Venture capital firm A91 Partners is in final negotiations to lead a $30 million funding round in Hector Beverages, best known for its Paper Boat brand of ethnic Indian drinks, three people aware of the matter said.

Belgian investor Sofina, one of the company’s existing investors, is also expected to participate in the round, with Hector seeking a valuation of about $200 million after the round, said one of the three people cited above, all whom spoke on condition of anonymity.

As part of the ongoing round, A91 has already invested an initial tranche of $1.45 million in Hector on 20 March, regulatory filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs showed.

A91 is an early to mid-stage investment firm set up last year by three former managing directors of Sequoia Capital—V.T. Bharadwaj, Abhay Pandey and Gautam Mago. The fund plans to invest $10-30 million in mid-stage startups around the Series B or C stage. It will look to invest in healthcare, financial services and consumer brands from its $300 million fund which it is currently raising.

Founded in 2010 by former Coca-Cola India employees Neeraj Kakkar and Neeraj Biyani, Hector Beverages had started with an energy drink called Tzinga, which it had to withdraw in 2015 after the Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said it is unfit for consumption because it had caffeine. However, Hector brought it back to shelves after regulatory approval in 2016.

Its flagship brand Paper Boat was launched in 2013, with drinks in traditional Indian flavours such as Aamras, Aam Panna, Anar, Jamun Kala Khatta, Kokum and Chilli Guava, which are made without preservatives, added colours or carbonation.

For the year ended 31 March 2018, it posted a 70% jump in revenue to 118 crore. FY19 revenue, although not publicly available, is about 200 crore, said a person aware of the matter.

Venture capital firm A91 Partners is in final negotiations to lead a $30 million funding round in Hector Beverages, best known for its Paper Boat brand of ethnic Indian drinks, three people aware of the matter said.

Belgian investor Sofina, one of the company’s existing investors, is also expected to participate in the round, with Hector seeking a valuation of about $200 million after the round, said one of the three people cited above, all whom spoke on condition of anonymity.

As part of the ongoing round, A91 has already invested an initial tranche of $1.45 million in Hector on 20 March, regulatory filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs showed.

A91 is an early to mid-stage investment firm set up last year by three former managing directors of Sequoia Capital—V.T. Bharadwaj, Abhay Pandey and Gautam Mago. The fund plans to invest $10-30 million in mid-stage startups around the Series B or C stage. It will look to invest in healthcare, financial services and consumer brands from its $300 million fund which it is currently raising.

Founded in 2010 by former Coca-Cola India employees Neeraj Kakkar and Neeraj Biyani, Hector Beverages had started with an energy drink called Tzinga, which it had to withdraw in 2015 after the Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said it is unfit for consumption because it had caffeine. However, Hector brought it back to shelves after regulatory approval in 2016.

Its flagship brand Paper Boat was launched in 2013, with drinks in traditional Indian flavours such as Aamras, Aam Panna, Anar, Jamun Kala Khatta, Kokum and Chilli Guava, which are made without preservatives, added colours or carbonation.

For the year ended 31 March 2018, it posted a 70% jump in revenue to 118 crore. FY19 revenue, although not publicly available, is about 200 crore, said a person aware of the matter.


The company last raised $29 million in its Series C round led by Sofina and Hillhouse Capital, a Chinese investment firm whose portfolio includes Tencent, JD.com and Airbnb.

Hector’s other existing investors Sequoia Capital and Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy’s venture capital investment arm Catamaran Investments Pvt. Ltd also participated in the round, made at a valuation of $100 million.

Sequoia will not participate in the round, the second person cited above said.

The deal would also mark A91’s second deal from its fund, after it invested about $10 million in Sugar Cosmetics in March. Mint first reported the deal on 31 January.

While Sequoia declined to comment, Hector Beverages, A91 Partner and Sofina did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Investors including A91 and Iron Pillar are now looking exclusively at mid-stage deals. Mint reported on 15 April that while there are dozens of dedicated seed-stage funds and a handful of late-stage investors, mid-stage has not seen dedicated pools of capital.

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