17 December 2013. Bangalore, India. Unitus Seed Fund, India’s most active impact investor, has partnered with Indian Angel Network, India’s first and Asia’s largest network of angel investors, to make an investment in GoCoop Solutions and Services Pvt. Ltd, a Bangalore-based venture that provides a social marketplace for co-operatives and community-based enterprises to list and sell their produce online. GoCoop offers a platform which includes a directory service, a microsite service with trade enquiries, and an ecommerce service with both branded e-stores and a marketplace. Additionally, GoCoop enables co-ops to collaborate by creating commerce networks to connect with suppliers, complementary coops and wholesale buyers.
“Globally, co-ops bring together over a billion people in sectors like agriculture/food and crafts and play a key role in addressing the socio-economic needs of their members and the local communities” said Siva Devireddy, Founder and CEO, GoCoop. “There is a strong need to address the issues faced by these cooperative organizations and enable them with better access to market and prices to improve their operations which impact the livelihood of millions of low-income members. We aim to do for co-ops what Alibaba did for manufacturers in China.”
“India has over 6 lakhs (600,000) co-ops with more than 24 crore (240 million) members. These co-ops are mostly rural entities with limited local reach and are often exploited by middlemen and traders offering low prices and unfair payment terms,” said Will Poole, Managing Partner of Unitus Seed Fund. “We like GoCoop because its’ technology platform and marketing services provide co-ops in India and around the globe with access to national and international markets, fair and efficient business dealings, and the means to raise the standard of living of millions of low-income producers.”
Nagaraja Prakasam, an IAN investor who led this round of investment said, “We believe in the uniqueness of GoCoop and its potential to grow. The team at GoCoop lead by Siva Devireddy is highly passionate about technology innovations that provide scalable impact to low-income populations.”
Padmaja Ruparel, President, Indian Angel Network said, “GoCoop also connects its producers directly with consumer markets. Not only do they provide a collaborative environment for buyers and sellers but they provide marketing and management services to co-ops members who often have had little connection to the fast-evolving ways of the internet. As the second largest employment sector in India, co-operatives are in dire need of the types of services GoCoop offers.”
Co-op client: “GoCoop social marketplace will serve as a perfect platform to showcase our handicrafts and organic produce and leverage our potential in international markets.” — Mr. Tashi Wangdu, CEO, Federation of Tibetan Cooperatives in India (FTCI).
Customer: ”I was amazed at how quickly the delivery of my selected items arrived. The fabrics are beautiful and I look forward to placing more orders through the site. Thank you very much.” — Customer of AP State Weavers Cooperative (APCO).
Customer: ”I’ve shown the new cloths to everyone and they’ve all said the sewing has been done beautifully. Please make sure you tell the people who sewed them that, and also the people who folded, ironed and packed them. Really good job everyone at your end.” — Buyer of Handloom Product from Australia.
GoCoop is an organization dedicated to socio-economic development of cooperatives and community based organizations through technology innovation and intervention. GoCoop is identified as TOP 50 INNOVATORS as part of the Dept. of Science and Technology, Lockheed Martin India Innovation Program. They are based at Global Incubation Services (GINSERV) Bangalore. The GoCoop team consists of specialists from cooperative sector and management and technology consulting from leading organizations with an objective to serve the diverse sectors of cooperatives to help them leverage their full potential in a globalized and competitive business environment.
Unitus Seed Fund (USF) is India’s most active impact investor, funding BoP startups that serve large low-income populations. USF plans to invest in 30-40 startups in sectors including skill development / livelihoods, agriculture, technology for development, healthcare, education, and access to basic necessities. USF is part of the Unitus Group, a successful financial services group operating in multiple emerging markets since 2000. USF has offices in Bangalore and Seattle.
Indian Angel Network has over 250 members and has funded close to 60 start-ups across multiple sectors including IT, Mobile, Healthcare and Education, Gaming, Hospitality, and Semiconductors across India and overseas and has made several successful exits. In 2011 alone, IAN invested over US$ 8 million in 11 startups making it almost a deal a month. In 2012, IAN invested in 17 companies totaling US$11 million, making it almost a deal every 3 weeks. In addition, IAN has incubated another 40+ ventures many of which have either become revenue earning or raised seed funding within 6 to 9 months of incubation.
Unitus Seed Fund was advised on the GoCoop transaction by Unitus Capital and Impact Law Ventures.