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Agri-Tech startup, WayCool Foods, raises $32 Mn investment

BENGALURU: Chennai-headquartered WayCool Foods has raised U$32 Mn in a combination of equity and debt in its Series C round, the company said in a statement yesterday. The round was led by Lightbox and saw participation of FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, as well as its current investor LGT Lightstone Aspada. The company has also partnered with InnoVen Capital to raise venture debt as part of this round. Veda Corporate Advisors was the exclusive advisor to the transaction.

WayCool Foods procures, processes and distributes a wide range of food products including fresh produce, staples and dairy products, moving over 250 tonnes of food every day to 8,000 enterprise clients across Southern India. The company operates a soil-to-sale model, engaging deeply with a base of nearly 40,000 farmers to improve farm income, while bringing efficiency through its direct supply chain model. The company has stated that it will use the funds raised to automate its supply chain and build the next layer of data analytics required to strengthen supply chain efficiency. It will also develop and expand its range of value-added products to enterprise and retail customers.

Karthik Jayaraman, Co-Founder and CEO, WayCool said, “We are committed to building a lean, efficient and profitable enterprise that makes social impact an integral part of its operations. Lightbox’s deep experience in technology and brand building will greatly help us as we strengthen our digital backbone, and our move into value-added products. FMO’s guidance will be of essence in building a culture of impact orientation across the organization and staying true to the course”.

WayCool is developing a range of branded products and currently has brands such as Freshey’s, Kitchenji, Madhuram and Shuddha. Given our direct relationships throughout the supply chain, it gives us the ability to better project demand and supply for products across various categories such as Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy, Staples, etc.

“We have spent time with the remarkable team led by Karthik and Sanjay at WayCool and the community of farmers on their platform”, says Prashant Mehta, Partner at Lightbox. “We’re thrilled with the achievement and the focus they have on leveraging technology to solve the massive challenges in the food supply chain. We look forward to working with them and positively impacting the livelihood of farmers and build a long-term sustainable business.”

WayCool will also deploy its funds to deepen and widen ‘Outgrow’, its agricultural extension program. The company has recently announced the set-up of its first Agricultural Research Station, where it will collaborate with multiple startups to bring the most relevant production technologies to its expanding farmer base.

Linda Broekhuizen, Chief Investment Officer at FMO, “We are proud to be a partner of WayCool. The company leverages technology and innovative concepts to improve logistics and distribution services. Therefore, value chains are optimized thereby realizing reduced food waste. The company is also highly impactful on the social side as it sources its produce from over 35,000 smallholder farmers that benefit from higher prices and improved yields. In addition to this, it provides employment to over 900 people. This is FMO’s first Agri Tech deal under the new Ventures Program, which focusses on Fintech, Off-Grid Energy, and Agri Tech. We look forward to supporting the company to become the largest and most impactful food logistics & distribution company of India.”

WayCool has stated that it intends to accelerate its path to profitability and will focus on maintaining as well as further improving its lean, capital efficient model. WayCool has previously raised two rounds of funding from Aspada, LGT Impact Ventures, Caspian Impact Investment, and Northern Arc Capital Ltd.

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