Retail-tech startup Daalchini on September 7 raised $4 million in a Series A funding round led by Unicorn India Ventures.
The round also saw existing investors like Artha Venture Fund, Ajay Kaul who is former chief executive officer (CEO) of Domino's India, and VSS Investco which is the investment vertical led by Vijay Shekhar Sharma who is CEO of fintech unicorn Paytm.
Daalchini said it will deploy a major chunk of the funding to expand its industry footprint and strengthen tech capabilities. It also wants to make its solutions accessible to 10 million retail points in India and over 450 food and beverage and direct-to-customer (D2C) brands.
Founded in 2017 by former employees of Paytm Prerna Kalra and Vidya Bhushan, Daalchini takes snacks and home-style meals to its customers through technology-based models like automated kiosks, mobility retails, and smart vending machines.
“Daalchini aims to establish its footprint at every 200 metres of habitable area with its autonomous smart stores and vending machines. Today, our country has just a few thousand vending machines, while the United States or Japan has more than one autonomous store for every 200 people. We are far from the true potential of this kind of retail,” said Kalra, who is the CEO of Daalchini.
Kalra added that the company has expanded its network to 11 states and 23 cities with over 850 stores. Daalchini, in the statement, said it aims to grow from 850 to over 5,000 smart and autonomous retail points in the next 12-18 months.
The company provides food and beverage options and has tied up with companies like Reliance, Aditya Birla Group’s Hindalco, Vodafone, GE, Genpact, NITI Aayog, House, MX Player, Samsung, Paytm, Snapdeal, Byjus, EY, OLX, OYO, Loreal and VIVO, among others.
“The RetailTech segment of India is going through a massive transition from its traditional physical store form to a digital one, the speed of which has been intensified by the pandemic. In this phase, Daalchini represents the best of both worlds... At Unicorn India Ventures, we are always looking to support such companies that retain the unique essence of their sector and work on enhancing the overall customer experience with technological innovation,” said Ruchi Pincha, Investment Associate, Unicorn India Ventures.
The company also said it has collaborated with more than 160 brands like Sleepy Owl, The Whole Truth Foods, Open Secret, Yoga Bar, Slurrp Farm, BRB, Cremica Opera, Cravova, Millet Bowl, Yogapulp as well as industry giants like Dabur, Nestle, Mars. Daalchini said its retail-as-a-service platform enables these brands to grow in hundreds of physical stores while tracking real-time insights digitally.
“As the earliest backer of Daalchini, we are excited to see the Company deepen its footprints within the industry through its fully integrated IoT solutions. They provide a convenient, safe, and affordable snacking solution for the working population while delivering real-time insights, vast reach, increased accessibility, and better control of marketing spending to food brands, all at the click of a button,” said Anirudh A. Damani, Artha Venture Fund.
According to Daalchini, currently, its app has more than two lakh monthly active users. The company also said it has grown three times, over an undisclosed base, in the last 12 months and has achieved a product market fit (PMF), with Rs 12 crores of revenue in FY2022.In the next 12 months, Daalchini said it aims to clock Rs 50 crores in revenues with a gross merchandise value of ₹130 crores.