Startup news and updates: daily roundup (March 24, 2021)

YourStory presents this daily roundup of the latest startup news and updates from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
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Healthtech startup Cancer Clinics closes pre-Series A round from Axilor Ventures, others (Funding)

Hyderabad-based healthtech startup Cancer Clinics recently closed pre-Series A funding of $1.5 million led by Axilor Ventures. With this, M-Venture Partners (MVP), a Singapore based early-stage fund, also marked its debut in India. NATCO Pharma Limited, Hyderabad-based pharma and infrastructure entrepreneurs, leaders of Bharti group, senior partners from McKinsey, and ISB alumni also participated in the round.

Parent firm of Dream11 raises $400M at $5B valuation (Funding)

Fantasy sports unicorn startup Dream Sports, which owns the flagship brand Dream 11, has raised $400 million in second investment led by TCV, D1 Capital Partners, and Falcon Edge. This round which also participation from existing investors valued Dream Sports at $5 billion, according to reports. The existing investors are Tiger Global, ChrysCapital, TPG Growth, Steadview Capital, and Footpath Ventures.

Harsh Jain, CEO and Co-Founder, Dream Sports

Fintech startup Velocity raises $10.3 M in seed round led by Valar Ventures (Funding)

Bengaluru-based fintech startup Velocity, founded by IIT Bombay graduates a year ago, and which provides collateral free loans to online businesses, has raised $10.3 million in seed funding led by Valar Ventures, a US-based VC firm backed by Peter Thiel. The other investors who participated in this seed round include founding investors Mato Peric and Tom Stafford (DST Global) as well as Presight Capital, Utsav Somani’s iSeed, Oliver Jung (LAO Holdings), Robert Frohwein (Kabbage), Dhruv Arora (Syfe) and Erik Podzuweit & Florian Prucker (Scalable Capital).

Barbeque Nation IPO opens for subscription today, garners Rs 203 Cr from anchor investors

The Initial Public Offering (IPO) for casual dining chain Barbeque Nation Hospitality opens for subscription today and will continue until March 26. The company is planning to raise Rs 452.87 crore through its public issue at the higher end of the price band Rs 498-500 per share. Barbeque Nation on Tuesday raised Rs 203 crore from anchor investors ahead of its initial share-sale, and the company's IPO committee has decided to allocate 40,57,861 shares at Rs 500 apiece to 21 anchor investors.

Barbeque Nation IPO subscribed 1.33 times on Day 1 of subscription

The initial public offer of casual dining chain Barbeque Nation Hospitality Limited was subscribed 1.33 times on Wednesday, the first day of subscription. The Rs 453-crore issue received bids for 66,46,830 shares against 49,99,609 shares on offer, as per NSE data.

Prince Harry joins coaching startup as Chief Impact Officer

Prince Harry has joined the corporate world as employee coaching and mental health firm BetterUp Inc's Chief Impact Officer. The financial terms of his employment were undisclosed. BetterUp, based in San Francisco, works with employees from companies, including Mars, AB InBev, and LinkedIn on coaching and mental health services. 

Pic Credit - Instagram account of Sussex Royal

Amid rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, GoogleCEO sends consoling email to employees

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, Google's parent company, sent an email to employees noting the Atlanta shootings’ effect on the company’s large Asian population. According to CNBC, Pichai sent the email last week after a shooting spree in Georgia that killed eight people, including six Asian women. This spurred nationwide protests over the weekend. 

Practolaunches 24x7 veterinary telemedicine and online consultation services for pets

Bengaluru-based telemedicine giant Practo has announced the launch of veterinary telemedicine services on its platform. As a part of these services, the company is partnering with licensed veterinarians across India to offer 24x7 online consultation services for pets. 

Saas startup Voiroraises $1.8M in pre-Series A round led by Mela Ventures, 1Crowd

Voiro, a Bengaluru-based SaaS startup, on Wednesday said it raised $1.8 million in a pre-Series-A round led by Mela Ventures. Early-stage VC fund and angel platform 1Crowd, who had led Voiro’s seed round in 2019, also participated in the round. Founded in 2014 by Kavita Shenoy, Anand Gopal, Anil Karat, and Jithin George, Voiro is a revenue management solution built specifically to address the content monetisation space.

