Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (December 2, 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 Thursday, December 2, 2021.
0 CLAPS
0

Funding News

Metaverse platform GMetriXR raises $600K funding led by IvyCap Ventures

Buoyed by the acceleration towards the future of the 3D internet, metaverse company Gmetri has raised $600K funding in its seed round led by IvyCap Ventures with global participation from the D.E.Holding and HNIs.

Founded by Utsav Mathur and Sahil Ahuja, the Bengaluru born company with headquarters in the US, offers a no-code platform that allows content creators and enterprises to build, host and deploy metaverse apps without writing a single line of code. Apps already built on the platform include virtual stores for the likes of Bigbasket, Manish Malhotra and enterprise metaverses for PayPal, Reliance, and several pharmaceutical companies - including Covid vaccine manufacturing.

GMetriXR is also looking forward to its subsequent round of funding owing to large interest by US VCs in this space, accelerated by Facebook’s rebranding to Meta. The company believes that this interest will help it to execute and scale up its plans to own all the virtual space it deserves to occupy.

"With a positive shift in the way the world is looking at the future of the internet - the metaverse - our platform becomes all the more relevant. GMetri is unique - there is no other toolkit as complete yet so ridiculously simple that you can have fully functional, monetisable metaverse apps in minutes, not months. This puts us in a very good place to surge forward and see through our vision to truly democratise building the metaverse. We are targeting nothing short of an explosion in adoption over the next few quarters," said Utsav Mathur, Founder & CEO, GMetriXR.

Drone solution startup AUS acquires Algopixel Technologies for an undisclosed amount

AUS, an end-to-end drone solutions startup has acquired Algopixel Technologies, a Bengaluru-based software solution provider for drone operation management and cloud-based data processing for an undisclosed amount. 

 

This acquisition will accelerate AUS’s journey towards building robust and scalable end-to-end solutions for sectors like mining, infrastructure, land records, and precision farming. Algopixel was founded by Abhiroop Bhatnagar and Rishabh Gupta in the year 2015.

 

Vipul Singh, Co-founder and CEO, AUS said, “Algopixel team has the clarity and capability to help us build the future roadmap that we have planned. We are actively seeking more such partnerships with like-minded companies, investors, and people globally.”

 

AUS has recently bagged major contracts from Survey of India, Tata Steel, and a few other known enterprises. The acquisition will enable AUS to further strengthen its end-to-end solution pipeline and make it future-ready for large-scale impactful solutions for global markets, it said in a statement.

Sustainable footwear brand Neeman’s raises Rs 7 Cr debt funding from Stride Ventures 

Stride Ventures, a venture debt firm in India, has announced debt funding of Rs 7 crore in Neeman's, a sustainable footwear brand. With this investment, the venture lending fund with deep relationships across banks and corporates is committed to being a strategic partner in the brand's journey of disrupting the Indian footwear segment that primarily consists of leather shoes. 

This is the 40th investment in Stride's portfolio across both funds. The amount will be deployed from Stride Ventures India Fund – II and will be utilised by the young shoe brand for expanding its portfolio, intensive product development and commitment to the planet. It will also enable them into at entering newer markets and segments. 

As a sustainable brand, Neeman's uses completely natural, renewable, recyclable and chemical-free materials, and has maintained a strong focus on product development and intensive R&D. The company claims that it has sold over 2 Lakh pairs in the last 2.5 years.

Amar Preet Singh, Founder & COO Neeman's, said, "Since our inception, our motto has been to craft sustainable and comfortable shoes. Thus, we launched footwear using unexplored natural and renewable fabrics such as Merino Wool, Recycled PET bottles and even recycled tyres, which the new-age conscious consumers have well accepted. This investment will enable us to strengthen our journey towards reducing carbon footprint and stay committed to producing well-crafted comfortable shoes. It will also facilitate us in extending into other categories such as fashion and apparel." 

Wipro Consumer Care - Ventures invests in Clean Beauty D2C Brand Soulflower

Wipro Consumer Care - Ventures, the venture capital fund of Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting, has signed an agreement to invest in Soulflower, a D2C company in the clean beauty space. Soulflower is founded by Natasha Tuli, a woman entrepreneur focused on transforming the natural personal care category of face, body & hair care products. The brand has unique formulations developed through robust R&D and sustainable manufacturing.

The company caters to the increasing demand for high efficacy Farm2Face personal care solutions in domestic & international markets. 

