[Funding roundup] MinIO raises $103M, o9 Solutions raises $295M, Polygon invests in Hike, and more

YourStory presents daily funding roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, January 27, 2022.
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MinIO becomes a unicorn after a $103M Series B round

MinIO Inc, creators of the MinIO multi-cloud object storage suite, has raised $103 million in Series B funding round at a $1 billion valuation, according to an official statement. The company is the fourth unicorn of the year. 

The investment was led by Intel Capital, with participation from new investor SoftBank Vision Fund 2, and existing investors Dell Capital, General Catalyst and Nexus Venture Partners.

Today’s financing brings MinIO’s total funding raised to $126 million.

With headquarters in Palo Alto, California, MinIO has a subsidiary in Bengaluru, India and is rapidly expanding its engineering footprint in that geography. MinIO has dozens of customers across India, Asia and the Middle East.

o9 Solutions raises $295M from strategic investors to continue its growth 

o9 Solutions, an enterprise AI software platform provider for transforming planning and decision-making speed and quality in companies across industry verticals, on Thursday announced that it has received equity investments totalling $295 million from General Atlantic, including BeyondNetZero, its climate investing venture; Generation Investment Management, a pure-play sustainability investment manager; and existing investor KKR. 

This significant investment will help o9 build on its momentum and accelerate growth for its AI-powered integrated business planning platform it calls the “Digital Brain” across industry verticals and markets. It will also help o9 drive continued innovation in R&D, industry knowledge models and partner ecosystem development that will help companies implement o9’s platform faster.

Polygon invests in Hike to bring its play-to-earn Rush Gaming Universe to Web3

Hike Founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal today announced Ethereum infrastructure scaling solution Polygon is investing in the Hike team to build Rush Gaming Universe (RGU) — a virtual world where players can play, compete, and win.

In a tweet thread, Kavin revealed Polygon — featuring an efficient Layer 2 Proof of Stake blockchain network — will be Hike's "on-chain partner to bring this vision to life (i.e. we're building on them)."

"Over the last few years, Ethereum has emerged as the TCP/IP for money for the internet. But it's got big challenges (Gas Fees, TPS & more). Polygon, an L2 chain sitting on Ethereum solves all of this with their scalability architecture. Working with a vibrant ecosystem is important, and with Polygon we're plugging into the vast Ethereum developer community," he said.

Kavin did not disclose the funding amount.

Kissht raises Rs 100 Cr led by Trifecta Capital and Northern Arc

Kissht, which provides an instant line of credit for small business transactions and small ticket size personal loans to new to credit customers on the back of robust data analytics (Kissht score), has raised Rs 100 crore in funding led by Trifecta Capital and Northern Arc. The company has so far raised over Rs 270 crore in equity and over Rs 1,200 crore in debt investments. In the current round, Trifecta and Nothern Arc have each subscribed to Rs 50 crore of Non-Convertible Debentures (NCD’s).

The company will utilise the funds to expand its scale of operations, further enhance its product offerings including credit cards for small businesses/shops and further improve underwriting capabilities to extend credit to New to Credit (NTC) segment using AI and machine learning — even in smaller tier towns of India where instant credit is still a dream to many.

Kissht plans to expand its business to 10 million borrowers and total transaction-like credit volume to Rs 10,000 crore in FY2023 (3x higher than FY2022). The startup is projecting an overall revenue of over Rs 500 crore and a PBT of over Rs 50 crore for FY2022.

Founder of Kissht, Krishnan Vishwanathan

SuperOps.ai raises $14M in Series A round led by Addition, Tanglin Ventures

Chennai-headquartered unified Professional Services Automation (PSA) and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) platform SuperOps.ai has announced raising $14 million in Series A round of funding led by Lee Fixel-backed investment firm Addition, and Tanglin Venture Partners.

Returning investors Matrix Partners and Elevation Capital, as well as angel investors Giovanni Sanguily, CEO of Honey CRM; Sidharth Malik, CEO of CleverTap; Groundswell Group executives Noel Wax and Lisa Woods; as well as Abhi Kumar, Partner at M12 Ventures, also participated in the round, said a statement issued by the company.

SuperOps.ai was founded in 2020 by Arvind Parthiban who sold his marketing automation software company Zarget to Freshworks and Jayakumar Karumbasalam, who served as the vice president of engineering at Zarget and director of engineering at Freshworks post the acquisition. 

The company had previously raised $3 million in a seed round from Matrix Partners India and Elevation Capital. SuperOps.ai will utilise the fresh capital to fuel research and development, and bring in more AI-based functionalities. It will also use part of the capital to hire a sales team in the US for its go-to-market strategy. 

Hyderabad-based agritech startup Our Food raises $6M

Hyderabad-based agritech startup Our Food raised $6 million (around Rs 45 crore) in its growth round. The funding round is led by existing investor 3Lines Venture Capital and a new investor, C4D Asia Fund. Lalit Jalan, 3Lines India Chairman and ex-CEO of Reliance Infrastructure, will join the company’s board of directors. Intellecap served as the exclusive advisor for this transaction, the company stated.