Elon Musk: You can now buy a Teslawith Bitcoin.com

Technoking of Tesla Elon Musk today announced that customers can purchase Tesla vehicles with Bitcoin as payment. In a tweet, Musk added: "Tesla is using only internal and open-source software and operates Bitcoin nodes directly. Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as Bitcoin, not converted to fiat currency. Pay by Bitcoin capability [will be] available outside the US later this year."

Elon Musk

Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky returns to Amazonto head its cloud business, replacing Andy Jassy

Amazon is witnessing a few additions and changes to its top leadership positions. Tableau Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and former Amazon executive, Adam Selipsky, will be the next CEO of the tech giant's cloud business- Amazon Web Services (AWS). Adam will be stepping into the shoes of Andy Jassy who was announced as Amazon's new CEO after Jeff Bezos announced to step down in February this year. 

Food brand Happy Jars raises Rs 3 Cr in seed round led by Inflection Point Ventures (Funding)

Delhi-based food brand offering natural peanut butter, Happy Jars, on Wednesday announced that it has raised Rs 3 crore in its seed round led by Inflection Point Ventures. Started in 2018, it is the 8th deal of IPV for 2021 , who are likely to invest Rs 155 crore this year across 60 plus startups.

Happy Jars Founders - Surabhi Talwar, Vikram Sekhar

Public App by Inshorts raises Rs 300 Cr led by A91 Partners(Funding)

Public App, a location-based social network backed by news aggregator startup Inshorts, has secured Rs 300 crore in funding from A91 Partners with participation from existing investors. It had raised Rs 260 crore in funding led by Addition, along with SIG and Tanglin Venture Partners, six months ago.

ChrysCapital invests $50M in Safex Chemicals for a minority stake (Funding)

Agrochemical company Safex Chemicals India on Wednesday said PE firm ChrysCapital has invested $50 million (around Rs 362 crore) in the company for a minority stake. The transaction involves a combination of a secondary sale by existing PE investor BanyanTree Growth Capital, along with a primary raise by the company for growth initiatives, it said.

Medix Global is inviting healthtech startups to participate in its inaugural edition of Digital Health Innovation Challenge India

Medix Global, an innovative and digital health and medical management solutions provider, has launched the inaugural edition of Digital Health Innovation Challenge India to address the gaps in the healthtech ecosystem. Through this initiative, Medix is looking to support Indian healthtech startups developing digital health solutions to address problems related to healthcare accessibility, affordability, quality, and democratise healthcare and advance the sustainability of the healthcare eco­system in India.

Pune martech startup ExtraaEdgeraises $1M in pre-Series A round led by Pentathlon Ventures (Funding)

ExtraaEdge, a Pune-based martech startup focussed on the education sector, on Wednesday said it has raised $1 million in a pre-Series A round from Pentathlon Ventures. The round also saw participation from 9Unicorns, Indian Angel Network, Faad Network, and DevX Innovation. Existing investors Sprout Venture Partners and TiE Pune Angels, and prominent angels, including Monish Darda (Co-founder and CTO, Icertis), Manasij Ganguly (ex-CEO, Threadsol), and Aditya Somani (ex-Premji Invest) also participated in the round.

ExtraaEdge Co-Founders(L:R) Sushil Mundada, Abhishek Ballabh

Govt hikes PF limit to Rs 5 lakh for earning tax-free interest

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday raised the limit for tax exemption on interest earned on provident fund contribution by employees to Rs 5 lakh per annum in specified cases from Rs 2.5 lakh proposed in the Budget. In the Union Budget for 2021-22, Sitharaman had capped the tax-free interest earned on provident fund contribution by employees and employers together to a maximum of Rs 2.5 lakh in a year in an attempt to dissuade high earners from parking their surplus in what is supposed to be a common man's retirement fund.

Zotalabs raises $125K in seed round led by Dhianu Das from Alfa Ventures (Funding)

Pune-based online learning startup Zotalabs has raised $125,000 (Rs 90 lakh approx) in its seed funding round. The company aims to create a subscription-based platform to provide students access to K-12 education globally from multiple educational institutions.

B2B marketplace Zetwerkconcludes $8.3M share buyback from employees, early investors

Zetwerk Manufacturing, a digital homegrown B2B marketplace for large manufacturing, on Wednesday announced it has bought back shares worth $8.3 million (Rs 60.92 crore) from employees and early investors.  A large part of the Zetwerk workforce participated in the employee stock options (ESOPS) liquidation process completed in three rounds. However, the Bengaluru-based company did not disclose the exact number of employees who benefited from the buyback.

