If there’s one man, who continues to defy the grim investment scenario in 2016, its India’s most icnonic businessman, Ratan Tata. With close to a dozen investments already this year, Tata is defying the trend once again, as he invests in online eyewear retailer Lenskart as a part of its speculated $60 Million crore new funding round, reported Livemint.
Citing three people familiar with the matter, Livemint reported that International Finance Corporation (IFC) will be the main investor in this funding round of Lenskart which is aimed to increase its offline presence through brick and mortar stores in the country.
Like his previous investments, the size of Ratan Tata’s investment remains small and his role will be that of a mentor/advisor rather than a financial investor.
The quantum of his (Tata’s) investment is small, keeping in line with his investment thesis. His approach is more of a mentor/adviser rather than a financial investor,
said one of the persons declining to disclose the exact amount invested by Tata.
Data extracted from sources, reveals that Tata had previously made investments as low as ₹10 lakhs into online lingerie store Zivame. In Ola too, Tata invested a small amount of ₹95 lakhs. However, it is sheer demeanour and involvement as an advisor which startups crave for, rather than financial numbers.
Lenskart, founded in 2008, has so far raised about $36 million (200 crores). Last year in January, the firm had raised 135 crores from TPG Growth, IDG Ventures, and TR Capital.
TPG Growth and IDG Ventures are expected to participate in the latest round as well. IFC had disclosed in February this year that it was planning to invest $25 million (170 crores) in Lenskart.
IFC had said on its website that Lenskart will use the funds to expand its product distribution through its network of independent franchise partners across India including into tier 2, 3 cities. Post closure of this round, Lenskart’s valuation is expected to reach 1,600 crore (about $240 million).
Lenskart also plans to set up a manufacturing, processing, and assembly facility with features like robotic manufacturing of lenses, cutting and fitting of prescription lenses for eyeglasses with a capacity to process more than 20,000 pairs of eyeglasses daily by the financial year 2021.
Last month, in an interview given to the Economic Times, Lenskart founder Peeyush Bansal had revealed the company plans to open 1,000 brick-and-mortar shops through the franchise model.
These shops, which will also enable delivery, service and return of products ordered online, will enable the company to expand quickly, while remaining asset-light,
In 2014-15, Lenskart had claimed to have sold products to 600,000 consumers. It aims to reach over five million consumers by 2021 and expanding its offline presence will give a major boost to that goal.