Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Dec 18, 2021)

YourStory presents this daily roundup of the latest news and updates from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Friday, December 18, 2021.
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Mapmygenome sets up office in New Delhi

Mapmygenome has started operations in Delhi-NCR in a bid to provide genetic testing, genetic counselling and other preventative health tests in North India. The Delhi lab is NABL and ICMR certified, the startup said in a press release, adding it will be able to provide COVID-19 test screening services.

PM Modi meets PE, VC investors to discuss ways of boosting inbound investment

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met leading investors from the private equity and venture capital (VC) industry on Friday to understand how India could showcase its startup ecosystem on the global stage, as well as boost inbound investment, just months ahead of the Budget Meeting for the next fiscal year.

PM Modi cited key reforms to highlight the government's proactive steps to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

These include initiatives like PM Gati Shakti to create a seamless multi-modal transport network, and the government's role to help more startups set up shop, he said.

The investors who attended the meeting included Rajan Anandan, Managing Director of Sequoia Capital; Prashanth Prakash of Accel Partners; Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman of TVS Capital; Renuka Ramnath, Founder of Multiples Alternate Asset Management; Munish Verma, Managing Partner of Softbank; Amit Dalmia, Senior Managing Director of Blackstone; and Siddarth Pai of 3one4 Capital.

Web 3.0 startups discuss the building blocks of the Metaverse: Blockchain, crypto, DAOs, and more

At YourStory’s launch event for The Metaverse Summit on December 18, 2021, a panel of experts in the Web 3.0 and blockchain space came together to discuss the key building blocks that go into building such a Metaverse.

Ganesh Swami, CEO, Covalent; Kaavya Prasad, Co-Founder & COO, Lumos Labs; Illia Polosukhin, Co-Founder, NEAR Protocol; and Ashish Anand, CEO & Co-Founder, Bru Financefeatured on the panel, and offered insights into the future of shared, online worlds.

“Metaverse equals opportunity. And there's been some variant of the 2D and 3D online virtual space for decades. So it doesn't matter where in the world you are, you're not constrained by geography. This is why it’s exciting for seven billion people to work together and build a better future,” said Ganesh Swami, CEO, Covalent, whose startup provides a unified API (Application Programming Interface) that brings visibility to billions of blockchain data points.

Illia Polosukhin, Co-Founder, NEAR Protocol echoed Ganesh’s sentiments and said the Metaverse is not limited to 3D gaming experiences.

He added, “We look at blockchain as the fundamental technology that allows us to compose these experiences in one universal space. It’s like the experience of the virtual world in the movie Ready Player One, but is not controlled by any singular corporation.”

The panellists agreed that assets being locked by a fast, transparent, immutable blockchain, which is "uncrackable or unhackable," is a critical component to building the Metaverse.

Former FLOTUS Melania Trump sets up NFT platform to auction NFT of an artwork of her 'cobalt blue eyes'

Former US First Lady Melania Trump has launched her own NFT platform on which she plans to release exclusive NFTs to raise money for children in foster care.

The first NFT - an artwork of her eyes by Marc-Antoine Coulon, entitled 'Melania's Vision' - will be sold between December 16 and December 31, 2021. The limited-edition piece of digital artwork will also include an audio recording from Trump.

Melania Trump's first NFT (Image credit: The office of Melania Trump)

"Through this new technology-based platform, we will provide children computer science skills, including programming and software development, to thrive after they age out of the foster community," Trump said in the press release issued by her office.

The NFT platform will be based on the Solana blockchain protocol. The digital artwork will be 1 SOL, or around $150.

The sale of an NFT by digital artist Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) for $69 million earlier this year opened the floodgates for scores of other NFT sales by various artists, musicians, actors, and regular users.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey's first-ever tweet sold for the equivalent of $2.9 million, while western stars such as Eminem, Grimes, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, as well as Indian celebrities Amitabh BachchanVishal Malhotra, and more have launched their own NFTs to capitalise on their growing popularity.

Zomato completes acquisition of 7.89 percent shareholding in Shiprocket

Foodtech giant Zomato — which went public this year - had last month said it would invest $75 million in logistics startup Shiprocket (Bigfoot Retail Solutions), as part of its larger $185 million financing round.

On Friday, Zomato notified the National Stock Exchange of India that it had completed the acquisition in Shiprocket on December 17.

Zomato last month said its consolidated revenue from operations rose by 140 percent and the delivery cost per order increased by Rs 5 per order in the second quarter.

Blockchain startup Router Protocol CEO bats for the need to build infra layers for the next wave of Web 3.0 innovations

At YourStory’s launch of The Metaverse Summit - India’s first Web 3.0 conference - Ramani Ramachandran, CEO of blockchain startup Router Protocol, highlighted the need for scalable infrastructure layers for the next wave of Web 3.0 innovations.

“In the traditional world, you have Visa and Mastercard doing thousands of transactions per second,” he said, explaining that in Web 3.0, speed and scalability of blockchains is not always high.

“So, Layer 2 protocols and rollups are adding a layer of scalability on underlying blockchains. What these try to do is minimise the amount of transactions performed on the core layer of one chain by taking a bunch of the transactions off it and performing them on a layer 2 chain,” he said.

With the future of shared, online worlds, or metaverses, dependent on scalable blockchains, Ram explained: “Interoperability between scalable blockchains is key in building the metaverse. For instance, on blockchain games on virtual platforms, there is cross-portability of assets across platforms. In addition, user information is not given to a centralised company.”

During the session, Ram also touched upon how “Web 3.0 is a great equaliser” for innovators and builders in the space.

EV edutech startup Autobot India sets up academy to address demand in India

Autobot India, an electric vehicle edutech startup, has set up the Autobot Academy to address the rise in demand for electric vehicles in India, and encourage the development of futuristic tech in the space.

The Autobot Academy is training the workforce to cater to the EV sector in India, as well as helping people interested in the sector explore career advancement opportunities. In the future, it hopes to employ the use of AR/VR, and AI/ML to provide virtual learning courses.

"EVs are the future of mobility, and the Indian automobile sector is now gearing up for the transition. With an aim to make India an EV nation, we have established the Autobot Academy as the most reputed and comprehensive learning and development facility for future skills," said Ashwini Tiwary, Co-founder and CEO of Autobot India.

"We have brought in the best EV experts from all over the world to ensure delivery of an engaging learning experience integrated with top-end technologies. There are seamless learning modes with hands-on projects and well-structured courses that offer domain specialization to the learners," she added.

Debt-collection venture Spocto inks deal with AdvaRisk, a fraud prevention fintech platform

Spocto, which provides contactless debt collection services to banks and NBFCs, said it has signed a deal with Mumbai-based fraud prevention platform, AdvaRisk.

AdvaRisk will help Spocto unearth information about borrowers and guarantors, assess their net worth and repayment capacity, identify the borrower's unencumbered, disclosed and undisclosed assets, as well as provide proactive credit monitoring.

"AdvaRisk also helps in identifying the modus operandi of fund diversion and traces the alienated assets of borrowers and guarantors," the companies said in a press release.

"This association enables Spocto to offer an additional feature of fraud detection and networth profiling of borrowers for lenders in India. This is where AdvaRisk comes into the picture, and apart from tracing the customer and engaging with them, Spocto will now be happy to advise recognised fraudulent behaviour through predictive methods and networth profiling of borrowers with AdvarRisk for our existing and new clients," Sumeet Srivastava, founder and CEO of Spocto Solutions said in a press release.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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