Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (December 1, 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, December 1, 2021.
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Ola to invest up to Rs 786 Cr in Ola Financial Services

Ola is making an investment of up to Rs 786.1 crore in Ola Financial Services (OFS), which will now become a 100 percent subsidiary of the ride-hailing platform, as per regulatory documents.

As per documents submitted by ANI Technologies (which operates Ola) to the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Ola has received the nod to "make an investment in Ola Financial Services up to Rs 786,64,12,400 in kind consideration against swap of shares of the company".

According to sources, ANI Technologies will now own 100 percent of Ola Financial Services in an all-stock deal.

Emails sent to Ola did not elicit a response. Ola Financial has sold over 675 million policies sold and is a key part of Ola's mobility platform.

Companies bullish on their hiring plans this quarter: Report

Companies are bullish on their hiring plans this quarter on the back of easing of the pandemic-related restrictions and consequent ecommerce and retail sector performance, according to a report.

According to TeamLease Services' Q3 hiring intent trends based on its platform data, the hiring intent for the October-December 2021 quarter stood at 41 percent, a 3 percentage point gain over the July-September 2021 quarter.

Although the corporate workforce demand has not touched the pre-pandemic mark, the continuous quarter-on-quarter increase in hiring intent, as mapped by TeamLease Services, points to significant business realignment to adjust to digital transformation needs, the report said.

Intra-city commute solution provider Tummoc partners with Rapido to provide first and last-mile connectivity

Bengaluru-based intra-city commute solution provider Tummoc has announced its collaboration with bike taxi service startup, Rapido, to provide the first and last-mile connectivity from the companys’ multi-modal transit mobile application.

Tummoc’s collaboration with Rapido is thus in-sync with the company’s vision, which also resonates with Rapido’s goal of making last-mile connectivity affordable through its disruptive service model.

Tummoc has established its operations in key metro cities of Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Kolkata, where users can access Tummoc’s mobile application to understand public transport routes and transport options between two points within a city at the click of a button.

With convenience features like doorstep pick-up with assured ride safety and economically priced rides even in rush hour or traffic situations, Rapido has a customer base of more than 10 million and will leverage its collaboration with Tummoc to expand further in the cities it operates in.

RBI auto-debit rules not helping SaaS companies, says Freshworks' Girish Mathrubootham

Girish Mathrubootham, Chief Executive Officer at NASDAQ-listed Freshworks, said, the introduction of auto-debit guidelines for recurring payments by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was 'not helping' Indian Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses.

To counter this, he suggested that the central bank come up with a ‘whitelist’ of companies to make it easier to do business.

The guidelines, which came into effect in October, require customers to consent to every recurring transaction over Rs 5,000 and mandates a two-factor authentication at the time of payment. The move has impacted multiple industries including OTT players, SaaS companies, and other service providers working on annual or multi-year subscription models.

Girish Mathrubootham, CEO of Freshworks

Paytm expects revenue, monetisation methods to expand in next few quarters: CEO

Digital payments and financial services firm Paytm is expecting to increase revenue and monetisation methods on its platform in the next few quarters, according to a top company official.

Paytm Chairman and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, during an earnings call with analysts in the US, said, the company is seeing scale in system deployment and non-UPI revenue, where merchant gives revenue charges, MDR (merchants discount rate) for payments and credit led financial service, and provides the company with the next level of monetisation.

Funding News

Simpl raises $40 M in Series B; will use funds to scale and hire, says founder

Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) fintech startup Simpl has raised $40 million in a Series B funding round led by Valar Ventures and IA Ventures, as well as existing investors.

The startup expects to use funds from the latest round to hire talent including engineers, as well as fuel the launch of its new products and features, founder Nitya Sharma told YourStory.

The new products and features include a fraud detection platform for merchants, and a loyalty programme that merchants can extend to their regular customers, Nitya said. He added that Simpl is also launching a product called "Pay-in-3" for millennials that will allow them to split their bills over three equal payments every month.

Cloud kitchen startup BOX8 raises $40M from Tiger Global, rebrands to EatClub Brands

Poncho Hospitality, the parent company of cloud kitchen startup Box8, rebranded to EatClub Brands on Wednesday after raising $40 million in a round led by Tiger Global.

Founded by two IIT graduates Amit Raj and Anshul Gupta, the company prepares and delivers meals and snacks using its extensive delivery fleet. EatClub Brands started out with BOX8, which is known for its all-in-one meals and Desi Box. It was an early mover in the cloud kitchen space, and was one of the first D2C brands to cross the Rs 100 crore revenue mark.

