MasterChow, a ready-to-cook Asian cuisine brand, today announced raising INR 3.5 Cr (462,000 USD) in a seed round led by WEH Ventures. The round also saw participation from prominent angel investors such as Aditya Singh and Ravi Shroff. The startup plans to utilise the raised funds to double down on its manufacturing capabilities, product development, hiring new talent and geographic expansion plans.
Founded in June 2020 by Vidur Kataria and Sidhanth Madan, MasterChow is focused on solving daily woes for two broad categories of demographics. For millennials aged between 25-44 years who are leading fast paced lives, are crunched for time and are looking to experiment with world cuisines, MasterChow is their one-stop solution for both health and taste. The second group is larger joint households preparing comfort meals for different generations, looking to make a shift from the conventional ghar ka khana, yet wanting to keep the health and hygiene quotient high on the plate. Besides providing authentic Asian flavors, MasterChow serves the right fusion of convenience, affordability and sustainability when it comes to cooking meals under ten minutes.
Speaking about the fundraise, Sidhanth Madan, Cofounder, MasterChow said ”We want to be the disruptor brand in the $3 Bn ready-to-cook category specifically focusing on the Asian sauce and condiment market. The covid-19 pandemic has created a shift in consumer preferences for better quality products and for transparency with ingredient sourcing, which has been a great propeller for us.” Sidhanth further added, “With a strategic focus on convenience, our product range offers innovative flavors in an easy to use format. Our customers come from across the board, from young couples, millennials to larger family households spread across different geographies and with the current fundraise, we plan to enter new categories while increasing current manufacturing capabilities and go deeper with our online footprint”.
Rohit Krishna, General Partner, WEH Ventures said “Indians love Chinese & other Asian cuisines, however the reason people don’t venture to cook this at home regularly is because of the lack of high quality ingredients available in the market. When we tried MasterChow sauces for the first time, it became very apparent what the market was missing. We believe they’ll end up leading the RTC market for this segment in the next 3-5 years”.
The brand since inception has been able to serve over three lakh families. It has also witnessed strong traction in tier 1 and tier 2 cities with revenue growing over 10x in the last twelve months. Currently, the brand is shipping to 17,000 pincodes (2800 cities) in India. Their products are currently available on online marketplaces like Amazon, BigBasket, Grofers, Instamart, and offline stores such as Modern Bazaar, etc.
The D2C startup has a team size of 25 members, including the corporate and operations teams, and is planning to double the size of its corporate team over the next 12 months. MasterChow’s existing range of offerings has a strong product market fit and it is looking to scale that on marketplaces, modern/general trade outlets to increase accessibility.
The brand currently offers 3 main categories – All-in-one stir-fry sauces (which combine all aromatics, seasonings etc. to whip up a great Asian stir-fry at home), ready to eat dipping sauces, condiments & an extensive Asian noodle range (Hakka, Udon, Wholewheat etc.). New launches include more innovative flavors of their Stir-Fry Sauce and Ready To Eat Dip Range and signature Chilli Oil Condiments. The brand has also built an in-house content studio to churn out recipe ideas, user generated content and further build their growing digital community.
Deepak Gupta, General Partner, WEH Ventures said “Vidur and Sidhanth have spent the time building a well-loved Asian restaurant brand and bring a lot of insights and skills to the table. They truly embody the founder-market fit as they enable thousands of people to create restaurant quality Asian food easily at home.”
Given the context of the Covid 19 pandemic, more people now prefer to cook at home to control the quality and hygiene of their meals and are actively looking for better-for-you products to make this process easier. The segment has grown exponentially as customers are looking for high quality options to cook high quality meals at home. According to the ‘India Ready-To-Eat Food Market By Segment opportunities report’, the ready-to-cook market has been estimated to grow at a CAGR of more than 16 per cent during 2018-2023 and it is projected to rise to $647 million by 2023.
