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Mangrove Capital invests in hybrid e-commerce platform StoreKing

StoreKing Kiosks

Mangrove Capital Partners, which has invested in companies like Skype, Rdio and Nimbuzz among others, has now invested an undisclosed amount in hybrid e-commerce platform for small retailers StoreKing, reports The Economic Times. While the deal value hasn’t been revealed, the ET report pegs the investment size to be around $5-10 million. Interestingly, the link to StoreKing on Mangrove’s portfolio of companies page leads to paynearhome.in and StoreKing’s website.

StoreKing provides small retailers in tier III and tier IV towns a platform to sell their products through kiosks equipped with TV monitors and Android tablets. How it works is, shoppers can browse through products on offer at the kiosks installed in local stores, select a product they would like to buy, pay for it in cash, and then come back the next day to collect the product. Products across categories like Beauty & Health, Food & Nutrition, Sports & Fitness, Footwear, Mobile & Tablets, Jewellery, Apparels and Home & Kitchen among others are on offer at these kiosks

StoreKing’s website claims to have a presence in over 600 stores across 190 cities and towns in Karnataka, and witnesses more than 50,000 shopper walk-ins at these stores everyday. StoreKing also claims to have over 2 lakh registered customers that have placed orders. The company is planning to open more stores in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, though no fixed date has been mentioned on the site.

Founded in 2011 by Sridhar Gundaiah, StoreKing has applied for patent for its retail concept. Before starting LocalCube Commerce, which operates StoreKing, Gundaiah headed Via Labs at the travel company Via.com.

Big Bazaar Direct: StoreKing’s retail concept is quite similar to Future Group’s direct selling service Big Bazaar Direct, which was launched in September 2013 after piloting it in Nagpur since July of the same year. How this service worked was Big Bazaar appointed company franchises with tablets visited customers, who could browse through products on the tablet, select a product, get the order confirmation via SMS and then pay the amount to the franchisees. The company claimed that orders would be delivered with 3-7 days. In August last year, Future Group launched a B2C portal for Big Bazaar Direct. The portal enables customers of Big Bazaar’s franchisees to purchase products directly via the website.

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Anyone can apply to be a franchisee by filling up this online form, although Big Bazaar will choose the most eligible candidates. Once selected, an initial investment of Rs 1 lakh, which includes setup charges and a refundable security deposit, has to be made upfront.

Mangrove’s India plans: The ET report also mentions that Mangrove is looking to invest $200-250 million in e-commerce, internet and telecom startups in India. Michael Jackson, a partner at Mangrove, told the publication they will look at an investment period of 5-10 years in such startups.

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