With the fresh infusion, the startup, which has innovative, low-cost, and decentralised mini food processing units, plans to ramp up operations, increase manufacturing capacity and improve the agricultural food supply chain that sees an estimated $5 billion worth annual post-harvest wastage in India. 

Founded in 2016, by IIM-A alumnus Bala Reddy, Our Food is a technology-driven agribusiness platform, disrupting the traditional centralised food processing industry by establishing a network of "Farmer Franchises" that deploy new age, low-cost micro-processing units with the help of rural entrepreneurs to process the raw material at the farm gate.

Growth School raises $5M in seed round led by Sequoia Capital India, Owl Ventures

Bengaluru-based Growth School, the community-led live learning platform, on Thursday announced that it has raised a $5 million seed round led by Sequoia Capital India and Owl Ventures. Over 80 angel investors also participated in the round, including reputed entrepreneurs like Kunal Shah, Nikhil Kamath, Ritesh Agarwal, and Tanmay Bhat as well as some international angels like Austen Allred (founder Lamda school), Shaan Puri, Eric Siu. 

In an official statement, Growth School said it plans to use the funds to expand its team and build a robust tech platform. The startup plans to venture into newer markets and as part of that foray, also explore metaverse for education.

Growth School fills the gap between industry requirements and the existing academic curriculum through its community-led cohort programmes. The programmes are curated to teach skills that are relevant on the job in a short period of time so students are employable immediately.

Aqgromalin secures $5.25M from Sequoia Capital India, Omnivore, others

Aqgromalin, an agtech platform for animal husbandry and aquaculture ecosystem, on Thursday announced a $5.25 million pre-Series A funding. The round saw participation from Sequoia Capital India’s - Surge and Venture funds, Omnivore Partners India, and Zephyr Peacock India. The round had received strong investor interest and was reportedly oversubscribed.

Aqgromalin is building a full-stack agtech platform that helps farmers diversify into animal husbandry and aquaculture. The Chennai-based startup provides a data-backed, traceable, supply chain to farmers, butchers, meat companies and exporters for their poultry, seafood, and livestock needs. The startup has recorded a 10x revenue growth in the last six months, and has over 300,000 farmers and micro-entrepreneurs on its platform.

Aqgromalin was founded in Chennai by Bharani CL and Prasanna Manogaran in October 2020. It is part of Sequoia Capital India - Surge's sixth cohort of 20 companies that build fresher, smarter solutions to help consumers and businesses adapt to a changing world.

ClickHouse infrastructure provider ChistaDATA raises $3M

ChistaDATA, which aims to build the fastest and the most scalable managed ClickHouse implementations in the world, has raised $3 million in a pre-Series A round of funding from Sequoia Capital India. The startup plans to use the funds raised to develop a fully open-source ClickHouse server among other orchestration tools that address automation and DevOps for enterprise-grade ColumnStore solutions. It will also focus on developing ChistaDATA Cloud — a completely autonomous and self-healing cloud-native ClickHouse offering that can be provisioned and paid for by data volume and without requiring customers to think about servers and DevOps. 

The funds raised will also be used to strengthen the team with research, engineering, marketing, and brand hires.

StreamAlive raises $1.53M in oversubscribed pre-seed funding led by Speciale Invest

StreamAlive, a tech-based audience engagement application for live stream events, recently announced raising an oversubscribed pre-seed investment of $1.53 million led by deeptech and early investor, Speciale Invest. Other marquee investors included micro VC funds, founders of private-company software unicorns, MIT professors, CEOs of public companies, and other angel investors and senior executives at various companies.

The fresh funds will be invested in engineering and product development to advance features of the tech-enabled platform and establish multiple signals of product-market fit.

Founded in 2021 by Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan, Joseph (Joe) Varghese and Lakyntina (Tina) Lyngdoh, StreamAlive’s SaaS (software-as-a-service) application has been designed to work with all major streaming and meeting platforms from YouTube to Zoom and from Twitch to Teams. The app makes live streams highly interactive and engaging for wider audiences and works to get 95 percent of the audience involved, making audience engagement at scale truly possible. The company has also filed for a provisional patent for its cross-platform approach to live audience engagement.

Ekank Technologies raises $1M from 9Unicorns, Venture Catalysts, Titan Capital, others

Ekank Technologies, a vernacular storytelling platform, has raised $1 million from 9Unicorns, Venture Catalysts, Titan Capital, Bharat Founders Fund Syndicate, Sujeet Kumar (Co-founder of Udaan) with participation from Archana Priyadarshini, Amit Jain, Amit Hooja, and Deepak Jain (Partner at Bain).

