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Blackbuck raises $30 million from new, existing investors

LiveMint logoLiveMint 26-02-2017 Sayan Chakraborty

Bengaluru: Online freight aggregator Blackbuck (Zinka Logistics Solutions Pvt. Ltd) has received commitment of $30 million from a clutch of new and existing investors for a Series C funding round, two people aware of the development said.

Out of this, US-based venture capital firm Sands Capital and World Bank arm International Finance Corp. have committed about $10 million each, the two people said on condition of anonymity.

Existing investors Accel Partners and Flipkart Ltd, along with angel investor and ITC Ltd executive Sanjiv Rangrass, will participate in this round. Two other existing investors, Tiger Global Management and Apoletto, the personal investment firm of Russian billionaire and founder of DST Global, Yuri Milner, are likely to stay away from investing further, these people said.

The company is also in talks with new investors to raise at least $30 million more after rival Rivigo raised $75 million from Warburg Pincus in November last year, one of the two persons cited above said.

Blackbuck had earlier raised $30 million in quick succession in 2015; a $25-million Series B round from Tiger Global, Accel Partners, Apoletto and Flipkart in September, and $5 million in a Series A funding round from Accel Partners and Flipkart in June.

Blackbuck did not respond to an email sent on Sunday seeking comment.

Blackbuck was founded in April 2015 by former ITC Ltd executives Rajesh Yabaji and Chanakya Hridaya along with Ramasubramaniam B., a transport industry veteran.

The company acts as a marketplace connecting potential customers, who are essentially large and small businesses, with truck owners and freight operators for inter-city transport of goods.

The firm currently covers 300 locations across India and has about 100,000 truck owners and freight operators listed on its platform.

It employs about 1,000 people.

Its customers include ITC Ltd, Asian Paints Ltd, Britannia Industries Ltd and Marico Ltd.

“Blackbuck and Rivigo are the only scaled-up start-ups in this sector. Besides, Blackbuck is asset-light since they don’t own trucks, which makes it an attractive investment option. Sands Capital and International Finance Corporations have been active in the Indian start-up space of late and understand the landscape quite well,” said one of the two people cited above.

According to documents available with the Registrar of Companies, Blackbuck recorded a revenue of Rs77.82 crore in the year ended March 2016, while losses stood at Rs16.48 crore.

A May 2015 report by research firm Novonous said the freight transport market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 13.35% by 2020, while road freight movement is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15%.

The report said road freight comprises about 63% of all freight movement in the country.

The fund-raising by Blackbuck comes at a time when investors have turned cautious.

Investment in Indian start-ups last year plummeted by almost one-third from the heydays of 2015 and 2014, when venture capital firms queued up to invest at high valuations.

According to a report by KPMG and CB Insights, a start-up intelligence firm, Indian start-ups raised $3.3 billion in 2016 across 859 deals, as against $8.2 billion across 890 deals in the previous year.

The slowdown in funding has also prompted many start-ups to shut shop or sell out to larger rivals.

According to Tracxn, a start-up tracker, as many as 212 start-ups had shut shop in 2016.

Online transport start-ups have also borne the brunt of a slowdown. The number of inter-city transport start-ups founded last year dropped by almost one-third to 47 as against 133 in 2015.

As much as $158 million has been poured into the sector until December 2016, with Blackbuck, and SAIF Partners- and Warburg Pincus-backed Rivigo being the top grossers, Tracxn estimates. However, at least 27 start-ups in the sector have shut shop until last December, including Truckmandi and Zebroads.

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