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NEW DELHI : Meesho is running pilots to commercially launch its live commerce business by December-end and add value and regional brands on its platform to boost advertising revenue ahead of a planned public listing by early next year, said two people close to the development.

The e-commerce startup, which counts SoftBank Group and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group among its investors, aims to be “internally ready for the IPO by the end of this year and float it early next year", the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

Meesho is exploring either a domestic listing or a SPAC-listing in the US, they said.

SPAC, which stands for special purpose acquisition company, is a publicly traded company created for acquiring or merging with an existing company.

Launching live commerce is one of the key initiatives that Meesho wants to initiate before its share sale. Live commerce is said to have become a major sales channel for the retail industry as it combines instant purchasing of a featured product and audience participation through a chat function or reaction buttons.

It is popular in China led by Alibaba-owned online shopping platform Taobao. In a 2020 survey, two-thirds of Chinese consumers said they had bought products via livestream in the previous year, according to a McKinsey report issued last year.

In India, too, the concept of live commerce is catching up. In February, Walmart-owned Flipkart started live commerce. Last year, InMobi-owned short-video platform Roposo pivoted to live commerce.

Another initiative Meesho is working on ahead of its public listing is to add value and regional brands on its platform to boost advertising revenues, the persons cited above said. Meesho does not charge any commission from vendors who sell on its platform, making advertising revenue crucial for its operations. Around 95% of the products sold on Meesho is unbranded. However, in the beauty and electronics categories, it wants to associate with established brands as customers look for the trust factor for buying such brands, one of the people cited above said.

The e-commerce firm is also looking to raise a fresh round of funding though it has sufficient cash in the bank, the person said. The primary reason for the fundraise is to make an acquisition, he explained. The plan is at a nascent stage and is unlikely to see any activity in the next two to three months, he said.

Meesho declined to comment.

Meesho is one of the most heavily-funded startups in the ecosystem. In April 2021, it raised $300 million in a new funding round led by SoftBank. This investment round turned Meesho into a unicorn, or a privately-held startup with a valuation of at least $1 billion. A few months later, it raised another $570 million led by Fidelity Management and Research, and B Capital Group, catapulting the Bengaluru-based startup’s valuation to $4.9 billion from $2.2 billion in April. Meesho’s massive fundraising last year was part of the hectic deal making activity witnessed last year as most new-age tech businesses received tailwinds from the covid-19 pandemic.

Meesho, founded in 2015 by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi alumni Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, itself has been the beneficiary of the pandemic and while it started as a social commerce firm, it has grown into an e-commerce firm to directly challenge companies such as Flipkart and Amazon.

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