Right or wrong, startups in India are primarily judged based on the amount of funding they raise rather than the product they intend to build. Though many Unicorns have been criticised for their unsustainable business models despite being heavily funded, funding is still seen as essential.
Despite the ‘winter’ the startup ecosystem is going through with respect to funding, a number of startups have secured funds this week. A few of the major funding announcements made today were:
Customer engagement company MintM has recently raised its pre-Series A funding to grow its smart signage platform Magnet internationally. This funding was co-led by Mumbai Angels and Times Internet.
The fresh funds will be utilised for making the product more intelligent and for expansion in international markets where Magnet is witnessing significant traction, the company said in a statement.
Sachin Garg, CEO and Founder of MintM, says, "The fact that Magnet can analyse its audience, respond to them and allow the ability to be run remotely on a cloud has been greatly appreciated. There are other players in the digital signage play field but none have the capability to be contextual and generate instant, intelligent feedback tracking. If I have to put it in simple words- Magnet is installed on a screen that is looking at you in real time, responding to you and gathering feedback, all at the same time, without intruding upon your privacy!"
The adoption of this technology can be seen in big branded outlets like Star Bazaar, Jawed Habib, Spar, HyperCITY, Aviva Insurance, Printo and many overseas entities including Target, the retailing giant. Several brands and advertisers like Harpic, Lizol, L’Oreal, Tata tea and Himalaya also use it to engage their customers.
A unique reverse bidding platform for hotel booking, FindMyStay has concluded a pre-Series A funding round led by the Indian Angel Network (IAN) which was led by Rishi Parti and Yogesh Bansal.
The company plans to invest the funds in product development, brand building and in enhancing its technology. The startup aims to double its hotel partnerships and increase its coverage of cities in its next phase of growth.
The Indian online hotel booking market still remains hugely unorganised, but is expected to reach $1.8 billion by the end of 2016 compared to $0.8 billion in 2014. Out of the 59 percent internet audience who research for hotels online, only 29 percent do the actual booking online.
Rohit Khetrapal, Co-founder of FindMyStay, commented, “On an average, 50 percent of a hotel’s inventory lies vacant. By making customers bid their price for this inventory and getting hotels to accept it, we are clearly creating widespread disruption in our category. On an average, our customers end up saving 25 percent more than when they opt for larger OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and last minute hotel booking apps.”
The company currently has more than 2,000 hotels on its platform across more than 35 Indian cities. It plans to double this count within the next 18-24 months. Some of the key partners include the Lalit Group, The Park, the Pride Group, Ginger Hotels and Oyo.
It is available on the web, as well as both android and iOS platforms.
Founded in May 2016, GyanDhan has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs with participation from Harvard Angels, and other individual investors including Pravin Gandhi, Partner- Seedfund Advisors, in his personal capacity.
An education financing marketplace, Gyandhan had earlier received angel funding from Satyen Kothari, founder of Cube and Citrus Pay, to fund operations from the concept phase to their first loan disbursal.
Founded by IIT alumni Ankit Mehra and Jainesh Sinha, GyanDhan provides students with an option to apply for loans for up to Rs 30 lakhs without any collateral for higher education abroad.
Till date, the company has processed over 2,500 applications and has already helped students avail loans worth Rs 10cr.
Startup funding in the first half of 2016 saw a 40 percent decline compared to the same period last year. However, early stage funding continues unabated. This is a trend that was seen last year as well. But startups are still struggling to raise Series B and C growth rounds. Early-stage companies would do well to focus on sustainability metrics. This helps them not just to scale up but also tohelps them procure the next round of risk capital.