Local search listing platform AskMe will be investing $20 million in online furniture marketplace MebelKart over the next three quarters, in return for a majority stake exceeding 75%, reports ET. The remaining stake would be held by promoters. The investment will help AskMe and MebelKart to acquire a share in the furniture marketplace category.
As of now, MebelKart will be continue operating as a separate company with plans to merge into AskMe’s transaction platform in the future. AskMe intends to scale MebelKart’s operations across India. AskMe’s group CMO and digital strategy head Manav Sethi told ET that MebelKart had been apparently struggling to fulfill certain order size and this investment would help it to scale operations.
Bangalore based MebelKart was founded by Rahul Agrawal, Nikhil Saraf and Ranjeet Vimal in 2012 and claims to list 90,000 products and sell over 100,000 furniture products in 400 cities from over 1,000 sellers.
In May this year, AskMe acquired online grocery marketplace Bestatlowest.com for an undisclosed amount and was expected to be merged into AskMe. Bestatlowest’s co-founders Ankit Jain and Amit Nigam, along with the company’s 25 member team were set to join AskMe. The website was to be merged into a new site called AskMeGroceries.com to be launched later this year. As of now, AskMeGroceries is not new site, but Bestatlowest.com sports the AskMe Grocery logo on it.
AskMe Malaysia launch: Earlier this year, AskMe entered the Malaysian market by launching ‘Find It’, which was also expected to be integrated on WeChat. At the time of launch, Find It claimed to list over 3 million businesses in 700 categories covering over 450 cities in Malaysia. Categories of listings included restaurants, spa, taxi services, travel, matrimony, jobs, education, mobile, gadgets, etc.
WeChat partnership: In January last year, AskMe had partnered with WeChat to provide location-specific local searches, deals and classifieds through an official account ‘AskMeSearch’ on WeChat in India. The company had said it would also provide information on trending restaurants and deals of the day. It would also provide classifieds on vehicles, mobiles, properties and jobs, allowing its SME and merchant customer base to reach out to their audience on the messaging platform.
Funding in the online furniture marketplace:
– Last week, personalised home furnishings provider Livspace raised $8 million in a round of funding from existing investors Helion Venture Partners, Jungle Ventures and Bessemer Ventures and angel investors including Gokul Rajaram. The platform will use the funds to hire, add new design content and expand to other cities in India.
– Late last month, PepperFry, the online furniture marketplace, raised $100 million in funding led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Zodius Technology Fund and existing investors Bertelsmann India Investments and Norwest Venture Partners. The company planned to use the funds to expand its logistics in over 300 towns, adding to its technology team and delivery fleet, new distribution and assembly centres and digital marketing.
– In April, Urban Ladder raised $50 million Series C round of funding led by Sequoia Capital with participation from TR Capital and existing investors Steadview Capital, Kalaari Capital and SAIF Partners. It raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan the same month.
– Bangalore-based online marketplace for fixed furniture HomeLane raised $4.5 million in funding from Sequoia Capital with participation in individual capacity from Manipal Education and Medical Group’s Ranjan Pai and Manipal Global Education’s Mohandas Pai in February this year.
– Besides this, e-commerce ventures like Amazon India, Snapdeal, HomeShop18, Jabong and Infibeam also offer furniture products.
Image Credit: Flickr user Phillip Pessar