Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 7, 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, April 7, 2021.
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Mukesh Ambani dethrones Jack Ma to be Asia's richest person

India has the third highest number of billionaires in the world after the US and China, according to a new list by the Forbes magazine. It's latest report said Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani reclaimed his spot as Asia's richest person, dethroning Chinese business tycoon Jack Ma who was the richest person in the region a year ago. Forbes' 35th annual list of the world's billionaires is topped by Amazon CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos for the fourth year in a row.

NCLT admits petition for insolvency proceedings against OYO subsidiary; OYO challenges order in NCLAT (YourStory Exclusive)

The NCLT has admitted a petition for the commencement of corporate insolvency proceedings against OYO Hotels and Homes Pvt Ltd (OHHPL), a subsidiary of OYO Group, on March 30, 2021 over the plea filed by its creditor Rakesh Yadav, YourStory has learnt. In an exclusive statement shared with YourStory, OYO Group said it has filed an appeal with the NCLAT, challenging the NCLT order against its subsidiary, OHHPL, for an amount of Rs 16 lakh. The company also said the Rs. 16 lakh disputed amount has already been paid to the claimant under protest by the entity with whom the dispute was raised (other than OHHPL).

PharmEasy enters unicorn club with $350M fund-raise led by Prosus Ventures, TPG Growth (Funding)

API Holdings, the holding company of online pharmacy startup PharmEasy, has raised $350 million in a Series E round led by Prosus Ventures and TPG growth at a reported valuation of $1.5 billion, making Pharmeasy the seventh startup from India to enter the unicorn club this year. The other six startups that entered the unicorn club this year are Digit Insurance, InnovAccer, Infra.market, Five Star Finance, Meesho, and CRED.

RBI keeps interests rates unchanged amid COVID-19 resurgence

The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday expectedly left interest rates unchanged and maintained an accommodative stance as the economy faces a renewed threat to growth due to the resurgence of coronavirus cases. The central bank kept the benchmark repurchase rate unchanged at 4 percent and maintained accommodative policy stance to support growth.

Trifecta Capital to launch $200M fund to invest in IPO-bound Indian startups

Trifecta Capital is planning to launch a late-stage venture capital fund — Trifecta Leaders Fund – I — with a targeted corpus of Rs 1,500 crore to invest in new economy companies that are likely to pursue an IPO in the next one-three years. The new fund will invest $15-30 million each in around 10 companies for minority stakes through a combination of primary and secondary positions. It has already built a strong pipeline of 20 companies as potential portfolio candidates.

RBI retains GDP growth forecast at 10.5 pc for FY22

The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday retained the economic growth projection for the current financial year at 10.5 percent, while cautioning that the recent surge in COVID-19 infections has created uncertainty over the economic growth recovery. In its last policy review, the RBI had projected a GDP growth rate of 10.5 percent for FY'22.

SaaS startup Karnival raises $250K from We Founder Circle (Funding)

Startup investment platform We Founder Circle (WFC) has invested in Karnival, a Bengaluru-based SaaS customer engagement platform for retailers and brands to create personalised post-purchase customer journeys using smart receipts technology. The seed round worth $250,000 witnessed participation from marquee investors including Krishna Kumar, Founder, Simplilearn; Dravya Dholakia, Dholakia Ventures; Shashwat Kumar, Khetal Advisors Singapore; and corporate leaders such as Abhay Tandon, Dinesh Agrawal, Avnish Sabharwal, Abhishek Kishore Gupta, and Suman Das.

Waaree Group’s energy storage arm WESS raises $2M in seed round (Funding)

High-tech energy storage division of WAAREE Group — Waaree Energy Storage System (WESS) — on Wednesday said it has raised $2 million in seed funding from an HNI investor. The startup will use the newly infused capital to drive the expansion of its manufacturing capabilities and aid product development with laser-sharp emphasis on smart IoT-based batteries and telematics.

Rage Coffee raises undisclosed amount in round led by Refex Capital (Funding)

New Delhi-based Rage Coffee raised an undisclosed amount of growth capital as part of its pre-Series A funding round from a clutch of investors led by Refex Capital. According to the official statement, the round also saw participation from other marquee investors, including 9 Unicorns Venture Capital Fund, Emarson Computers, CC One Venture Labs, Spotlight Capital, Evolvx Advisory, Darshan Deora, and KRS Jamwal.

RBI to mandate interoperability among prepaid payments instruments: Governor Shaktikanta Das

Marking its displeasure on prepaid payments instruments issuers not adopting interoperability, the Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday said it will make it mandatory for such companies to make provisions for letting their customers transact with others after doing a full-KYC (know-your-customer). The RBI also doubled the maximum balance of a single account in a payments bank to Rs 2 lakh at the end of the day.