Amit Raj and Anshul Gupta, Founders of BOX8

CollegeDekho closes Series B round at $35M

Gurugram-based college admissions and higher education services platform CollegeDekho on Wednesday announced that it has closed its Series B funding with Disrupt ADQ and QIC coming on board recently.

The $35 million (Rs 260 crore) round has been led by Winter Capital, ETS Strategic Capital - the private equity investments arm of ETS (creator of the TOEFL® tests and GRE® General Test), Calega and existing investor Man Capital. 

NxtWave raises $2.8M in pre-Series A round led by Orios Venture Partners and Better Capital

Hyderabad-based edtech startup NxtWave has raised $2.8 million in pre-Series A round led by Orios Venture Partners and Better Capital. 

The current funding round also saw participation from Ravi Bhushan (Founder, BrightCHAMPS), Ramakant Sharma(Founder, Livspace), Vikram Kailas (Cofounder, Mytrah Energy), Umang Kumar (Cofounder & President, CarDekho), Chakradhar Gade (Cofounder, Country Delight), Anupam Mittal (Founder, Shaadi.com), Vikas Malpani (Cofounder, Leher & Commonfloor), Rajesh Shawney (Founder, GSF Accelerator), Nandu Nandkishore (Professor ISB & Former Global CEO Nestlé Nutrition) and Shaji Devakar (Executive Director, IIFL Wealth) and Giridhar Malpani (Founder, Climber Capital).

Launched amidst the pandemic in September 2020 by Sashank Reddy Gujjula, Anupam Pedarla and Rahul Attuluri, NxtWave claims to be cash-flow positive and has profitably grown by 9X in the last 10 months to $7.5 million ARR.

The startup offers vernacular, asynchronous and online cohort-based training programs in Industry 4.0 tech career tracks for college students, graduates and early professionals. In the last 6 months, 250+ companies have hired NxtWave graduates including the likes of Google, Jio etc, stated the press statement.

NxtWave has built an active student community of 200,000+ students from over 3,000 colleges and currently has paid customers from 250+ districts with more than 85 percent of them coming from non-metros and rural areas.

BizzTM raises $1.2M in seed round led by 2am VC, along with Axilor Venture and others

BizzTM, a burgeoning M2B2C model startup enabling retailers to sell without owning inventory through a supply chain platform working on aggregated delivery services has raised $1.2 million in its seed round. 2am VC, a US-based early-stage India fund, along with Axilor Ventures, Let’s Venture, IIMI Fund, Qua Capital, Incisive Ventures, and marquee angel investors such as Anupam Mittal (founder Shaadi.com), Ramakant Sharma (Co-founder Livespace), Abhishek Nag (Director at Netflix) and Ryan Valles (a US-based serial entrepreneur), has invested in the startup. Family offices like Patni, Supriyajith Family Trust, and Almoayed General also contributed to this round.

The brand will leverage the freshly infused capital to further expand its presence in 100 new cities across Indian northern regions while adding innovative categories, onboarding cutting-edge technology, and improving existing supply chain infrastructure.

Edtech and SaaS startup Vertocity raises $300K in pre-Seed round led by Techintelli Solutions Pvt Ltd

Career-focused edtech and SaaS startup, Vertocity, has raised around $300K in a pre-seed round. The startup aims to expand to the international market and increase the number of courses and strengthen its SaaS products to provide a seamless management and hiring experience for colleges and corporates.

Speaking about the recent development, Ravi Teja Nadakudity, Founder and CEO at Vertocity said, “We intend to make a difference in the educational ecosystem. Vertocity will go ahead with developing strong SaaS products for the educational fraternity and build strong niche courses to make youth employable.”

The startup is also into its SaaS products namely, LMS and Opportunity Board for Colleges and corporates to ease the operational and hiring challenges.

Parablu founders

SaaS platform Parablu raises over $1M in pre-Series A led by Inflection Point Ventures 

Parablu has raised a pre-Series A round of more than $1 million led by Inflection Point Ventures, an angel investment platform. The funds raised will be utilized primarily for sales and marketing, targeted towards expanding distribution channels and penetrating new markets in North America and to accelerate the engineering roadmap.

Parablu builds secure, enterprise-class data management solutions. The startup has created a solution stack where Data Privacy is built-in, and have also forged an innovative and unique integration with Microsoft 365 and Google G-Suite that makes it easier and less expensive for enterprises to adopt their solutions.

