequoia Capital, B9 Beverages has so far raised around $30 million, said Jain.

The fund infusion will help the company enter five new markets—the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates by next summer. The company entered the US market in April 2016, debuting in New York City during the Tribeca Film Festival.

Besides, Jain is in process of setting up a third brewery in Rajasthan in India before next summer to triple capacity. “The third brewery will take it to about 12 million cases a year. At present we sell an average of three million cases a year. By end of this year, we’ll reach full capacity. We need to be ready for the next summer," said Jain. B9 Beverages currently has two units in Indore and Nagpur with a bottling capacity of about 4.2 million cases a year. Not just India, Jain said, B9 Beverages is also looking at setting up its own brewery in the US before next summer. At present, it imports beer from Belgium for the US market.

While Jain is still figuring out the US market, he has already set his eyes on other countries. “We received a good response in the US. Now, we want to enter London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Dubai. We aspire to drive that shift in beer towards more flavours globally," Jain added. The company may initially look at surrounding areas of universities with the intention to catch the attentions of the millennials. B9 Beverages, which started selling Bira 91 in May 2014, raised funds from Sequoia for the first time in 2015. The venture capital firm again invested in January 2016 when B9 Beverages raised around $7.5 million from a group of investors led by Sequoia, according to the company’s filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).

With the latest round of funding, about 55% equity of B9 Beverages is with investors. The remaining equity is with the company’s founder and its management. Sequoia and Jain are the two largest shareholders of B9 Beverages.

Others who have invested in B9 Beverages include General Atlantic managing director Shantanu Rastogi and its senior vice president Alok Misra, and Naik Family Trust 2013. During its initial rounds of fund raising, the company had also received investments from Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, co-founders of e-commerce firm Snapdeal; Ashish Dhawan, co-founder of private equity firm Chryscapital; Mayank Singhal, venture investor with RNT Capital Advisors; and Deepinder Goyal, founder of restaurant discovery platform Zomato.

When Jain started Bira 91, he raised about $1.5 million from a bunch of friends.

Craft beer is a relatively new category in India and the industry is growing at around 20%, according to All India Brewing Association. There are more than 80 microbreweries operating in India, including White Rhino, Arbor Brewing Co., Irish Village, Doolally Brewing Co., Effingut Brewerkz, TJ’s Brew Works, Mumbai-based Gateway Brewing Co., The Barking Deer, The White Owl Pvt. Ltd and Brewbot.

Overall beer sales in India almost doubled between 2010 and 2015 to $6.2 billion a year, according to a study by market research firm Euromonitor International.

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