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Updated: Russian Venture Firm ru-Net Invests In Freecultr & BeStylish: Report

Update: Freecultr has officially confirmed that it has raised $9 million in a Series-B funding round, in which Russian venture firm, ru-Net, and existing investor, Sequoia Capital, participated. The company, co-founded by Harish Bahl (Chairman), Sujal Shah (CEO), Sandeep Singh (COO), and Rajesh Narkar (CPO), intends to utilize the funding to expand operations and team, for further product development, expansion of new categories, and to explore online and offline opportunities in India and abroad over the next 12 to 24 months, according to a media statement. The site plans to launch operations in Russia and in other markets where ru-Net operates.

Freecultr claims to attracts more than 1 million visitors a month to the site with a double digit growth. As per the company, the average basket size on the site is at greater than 1.5 items per order, while the average order value is between Rs 1300 – 1700.

Earlier: ru-Net Holdings, a Russian venture firm, has invested in Freecultr, an eCommerce portal that offers its own apparels brands, and BeStylish, an eCommerce site that sells shoes and accessories, reports Techcircle. The Freecutlr funding was first reported by iamwire last week, which put the funding amount at $9 million, and that the funding had closed in May.

Freecultr, is an eCommerce venture that was started by Sujal Shah and Sandeep Singh, and backed by Harish Bahl of the Smile Group, and had previously raised $4 million from  Sequoia Capital. BeStylish is also from the Smile Group, and the company had apparently raised capital from Mangrove Capital Partners, an European VC firm, according to a report in Pluggd.in. The Smile Group also runs other ecommerce ventures like DealsandyouFashionandyou, among others.

The iamwire report appears to suggest that the Smile Group companies are struggling, saying that Freecutlr has low monthly revenues of Rs 3.5 lakh, and a high burn rate, and that it has raised money on the basis of a projection of Rs 100 crore this financial year. None of this appears to have been substantiated, though.  We’ve requested an interview with Harish Bahl on the state of Smile Group companies.

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ru-Net was founded by Leonid Boguslavsky, a Russian billionaire, and it has been aggressively investing in Russian startups including Yandex – a Russian search engine, OZON.ru – a Russian eCommerce venture , BigLion – a Russian daily deals site, and ivi.ru – an online video site. Previously, it was reported by Techinasia that ru-Net will be investing $50 million in Southeast Asian market in IT sector (ecommerce, online travel, online entertainment, and social gaming) with $5 to $20 million of investment in a single transaction.
Recently, Zovi.com, a lifestyle apparel and accessory e-store, raised $10 million in a series B round of funding from Tiger Global and SAIF Partners. Fashionara.com, an online fashion store that offers merchandise from premium and luxury fashion brands across apparel, footwear and accessories, also raised a Series-A funding, from Helion Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

(with inputs from Nikhil Pahwa)

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