International Finance Corp., the private lending arm of the World Bank, is investing $25 million in equity in Lenskart Solutions Pvt Ltd, a Delhi-based e-commerce site for prescription glasses and frames.
The funding is part of Lenskart’s ongoing round. In December, it raised $22 million in a series C round from TPG Capital, Hong Kong-based TR Capital and existing investor IDG Ventures, that valued the firm at around $100 million.
IFC said in a filing that the funds will help the company expand its distribution via franchise partners to about 100 small towns and cities, referred to as tier 2 and 3, across India.
This is IFC’s second major investment in the Indian e-commerce space after it put in $25 million in online grocery store BigBasket in October.
Lenskart is seeking to aggressively expand offline, to widen its reach in places where online connectivity is an issue. Currently it offers eye check-up service at customer’s homes in 10 cities. The company has also invested in improving technology so that customers have a better experience online, including virtual 3D.
About 500 million people in the country need prescription eyeglasses, out of which only a third have access to it. The rest are left out because of lack of medical diagnosis, access or affordability. The majority of India’s eyewear market — valued at $2 billion and growing at 35 per cent every year — is unorganised and fragmented. These are the two main issues that Lenskart is trying to address.
While the site sells high-end products like Ray-Ban, more than 90 per cent of its revenue comes from more affordable, in-house brands such as Vincent Chase. Its range of eyewear starts at Rs 500, with average ticket price of about Rs 1,200.
Lenskart, run by Noida-based Valyoo Technologies Pvt Ltd, was founded in 2008 by Peyush Bansal, Amit Chaudhary, Neha Bansal and Sumeet Kapahi. It had raised $4 million in its first round of funding in 2011 from IDG Ventures.
Last year, the company closed down three sites viz., Jewelskart.com, Bagskart.com and Watchkart.com, which could not stand out in India’s competitive e-commerce landscape, and suffered from low traction and mounting financial losses.