Maple Capital Advisors acted as the sole & exclusive financial advisor to Soulflower for this fundraise. 

The funds raised will be invested in increasing brand transparency for consumers by adopting technology in Seed-to-Skin, sustainable manufacturing, and pure ingredient sourcing from The Soulflower Farm. 

“The investment will enable Soulflower to further strengthen its position as a Pioneer in the Clean Beauty Cruelty-Free segment. We are excited to be supported by Wipro Consumer Care. It helps us in our journey towards the rapid expansion of our e-commerce footprint. Making natural solutions for Face, Skin & Hair accessible to everyone is our motto,” said Natasha Tuli, Founder and CEO, Soulflower.

The Company has 200+ active SKUs positioned as mass premium across E-commerce channels. Soulflower, an Amazon Propeller Company, has already launched in international markets like the US, UK, UAE, Singapore, and Japan, witnessing robust growth and interest within this new global customer base. 

ah! Ventures invests in Instant Beverage startup Flistaa through its First Gear Platform

ah! Ventures has invested in Instant Beverage startup Flistaa through its First Gear Platform. This is ah! Ventures’ 98th investment (in 78 startups) taking its total investment portfolio to Rs 243 Core ( $32 million) with 11 exits and 20 follow on rounds till date. With 35 investments in 2021 till date, ah! Ventures plans to do about 40 investments this year totalling to Rs 150+ crore ($ 20 million). Flistaa is a millennials and Gen Z centric Indian beverage brand coming up with beverages like street juices, milkshakes, regional drinks, sharbats, etc. in form of instant beverages premixes in convenient sachet packaging, so that people can consume the beverages at any time without any hassle.

"Consumers always want something new and fresh, especially in the Beverages segment. We believe the newness being offered by Flistaa with respect to the product, segment and positioning will excite everyone. This space has massive potential because it is an untapped market and we are sure, with the founding team’s passion and high spirits, Flistaa will be a huge success.", said Amit Kumar, Senior Partner, ah! Ventures.

Immensitas Private Limited Raises $2.3M in Pre-series A1 Round

Data automation platform Immensitas Private Limited has raised $2.3M in a pre-Series A1 round co-led by growx ventures, Artha Venture Fund and DSP Investment Managers Pvt. Ltd. The round also saw participation from LogX Ventures and Atrium Angels, the ISB alumni sponsored micro VC fund.

In July this year, the company had raised a round from Artha Venture Fund (AVF) and LogX Ventures. The fresh funds will be used to improve and strengthen the capabilities and features of Lemnisk, Immensitas’ product offering, and to expand into new markets.

“This new round allows us to continue building on our ambitious vision of offering a platform that allows marketers to not just centralise customer data but also quickly act on real-time intelligence. Unlike other players who seek to rip and replace large marketing clouds, our approach is to help customers extract better outcomes from their existing investments”, said Subra Krishnan, CEO at Lemnisk.

Landmark Capital launches Rs 500 crores Warehousing and Logistics Fund

Landmark Capital, managing real estate investments through SEBI registered alternative investment funds (AIFs) and managed accounts, has announced the launch of Landmark Warehousing & Logistics Fund. The fund is targeting a corpus of Rs 500 crores, including a green-shoe option of Rs 200 crores.

 

The fund is launched with an objective to generate superior risk-adjusted returns by investing in high-quality Grade-A warehousing and logistics opportunities. Landmark Capital is focusing on non-speculative built-to-suit assets and diversification across geographies to ensure effective risk mitigation. The fund’s deal pipeline accounts for over 400 acres of land with marquee names as potential anchor tenants, it said in a statement.

Slice-backer 8i Ventures raises $50M in Fund II, will focus on fintech startups

Mumbai-based 8i Ventures has raised $50 million for its Fund II, and aims to invest in startups operating in the fintech space finance as the founder believes that "every consumer friction point in finance and consumer is a billion-dollar startup opportunity".

"The money from this fund will be used to invest in fintech players, who are making money simpler. Getting a credit card was a challenge for everyone. But with Slice, you get it within a few minutes. That's what we look at before backing firms," Vikram Chachra, Founding Partner, 8i Ventures, told YourStory in an interaction.

Swiggy looking to invest $700 M in Instamart; set to reach an annualised GMV of $1 billion

Bengaluru-based foodtech unicorn Swiggy has stated it will be investing $700 million in its instant grocery delivery service Instamart. Launched in August 2020 in Gurugram and Bengaluru, Instamart is present across 18 cities, and conducts over 1 million orders in a week.

