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Korean grocery startup Kurly raises $150M

Manish Singh
The Market Kurly application is demonstrated in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Market Kurly Founder and Chief Executive Officer Kim, a former Goldman Sachs banker obsessed with fresh food, has created a mobile app that is disrupting South Korea’s retail industry by giving grocery shoppers fewer reasons to visit a store. Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg

Kurly, a startup that operates a grocery delivery service in Korea, has secured $150 million in a new financing round months after reports claimed that the firm might be acquired soon.

Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital and DST Global invested in the Korean startup’s Series E financing round, which according to news outlet Korean Investors, valued the firm at around $780 million.

The five-year-old startup, which raised $113 million in its Series D round last year, has raised about $346 million to date, according to CBInsights.

The new financing round for Kurly, also known as Market Kurly, comes at a time when e-commerce sales have surged in Korea as people grow cautious of going out for shopping.

Launched in 2015 by former Goldman Sachs and Temasek analyst Sophie Kim, Kurly is designed to provide groceries and produce to customers who don’t have the time or interest to visit regular retail stores for their shopping. Kurly Market delivers orders by 7am each morning, with customers given until 11pm the previous day to place their order.

Local media reports have suggested in recent months that rivals Shinsegae and CJ Corp have considered acquiring Kurly.

Kurly also competes with Coupang, which counts SoftBank’s Vision Fund among its investors. Coupon, often seen as “the Amazon of Korea” and valued over $9 billion, allows same and next-day delivery to “millions” of its customers.

Kurly differentiates itself by operating through its own brands that are run using a marketplace model to connect retailers with consumers. It is also focused on convenience over cost savings.