New Delhi: Lifestyle startup Zouk has raised USD 3 million in a series A round led by Stellaris Venture Partners. The round saw participation from Sharrp Ventures, JJ Family Office, Deutsche Bank India CEO Dilip Khandelwal, Manoj Meena of Atomberg and Vineeta Singh, Kaushik Mukherjee – founders, Sugar Cosmetics.
While declining to share the valuation, Pradeep Krishnakumar, co-founder, Zouk, told ETRetail that the company has not raised money at an unjustifiable valuation, however, he highlighted that over the previous fundraise, the startup has grown 10X in size of the business and has been capital efficient.
Earlier, Zouk had raised USD 1.5 million in the pre-series A round.
Sharing investors’ sentiment, Krishnakumar said that the ethics of the founding team and the growth that the company has recorded in the past coupled with brand awareness and acceptance of Zouk’s products by customers were the key factors that investors looked at during the fundraise.
The company plans to use the funds across four key areas including brand awareness, strengthening the supply chain, expanding retail presence across the country, and increasing team size.
He shared that the brand aims to focus on the omnichannel experience and open 5 exclusive brand outlets in the coming year. Capital for offline foray has been factored in the fundraising, he added.
Zouk drives 65 per cent of its sales from its own D2C website. The founders believe that marketplaces and offline channels will add an additional layer of revenue for the company.
Zouk recently announced its plans to enter international markets. Commenting on the same, Krishnakumar said, “International foray is of great interest to us. But it will be via an online channel as it is a capital-efficient way.”
Sharing the strategy for online expansion, Disha Singh, co-founder of the company said that currently, the brand caters to all the pin codes. “3 years back, we were a metro heavy brand, but today the balance has shifted.” She claimed that the retailer has a healthy 50-50 contribution of metro and tier 2,3 cities, noting that this is a good indicator of the huge scope in tier 2,3 markets.
To deepen its presence in cities beyond metros, the company plans to partner with regional content creators and do more regional media activity. Additionally, Zouk will be expanding its presence across different marketplaces to cater to all customers across geographies, added Krishnakumar.
In terms of the team, Zouk plans to double its strength across the next 12 months, which will also have a ripple effect on its warehousing staff and artisans that the company works with.
While the founders declined to share the company’s revenue, they said that Zouk has recorded a 10x growth from the last funding and 16X growth over pre-COVID levels. Krishnakumar commented that the same growth trajectory will continue for the company on the back of expanding product collection, strengthening distribution, and building the brand.