Hillhouse Capital invests $30m in Korean grocery delivery startup Market Kurly

Founder and CEO Sophie Kim shows the Market Kurly app. Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg

South Korean online grocery delivery startup Market Kurly has raised an additional W35 billion ($30 million) from private equity firm Hillhouse Capital in its ongoing Series D funding round, The Investor reported.

The investment from Hillhouse Capital brings Kurly’s Series D total to about W135 billion ($114 million). It previously announced raising W100 billion ($88 million) in April, led by Sequoia Capital China and backed by international investor Global Venture Partners.

According to a company statement seen by The Investor, David Rhee, Partner at Hillhouse Capital, said that Market Kurly has been disrupting the e-commerce market by providing high-quality products through its unparalleled curation system and full cold-chain infrastructure.

“Kurly already has some contribution margin, which is the marginal profit per unit sale, as it saw sales surge and its operating efficiency is improving. We are looking forward to seeing Market Kurly opening up a new retail paradigm,” Rhee was quoted as saying.

Launched in May 2015, Market Kurly was the first to introduce the “full cold-chain” system, a temperature-controlled supply chain for fresh food delivery, to users in South Korea. Shoppers can order in the evening and have fresh vegetables, eggs and other perishable foods delivered directly to their doorstep by sunrise.

The Korean startup earlier said it will use most of its funding to further advance and stabilize its delivery system and supply chain.

“With this latest investment, we can secure internal processes and build a talent pool so that we can continue to increase our grocery market share while maintaining quality,” said the company’s 35-year-old founder and CEO Sophie Kim in a statement in April.

According to a Bloomberg story in February, Kim began her career as a banker at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong before working at firms like Temasek Holdings and McKinsey & Co.

It was at management consulting firm Bain & Co. that she came up with the idea for Market Kurly, after becoming frustrated with spending most of her downtime searching for fresh foods to take care of her deteriorating health. Kurly, formed in 2015, is a play on the word “culinary”.

About 300,000 people now use the app each month to buy everything from salmon and beef to sea cucumbers and kale, according to Kim.

The firm raised an undisclosed amount in its Series C funding round in September 2018 from Sequoia Capital, Translink Capital, and DST Global.