Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Feb 8, 2021)
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and a dozen of its organisations have moved to a homegrown Twitter-alternative platform called Koo after the microblogging giant failed to respond to a notice filed by the government last week. The government is also mulling suspending Twitter in India for some time to put pressure on the social media giant to respond to its directive. It may lodge an FIR soon too, experts and sources inside the government told YourStory.
The Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) annual financial literacy week in 2021 is focused on the theme of credit discipline and credit from formal institutions, and begins on Monday, it said in a release. The initiative will aim to spread the message of responsible borrowing, borrowing from formal institutions, and timely repayments of loans and EMIs to citizens of India, the central bank said. Several posters to disseminate the information have been drawn up too.
Local language tech platform VerSe Innovation, the parent company of news aggregator Dailyhunt and short-video platform Josh, has raised $100 million in Series H funding led by global investors Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, and Glade Brook Capital Partners. The round also saw participation from Canaan Valley Capital and existing investor Sofina Group. In a press statement, VerSe Innovation said it plans to deploy the funding steadily in scaling up the short video platform, Josh.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said the government will work with the Reserve Bank for execution of the bank privatisation plan announced in the Budget. Speaking to reporters in the financial capital, Sitharaman also said that the government has no plan to form any bank investment company to house the government stakes in banks. In the Union Budget presented last week, Sitharaman had announced the privatisation of two banks as part of its disinvestment plan. Bank unions have opposed the move.
IT outsourcing platform Supersourcing has raised a seed funding of Rs 1.5 crore from marquee angel investors like Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Dr Ritesh Malik. Owned and operated by the Indore-based startup, EngineerBabu, it aims to utilise the funding amount for strengthening its global growth including content, ads, PR, partnership, hiring CTOs, and other tech as well as product growth engineers.
The Indian spacetech ecosystem is now utilising collaborations to propel its growth. Spacetech startups Bellatrix Aerospace and Skyroot Aerospace on Monday announced they have now entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further India’s spacetech efforts. As a part of the deal, the Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) being developed by Bellatrix will be used in the upper stage of Vikram launch vehicles built by Skyroot.
Newton School Team
Bengaluru-based edtech startup, Newton School on Monday announced that it has raised $5 million in Series A round of financing, led by RTP Global. The round also saw participation from existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Prophetic Ventures and Unacademy co-founders Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh, Flipkart’s CEO Kalyan Krishnamoorthy, CRED’s Kunal Shah, Freshworks’ Girish Mathrubootham, Udaan’s Sujeet Kumar, and Razorpay founders Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar, along with a slew of angels.
TenderCuts, a Chennai-based omnichannel meat and seafood brand, on Monday announced it has raised Rs 110 crore ($15 million) in a round led by Paragon Partners, a mid-market PE fund founded by Siddharth Parekh and Sumeet Nindrajog with participation from NABVENTURES, an agri-food tech VC fund backed by NABARD. In a media release, the startup said the funding will allow TenderCuts to expand its current operations and pursue organic and inorganic growth opportunities. The funds will also allow the company to invest in scaling up its supply chain and technology infrastructure to support innovation and accessibility of its products and services, the release added.
The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca has shown efficacy against the UK variant of the coronavirus, according to an ongoing study by researchers. Oxford University scientists who developed the ChAdOx1-nCoV19 vaccine have found that it remains effective against at least one of the new variants of the disease, called the B.1.1.7 Kent' coronavirus strain after the south-east England region where it was first discovered late last year.
Bengaluru-based micro-savings fintech platform, Siply, on Monday announced that it has raised $1 million in a seed round from investors like Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO) Angel Network and Inflection Point Ventures (IPV), along with a group of CXOs from India and UAE-based angel investors.
TenderCuts, a Chennai-based omnichannel meat and seafood brand, on Monday announced it has raised Rs 110 crore ($15 million) in a round led by Paragon Partners, a mid-market PE fund founded by Siddharth Parekh and Sumeet Nindrajog with participation from NABVENTURES, an agri-food tech VC fund backed by NABARD.
SarvaGram, the fintech startup focused on rural areas, has raised $10.5 million in a Series B funding round led by Elevation Capital, along with pro-rata participation from existing investor Elevar Equity. This two-year-old startup will use this round of funding to strengthen its technology platform, expand the geographical reach, and launch new offerings.
Celebrity engagement platform Unlu on Monday announced it has raised a seed funding round of Rs 9 crore led by marquee venture capital firm Nexus Venture Partners with participation from Mumbai Angels, TiE, and Expert Dojo. Unlu, which has over one million users so far, focuses on celebrity engagements for consumers and brands with 2000+ celebrities on its platform. The Delhi-based startup plans to utilise the funding to build technological base, support product development, and fuel market expansion.
The government has ordered Twitter to block 1,178 accounts with links to Pakistan and Khalistan supporters which were spreading misinformation and provocative content on farmers' protest, sources said.
Japanese telecommunications and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. reported Monday a whopping 1.17 trillion yen ($11 billion) profit for the October-December quarter as its investments rose in value. SoftBank's profits were far better than what analysts had expected, zooming up 21-fold from the 55 billion yen profit recorded the previous year.