Coming off of a year where monthly active users grew 150% year over year, ethnic e-grocer Weee! secured $425 million in Series E funding toward its goal to be “the primary source for food at home,” Larry Liu, Weee!’s founder and CEO, told me.
It’s been a few years since we dug into what the company was doing, but to bring you up to speed, it was founded in 2015 and offers over 10,000 locally sourced and hard-to-find Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indian and Latin offerings for customers.
One of Liu’s missions is product assortment, so Weee! typically adds more than 500 new products per week. It also partners with over 1,000 restaurants to offer authentic food-at-home options for customers, many as a result of the company’s acquisition of RICEPO, an Asian food delivery company, in October.
This new monster round not only comes about a year after the company’s $316 million Series D round last March, but boosts Weee!’s valuation to $4.1 billion. It also nearly doubles the company’s total fundraising, bringing it to over $800 million to date, Liu said.
Taking in the new capital was an intentional move for Liu, who wants to grow the business to the next level. While it has made progress, he wants to deepen Weee!’s supply chain, focus on building relationships with vendors, do more direct importing of products to the U.S. and expand into two more ethnicities.
“We have a really powerful and unique value proposition in targeting underserved communities and want to offer the most amazing assortment for the community,” he added. “That is our biggest differentiation, and that strategy is working well for us.”
In addition, the company will also advance its warehouse automation and artificial intelligence technology to offer the most relevant product recommendations.
Weee! Currently has about 1,500 employees and will continue to build out a team to scale, including on the go-to-market side, where Liu said the company had not invested heavily before, saying, “We are a best-kept secret, and a lot of people didn’t know about us, but we want to make sure people know what we are doing.” The company this month hired filmmaker Jon Chu as chief creative officer.
SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the financing and was joined by Greyhound Capital. As part of the investment, Lydia Jett, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join Weee!’s board of directors.
“The market for ethnic groceries and food is massively underserved in the U.S. and we believe that Weee! is in a prime position to meet the demands of customers,” Jett said in a written statement. “Weee!’s strong execution capabilities and reach across multiple ethnic groups, coupled with a unique customer experience model leveraging AI, has enabled it to scale effectively in a rapidly evolving grocery market.”
For Liu, product assortment and pricing are most important. He is looking to expand into household and beauty items so that Weee! can transition into more of a mainstream store versus only ethnic items.
“We believe convenience is important, too, but that doesn’t mean you have to get items in 30 minutes,” he added. “We are focused on bringing people affordable access to the products they love and see the future being a store where we can offer a wide variety of products.”