MasterChow is a premium, digitally native Asian food brand in the ready-to-cook segment. Founded in 2020 by F&B entrepreneurs Sidhanth Madan and Vidur Kataria, the brand offers a range of premium Asian pantry staples like stir-fry sauces, ready to eat dips and noodles for quick, restaurant style food at home. The range of sauces are signature recipes developed inhouse at their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Made with 100% natural ingredients, their products are crafted fresh in small batches and free of artificial additives. They’re available pan India via their own e-store and also on all major marketplaces like Amazon, Bigbasket, Grofers, Instamart etc.
About WEH Ventures:
Launched in 2017, WEH Ventures is a sector-agnostic early-stage venture fund with a primary focus on startups solving India-first problems. The first fund was launched in 2017 and has seen a class-leading performance. The fund is very often the first institutional investor in a company and aims to support it through the early years and beyond. In its four year journey, the fund has already backed several category-leading companies such as Smallcase, Animall, Trell and Pratilipi which have been subsequently backed by top tier institutional investors.
India’s largest grain commerce platform, Arya.Ag, raises USD 60 Million Series C
Round led by Asia Impact SA & Lightrock India, Quona Capital and US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) among others
Arya, India’s largest integrated grain commerce platform, today announced the close of its Series C round, having raised USD 60 million in a mix of equity and debt. The equity round was led by Asia Impact SA, Lightrock India and Quona Capital. The agritech platform also raised debt financing from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) among others.
Arya.ag connects sellers and buyers of agriproduce, providing complete assurance on quantity, quality and payments. The platform eliminates distress sales of farmers’ produce by enabling farmgate storage and seamless finance options, offering farmers the freedom of when and whom to sell to. With visibility into over 10,000 commodity storage points across the country, Arya assures year-round supply to SME and corporate buyers with embedded financing options.
Chattanathan Devarajan, Arya’s co-founder, said, “We have visibility on grains worth over USD 2 billion on the Arya platform, and this number is growing rapidly as we gather data from warehouses around the country. This funding round will help us gain market share for our core offerings and add more services to consolidate our position as India’s most trusted platform in agriculture. We believe that these partnerships, old and new, are an endorsement of Arya’s strength to drive penetration and lead transformation within the sector.”
“Through the pandemic, we have seen Arya transform agri-commerce across India,” said Matteo Pusineri, director of Asia Impact SA. “Arya will help accomplish Asia Impact’s vision to integrate rural under-served farming communities across Asia to markets at scale. We are confident that Arya, under the leadership of Prasanna Rao, Anand Chandra and Chattanathan Devarajan, will greatly contribute to a unique ecosystem supporting the sustainable growth story of rural India.”
“We are excited about our continued partnership with Arya as they build the largest grain platform in the country,” said Vaidhehi Ravindran, partner at Lightrock India. “They have built a strong and profitable foundation over the last few years, and with the addition of the marketplace are in a period of accelerated growth and impact. With a team that is a great combination of innovation meets prudent risk management, we are confident that Arya will transform the grain markets as a whole.”
“At Quona, we believe long-term structural changes can be accelerated by introducing more transparency,” said Varun Malhotra, partner at Quona Capital. “Arya’s unparalleled reach across rural India, coupled with its tech-driven integrated service model, has made it one of the fastest-growing agri-commerce platforms in India. Arya is successfully bridging the trust gap in post-harvest agri transactions through complete transparency and assurance on quality, quantity and payments. We are excited to deepen our partnership with Arya.”
The founders of Arya—Chattanathan Devarajan, Prasanna Rao and Anand Chandra—have decades of experience in agri-business and agri-finance. Under their leadership, Arya has worked towards the creation of trust, efficient networks, and enduring value for players across the value chain including small-holder farmers, FPOs, small aggregators, and agribusiness corporations. With an established product-market fit with differentiated efficiencies, proven scale, and profitability managing over 3 million metric tons across 21 states, the company has created a strong foundation while building viable options for enhancing the market power of smallholders and their organizations. Arya intends to use the funding to capture 20%+ of the USD 100 billion grain commerce market.
