India has become a hotbed for startups in recent years. The result is a thriving economic scene with plenty of potential to develop unicorns. Indian eyewear retailer, Lenskart Solutions, is the latest startup to join the esteemed unicorn club. After months of speculation, the company has raised about 16.45 bilion rupees (US$231 million) is a series G funding round led by Japanese goliath SoftBank Group.
Lenskart passed a board resolution on 12 December 2019, approving the allotment of 22,976,465 compulsorily convertible cumulative preference shares to SVF II (Cayman Islands) Lightbulb, a Cayman Islands-based entity that appears to be an investment vehicle of SoftBank Vision Fund, according to business signals platform Paper.vc.
“As part of the deal, SVF appears to be investing 16.45 billion rupees by paying 714 rupees per share that we estimate gives the company a post-money valuation of $1.5 billion,” Jayraj Patel, an analyst at Paper.vc, said.
With funding successfully secured, Lenskart will be able to expand its operations across smaller towns in India as well as outside the nation. The company has already entered Singapore earlier in 2019 and plans to enter markets such as Philippines, Taiwan, and the Middle East.
This current round of capital infusion comes hot on the heels of Lenskart receiving 3.92 billion rupees in investments from two entities belonging to Mumbai-based private equity group Kedaara Capital just three months ago.
Private equity firm Epiq Capital invested an undisclosed amount in the startup in August 2018. TR Capital and Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital also joined in that funding round, which valued Lenskart at the time at about $460-470 million.
In a financial report earlier in December 2019, Lenskart had reported that the company had cut losses by 73 percent while driving revenue up by 57 percent to 4.85 billion rupees between 2018 and 2019 full years.
SoftBank’s investment into Lenskart speaks volumes as the Japanese giant has reportedly tightened its governance standards for the companies it invests in. This comes after the devastating losses from its investments into co-working space provider, WeWork. It has also asked its portfolio companies, including those in India, to sharpen their focus on profitability.