Jungle Ventures in talks to make twin investments

Jungle’s investment in Walko Food is estimated to be more than $7 million, one of the people said. However, Mint was not able to procure the size of the investment in TAE.

Jungle and TAE declined to comment on the development while Walko did not respond to Mint‘s requests for a comment.
Pune-based Walko Food owns fast growing natural ice cream brand NIC. The company operates a manufacturing plant in Pune and retails in over 30 cities across India, via multiple sales channels like food delivery platforms, Modern Trade, Parlors.

Last year, the VC firm led a $11 million investment in Walko Food’s NIC. The fresh funds were dedicated to boost production, enhance product offerings and broader distribution reach to cater to a larger population.

TAE is a Delhi-based beauty and wellness platform with a customer base in countries including India, US, Canada, Australia, France. It offers products across segments such as skincare, bodycare, food & beverages. It is backed by Fireside Ventures, a prominent early-stage VC firm that is focused on consumer brands. 

“There are some sections of people who think of a natural or healthy lifestyle. They want to break away from usual chemicals and have a more sustainable and natural way of living. I think that solves that purpose,” Arpit Beri, a partner in Jungle Ventures, said in a separate interaction with Mint on Thursday about the company’s investments in the Ayurveda space. The VC firm houses two Ayurveda-based companies, TAE and an ayurveda tech startup NirogStreet.

Jungle Ventures had their biggest investment year in India in terms of value and the number of deals, Beri said in the interaction. The VC firm made about nine investments last year compared to about four deals in 2022.

“Currently, I am on a lookout for companies in different parts of the country and we as a team will continue to do that… and only expect to do more [deals] this year as we remain very bullish on India,” Beri said. He oversees investments in the country and some of his portfolio companies include Turtlemint, Leap Scholar, Atomberg, Citymall and Walko.

“There are only a few sectors wherein there’s a lot of money that can be made, consumer is one of them and that is because [of] the GDP composition — a lion’s share of that goes to retail as it comes from consumption,” he said.
Beri also spoke about how the perception of profitability has changed in the last few years. As an investor, he makes sure to see that there is a good balance between growth and the ability of a business to become profitable. 

“All businesses need to spend today to reap benefits tomorrow. If you are selling a product which was supposed to be sold at 100 for 20 or 30, 50, that is a problem, right? Because that is an artificial demand being created. We look for those kinds of things,” he said, adding that the right business will attack the right problem.

Broadly, India’s growing young population coupled with increased exposure to digitization has led to the emergence of several new consumer brands in the ecosystem. This has also caused a shift in consumer behaviour where they are ready to pay a premium. “The market opportunity for new brands is massive due to the emergence of online shoppers and the expected growth in disposable income in the next ten years,” said Satish Meena, an adviser at Datum Intelligence.
In light of several compliance issues and corporate governance lapses among startups in recent times, investors have also become increasingly prudent and are taking active measures to ensure their portfolio companies are in good books.

Beri emphasized that corporate governance is of very high priority and they take a host of measures ranging from taking a board seat and monitoring the kind of auditors that are on the cap table, or capitalization table, to urging companies beyond a certain scale of growth to appoint a chief financial officer or a vice president who is in charge of finance.
“We are having many of our mature companies have internal audits as sort of a dedicated function run by top auditors, who are helping us discover any sort of even small, fraudulent activities that may be happening in the company,” Beri said.
So far, the company has raised four funds. Its most recent fund closed at $600 million in 2022. Of the total value, it earmarked $450 million towards new investments and dedicated the remaining amount for follow up investments in its existing portfolio companies.

Founded in 2010, Jungle Ventures invests in consumer, B2B and software companies across Southeast Asia and India. Currently, it handles over $1 billion in assets under management and has a combined portfolio value of over $12.5 billion.

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Published: 09 Feb 2024, 09:03 PM IST

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