Asia Impact SA was advised by Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co with a team led by Manav Nagaraj and KS Bhargava. Setuka Partners was the advisor on debt finance from US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
Arya.ag, India’s largest and fastest-growing integrated grain commerce that eliminates the trust deficit in the grain commerce value chain through its disruptive integrated PAN India platform that delivers value to all stakeholders by enabling access to high-quality produce, products, and services. Powered by an exponentially growing layer of visibility and control currently stretching across 425 districts in 21 states, 10,000 warehouses and USD 2 billion of grain, arya.ag offers the assurance of quality supply to buyers and on-time fair payment for their produce and allied services to seller. It seamlessly embeds finance to maximize value for both sellers and buyers and the platform facilitates over USD 600 Mn of finance annually. More at www.arya.ag
ABOUT ASIA IMPACT INVEST
Asia Impact SA is a Luxembourg based investment company promoting impact investments in India and SEA, in different sectors and at different development stages from start-up to growing/maturing.
Among the leading initiatives where Asia Impact is actively involved we are particularly proud to mention all CreditAccess’ microfinance companies in India and Southeast Asia. Further, Asia Impact structures investment initiatives in single business/companies (club deals) and is currently promoting a new Luxembourg SICAV fund, investing in public listed equity securities of Indian companies.
ABOUT LIGHTROCK INDIA
Lightrock India is the India-focused effort of the global Lightrock impact investing platform. Lightrock India was formed in September 2019 when the LGT group acquired Aspada – an investor in commercially scalable, high-impact businesses since 2012. Lightrock, globally, has operations across 4 continents with over 60 investments managing over $1.2B in assets with over 60 investment professionals, and is backed by the Princely House of Liechtenstein and LGT, the international private banking and asset management group. Visit www.aspada.com
Quona Capital is a venture firm focused on fintech for inclusion in emerging markets. Quona partners have deep experience as investors and operators in both emerging and developed markets, and look for entrepreneurs whose companies have the potential to provide outstanding financial returns and promote breakthrough innovation. Quona has supported nearly 50 financial technology companies expanding access for underserved consumers and small businesses in South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East (MENA). Quona got its start through a strategic relationship with Accion, a global nonprofit with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. More at quona.com.
About U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is America’s development bank. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.
Singapore startup Affyn, a rising star in the Metaverse space, held 2 oversubscribed fundraising rounds, bringing the total amount raised to more than US$7 million
- Affyn’s private round was oversubscribed within a week of its website unveil, resulting in the opening of a new strategic round that once again became oversubscribed, ahead of its presale on 18th December 2021.
- Backed by more than 50 venture capitalists, institutional investors and partners, signaling high confidence and strong demand for Affyn’s Play-to-Earn Metaverse.
SINGAPORE, Dec. 9, 2021 — Singapore startup Affyn, a blockchain-powered Metaverse project, is developing a Free-to-Play and Play-to-Earn mobile game with integrated geolocation and augmented reality (AR) capability.
Reimagining Free-to-Play and Play-to-Earn
As a metaverse-based project with geolocation capability and AR mechanics, Affyn incorporates the fun concept where every in-game character, which they call “Buddy”, is a non-fungible token (NFT). If you are not yet familiar with NFT, it just means that the buddy actually belongs to you, and not to the game developers. This disrupts the traditional gaming industry where players grind thousands of hours for in-game items and currencies which they do not really own.
Creating a Closed-loop Economy
Similar to how every game has its own set of currency, Affyn’s currency is also known as FYN tokens. The utility of FYN tokens is aimed to be highly versatile – apart from the usual in-game transactions, it is in progress to adopt real world utility. By creating this integrated ecosystem whereby players can earn the tokens virtually, and being able to utilise them in the real world, a closed-loop economy is formed – driving the value of FYN tokens.