“At our current growth trajectory, Instamart is set to reach an annualised GMV run rate of $1 billion in the next three quarters. With our food delivery business trending at a USD 3 billion annualised GMV run rate, and Instamart’s super-charged growth, we’re very excited about our convenience mission coming to life in a very big way,” said Sriharsha Majety, CEO, Swiggy.

General News

Uber and WhatsApp announce partnership to launch ride-booking via WhatsApp in India

Uber and WhatsApp announced a partnership today in India, allowing people to book an Uber ride via Uber’s official WhatsApp chatbot. The integration will make booking an Uber ride as easy as sending a WhatsApp message. 

The feature is being rolled out on a pilot basis in the northern city of Lucknow first, and will be expanded to other Indian cities soon. 

Nandini Maheshwari, Sr. Director, Business Development, Uber APAC said, "We want to make it as easy as possible for all Indians to take an Uber trip, and to do that we need to meet them on platforms they are comfortable with. Our partnership with WhatsApp does just that, giving riders a new way to get a ride through a simple, familiar and trusted channel. We are thrilled at this global-first integration for Uber, and look forward to rolling it out across India.” 

With this  integration riders will no longer need to download or use the Uber app. Everything from user registration, booking a ride, and getting a trip receipt will be managed within the WhatsApp chat interface.

Currently, this option to book a ride via WhatsApp will only be available in the English language but it will be expanded to other Indian languages soon. Additionally, the service is available to both new and existing users who registered with only a phone number on Uber. 

Clubhouse rolls out the second phase of language localisation support; introduces ‘Topics’ to improve discovery of clubs and rooms 

Clubhouse has started rolling out the second phase of language localisation to thirteen new languages. The app is also bringing an update to the feature formerly known as ‘Interests‘ to now called ‘Topics’, with a broader, better list of topics that will make it easier to discover rooms and clubs.

 

The 13 languages include Arabic, Bengali, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Farsi / Persian, Hausa, Igbo, Marathi, Nepali, Somali, Thai, Turkish, and Yoruba.

The company also said that starting today, Topics will be more extensive, more helpful and available in more places, so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for on Clubhouse.

 

This update is rolling out starting today to both iOS and Android devices. Clubhouse in its statement said that very soon users will be able to create topics of their own.

OYO onboards former SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar as strategic group advisor

IPO-bound hospitality unicorn Oyo has announced the addition of Rajnish Kumar, former Chairman of State Bank of India (SBI), as Strategic Group Advisor at OYO.

Rajnish, who has spent over 40 years in the financial sector, will play a key role in advising OYO’s management on short-term and long-term strategy, regulatory and stakeholder engagement, and enhancing the brand of the company globally, OYO said in a statement.

OYO is in IPO mode, and Rajnish Kumar was at the helm of SBI when Yes Bank underwent restructuring. Kumar comes with interesting luggage of strategic experience.

Digital transformation is the foundation for enlarging deep tech ecosystem: Softbank India Head, Manoj Kohli

The deep tech industry in India is still in the nascent stages but the ongoing digital transformation can help this segment leapfrog into something more impactful for the country, according to leading investors from the startup ecosystem.

Manoj Kohli, Country Head, Softbank India, said, “India has a good run on digital transformation and this sets the foundation for the next phase of deep tech where the opportunity is fantastic.”

Speaking at a panel discussion during the ongoing NASSCOM Product Conclave on the topic, 'Betting Big on India’s Deep Tech,' the Softbank India Head felt the need for the creation of a large ecosystem around deep tech which can be leveraged to bring non-linear solutions to the various challenges the country is facing.

Electric scooter rental startup Bounce launches its first e-scooter with swappable batteries

Mobility startup Bounce has launched its first consumer electric scooter, Bounce Infinity E1, which will be offered with a unique ‘Battery as a service’ option – the first of its kind in the Indian market, claims the company.

The scooter with battery and charger is Rs 68,999 and the price for Scooters with Battery-as-a-Service is priced at Rs 45,099 plus subscription to Battery-as-a-Service. Customers can pre-book this smart scooter by paying a minimal amount of Rs 499 which is totally refundable. Bounce Infinity E1 scooters are FAME II eligible.

The pre-bookings have started for the scooter, and deliveries are slated for March 2022 through its dealership network & its online platform, across India. It will come equipped with a comprehensive

warranty of 3 years, up to 50,000 kms.

Edited by Anju Narayanan