The seed funding would be utilised towards supporting and strengthening the technological capability, and inviting more storytellers on the platform across different media formats (text, audio, illustrations, and comics), thereby expanding the company's footprint in digital media. The organisation also plans to expand its team across all departments, particularly, product and technology.  

The idea is to revamp the way users discover and interact with historical content in an engaging way. Utilising a combination of design, gamification, and storyteller incentivisation, the company wants to bring a seemingly endless amount of stories to the users without them losing interest.

Broomees raises $600K led by 2 AM VC, Magic Fund, and US-based micro VCs 

Broomees, a Delhi-based startup for training and employing domestic workers, has raised $600,000 in the seed round, led by 2 AM VC and Magic Fund, two USA-based micro VCs, and 100X.VC from India. Broomees is the 100X.VC’s portfolio company and part of its Class 06 batch. 

The round also saw participation from angel investors like Puneet Deora (MD, Deoras Group), Gaurav Choksi (Exec. Director, Hindustan Platinum), Rupark Sarswat (CEO, India Glycols Ltd), Asad Daud (Director, SAT Industries Ltd), Archana Priyadarshini (General Partner, PointOne Capital), among others.

The startup plans to utilise the fresh funds in setting up training cum registration centres to impart job skills and soft skills to cooks, babysitters, house helps etc. The company will also focus on better user experience and automation of processes to further fuel every step with technology using its app and web platforms - available for its customers as well as workers. 

 

The company was founded in 2021 and has played the role of a local superhero for hundreds of workers, especially women, in Delhi. Broomees is a worker-focused company that doesn’t charge a single penny from its workers to upskill and employ them.

Hatica emerges from stealth with $900K pre-seed funding

Engineering Analytics platform Hatica has emerged from stealth with $900,000 pre-seed funding, led by Kae Capital and followed by Titan Capital, iSeed Ventures, and angel investor GBS Bindra (CEO of Charmboard). Hatica was founded by former Uber engineers Naomi Chopra and Haritabh Singh, who incubated the idea as part of The Accel Founderstack Program.

 

Hatica, a SaaS startup based out of San Francisco and Gurugram, provides a software engineering analytics platform to help boost developer productivity. Hatica equips engineering leaders, managers and software developers with software development dashboards, alongside team productivity and workflow insights, to help them drive team effectiveness, alignment and well-being. 

As You Are, homegrown matchmaking and social networking app for LGBTQ+ community, raises $250K

As You Are, a homegrown social networking and matchmaking app exclusively for Indian queer people of various gender identities and sexual orientations, has raised a funding of $250,000 in Compulsorily Convertible Debentures (CCDs; a form of capital that must be converted to equity after the maturity time) from queer couples who are angel investors and also Indian-origin entrepreneurs from the marketing space. 

 

The startup was founded by Chandigarh-based entrepreneur Sunali Aggarwal in June 2020.

 

Sunali is a UX designer and ex-co-founder of Mobikwik. After the landmark 2018 judgment striking down Section 377, she heard from a few friends about the lack of safe online dating space for Indian LGBTQ+ people. These conversations prompted her to embark on a new venture – As You Are, a matchmaking app exclusively built for the Indian queer community.

 

'As You Are' already has over 25,000 downloads who are using this judgment-free platform to date, strike friendships, network, and interact with others who share the same interests and values. 

Agility Ventures invests in Good Fettle’s low-calorie ice cream

Agility Venture Partners has invested an undisclosed amount as a seed round in Good Fettle, a Mumbai-based F&B brand. The company pioneered the concept of low-calorie ice cream in India in April 2019.

A brainchild of cousin-duo Akhil Gupta and Ayush Gupta to satiate their weakness for something sweet and healthy, Good Fettle taps into the increasing health awareness trend of low-calorie ice creams. In August 2018, the founders started off their entrepreneurial journey by ordering an ice cream maker and learning to make regular ice creams on YouTube. They then hired a consultant who introduced them to a commercial facility where they could run trials on a larger scale. After eight months of R&D and a few blasts in the kitchen, they cracked the perfect product and launched Good Fettle in April of 2019, to become the first low-calorie ice cream brand in the country. 

Each 125ml scoop of this ice cream consists of about 65-75 calories vis-à-vis traditional ice creams, which are about 200 calories per scoop. It does not compromise on taste and is a source of fibre and protein.

Influencer marketing platform PickMyAd raises pre-seed from Startup India funds

PickMyAd, a Chennai-based influencer marketing and SaaS startup, has raised Rs 20 lakh

in pre-seed funding to accelerate its growth from Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS), which was coordinated by the VelTech TBI Business Incubator team (Vel Tech TBI).

According to the official statement, the raised funds will be used to power the vision of building

an influencer marketing platform to help every brand access the millions of influential social

media users in India with just a tap of a finger.

PickMyAd, founded by four friends — Pradu Dass, Arul Jothi, Sivakumar and Arun Pious in 2020, aims at bridging current gaps a brand faces when connecting with an influencer by leveraging technology for creating a network of influencers marketplace.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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