UK consumer goods giant Unilever has led a seed investment round in India-based health and wellness business What’s Up Wellness.
The Knorr and Marmite manufacturer invested through its venture-capital arm Unilever Ventures in the Gurugram-headquartered start-up, which makes gummy multi-vitamins and supplements to aid sleep and beauty regimes.
The round also saw participation from a number of What’s Up Wellness’ existing angel investors.
The company said it will use the money raised in the funding round – Rs140.4m ($16.9m) – towards “ramping up its team, furthering growth and scaling efforts and most importantly, the development of an array of new products aimed at solving all the major pain points faced by users with respect to their wellness needs”.
Co-founders Sayantani Mandal and Vaibhav Makhija said: “This is yet another significant milestone in our journey of building What’s Up Wellness as a trailblazer for the D2C wellness and nutrition space in India.
“It motivates our team to double down on the ongoing efforts to build the best wellness brand out there, with strong attention to detail on what today’s customers want. Furthermore, we hope to gain immense learnings, invaluable insights, best practices, and benchmarks, from the journeys of Unilever Ventures’ portfolio companies worldwide.
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“We intend to keep scaling and fast-tracking the growth, while continuing to maintain a tight grip on our bottom line and introducing more highly relevant products.”
What’s Up Wellness previously featured on TV investment show Shark Tank India and successfully secured funding from three ‘sharks’ on the show.
The company, formed in May 2021, plans to launch around 12 new products in the next two years.
Pawan Chaturvedi, partner, Asia at Unilever Ventures, said: “India presents a large opportunity for the wellness segment and What’s Up Wellness, with its innovative and modern formats, aims to capture this fast-transforming market. We are excited to be early supporters of What’s Up Wellness in their next growth phase.”
In December, Unilever’s subsidiary in India invested in two vitamins and supplements manufacturers – Oziva and Wellbeing Nutrition. Hindustan Unilever bought a 51% stake in India-based Oziva, with an option to acquire full ownership in three years based on performance criteria. The FMCG giant also snapped up a 19.8% interest in Wellbeing Nutrition, otherwise trading as Nutritionalab Private.
In 2021, the Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream maker acquired US supplements business Onnit for an undisclosed sum.
A year earlier, Unilever bought US-based SmartyPants Vitamins. In April 2019, Unilever snapped up Olly Nutrition, a US business supplying products from vitamins to protein powders and snack bars.