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India's FreshToHome eyes IPO in three years

Kimberly Chin
Mar 21, 2023
Illustration of a scooter with a delivery box on the back made from a $100 bill.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

FreshToHome, an Indian fresh fish and meat startup, is targeting an IPO in the next three years as it penetrates new markets, CEO Shan Kadavil tells Axios.

Why it matters: India's e-commerce industry is poised to reach over $100 billion this year, a market that is projected to steadily grow.

Driving the news: The company raised $104 million in a late-stage round last month, led by Amazon's Indian-focused Smbhav Venture Fund.

  • FreshToHome also counts the development arm of the U.S. government and the government of Dubai as investors.

How it works: FreshToHome has digitized the entire meat- and fish-buying process, employing technologies such as computer vision.

  • India’s consumers typically either go to the wet markets to buy their fish and meat or they go online, bypassing the “whole supermarket generation,” Kadavil says.
  • FreshToHome’s online platform allows users to buy fresh meat and fish and even execute a reverse auction, Kadavil says.
  • The company has food processing facilities, collection centers, and cold chain infrastructures required to complete deliveries across hundreds of cities in India, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai and other nations.
  • FreshToHome goes directly to fisherman and farmers, cutting out middlemen in the supply chain who can often exploit those workers or extend shipping and transport time of products, reducing the quality.

What they’re saying: “What we do has got a huge amount of impact from a food security standpoint, from essentially providing better prices for fishermen and farmers to reducing food wastage,” Kadavil says.

  • Fishermen and farmers don’t traditionally have access to the kind of technology FreshToHome provides in an organized way that’s scalable, he adds.
  • Amazon's Smbhav fund was drawn to FreshToHome's supply chain management capabilities, Kadavil says.
  • “Amazon in the emerging markets does not have as intricate of a cold chain that we do, so they really appreciate how we built that up,” he says.

What's next: The company is eyeing expansion into Saudi Arabia, which is highly dependent on food imports from India.

  • “We took some time to perfect the playbook on how that market would receive us by launching in Dubai,” Kadavil says.
  • The company also plans to go deeper into the 100-plus cities it’s in, adding products.

The intrigue: FreshToHome does not eschew brick-and-mortar, with plans to open 100 to 250 stores in the next 12 months.

  • The company already has about 30 stores set up, which it hopes will drive traffic back to its online platform.
  • To shift “people's consumption habits from a wet market to online, you really need an intermediary experience,” Kadavil says.
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