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Seniority looks to raise funding to scale up business

Kunjan Chikhlikar, head, RPG Ventures.

Mumbai: RPG Ventures is planning to tap the private markets to raise funds for senior citizen-care product startup Seniority Pvt. Ltd, which it had incubated in 2016, a senior executive said in an interview. Seniority sells products that make everyday life easier for senior citizens, with mobility aids, wellness products and leisure accessories.

The venture capital arm of the Harsh Goenka-led RPG group generally makes early-stage investments in innovative startups in health and wellness, technology in B2B segments, automotive and automotive after-market, infrastructure and project management.

“We will be looking to raise $7-8 million (₹50-60 crore) for Seniority sometime in the middle of 2019. RPG is very excited about the opportunity and how the business is shaping up, and will also be investing alongside new investors,” said Kunjan Chikhlikar, head, RPG Ventures, which holds a majority stake in the startup. Seniority co-founders hold the remaining stake.

According to Chikhlikar, apart from merely investing in early-stage companies, which might have synergies with existing businesses of the group, the RPG Ventures mandate also includes incubating and building businesses for the group in new-age areas of interest. “Senior care products was an area of interest that was identified by the RPG group following which we set out to build a business around it,” he said.

Seniority processes 1,100-1,200 orders per day with an average order value of ₹1,300-1,400, he said, adding that the startup sells over 5,000 curated products meant for senior citizens across both lifestyle and medical needs, and has served over 200,000 unique customers in India.

According to Chikhlikar, India’s current demographics will lead to a large market opportunity for companies targeting the senior citizen segment. “Our estimates suggest that the market opportunity for senior care products is easily north of $1 billion, given a population size of 100 million-plus in the 60-plus age bracket. Moreover, the 60-plus age group is the fastest growing demographic segment in India. While being a large and attractive market opportunity, it is unfortunately poorly served, which creates the need for a specialty retail brand that can exclusively cater to their needs.”

Seniority is working on a two-pronged strategy targeting both the supply and demand side as it looks to scale up its business. “On the supply side, Seniority is bringing innovative and exclusive products to the market from global brands, which specialize in this category and will also be launching some of its own designed and branded products. This is important as we have seen very limited product innovation in this category,” said Chikhlikar.

On the demand side, the company is trying to build capabilities and features that create a simpler and easier shopping experience for senior citizens.

“For example, we have recently launched assistive features, such as call and Whatsapp, to place an order and inquire about products, which are very valuable to senior citizens who may not be as tech-savvy. We believe a good mix of these two can create a strong value proposition for our customer base,” he said.

Seniority also plans to widen its customer acquisition efforts beyond traditional digital marketing channels by striking marketing alliances with relevant partners such as banks, insurance companies, healthcare services and travel firms.

So far, RPG Ventures has invested in five startups, including Seniority. It has also backed cybersecurity services provider Shieldsquare, online subscription pharmacy Medsonway, online baby apparel Hopscotch and online tyre sales Tyresnmore, which is housed under the group firm Ceat Tyres.

The investment arm has recently seen a change in its strategy, not seeking to make pure financial investments. “One of RPG Ventures’ aim is to work with group companies to invest in early stage businesses and extract relevant business synergies from such investments. We see our role and purpose more meaningful where we can achieve this goal. Hence, pure play financial investments in companies that have no relevance to any of our group companies is something we would not be pursuing,” said Chikhlikar.