Google backs India's Dunzo in $40 million funding round

Manish Singh
·3 min read
A DUNZO delivery boy waits with a order near a closed gate amid Covid-19 (Coronavirus) lock down in Gurugram on the Outskirts of New Delhi, India on 07 April 2020. To combat the spread of deadly COVID-19, PM of India Narendra Modi has recently announced a 21-day lockdown. However, the curfew-like situation has forced migrant workers to return to their homes when traffic is entirely off the roads apart from the railway and air traffic. So much so, many workers are left stranded with no food, shelter and other necessities. The lockdown has also enforced multi-national companies to fire thousands of employees amid the Coronavirus pandemic (Photo by Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Google is writing a check to another startup in India. The Android-maker, which last year unveiled a $10 billion fund to invest in the world's second-largest internet market, said on Tuesday that it is participating in a $40 million investment round of hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo, a Bangalore-based firm that it has also previously backed.

Five-year-old Dunzo said Google, Lightbox, Evolvence, Hana Financial Investment, LGT Lightstone Aspada and Alteria among others participated in its Series E financing round, which brings its to-date raise to $121 million.

Dunzo operates an eponymous hyper-local delivery service in nearly a dozen cities in India, including Bangalore, Delhi, Noida, Pune, Gurgaon, Powai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Users get access to a wide range of items across several categories, from grocery, perishables, pet supplies and medicines to dinner from their neighborhood stores and restaurants.

E-commerce accounts for less than 3% of all retail sales in India, according to industry estimates. Mom and pop stores and other neighborhood outlets that dot tens of thousands of cities, towns, villages and slums across the country drive most of the sales in the nation.

In a way, Dunzo is reimagining how e-commerce and delivery could be done in India, thereby posing a challenge to Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, as well as local food and grocery delivery startups such as Swiggy, Zomato, BigBasket and Grofers. Several people also use Dunzo to pick up and move random items such as a laptop charger or a wallet or a lunch box from one point in the city to another.

"As merchants go digital, Dunzo is helping small businesses in their digital transformation journey in support of business recovery," said Caesar Sengupta, VP, Google, in a statement. "Through our India Digitization Fund, we’re committed to partnering with India’s innovative startups to build a truly inclusive digital economy that will benefit everyone."

Kabeer Biswas, chief executive and co-founder of Dunzo, said the startup has grown its annual gross merchandise value business to about $100 million. (GMV used to a popular metric that several e-commerce firms relied on to demonstrate their growth; however, it's one of the meaningless ways to gauge a startup's growth. Most firms have stopped using GMV. Additionally, when a startup speaks GMV language, traditionally it has meant they are anything but close to profitability, which happens to be true in the case of Dunzo.)

“Dunzo's mission resonated stronger than ever in 2020. We have been amazed by everything merchants and users have started to depend on the platform for. We truly believe we are writing a playbook for how hyperlocal businesses can be built with sustainable unit economics and capital responsibility. As a team, we are more focused than ever to enable local Merchants to get closer to their Users and build one of the most loved consumer brands in the country," Biswas said in a statement.

Google, which invested $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms last year, recently backed social news app DailyHunt and Glance, a part of ad giant InMobi Group that is aggressively expanding ways to populate content on Android users' lockscreens. Google is also in talks with local social media ShareChat and may alone invest more than $100 million in the Indian startup, TechCrunch reported earlier this month. Talks about Google's interest in ShareChat has previously also been reported by local media houses Economic Times and ET Now.