[Weekly funding roundup] There's a new 'unicorn' in town as March kicks off with a bang after startups raise over $550M

Your weekly update on the funding scene in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Indian startups began March on a high, especially when compared to a slow end to February, raising more than half a billion dollars ($558.5 million to be precise) across 13 deals. In the last week of February, Indian startups had raised a modest $132 million.

This week also saw 2019’s first entrant into the prestigious 'unicorn' club – logistics startup Delhivery.

A good portion of the funding this week went to Delhivery, which raised $395 million. Of this, $350 million came from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank alone, while existing investors Carlyle Group and Fosun International accounted for the rest.

The second-largest round of the week went to foodtech 'unicorn' Zomato, which raised an additional $105 million as a part of its ongoing funding round. This week, Zomato also announced it had entered into an agreement with Berlin-based Delivery Hero to sell its UAE business to the latter's fully owned subsidiary Talabat Middle East Internet Company for $172 million. As part of the deal, Delivery Hero and Glade Brook Capital invested $105 million in Zomato, its investor Info Edge said in a notice to the BSE.

Also read: Flush with cash: Zomato to sell UAE business for $172M, raises $105M

Digital SME lender Aye Finance raised close to Rs 233.6 crore in a Series D round led by New York-based hedge fund Falcon Edge. Existing investors LGT Capital, MAJ Invest Financial Inclusion Fund and Google’s venture arm CapitalG also participated in the funding round.

Non-banking finance company SMEcorner raised Rs 90 crore (around $12.8 million), of which Rs 35 crore equity was infused by Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund managed by Quona Capital, and the balance by existing investors, including Accion Venture Lab. In addition to the equity, the company also raised debt from leading financial institutions.

US-based service automation startup Zinier, which has an office and operations in India, raised $22 million in a Series B funding round led by Accel Partners. San Francisco-based Founders Fund, Nokia-backed NGP Capital, Qualcomm Ventures LLC, and France-based investor Newfund also participated in the round. 

Early-stage deals steal the thunder

Despite the big funding rounds this week, a good part of the overall funding was raised by startups in seed to pre-Series A rounds. 

Leading the pack was Mumbai-based fintech platform Jai Kisan, which raised a $1.5 million in seed funding led by Blume Ventures, Prophetic Ventures, Harshbeena Zaveri (NRB Bearings), Better Capital, Astarc Ventures, Sanjay Mariwala of OmniActive, and other HNIs.

Hyderabad-based Donatekart raised a seed round of Rs 2.55 crore from a clutch of investors led by LetsVenture. Media reports also said sales and marketing solutions platform Benddit raised $250,000 in a seed funding round from several industry leaders.

Also read: [Weekly funding roundup] Last week of February closes with a modest $132 M in funding raised by startups

Media reports said Hyderabad-based SaaS startup NowFloats Technologies raised additional funding of $3.6 million from existing investors including Iron Pillar, IIFL, and Omidyar Network, as well as a new Malaysian investor, consulting firm Wenlyn Global Group.

Companies that raised undisclosed early stage funding included blockchain and ecommerce startup Insino Ventures; finance and accounting focused edtech startup IndigoLearn.com; agritech venture LeanAgri; and innerwear brand XYXX. Outstation taxi provider Gozo Cabs raised an undisclosed funding round from investors based in Silicon Valley. 

In other news this week, Reliance Industries said it will acquire 83 percent stake in Mumbai-based logistics company Grab a Grub services for Rs 146 crore, according to filings made to the stock exchanges. According to the Reliance, the investment is expected to add on the conglomerate’s digital commerce initiatives and strengthen its logistics services.


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