MS Dhoni announces animated spy series 'Captain 7'

Former India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is set to produce an animated series, titled Captain 7. The first season of the spy series, which is currently in pre-production, will be based on cricketer MS Dhoni, the makers said in a statement. Billed as the country's first "animated spy universe", the show will launch with its first season in 2022.

GST to be levied on underlying goods/services in gift vouchers: rules AAAR

Clearing the air over taxability of gift cards or vouchers, the Tamil Nadu bench of the AAAR has ruled that GST would be levied on the underlying goods/ services at the time of redemption such pre-paid instruments. Kalyan Jewellers India Ltd has approached the Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling (AAAR) against the ruling by the Tamil Nadu state Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR), which had said that GST at 12 percent or 18 percent would be levied depending on whether on such pre-paid instruments was paper based or magnetic strip based, respectively.

Point of sale lending platform ShopSe raises $5.5M from Chiratae Ventures, BEENEXT, others (Funding)

Mumbai-based fintech startup ShopSe, which offers pay later and instant EMI platform, on Wednesday announced that it has raised around Rs 40 crore ($5.5 million) in a funding round led by Chiratae Ventures and BEENEXT. The round also saw participation from Pentathlon Ventures, Opus, and existing angel investor Abhishant Pant of Yatra Angel Network. The amount raised will enable ShopSe to add more talent, expand market reach to serve the growing demand for its platform, and accelerate product development.

Practo launches online consultations in 15 Indian languages

Integrated healthcare company Practo on Wednesday announced the launch of online consultations in 15 Indian languages. This initiative will allow online consultation users to choose a doctor who can speak in their preferred language, the company said. Currently, this service covers 15 languages - including Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, and Bengali - with more to be added soon, it said in a release, adding that with this, Practo is one step closer to breaking down access barriers for 200 million unique users in the future.

Prasad Kompalli and Ashutosh Lawania, Co-founders of MFine

MFine launches tool to help people track oxygen levels using smartphones

Healthtech startup MFine has announced the launch of app-based SPO2 (blood oxygen saturation) monitoring tool, MFine Pulse, to help users keep track of their oxygen saturation levels using their smartphones. According to the official statement, the startup will be leveraging artificial intelligence to measure oxygen saturation using the phone camera and flash.

Ratan Tata, Nandan Nilekani’s Avanti Finance raises $26M in debt round from Oikocredit, Nomura (Funding)

Tech-led NBFC focussed on financial inclusion Avanti Finance on Wednesday said it raised $26 million (Rs 195 crore) in debt and equity from Oikocredit, Nomura, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Technopreneur-cum-philanthropist Pratul Shroff and existing investor NRJN Trust also participated in the round. According to a statement, Avanti will use the funds to strengthen its platform and expand its presence to accelerate livelihoods purpose credit and other financial products to the next 100 million unserved and underserved households in India.

Healthtech startup 1mg joins hand with Columbia Pacific Communities to ensure better healthcare access for the elderly

Healthtech startup 1mg has joined hands with senior living community operator Columbia Pacific Communities as its official e-healthcare partner. As a part of this, 1mg will ensure seamless healthcare access for CPC’s senior residents in the comfort and safety of their homes amid the pandemic. According to the official statement, the senior residents of Columbia Pacific Communities will now have priority access to order medicines, health products, diagnostic tests, doctor consultations among many other curated services along with multiple payment options and premium support. 

Groww enters unicorn club after latest $83M fundraise (Funding)

Online trading platform Groww on Wednesday said it had raised $83 million in a series D round, which valued the fast-growing startup at a valuation of more than $1 billion, making it the fourth entrant to India's unicorn club this week. Tiger Global led the round, and existing investors such as Sequoia India, YC Continuity, Ribbit Capital, and Propel Venture Partners participated as well. The startup said it will use funds from the current round to expand its product suite, hire talent, and invest heavily in financial awareness aimed at millennials.

Ecommerce adoption among Indian retailers increases by 20x in the last one year

Flipkart Wholesale's cash and carry business, Best Price, has seen a 20X increase in ecommerce adoption among its members with demand coming especially from Tier II and Tier III cities. The commerce giant also launched ‘Online Shopping Dhamaka Month’ for its Best Price members with an aim to enhance savings for small retailers across the country and ensure their safety through ecommerce orders and speedy doorstep delivery

Digital lending startup Kudos raises pre-Series A round from marquee investors, fintech founders (Funding)

Digital lending startup Kudos recently raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A funding from marquee fintech founders and super angels to bring the best minds in the country to help build its full vision of enabling digital lending to reach millions of Indians across segments and geographies. 

Kim Kardashian West becomes billionaire at 40

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West joined the coveted Forbes' World’s Billionaires List, up from $780 million net worth in October last year. Her net worth rose to $1 billion. Her business empires, including KKW Beauty, Skims, along with earnings from reality TV shows, endorsement deals, and other smaller investments, contributed to her wealth.

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