Feature

By the Fireside

To consumer brand start-ups looking to raise capital, here’s a ready-reckoner on Fireside Ventures.

Think marketing, and its four Ps’ are likely to pop up in mind: product, price, promotion and place. Somewhere, in our increasingly mobile-centric world, the ‘product’ seems to have taken a backseat, while the world looks for the next big app.

Guilty as charged, the media has romanticised the lofty funding rounds raised by the food-delivery, fintech and ride-hailing apps. That begs for some attention to be brought back to products that we customers touch, feel, hold and even consume. Kanwaljit Singh and Vinay Singh thought so too.

Having spent a significant time at Unilever (10 years and 7 years respectively), both Kanwaljit and Vinay come from strong FMCG backgrounds. In fact, Kanwaljit has already invested in brands such as Paper Boat, ID Fresh, Epigamia and Licious. Fireside Ventures (FV), which they founded in 2017, is their idea of an early-stage venture capital firm that focuses on consumer products, life-style and apparel-centric start-ups.

VC’s first fund totalled to Rs.3.4 billion (a little shy of $50 million) and was backed by Premji Invest, Westbridge Capital, Mariwala Family Office, Unilever Ventures, Emami, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Family Office, Sunil Munjal’s Hero Enterprise Investment Office and ITC Ltd. Money from the first fund went into start-ups such as Yoga Bar, Bombay Shaving Company, boAt audio, MamaEarth, SARVA, Gynoveda, Samosa Singh, Goodness Beverages, Design Café, Vahdam Teas, Magic Crate, Pipa Bella, Azani, Bog Orchid, The Ayurveda Experience, Kapiva Ayurveda, Tasty Tales, AnKa SumMor, Alpha Vector (Frog Bikes), and more recently, FableStreet, and Gynoveda. With its second fund, FV aims to invest another $100 million into start-ups building consumer brands. 

Ditching tradition
Look closer. None of the brands from FV’s portfolio made a splash on traditional media such as the TV or the newspapers. You probably saw Yoga Bar’s products at airports, your supermarket or pharmacy, Bombay Shaving Company at a premium cosmetics store, while boAt’s headphones seem to have flooded Amazon, Flipkart and PayTM mall. All this with little to no branding exercise, or at least not the kind we’re used to. A few months ago, our scribe Himanshu Kakkar brought you the

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