Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.
Monde Nissin: the story of the Philippines’ largest-ever IPO
One of the Philippines’ largest food manufacturers Monde Nissin has made stock market history following its record US$1bn initial public offering (IPO).
This debut marks not just the Philippines’ largest-ever listing, but also Southeast Asia’s second-largest listing this year after the US$1.8bn debut of Thailand’s PTT Oil and Retail.
The oversubscribed IPO, supported by 11 key investors including Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Capital Group and Eastspring Investments, proved a big draw for investors thanks to Monde Nissin’s investment in the surging food market of alternative meat.
Betting its future on alternative meat
While Monde Nissin dominates the snack market in the Philippines and is most well-known there for its bestselling instant noodles Lucky Me!, the four-decade-old foodmaker is betting its future on fake meat, with its alternative meat brand Quorn accounting for one-fifth of the company’s total sales (22%), and having achieved sales of US$1.4bn in 2020.
Monde Nissin acquired British meat alternative company Quorn, founded by Marlow Foods, for US$830m from a UK private equity firm in 2015 and has since introduced Quorn to Asia including the Philippines, Singapore, Korea and Thailand. The Quorn brand continues to be most popular in its home market of the UK, accounting for three-quarters of all sales, and also sells in Europe, Australia and the US.
However, during the pandemic, Monde Nissin saw its Quorn brand struggle to fulfil the recent surge in alternative meat products with investment needed to increase capacity and meet growing demand.
But with the global meat substitutes market soaring in recent years as consumers focus on nutrition, health, sustainability and animal welfare, and with brands like Beyond Meat landing record investments, Monde Nissin is set to use a significant amount of the IPO proceeds raised to push both push its Quorn products and invest in more meat-free products, with a particular focus on pushing Quorn in the US markets with localised flavours.
How Monde Nissin rose in the snack ranks
But while Monde Nissin is betting its future on fake meat, it is the company’s branded snacks’ business that is currently most lucrative with its noodle business making up around 50% of total net sales and its biscuit business roughly 30%.
This success is mainly build on the back of a number of strategic and clever acquisitions.
Founded in 1980, Monde Nissin first served up its own branded biscuits – Butter Coconut and Wafer cookies – and continued to acquire other international snack brands including Australia’s pure premium juice brand Nudie. The company broke into the instant noodles market a decade after its debut with Lucky Me! and made its biggest acquisition in 2005, purchasing British faux meat producer Quorn.
But that’s not all. The Makati-headquartered firm owns an array of Philippines’ market-leading brands including SkyFlakes and Fita, which have a 30.5% share of the biscuit market; Mama Sita’s with its 56% share of the oyster sauce market.
In fact, Monde Nissin dominates the country’s snacking market, taking 68% and 73% of the country’s instant noodle and yoghurt drinks market share, respectively. And it also distributes its brands to more than 45 countries worldwide.
It's a family affair
A family-run business, still today, Monde Nissan was founded by Betty Ang (President) and her Indonesian husband Hoediono Kweefanus (VC of the board). A Filipina businesswoman of Chinese descent, Ang is listed as Forbes’ 19th richest Filipino
The company is owned mainly by her husband’s extended Indonesian family. Ang’s brother-in-law, Hartono Kweefanus, sits as chairman of the board and is also chairman one of the largest biscuit manufacturers in Indonesia (PT Khong Guan Biscuit). While Henry Soesanto, also Ang’s brother-in-law, currently serves as CEO of Monde Nissan.