Bollywood's hottest actress Jacqueline Fernandez has invested in Mumbai- based Rakyan Beverages Pvt. Ltd, a startup that makes juices under the Raw Pressery brand. With this funding deal she has become India’s first celebrity to part finance a consumer products firm, and help drive sales.

The company produces juices and serves customers through its offline stores in the cities including Mumabi, Gurgaon, Pune, New Delhi and other cities. It is serving pan India’s consumers via its online platform. The startup was founded by Anuj Rakyan in 2013. Anuj Rakyan said, “While professional investors take calculated risks, celebrities are believers and users of the brand. Jacqueline has about 13 million followers just on instagram and can influence buyers. Hence, she is not an ambassador but an evangelist who can have an impact on the top line. ”

Jacqueline’s investment of Rs 3.5 crore pegs the company’s worth at about Rs 120 crore, similar to the valuation Rakyan got during last year’s investments, when the startup raised close to $4.5 million in series B funding from Saama Capital Management, Sequoia Capital and DSG Consumer Partners. Rakyan added, “We are looking to raise $10 million by December this year as it looks to spruce up manufacturing and marketing.”

To control costs and quality, the company runs in-house logistics and manufacturing units. Unlike other packed juices that have shelf lives of up to six months, Rakyan products have limited shelf life and need chillers in their supply chain. Over the past year, the company has expanded its product in soup, coconut water, nut milk, and smoothies etc. It has expanded its retail network from 130 to 1,100 sales points.

Globally, shifting consumer tastes are prompting global beverages giants to find ways to diversify away from traditional soda and high calorie juices. In India, too, the demand for healthier drinks is increasing faster in urban centres, with consumers switching to healthier fruit based beverages.

Last month, the company has recorded sales of 8 lakh units. As consumer health awareness increases, Rakyan wants to shed its premium price tag, and launch products starting at Rs 50, compared with Rs 80 now.

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