Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Jan 14, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Friday, January 14, 2022.

Paytm to shut down its Canada app

Fintech major Paytm, which last year made its debut on the Indian stock exchange, said on Friday it will be shutting down its consumer B2C app in Canada from March 14 onwards.

The shutting down of its Canada business is not expected to have any bearing or impact on Paytm Labs, also based out of Canada, or its India business or revenue, the company said in a media statement.

In a blogpost, Paytm said it will be disabling scheduled payments and top-ups for Paytm Cash from January 14, and recommended users to use the balance in their wallets towards bill payments by March 14.

"You may recall that we had to introduce convenience fees in November 2019 due to the unfavourable economics of bill payments... During these unprecedented times, we have had to make some tough business decisions," the financial services company said in the blog.

"In order to focus all our resources on the massive India opportunity, and given the immateriality of the Canada B2C app, we have decided to sunset the Canada B2C app only, with effect from March 14, 2022," Paytm added.

Lending platform Indifi and GPay partner to offer loans to MSMEs

Small businesses-focused lending platform Indifi Technologies on Friday announced a partnership with Alphabet's payment app, Google Pay, for helping it source new lending opportunities from merchants.

"Google Pay has 10 million merchants, who will be given the option of availing a pre-approved loan from Indifi in the app itself, based largely on their payment receipts data," Aditya Harkauli, Chief Business Officer at Indifi, said.

Notably, the partnership comes at a time when Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has expressed concerns over big tech's growing play in banking activities, especially after the apps started collecting deposits.

Aditya made it clear that the partnership with GPay is limited to advances alone, adding the lending risk will be taken by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Indifi, which is backed by a slew of investors, including Omidyar.

The company has partnered with players like AmazonFlipkartSwiggy, and Zomato to source loans from their respective ecosystems, and the tie-up with GPay is an extension of that.

Shiprocket acquires logistics aggregator Rocketbox

Zomato-backed logistics solutions provider and fulfilment platform Shiprocket has acquired Mumbai-headquartered B2B logistics aggregator Rocketbox. This marks the company’s second acquisition this month after it bought a majority stake in Customer Data Platform Wigzo Tech.

Founded in 2015 by Raghav Singhania and Pooja Bhatt, Delhivery-backed Rocketbox started as an on-demand intra-city truck provider. The company now addresses complexities faced by brands while reducing the cost for Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) cargo shipping. The platform caters to over 28,000 pin codes and works with seven carrier partners in the trucking space.

“When we met Saahil and Gautam, we immediately realised it was the right fit for us as a team as we both have similar objectives of making the fulfilment experience of SMEs seamless with an inherent objective of disrupting the status quo,” said Raghav Singhania, Co-founder and CEO of Rocketbox, in a statement.

How ONDC aims to democratise the future of digital commerce

At the Startup India Innovation week panel discussion, Anil Agrawal, Additional Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), said the country is trying to become a pioneer in the standard for ecommerce through ONDC.

"We are clear from the government's point of view that we are only a facilitator. We are not here to get into business. We are only creating standards. If you look at standardisation, it is something that anyone who is a pioneer in developing standards ultimately gets lots of business," Agrawal said, while speaking about ONDC.

DPIIT has initiated the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) project, which aims to promote open-networks developed on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open-network protocols independent of any specific platform. The task has been assigned to the Quality Council of India (QCI).

13 organizations who have confirmed investment into ONDC

Opening up a fresh front of a crackdown on large ecommerce platforms, the centre has moved ahead with its plans for the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) by forming an advisory council comprising nine members, including National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma and Infosys Non-Executive Chairman Nandan Nilekani.

ONDC has been incorporated as a private non-profit company on December 30. Thirteen organisations of national repute have confirmed investment into ONDC, stated Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, Quality Council of India, and Capacity Building Commission.

According to the ministry, ONDC is expected to digitise the entire value chain, standardise operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiencies in logistics, and enhance value for consumers.

15 startups from India and the UAE showcase innovative ideas at the Elevate-VI pitching series

Fifteen startups from India and the UAE, across various sectors, showcased their innovative ideas to global investors at the Elevate-VI pitching series, supported by HSBC, held in Dubai on Thursday, January 13.

The session was attended by investors from leading firms, including Oman Technology FundDanube GroupTristar GroupBlue Diamond, Jacky’s Group, London Capital, Al Maya Group, and Venture Catalysts, among others. 

Among the fifteen participants, six startups were UAE-based, while nine were India-based.

Among the participants were,

  • Flyzy, an online platform connecting airports, airlines, and passengers in one place;
  • Skyjumper Sports Pvt. Ltd., a startup with the sole objective of researching, designing, manufacturing, establishing, and operating indoor trampoline parks and laser tag arenas and amusements;
  • Raptee Energy Pvt. Ltd., an e-mobility startup working on powertrain solutions, primarily for nextgen commuter motorcycles;
  • GISKernel, a startup providing Geographic Information System (GIS) based consulting services and products;
  • Visualizer, a web-based visual storytelling solution for hotels;
  • NotOnMap, a 360-degree offering for travellers looking out for 'more';
  • Language Curry, an in-app language learning platform;
  • Homegenie, a home services super-app in the UAE;
  • Nutrio, a mobile app that helps people with chronic diseases, allergies, or any specific dietary preferences to choose food products that fit their health needs;
  • Classcard, an app that offers the fastest way to manage and sell classes online;
  • SanoCRM, a service designed for healthcare organisations to modernise the patient experience;
  • Yellowchat, an online platform for people’s service needs by an intelligent assisted way to chat and book services with qualified local service providers;
  • Amnacapital, a corporate debt advisory services firm;
  • HOD Digital, a digital solution that helps build campaigns to add value to brands.

Thrasio enters India with Rs 3,750 crore; buys appliance brand Lifelong

Greater Boston, US-headquartered Thrasio, has announced its first acquisition in India with Gurugram-based consumer appliances brand, Lifelong Online. This marks the entry of the storied ecommerce roll-up company in the Indian markets.

As part of the investment, Thrasio will become the majority shareholder in Lifelong Online’s business. Early investors — Tanglin Venture Partners and the Hero Group — will continue to remain invested in the brand, the company confirmed to YourStory.

Lifelong declined to comment on the goal-based investment model of Thrasio or targets that it will depend on.

Lifelong Online was founded in 2015 by former Bain & Company executives, Bharat Kalia, Varun Grovar, and Atul Raheja. The company clocked monthly revenue of Rs 40 crore in peak months, it told YourStory in a previous interview.

“Thrasio’s acquisition expertise and the strength of our platform across ecommerce, D2C, Amazon, and Flipkart are a perfect match. We are already in active discussions with a number of sellers, and we’re excited to help Indian entrepreneurs realise the full potential of their brands and products,” said Bharat Kalia, CEO of Lifelong Online, in the statement.

The company will rebrand to “Lifelong, a Thrasio Company,” going ahead.

Thrasio has also committed to investing Rs 3,750 crore to acquire promising, digital-first brands in India over a few years, said the company. Thrasio did not specify the number of brands or the time period.

Edited by Suman Singh


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