Ensuring a Sustainable Game Economy
Affyn is one of the pioneers of the mobile Play-to-Earn model, created with the intention of changing the way players can derive value from the ecosystem as compared to traditional gaming platforms. The team spent more than a year designing a detailed blueprint to create a sustainable game economy. This helps to ensure rewards remain attractive to existing and new players in the long run.
Lucaz Lee, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, who fronts the fundraising, on why he started this project: “Our idea of a Metaverse is a world where people can meet, play and connect not just virtually, but also in real life. By using blockchain technology as a bridge, Affyn aims to drive a global movement where we can play, earn, and have more fun together at the same time.”
To find out more about Affyn:
- Website: https://www.affyn.com
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/affynofficial
- Telegram channel: https://t.me/affynofficial
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Temperature Control brand Ember Closes $23.5M Series E to Accelerate Category Expansion and International Growth
Ember’s Latest Funding is a Vote of Confidence in the Brand’s Robust Patent Portfolio
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 1, 2021 — Today, Ember Technologies, Inc. (Ember®), the global temperature control brand and technology platform, announces a $23.5 million Series E funding round led by GOLDTek Technology, a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group, alongside Singapore-based global investor EDBI, and additional new and returning private investors. The Company intends to use the funds to develop new product categories under its healthcare and consumer verticals, including the disruptive new Ember Cold Chain Technology, which will transport temperature-sensitive medicines. The capital will also help to scale the brand further internationally.
“Since launching Ember five years ago, our company’s mission has always been to use our expertise in precision temperature control to solve real-world problems for our customers,” said Clay Alexander, Founder and Group CEO of Ember. “To date, Ember has over 129 granted patents surrounding temperature control, data, and connectivity. This additional capital will be instrumental in bringing to life technology across our vast patent portfolio in the coming years, particularly in the healthcare and infant feeding space.”
Ember is a leading design and technology company that previously pioneered the world’s first temperature control mug. The funds raised through this Series E financing round will support a significant scale-up in research and development activities to facilitate Ember’s multi-year category expansion initiatives. This expansion includes Ember’s Cold Chain Technology, which seeks to disrupt the current pharmaceutical cold chain with the world’s first self-refrigerated, cloud-based shipping box. The Company also has plans to grow its consumer vertical with revolutionary technology to improve infant feeding and further releases in innovative drinkware solutions.
This investment round follows a series of major milestones for Ember. Despite unprecedented challenges from Covid-19, the Company has seen triple-digit year-over-year sales growth, with key international regions like Europe and Australia experiencing 142% and 172% year-over-year growth, respectively. Over 80% of the Series E round was made up of previous investors, indicating continued enthusiasm for the brand and the Company’s strength.
Ember also recently announced the relocation and expansion of its corporate headquarters to a new office in Westlake Village, California to support its rapidly growing team, which has expanded 76% in 2021. In addition, the Company plans to establish a regional HQ and Research and Development Center located in Singapore to aid in its international growth. In 2022, Ember plans to more than double its team size between the two regions.
“Ember’s upcoming RHQ and R&D center in Singapore will position the company to drive market access in Asia and fuel their international expansion,” said Chu Swee Yeok, CEO and President of EDBI. “We could not be more pleased to partner with Clay and the team as they bring their precise temperature control technology into new groundbreaking applications in the consumer and medical supply chain segments.”
About Ember Technologies, Inc.
Ember is a global temperature control brand and technology platform whose mission is to revolutionize the way people eat, drink and live. Founded by inventor and serial entrepreneur Clay Alexander, Ember creates, designs, and develops temperature control products that offer people complete customization. The award-winning Ember Travel Mug and Ember Mug are the most advanced coffee mugs on the market, allowing individuals to set and maintain their preferred drinking temperature for hot beverages. For more information, visit ember.com and connect with us on Facebook.com/ember, Instagram.com/ember, and Twitter.com/ember_tech.
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