MandiExpress, a leading online fresh produce & grocery delivery service, has announced today that it has closed a $725,000 Pre-Series A funding round for scaling across Pakistan.
The funding round was led by Lakson Investments Venture Capital (“LIVC”), a leading technology-focused Institutional VC fund regulated by the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). Disrupt.com (“Disrupt”), a private investor, followed-on in this round and has been backing MandiExpress since the seed stage.
MandiExpress has a data-driven approach to the fulfillment of B2B and B2C consumer orders. The company has documented the value-chain at the Karachi ‘Sabzi Mandi” utilizing a vertically integrated technology platform that autonomously gathers price data for its buyers located at daily auctions. This allows MandiExpress to buy the highest grade products at the lowest prices through real-time price discovery for customer orders received the night-before. With the new funding, the company plans to scale its successful model to fresh produce auctions, locally referred to as ‘Sabzi Mandis’, across Pakistan.
“I started this venture 5 years ago to create a platform with a vision to help local farmers, having learned about the problems they faced. The task seemed almost impossible at the time, but today we are deeply integrated with the supply chain at multiple wholesale markets across Pakistan, gradually digitizing the entire value chain. The capital injection will allow MandiExpress to seamlessly fulfill the demand pressure that we have seen through our partnerships with various e-commerce players including Daraz.pk,” said Jehanzeb Chaudhri, Founder & CEO of MandiExpress.
“MandiExpress sparked our interest when my in-laws gifted my father cherries that he thought were imported due to the high quality, taste and packaging. After inquiring on the source, we learned of the company and reached out to the founder. Jehanzeb’s team has brought efficiency to a fragmented farm-to-table value-chain, and I truly believe that MandiExpress is the first company in Pakistan to allow users to make a choice when it comes to sourcing produce from ethical and sustainable farms,” said Babar Lakhani, CEO of Lakson Investments.
The market for fresh produce is over $50 Billion in Pakistan, accounting for 20% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Pakistan has some of the lowest yields per acre in the world and many farmers are struggling to make ends meet due to the extraction of value by the multiple stakeholders in the value chain. MandiExpress’s platform is aggregating data that will eventually help farmers with fairer price discovery as well as direct market access. Moreover, the platform aims to become the facilitator of financial inclusion for farmers and middlemen in the fresh produce supply chain through its data-driven approach of documenting payment cycles and seasonality in the farm to table value-chain.
“We loved the data aggregation of the farm to table value-chain by MandiExpress. The team has built a vertically integrated technology platform that captures asymmetric pricing in the value-chain, passing quality and cheaper pricing to customers while maintaining a healthy margin for the business”, said Faisal Aftab, Managing Partner of LIVC.
“We’ve backed MandiExpress right from the start as we saw great potential in the idea. We followed-on because we saw how the founder dealt with the issues that he faced and continued on with grit and tenacity fighting all odds. His technology background, passion for agriculture and execution ability will Inshallah elevate MandiExpress into the platform for all agriculture-related trade in Pakistan”, said Abdul Rafay Gadit, Partner at Disrupt.com.
Mandiexpress has warehouses at the ‘Sabzi Mandi’ where it purchases, sorts, grades and custom-packages high quality produce from farmers and auctions, for delivery to its online customers. The company is leveraging a sourcing practice called ‘Just In Time’ that minimizes waste from an industry average of 40% to less than 1%, reducing the lead time between farm-to-table from 1 – 5 days to less than 24 hours. The service is popular amongst consumers in Karachi and Lahore.
Customers can procure vegetables, fruits, meats & seafood, as well as select organic and gourmet foods (dairy, nuts, berries and cheeses) that are not always available at local retailers. The household delivery business is just one of their four business segments. They also cater to popular restaurants and large organizations, other e-commerce platforms as well as trading inside the wholesale markets.
LIVC invests alongside entrepreneurs and local businesses to build new enterprises through investing seed capital, taking ideas to the next stage. It works with Lakson Investments’ (“LI”) team of over 50 experienced professionals while at the same time leverages the operational experience of the Lakson Group.