Oscar ., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At a time when behemoths like Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart dominate India’s e-commerce landscape, kirana stores in India have still thrived. Despite COVID, despite shifts to ecommerce, despite 10-minute delivery gimmicks, they continue to serve their neighbourhoods. No wonder then, that companies such as Reliance Jio have been pouring millions to tap into these stores and get them online.

And not just them, private equity investors too have found value in these small mom-and-pop stores, which may not be significant revenue generators individually, but collectively, hold immense sway over India’s vast consumer segment. And now, yet another major VC — Softbank — is backing a startup trying to tap these over 12 million stores across India. The startup is ElasticRun, and it just raised $300Mn led by the Japanese tech investment powerhouse.

The latest funding round also includes a secondary share sale of around $32 million, taking the total round size to $332 million.

The fresh round of funding was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund II and included participation from Goldman Sachs and Prosus ventures, as well as InnoVen Capital, and Abu Dhabi’s Chimera Investment. With this round of funding, ElasticRun has raised over $430 million to date and is currently valued at $1.5 million.

This also comes nearly a year after it had raised $75 million in Series D funding and three years after it raised $40 million in Series C funding.

ElasticRun can be termed as a good addition to the unicorn family. Founded in 2016 by ex-Amazon executives Sandeep Deshmukh, Saurabh Nigam, and Shitiz Bansal, the kirana-focussed commerce platform helps businesses (especially those operating in the FMCG sector) to reach small kirana stores in rural India through its network. This arrangement benefits both sides – while kirana shops get access to goods from top brands, the bigger players of the market can access the market which it might not have otherwise reached. Essentially, ElasticRun is tapping the less capital intensive but more difficult to crack supply-chain side of things.

ElasticRun offers kiranas services such as working capital, analytics services, and the aggregation of fulfillment services. It is also known to engage with banks and financial institutions to give them access to underserved SME customers. It also works with high-profile names such as Amazon, Tata Consumer Products, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Reliance Retail. Today, it has operations across 500 locations in 28 states and has partnered with 500 brands.

Last year saw the evolution of numerous Indian unicorn startups, and it seems that this trend has continued in 2022 as well. January 2022 alone saw $4.6 billion being raised across 196 deals. Several startups became unicorns as well – Mamaearth, Fractal, LEAD, Darwinbox, and Dealshare. Now, ElasticRun walks into the club with ease.