B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd, the maker of Bira 91 brand of craft beer, has launched its biggest-ever fund raise of as much as $100 million, said two people, requesting anonymity.

The Sequoia Capital-backed company intends to utilize the proceeds of the Series C fundraise to support its growth plans. That includes increasing sales of Boom, its latest mass market beer brand.

“Of this amount, $20 million will be raised in an internal round," said the first person cited above. Internal round refers to fund raise from a company’s existing base of investors.

The latest fundraise would be about double the nearly $50 million raised last year by New Delhi-based B9 Beverages in a round led by Belgium-based investment firm Sofina. Existing investor Sequoia also participated in the round. The transaction valued B9 Beverages at nearly $210 million, according to media reports.

At the time, the company said it was looking to use the proceeds to grow its India business five-fold over the next three years.

B9 Beverages raised in May this year $4.3 million from Sixth Sense Ventures, a Mumbai-based consumer-focused venture capital fund, in a bridge round to the Series C round.

An email sent to B9’s founder Ankur Jain last week on the latest fundraise did not elicit any response.

Founded in 2015 by Jain, Bira 91 focuses on mild beers, believed to be preferred by urban consumers. The business potential for craft beers appears robust as it comprised less than 1% of the entire beer consumption in India, pegged at 4.7 billion litres in 2017 by Business Monitor International.

In the US, where craft beer is believed to have originated, 12% of beer sales are attributed to craft.

“Bira would be the next big brand to watch out for; they understand the pulse of the consumer and are coming up with the right product mix. Their visibility during (ICC Cricket) World Cup will give them additional leverage not only in India but also overseas," said Anil Joshi, managing partner at Unicorn India Ventures, a venture capital firm.

“I feel Bira has the potential to be among the top two brands in a few years in India," Joshi said.

To be sure, industry experts say that stringent regulation on alcoholic beverages is still an issue for brands looking to expand in a big way.

Also, maintaining taste and innovations to keep up the new product line is not easy.

“Excessive regulations on alcoholic beverages, especially state-led excise taxes levied on beer is very high, making it difficult and expensive to export beer products within states in India itself. But I’m now seeing several craft beer brands in India shipping their bottles and kegs abroad because it’s much easier than dealing with hefty regulations locally," said John Eapen, a leading craft beer consultant in Bengaluru.

deepti.c@livemint.com

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