Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (November 30, 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 Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
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Simplilearn concludes maiden ESOP buyback

After raising $250 million from global private equity firm Blackstone earlier this year, Bengaluru-headquartered edtech platform Simplilearn has announced the conclusion of its first Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) buyback plan of Rs 48.74 crore. All active employees who held vested shares as part of the ESOP plan were eligible for the buyback, though only 65 percent of them participated in the event.

Blackstone acquired a controlling stake in Simplilearn as part of the Series C funding in July this year, valuing the company at $350 million. Nearly 70 percent of the capital was used to give exits to the early investors in the company. 

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SaaS company Nuclei announces its maiden buyback from its employees

Nuclei, a SaaS platform that empowers enterprises and helps them transform the way they engage with their customers digitally, announced its maiden buyback from employees. The company has been bootstrapped since its inception and has never raised any external funding. All 102 current employees and past employees were eligible for the buyback. The objective of the buyback is to provide employees with the flexibility to sell their stock appreciation right (SAR) holdings and also for the company to distribute the wealth it generated among all its shareholders. 

Trica equity, an ESOP and cap table management product is the facilitator for the buyback for Nuclei.

Cashfree Payments expands MENA presence through investment in UAE-based payment gateway, Telr

Payments and API banking solutions company, Cashfree Payments (Cashfree), announced an equity investment of $15 million in Telr, a Payment Service Provider (PSP) in UAE and Saudi Arabia. With this investment, Cashfree becomes one of the largest shareholders in the company.

 

This strategic investment in Telr will enable Cashfree to launch its distinctive offerings in the MENA region, utilising Telr’s presence and payment infrastructure. In addition, Cashfree and Telr aim to develop a unified cross-border payments platform that would help Indian merchants accept payments from customers in the MENA region and vice-versa, via a single integration.

 

Telr, the UAE based payment gateway solutions provider, offers a platform that enables handling payments in over 120 currencies and 30 languages. Through a single integration, Telr grants access to every payment method it offers, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, UnionPay, Apple Pay, PayPal, SADAD, Mada and STCPay.

Funding News

Recruitment automation startup Zappyhire raises Rs 3.71 Cr in seed round

Zappyhire, an intelligent recruitment platform that helps enterprises screen, engage, and hire talent using Artificial Intelligence, has raised Rs 3.71 crore from the Kerala Angel Network and from Alex K Babu, Founder, and CMD, Hedge Finance Limited.

The round also witnessed the participation of strategic investors such as Shihab Muhammed, Ex-Co-founder of Freshservice (Freshdesk), Navas Meeran, Chairman, Eastern Condiments Pvt Ltd, Dr M I Sahadulla, Rajesh Nair - Associate Partner EY, Chairman and Managing Director, KIMS, and K Paul Thomas, Founder of ESAF Group of Social Enterprises.

Zappyhire platform auto pre-screens and ranks candidates from hundreds of applications using semantic resume parser and AI-enabled video interview. It helps eliminate human effort on candidate engagement processes such as scheduling/rescheduling interviews of assessment, as well as post-offer engagement to reduce the offer-drop-out ratio using conversation AI. 

 

Zappyhire claims to have grown exponentially in the last year and added funded startups, enterprises, SMEs to their clientele which includes ESAF Bank, Carestack, Surveysparrow, Jiffy.ai, BukuKas among others. Zappyhire recently worked with a number of government-sponsored digital hiring initiatives which deal with multiple job families.

InstaAstro raises Rs 3.2 Cr in seed round led by Artha Venture Fund

InstaAstro, a new-age wellness and spiritual services platform that combines the ancient Indian knowledge of Astrology, Yoga, Ayurveda and Meditation, has raised Rs 3 crore in a seed round led by Artha Venture Fund (AVF), an early-stage micro-VC fund.

 

InstaAstro offers online predictions and consultancy; and caters to the real-life issues faced by millennials - including career, marriage and relationships, health, finances, and personal growth, amongst other aspects. Through the said services, the startup aims to offer people peace of mind and assist them during their phase of stress. The round also saw participation from Ramakant Sharma's LogX Ventures. 

 

The Noida-based startup will utilize the funds for product development, marketing and add a gamut of services like Live Astrologer session, Remedies, E-Pooja and Ecommerce etc, to its platform - helping them carve a niche in the holistic wellness segment. This is AVF's 12th investment from its recently closed Rs 225 crores micro-VC fund.

InstaAstro connects 500+ qualified professionals from across the country on its current roster with 60,000 monthly customers. As a result, their Monthly Recurring Revenues (MRR) and users have grown 20x and 25x, respectively, since February 2021. The platform currently has over 30,000 monthly consultations translating to 350,000+ minutes of monthly consultation.

Photography Workflow management platform Premagic raises Rs 2 Cr in pre-seed round

Premagic, a workflow management platform for photographers, has secured Rs 2 crore in pre-seed funding round from 300 ventures and angel investors which include Sujayath Ali, Co-founder of ShopUp and Voonik; Sony Joy, VP-Truecaller and serial entrepreneur; Mohammed Hisamuddin, Co-founder and CEO of Entri.appl and Sharique Samsudheen, Founder and CEO of Marketfeed. 

 

The fresh funds will be utilised in augmenting the engineering team, offering more tools to photographers, and entering addressable markets across key geographies.

 

Founded in 2018 by Anup Mohan, Anenth Vishnu, and Mevin Chirayath as a B2B SAAS product targeting event photography, Premagic helps photographers streamline their workflow and dramatically improve the efficacy of client interactions by making curation digital. The platform also enables photographers to broadcast their brand to a large audience.

Ytrika Life Sciences raises $1.2M in a seed funding round led by Venture Catalyst

Integrated incubator and accelerator Venture Catalysts has recently led the seed funding round worth $1.2 million at Ykrita Life Sciences (YLS) Pvt Ltd, a team of scientists and clinicians leveraging cutting-edge tech to develop a remedy for acute liver failure. 

Indian Scientific Innovation Company Limited served as co-investor in the funding round.

YLS, headed by Dr Mahesh Gopasetty along with Dr Akshay Datey and Dr Taru Verma, is developing a first of its kind bio-medical device: Bio-engineered Artificial Ectopic Liver (BAEL). The innovative product is aimed at helping clinicians to treat patients suffering from liver failure while eliminating the need for an organ transplant, hospitalisation, and exorbitant expenditure on the treatment.

Game-based investment startup Fello raises $1M in seed round

Fello, a game-based investment startup, has raised $1 million in a seed round led by global talent investor Entrepreneur First (EF). Other investors in the seed round included Acequia Capital, Kube VC, IUpsparks, JITO Angels, Dexter Angels, and independent investors Ashneer Groover, Co-founder, BharatPe, Bala Parthasarathy, CEO & Co-founder, MoneyTap, Faiz Mayalakkara, Director of Investments of Emirates Investment Authority and Charlie Songhurst.

 

Fello co-founders, Manish Maryada and Shourya Lala, met for the first time at EF in August 2020. By October 2020, they had built a fintech startup that leverages its proprietary games to turn Gen-Z gamers into financial investors. Since the new product launch in the first week of November, the company has attracted 100,000+ users on the Fello app within two weeks, with over 80 percent of the users being first-time investors.

 

With a vision to build better financial profiles for the youth of India, Fello plans to leverage the funding to expand its young team, scale the product, and gear up for more game-based finance products to disrupt the nascent space in India. The aim is to reach a million users investing and playing on the app in the next three quarters, by penetrating deeper into Tier I and Tier II markets across the country.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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