Parablu has its headquarters based in California and has a fully owned subsidiary in India. They already have established distribution channels in India and the UAE. The startup has begun penetrating the US market and is working on strengthening and setting up new distribution channels in the North American market.

Parablu graduated from Citrix Startup Accelerator in February 2015, got its first patent granted in March 2016, and just this month, got granted a second patent around its unique integration with Microsoft 365.

Agritech startup Samhitha raises $1.5M in seed round led by TechStar Group

Hyderabad-based Samhitha Crop Care Clinics, an agritech startup offering precision farming advisory, has recently raised $1.5 million in a seed round led by TechStar Group, and participated by Quadrant Resource and angel investors. 

The company plans to leverage these funds to accelerate advisor onboarding and team expansion. The funds will further boost Samhitha’s plan to solve market linkage challenges for the farmers and amplify their profitability. 

Founded in 2020 by Jagan Chitiprolu, Kalyan Enjamoori, and Dr Shyamsundar Reddy, Samhitha has pioneered a Digital Tree Health Audit System (DTHAS), a unique method of recording, analysing, and interpreting the health of individual trees in a farm through data, telemetry devices, and Citron app. The DTHAS method helps generate virtual maps, delivering a detailed picture of the health status of the orchard, both historically and in real-time.

While Samhitha is focused exclusively on citrus growers in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh currently, the company plans to expand its advisory services across the nation. Triumvir Law was the legal counsel for the transaction who helped structure the same. 

Waffle House raises undisclosed amount in seed round from Venture Catalysts, 9Unicorns

Waffle House, one of the first brands to introduce waffles in the country in 2014 has raised an undisclosed seed round led by Venture Catalysts and 9Unicorns. With the fresh fund, Waffle House aims to embark on its journey to build the largest Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brand in the baking and confectionery space. 

The brand is also in the process of re-branding itself with a new name and identity that showcases its wide range of products, beyond waffles.

Started in 2014 by Harsh Gadia and Nidhi Gadia, Waffle House has come a long way from offline QSR to Online D2C. The brand which had over 25 outlets before March 2020, witnessed a setback during the Covid, which made them reinvent itself to the model of “Waffle House 2.0”, a D2C brand with innovative products like Waffle Cookies, Chips and Chocolates. 

From a Single Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) in September 2020, they now have over 150+ SKUs serving across categories such as breakfast, coffee, healthy snacks, and handmade chocolates, among others.

Y Combinator-backed Leapclub.in raises seed round from Venture Catalyst and others

Healthy grocery delivery startup  has raised an undisclosed seed round from Venture Catalyst and prominent US investors like Goodwater Capital, Pareto Holdings, Sequoia Scout Fund, Soma Ventures, and Miti Ventures. The round also saw participation from prominent angels including Kunal Shah of CRED, Arjun Sethi of Tribe Capital, Nipun Mehra of UIa, BukuWarung founders Pramodh Rai, Prasad Matti Rao, Vaibhav Bhargava, among others.

The startup that is bringing farmer’s markets online aims to deploy the funds towards scaling up its operations in Delhi NCR and strengthen its product offering. Founded by IIT Delhi alumni Divish Gupta and Shubham Bansal, the company was also part of the Y Combinator’s winter 2021 batch. The startup allows customers to order fresh, healthy, pesticide and preservative-free food from carefully vetted producers and gets it delivered within 12 hours of harvesting or baking. The startup currently serves in Delhi, Gurugram, and Noida.

M&A News

CRED forays into corporate finance management, to acquire Happay

CRED on Wednesday said it was acquiring business expense management startup Happay in a cash and stock deal that would potentially value the fintech startup at $180 million, as part of its foray into the enterprise expends space.

The deal will help CRED tap the growing business expenses management market, which has lately been seeing a lot of activity in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. Enterprise fintech companies have been instrumental in not only helping businesses keep a closer eye on their spends, but centralising business credit cards as well.

INDIAMART Intermesh acquires stake in Mynd Solutions

B2B marketplace IndiaMart has made an investment of Rs 324 million to acquire stakes in Mynd Solutions in a deal that provided a part exit to SIDBI Venture Capital Limited, an early investor in the company. Mynd Solutions runs ‘M1xchange’, which is India’s largest TReDS platform.

SIDBI Venture Capital Limited has partly exited with a return on investment of around 7X, on the investment made in the first tranche in 2015

The transaction illustrates that the TReDS platforms have matured into an important source of funding for the economy, easing accessibility of funds as well as recovery for the financed and the financiers. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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