Watch: From Ola's IPO plans to Anu Acharya's MapMyGenome— the week that was

This week, we took a look at ventures in the exciting field of genetics and the ever-changing sector of finance, and also covered news about ride-hailing platform Ola,

As the founder of one of the few Indian startups to work in genetics and genomics study, Anu Acharya’s entry into the field was serendipitous. It took her a while to get to where she is now, but the journey was interspersed with a lot of learning and plenty of exciting tech. 

Today, MapMyGenome works on building the genetic profile and build of an individual, which helps understand their susceptibility to different diseases and their prevention. In a conversation with YourStory, Anu retraces her journey as a woman engineer and the various phases of technology she has witnessed, from her IIT-Kharagpur days to MapMyGenome. Read about her success here.

Moving on to a story about ‘short stories’.

Now, stories are the reason we exist. Short-form content is the new cool as we have no time to stand and stare. Everything from news to entertainment is being condensed into ‘bite-sized’ or ‘snacky’ offerings and laid out for fast consumption. Blinkist does just that.

This micro-reading or ‘speed-reading’ app presents key insights from the world’s top non-fiction books into effective text and audio packs for users to read or listen to in just 15 minutes. As the app’s tagline goes, it offers ‘big ideas in small packages’.

Experts distil ‘meaningful, actionable insights’ from over 3,000 bestsellers across 28 categories, including entrepreneurship, leadership, history, psychology, self-motivation, economics, education, and more. The app adds 30 new titles each month. Read our review of the app here.

In other news, it’s not just the apps that are trying to stand out. Businesses are, too. Ever since the rise of ecommerce players—especially the biggies like Flipkart and Amazon—offline retailers have taken a huge hit.

The plethora of choices and ease of buying that ecommerce facilitates has made it a habit for many. Added to the inherent benefits of ecommerce is the fact that barriers to the internet are increasingly being lowered, resulting in ever-deepening penetration.

With more retail players tapping into the growth of the internet, the brick-and-mortar ones have no option but to take to the online channel to continue growing. Facilitating this process of transition and growth for India’s retailers is Mumbai-based startup CoutLoot, a social-commerce offline-to-online (O2O) platform focussing on small offline sellers.

Team CoutLoot

Instead of forcing traditional businesses to adopt completely modern practices, CoutLoot’s platform integrates certain offline buyer-seller behaviours. Offline sellers can simply list their products on the platform and sell them after striking a deal with potential customers by bargaining over chat in regional languages. Read more about this savvy startup here.

Now, we move on to a story that takes a good look at an entrepreneur's most difficult ‘job’ — getting access to the right kind and amount of funds. It is always a stress-filled task, be it for personal or business purposes.

It was to address this gap that former bankers Rajat Kumar and Vipul Sharma started in 2016. Specifically targetting small businesses, the Gurugram-based fintech startup enables business owners to search, compare, and get personal finance products such as home loans and credit cards.

A one-stop solution has tied up with credit bureaus, partners, and financial institutions to provide an online aggregator platform for financial services to over 12,000 business owners every month. It also offers the services of loan counsellors and connects them with customers looking for financial products. Read more about how this company is trying to make a difference.

Moving on to a short ridealong with the news from your favourite cab company. Ola, according to sources, is preparing for an IPO.

It has been quite a ride for the homegrown unicorn. The ride-hailing startup, valued at $6 billion, is now present in 250 cities across India, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. The company has also branched out. It has entered the cloud kitchen business, formed an electric vehicle entity, Ola Electric (which has also become a unicorn), and more recently, entered the self-drive segment with Ola Drive.

Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati - Founders of Ola

The startup has raised $3.5 billion to date and counts marquee names like Temasek and SoftBank as its investors. It is also known to have received the largest domestic investment made by a single individual (Sachin Bansal). And the coffers are still getting filled.

According to sources, Ola is in advanced talks to raise about $150-200 million (Rs 1,050-1,400 crore) in funding from tech giant Microsoft. Read more here.

And, that concludes our wrap of this week. Have a great weekend!

(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)


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