Bengaluru-based Simbo.ai wins NASSCOM CoE’s Healthcare Innovation Challenge for prescription digitisation 

Bengaluru-based healthtech startup Simbo.ai has been announced as the winner of NASSCOM CoE’s Healthcare Innovation Challenge (HIC) under the prescription digitisation segment. Simbo.ai’s recently launched its flagship cloud-based application programming interface (API) platform, SimboAlpha, which enables healthcare workers to create voice-based electronic medical records (EMR). 

Hollywood veteran, The Goldbergs actor George Segal dies at 87

Veteran actor George Segal — known for his Oscar-nominated performance in the 1966 classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the star of the sitcom The Goldbergs — passed away on Wednesday, March 24. He was 87.

New double mutant variant of the COVID-19 virus has been found in India: Health Ministry

Amid rising number of coronavirus cases in India, the health ministry informed that a new double mutant variant has been found in the country. The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a group of 10 national laboratories established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, have been responsible for carrying out genomic sequencing and analysis of circulating COVID-19 viruses. INSACOG’s analysis on samples from Maharashtra has revealed some mutations which do not match with the previously catalogued variants of concerns (VOCs).

Govt's corona WhatsApphelpdesk chatbot crosses 3 Cr users in India

The Indian government's official chatbot on WhatsApp to help people with coronavirus-related information has crossed 30 million users in India, a senior government official said on Tuesday. The official WhatsApp chatbot by the Ministry of Health and MyGov — developed by artificial intelligence-focussed startup Haptik — was made available to all WhatsApp users for free in English and Hindi languages.

Swapan Rajdev, CTO and Co-founder and Aakrit Vaish, CEO and Co-founder

No digital tax if goods, services sold via Indian arm of foreign ecommerce players

In a bid to provide a level-playing field, the government has decided not to levy 2 percent digital service tax if goods and services are sold through Indian arm of foreign ecommerce players. The amendment to Finance Bill 2021 clarifies that offshore ecommerce platforms don't have to pay 2 percent equalisation levy if they have permanent establishment or they pay any income tax here.

Swiggyto pay for COVID-19 vaccine of its over 2 lakh delivery staff

Swiggy, the on-demand delivery unicorn, has announced that it would bear the entire cost of the COVID-19 vaccination for its two-lakh plus delivery staff. The company has its presence across 500 cities. This development comes in the backdrop of the government announcing that COVID-19 vaccines would be available for all those who are 45 years and above from April 1, 2020.

Villgro, UBS-Optimus Foundation launch accelerator programme for healthcare social enterprises

Villgro Foundation and UBS-Optimus Foundation on Wednesday launched a healthcare accelerator programme to drive better outcomes among underserved communities in India. The programme aims to support market-ready, revenue stage, for-profit social enterprises working in the areas of safe surgery, frontline healthcare, and paediatric cancer. 

Industrial activities may gather further momentum on rise in govt capex, vaccination drive: Kant

Industrial activities in India are expected to gather further momentum on account of an increase in government capital expenditure, accelerate the COVID-19 vaccination drive, and resolute push to long-pending reforms, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Tuesday. Addressing a virtual event organised by the UK India Business Council, Kant further said India did suffer a massive impact due to COVID-19 across the economy and society.

Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog

Lockdown proved to be an inflection point for ecommerce in India: Online retailers

The pandemic-induced lockdown and movement curbs marked an inflection point for ecommerce in India, pushing demand to record highs, nudging new buyers as well as sellers onto digital platforms, and holding out the promise of lasting growth for players. The Indian ecommerce market has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic, as containment measures introduced millions to the convenience of online shopping, and prompted seasoned online shoppers to buy more.

One year since COVID-19 lockdown: India still recovering from unemployment blow

India is still not out of the woods as far as unemployment is concerned a year after the lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19, as pandemic-induced job loss has not tapered off consistently. The government had imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic but this impacted economic and commercial activities and resulted in job loss, and later on the exodus of migrant workers which rocked the entire nation.

CCI terms WhatsApp's conduct on updated privacy policy "exploitative and exclusionary"; orders probe

Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Wednesday directed its investigation arm to conduct a probe into WhatsApp's updated privacy policy and terms of service on prima facie finding that the firm has contravened competition law provisions through its "exploitative and exclusionary conduct" in the garb of a policy update.

Edited by Anju Narayanan