Indian startup Fresh To Home, which sells fresh fish and meat to consumers in the South Asian market and the Middle East region, has courted a new backer: Amazon.
Amazon, through its India-focused Smbhav Venture Fund, has led a $104 million Series D financing round in the Bengaluru-headquartered startup, the two companies said Tuesday. The new round for the startup, which also counts the development arm of the American government among its backers, also saw participation from the government of Dubai and Iron Pillar.
This is the largest check that the $250 million Smbhav Venture Fund has written so far. The new round takes FreshToHome’s all-time raise to over $250 million.
Started in 2015, FreshToHome is one of the largest players battling for a slice of the $100 billion Indian fish and meat market. Most Indians are not vegetarians, but the current market is run on an age-old system.
FreshToHome is bringing efficiency to the market by streamlining the sourcing infrastructure of meat and fish and improving the quality of the produce and their delivery time by using its own rigorous processing plants and vast supply chain network.
A customer ordering fish from Delhi to Dubai on a Monday gets their item, which was procured on Monday morning, delivered by Tuesday, for instance.
But for FreshToHome, and a handful of other startups vying for the same $100 billion Indian meat market, one of the biggest challenges is establishing trust with the customers. The wet market commands the lion’s share in all meat and fish sale in India, offering customers the ability to inspect each item before reaching for their wallet.
Shan Kadavil, co-founder and chief executive of FreshToHome, told TechCrunch in an interview that it took the startup about seven years to establish the competitive moat that it has today.
“My co-founder is a fish exporter. He has operated in this space for more than 30 years. It’s a very difficult grassroots level change that you have to enact. This business is not just about technology, but also people and relationships,” said Kadavil, who before founding FreshToHome managed tech support for Support, and India operations for gaming firm Zynga.