Thrasio-style roll up marketplace model grew popular in India during 2021 and over half a dozen firms in this space attracted nearly $800 million in equity and debt funding. The space promised to build an online version of Unilever and P&G.
Two years on, moderately funded platforms — EvenFlow and Upscalio — have found it hard to survive due to funding slowdown and stagnating growth in the direct to customer segment, according to sources aware of the details of the two companies.
“Both [Evenflow and Upscalio] have been in the market for a strategic sale,” said one of the sources requesting anonymity. “Apart from their peers, the two companies also held conversations with horizontal marketplaces in the past which didn’t materialize.”
Currently, EvenFlow and Upscalio have a portfolio of 10 brands each. According to sources, the two companies haven’t been able to scale most of their brands as per projections and turn profitable. These factors led them to explore acquisition prospects.
Evenflow’s founder and chief executive officer Utsav Agarwal has confirmed that the company held acquisition talks in the past. “We had such conversations as the past year has been tumultuous. However, we recently raised funds from internal investors and the future prospect looks positive as an independent entity,” Agarwal told Entrackr. According to him, the company will also break even by this month.
Upscalio, on the other hand, denies any acquisition talks in the past. “There has been inbound interest on some of the brands that have scaled 2-5X post acquisition but have not held any conversations on divestment on UpScalio group as a whole,” the company’s co-founder Nitin Agarwal told Entrackr. He also claims that the revenue of its core brands has gone up more than 70% since acquisition.
While Upscalio didn’t raise any capital since August 2021, Agarwal claims that it raised a new round from internal investors and expects to be EBITDA breakeven soon.
Analysts covering the roll up marketplace model also question the sustainability of the two in the space without profitability. “Figuring out profitability isn’t easy as it seems for all players in this space,” the person said, requesting anonymity as they deal with these companies. For instance, in 2021 even as Mensa claimed that it was profitable, when they filed their financials, the numbers showed a loss of over $16 million in FY22, per Fintrackr’s analysis.
“Marketplace rollup space will hardly see two to three players in the long run. Remaining will either consolidate or wilt,” said the person quoted above. “Mensa and GlobalBees will emerge as the top two companies because they raised a warchest of money. Others will fight for the third position.”
In May, e-commerce roll up saw one of the largest consolidations as Berlin-based SellerX announced that it would acquire Elevate Brands, based out of Austin and NYC. SellerX has raised more than $900 million whereas Elevate has raised over $250 million to date. Thrasio itself signaled a retreat from India. The company, which raised over $3.4 million capital, recently divested its stake in Delhi-based consumer durable company LifeLong.