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MUMBAI: Recently-turned unicorn Licious, operated by Delightful Gourmet Pvt Ltd, has announced a new employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), christened ‘Everyday Vesting, Anytime Liquidation’, starting next year. The new plan will benefit over 1,000 employees, who currently own ESOPs.

"Starting 1st Jan 2022, all eligible Licians (employees at Licious) will have their ESOPs vested daily," the company said in a statement on Tuesday, touting it as an industry-first in the Indian startup ecosystem.

The meat and seafood delivery firm, which became the first direct-to-consumer (D2C) startup to achieve unicorn valuation ($1 billion) will set aside a pool of secondary funds every year, to enable the anytime liquidation.

"Employees will also have the option of anytime liquidation of ESOPs; no terms and conditions being associated with the liquidation. This opportunity can be availed once the one-year period, as mandated by company law, is over," the company said.

“Furthermore, all new Licians who receive ESOPs will be added to the pool. All Licians will be actively guided about this opportunity so that they can take complete advantage of this novel initiative,."

Earlier this year, Licious extended a buyback option worth 30 crore (around $4 million), to benefit 600 employees.

Currently, the firm has a team of over 3,500, with employees across different disciplines and functions.

Over the last few weeks, several venture capital-backed startups including Walmart-owned digital payments platform PhonePe; ed-tech start-up Teachmint Technologies Pvt Ltd; FMO-backed fintech firm Innoviti Payment Solutions; social ecommerce platform Meesho and PB Fintech Ltd, the owner of online platform Policybazaar and Paisabazaar; among others, have launched their ESOP programmes.

Vivek Gupta and Abhay Hanjura, co-founders of Licious, said the pandemic has taught them many lessons including one to “keep your people closest to the organisation and reward them for their hard work and contribution".

“At Licious, we have been recording unprecedented growth and that too in a highly unorganised market. Our employees’ contribution in this growth trajectory has been enormous and incentivising them well is among our priorities. We are conscious of helping Licians meet their personal and financial goals through wealth creation as we organise the market, and making vesting and buying ESOPs daily, signifies the same," both said in a joint statement.

According to the company, this new initiative will not only build complete transparency but give Licians 100% control over their vested ESOPs.

Licious, which last month became India's 29th unicorn this year after raising $52 million from new investor IIFL AMC's PE fund, expects to break even in the next 18 months and aims to float an initial public offering (IPO) only after achieving profitability, the co-founder told VCCircle in an interview last month.

Founded by Hanjura and Gupta, Licious is India’s first D2C unicorn, focussed on delivering meat and meat products. It is present in raw & fresh meat and seafood, marinades and ready-to-eat categories. The company owns and controls the entire supply chain of its 300 plus stock keeping units (SKUs).

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