[Weekly funding roundup] Venture investments cross half-a-billion dollars for first time this fiscal

The first week of September was a new high for the Indian startup ecosystem as total VC funding touched $530 million and this is the highest so far for the current fiscal.

Venture capital (VC) funding into the Indian startup ecosystem touched a new high for the current financial year as the total investments crossed half-a-billion dollars for the first time.

Venture capital funding had gone into a tailspin ever since COVID-19 pandemic started and the highest it touched on a weekly basis was $248 million in the month of April. In fact, for most of the weeks the total funding was much below $100 million, even touching single digits at some point.

The first week of September has turned out to be very fortuitous for the Indian startups as VC funding touched $530 million across 20 deals which is a 229 percent increase when compared to the previous week when it had reached $161 million.

It has been an eventful week as there was a new entrant into the unicorn club with Unacademy raising $150 million at a valuation of $1.4 billion, with Softbank as the lead investor.

Other prominent names in the startup ecosystem like Zomato, Livspace, and Dunzo also raised funding.

The first week of September also witnessed funding deals spread across stages, unlike in the past when it was overwhelmingly dominated by early-stage transactions. In this period, early stage got 10 deals, with five each for growth stages.

Debt funding made a comeback with a total value of $56 million.

Key highlight

Unacademy, one of the leading edtech startups in the country entered the unicorn club with SoftBank leading a $150 million funding round, valuing the company at $1.45 billion. This deal marks the first investment made by SoftBank this year as it had entered a transaction in December last year. Besides SoftBank, existing investors of Unacademy including General Atlantic, Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners, Facebook, and Blume Ventures also participated in the round.

Other deals

Online home interior design and execution platform Livspace raised Series D funding of $90 million in a round led by Switzerland-based investment firm Kharis Capital and Nicholas Cator’s Venturi Partners with participation from new investors including Peugeot Group’s holding company FFP and Singapore-based EDBI. Existing investors Ingka Investments, TPG Growth, Goldman Sachs, UC-RNT, and Bessemer Ventures also participated in the round.

Hyperlocal delivery app Dunzo raised $28 million in its ongoing Series E funding round led by Google and Lightstone Fund. Dunzo issued compulsorily convertible preference shares (CCPS) to both Google and Lightstone with each share carrying a face value of Rs 55 with a premium of Rs 1.13 lakh. Google is an existing investor in Dunzo and it was its first direct investment into an Indian startup in 2017.

Bengaluru-based Strata raised Rs 140 crore ($18.7 million) from investors to acquire three pre-leased warehouses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The consortium of assets collectively computed for a total of 0.7 million sq ft of warehousing space. The Strata Avigna Warehousing I & II — situated in Hosur — received 100 percent commitment from investors within just 42 days of its launch, while the pharma warehousing asset in Bengaluru was closed within just seven days.

Delhi-based vernacular gaming platform WinZO has raised $18 million in a Series B investment round led by global interactive entertainment fund Makers Fund based in Singapore, and New York-based Courtside Ventures. Both funds are making their first-ever investment in India through WinZO. With the funding, WinZO plans to strengthen its content pipeline, captivate mobile-first consumers and their gaming needs, and become the go-to gaming app in India.

Bengaluru-based fintech startup Avail Finance raised $11.5 million in Series B funding round led by Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI), a $300 million venture fund managed by Falcon Edge Capital. The round also saw participation from existing investor Matrix Partners. The funds will be used by the startup to expand the team and to offer a varied product mix for targeted users, including both existing and prospective.

Bengaluru’s technology-based home interiors service provider HomeLane raised Rs 60 crore ($8 million) in a bridge round from new and existing investors. Stride Ventures led the round, participating through debt funding of Rs 20 crore in the company. Existing investors Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, Evolvence India, and JSW Ventures also participated, infusing another Rs 40 crore in equity. 

Entropik Tech, a startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to track consumer's emotional response, raised $8 million as part of its Series A funding. The investment round was led by Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI), a $300 million venture fund managed by Falcon Edge Capital. The round also saw participation from existing investors Bharat Innovation Fund, which increased its stake in the company, and IDFC Parampara Fund.

Apna.co, a recruitment platform for grey and blue collar workers, raised $8 million in Series A funding round from existing investors Lightspeed India and Sequoia Capital India. The round also saw participation from new investors Greenoaks Capital and Rocketship VC. Founded in December 2019 by Nirmit Parikh, Apna.co has created a vertical network for skilled professionals like carpenters, painters, and field sales agents. This startup claimed that it has more than 1.2 million users engaging on its platform. 

Ultraviolette Automotive, an electric vehicle startup, has raised Rs 30 crore from the leading two-wheeler and three-wheeler manufacturer TVS Motor Company, as part of its ongoing Series B funding round. The startup is likely to see investment from other key stakeholders soon.

Quintype Technologies, a Bengaluru-based SaaS startup that provides digital media publishers a secure and robust platform to create, curate, distribute, and monetise content raised Rs 25 crore in Series A round of funding. The investment is being done by IIFL AMC, which is part of IIFL Wealth Management Ltd.

Y Combinator-backed B2B startup Bikayi, which provides free WhatsApp-integrated ecommerce store setup with payment gateways and order tracking, raised a seed round of $2 million from a clutch of international investors, including Mantis ventures, a VC fund promoted by the popular band Chainsmokers. Other investors include YC, Pioneer Fund, and angel investor Ankur Nagpal.

TrulyMadly, a dating app raised a Pre-Series A funding round of Rs 8.1 crore via Angelist, Inflection Point Ventures, and The Chennai Angels. Some of India’s leading entrepreneurs and CXOs from startups like Unacademy, Haptik, Innov8, AirBnB, and Times Internet invested in this round. TrulyMadly’s existing investors also participated in the round.

Railofy, a startup that offers travel protection to railway passengers against wait list (WL) and reservation against cancellation (RAC) has raised Rs 70 million in its seed round from Chiratae Ventures. The startup plans to use the freshly-raised funds to scale its presence across the country.

Gurugram-based superfoods and AI health venture The Healthy Company has raised its first institutional round of investment to the tune of $350,000. The round includes investment from marquee investors from Venture Catalysts, Kushal Bhagia as part of First Cheque, 9Unicorns, Beardo founders - Ashutosh Valani and Priyank Shah, Amit Waiker, Vaibhav Karnavat, and Udtara Ventures.

Bengaluru-based green technology startup Virtual Forest raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Napino Auto and Electronics Ltd. Started in November 2019, Virtual Forest transforms ideas into innovative green technologies for home appliances like inverters, air conditioners, BLDC ceiling fans, and solar pump controllers for Indian homes.

India connect

Biofourmis, a US healthtech platform founded by IIT Madras alumni Kuldeep Singh Rajput raised $100 million in Series C funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The round saw participation from existing investors Openspace Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and EDBI. The fresh funding will be used to develop, validate, and commercialise several released and unreleased digital therapeutic solutions across cardiology, respiratory, oncology, and pain, with a focus on the US and key Asian markets including Asia-Pacific, China, and Japan.

Edited by Javed Gaihlot


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