FreshToHome ambitions now extend to breaking into Saudi Arabia. The company sells direct to consumers, eschewing retailers and the like. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: FreshToHome, a direct-to-consumer portal selling fish and meat started by an ex-UAE resident, has hooked $104 million in its latest funding round, which is led by Amazon. Existing contributors such as Investment Corporation of Dubai, ADQ and Bahrain’s Investcorp added to their earlier stakes.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, the Dubai-based billionaire, had also been an investor in a previous round.

The portal, which launched operations by sourcing fresh catch direct from fishermen in India, is operational in the UAE, including having two physical locations at Dubai Waterfront Market. With the $104 million, FreshToHome has raised more than $240 million, and sees the time as being right for major forays into Saudi Arabia and other markets.

“Our business model will be direct-to-consumer, and for now we do not see any need to supply fresh supplies to third-parties such as supermarkets,” said Shan Kadavil, co-founder and CEO. (An alumni of Sharjah Indian High School, Kadavil had an extensive stint in Silicon Valley, including in gaming ventures, before launching FreshToHome in 2015.)

“Our business concept has been winning repeat customers as we spread to more than 100 cities within India and in the UAE. On the physical retail side, we have launched our own stores and that should serve us for the time being.

The company’s business model is built on a tightly controlled sourcing and delivery arrangement, and with the emphasis on fresh catch without any preservatives. Image Credit: Supplied

“Operationally, we have turned profitable as work out a plan to utilise the new funding. Saudi Arabia is obviously the next big one for us.”

Kadavil declined to reveal what the current valuation of FreshToHome would be, but the medium-term target is to go public in three years. This is where an investor such as Amazon can fast-track the process.

The Amazon entry point is through its Smbhav Venture Fund. A spokesperson for the fund said: “Our vision with the $250 million Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund is to empower the next generation of innovative, technology enabled companies. We are impressed with the FreshToHome management team and they have done some quality work in creating a robust technology enabled supply chain and scalable backward integrated capabilities to serve both customers as well as farmers and fishers. We are excited to partner with FreshToHome for the next phase of its growth.”

In 2021, FreshToHome raised $121 million in a Series C round, led by Dubai’s ICD, Investcorp, IronPillar, Ascent Capital and the US government’s development finance institution DFC.