Isthara raises USD10 million in fresh funding round to expand presence in the retail food-tech segment

Isthara, India’s premium co-living brand and Smart Food Court pioneer has raised fresh funding of USD 10 million (INR 81 crores) led by Dubai-based Eagle Investments. The current funding round brings Isthara’s total fund-raise to aboutUSD 21 million.

Isthara, which currently operates in the co-living and institutional smart food court space, will deploy the new funds to foray into the B2C retail food court space and expand its presence in the co-living sector. While Isthara has witnessed immense growth in the B2B institutional cafeteria segment, the company aims to replicate this business success in the B2C space by launching smart food courts across retail locations such as malls, with an aim to become the pan-India market leader in the food court segment. Additionally, with the company’s foray in to the B2C food retail segment, it will also be able to widen the customer base potential and not be limited by a captive audience as is the case with institutional cafeterias. Isthara aims to scale the food court business by 10X to 500 food courts across 30 cities in the next 3 years, catering to a million people on a monthly basis. Additionally, the funding will also be utilized to double bed capacity in the co-Living and student accommodation segments to around 50,000 beds by 2025, and the company aims to achieve a 10X revenue growth in the next 3 years.

Founded in 2017, Isthara, placing tech at the core of its business, has been revolutionizing the co-living segment and operating over 24,000 beds across the country. Through its co-living spaces, Isthara provides fully-furnished shared-living accommodation for working professionals and students, with a host of amenities paired with premium features. During the pandemic, Isthara developed a new co-living business model, as a result of which the company witnessed a bed count growth rate of over 400% since the pandemic.

In 2020, the company ventured into a new segment by pioneering the digitized smart food court business, and signed up 50 food courts across the country. Through these first-of-its-kind smart food courts, Isthara has evolved conventional institutional food courts across educational institutes and corporates by digitizing their food courts. Since its launch, Isthara smart food courts have witnessed an average per-ticket consumption growth of over 100% in each city, as compared to its pre-modified traditional cafeteria format.

Speaking about the new round of funding, Gilbert James, Promoter and Managing Director of Isthara stated, “We are delighted to raise a fresh round of funding as we continue our endeavour to revolutionize the highly fragmented co-living and food court segment. We believe that the immense growth that we have witnessed in the co-living and institutional food court segment is a strong testament to the increased tech adoption by customers for everyday solutions. The funding that we have raised will enable us to build on our B2C portfolio, aggressively scale our operations across the retail food court market, and be a market leader in the segment. We will also look to strategically expand our co-living presence across the country, and continue to disrupt the space by enhancing our tech-enabled co-living solutions. We believe that the food court segment, and the co-living sector, will undergo a massive digital transformation in the coming years, and we aim to be the pioneers of a tech-enabled LivTech segment that solves the most basic issues of urban millennials.”

Commenting on the investment, Elias Kawar, Managing Director of Eagle Investments said , “We are delighted to have led this latest round of funding for Isthara as it continues its incredible growth trajectory while solving the challenges faced by the rising urban millennial population in India. With a rise in safety and hygiene concerns since the pandemic, we are seeing a fundamental shift as customers across the spectrum are increasingly opting for tech-enabled and safety focused co-living and food options. With its unique business model, tech-focused solutions, and strong scalability potential, Isthara is poised to disrupt the co-living and retail food court segment, and we are excited to support the company’s next growth phase as it continues to make new strides in the Liv-Tech segment”

In September 2021, Isthara raised a round of funding from existing investors JM Financial Private Equity, along with Dubai-based Eagle Proprietary Investments and a few family offices. Recently, the company acquired software product engineering firm, ‘Letsmobility’, to digitize operations and introduce advanced tech solutions in the co-living and institutional cafeteria sectors.

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