Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Feb 2, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
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Gupshup acquires cloud communication company Knowlarity

Gupshup, a conversational messaging tech unicorn, has acquired Knowlarity Communications, a cloud communications startup for an undisclosed value.

A statement noted that the acquisition will complement Gupshup’s conversational messaging suite and cements its position in the voice and video communications space.

Knowlarity, which was founded by Ambarish Gupta and Pallav Pandey in 2009 in Gurugram and later shifted its headquarters to Singapore, operates in the voice-based conversational engagement market with a total addressable market size of $18 billion in 2024.

LegalPay raises funding from US hedge fund Hedonnova

LegalPay, a tech-driven alternative-investments platform specialising in insolvency, legal and debt financing has raised an undisclosed pre-Series A round of funding from US-based hedge fund Hedonova.

LegalPay had earlier raised funding from Venture Catalysts and Amity Technology Incubator. Founded in 2020, it has launched two sector based Interim Finance SPV focused on real estate and healthcare.

Interim Finance is a short-term super-secure loan that allows an insolvent company to remain operational when it is undergoing the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP). It targets mid-market companies including MSMEs undergoing insolvencies that have a requirement of Rs 10 lakhs to Rs 5 crore.

LegalPay founder & CEO Kundan Shahi said, “We are aggressively growing in the Indian market and such strategic partnerships will not only fuel our growth at a faster pace but also provide investors with more opportunities to invest.”

Indian school students team bag honours at Wharton Investment competition

Six students from schools in Bengaluru and Hyderabad have reached the semifinals of the Wharton

Global High School Investment Competition, an annual contest for high school teachers and students

run by the School’s Wharton Global Youth Programme.

The Team called “Comrades” comprised of students from National Public School HSR Layout, Bengaluru and Delhi Public School, Khajaguda Layout, Hyderabad were among the 50 global semifinalists from nearly 1,300 teams that participated.

The Wharton Global High School Investment Competition, launched in 2012, is a 12-week challenge in which students compete in teams of four to seven, led by an advisor, to win the chance to manage the wealth of a potential client. Presented with a case study of this client, teams must create a compelling and creative long-term strategy that addresses the client’s investment goals.

Balancehero India appoints Souparno Bagchi as COO

Financial services industry veteran Souparno Bagchi joined Gurugram-based Balancehero India, which operates digital payments app True Balance, as its Chief Operating Officer, the company announced on Friday.

In a career spanning over two decades, Souparno has held various leadership roles at Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, and Tata Consultancy Services across banking and finance sectors overseeing wealth management, alternate finance, lending, trades and settlements, payments, and financial crime compliance, among others.

Charlie Lee, Founder and CEO, Balancehero India said Souparna will play an integral role in the startup vision to IPO in the next three years.

Google-backed DotPe onboards 55,000 merchants within 20 days, sees 100pc surge

Google-backed DotPe, a technology platform for retail merchants, saw 100 percent growth amidst the third wave of Covid-19. 

According to the platform, 55,000 merchants joined the platform while existing merchants clocked 139 percent growth in orders. 

Catering to 7.5 million retailers across Tier I, II, and III cities, DotPe enables merchants to scale their operations through holistic solutions such as creating a web store, online delivery and payment, store management, and providing the requisite marketing management tools, among other things.

Most of the traction comes from states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh.

Shailaz Nag, Co-founder, DotPe said, “At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, we realised there was a significant demand-supply mismatch in the retail industry in India that could be solved through digitisation. We had witnessed a 100 percent surge when the first and the second waves of the pandemic hit India.”

Online upskilling platform Skillshare to tap India’s edtech market

Online learning community Skillshare announced its plans to foray into India’s edtech market, by fulfilling the demand for creative courses. Matt Cooper, CEO of Skillshare, said it is a crucial step in its global growth strategy.

With over 13 million registered users, the platform has raised more than $108 million in venture funding, backed by Union Square Ventures, Spero Ventures, OMERS Growth Equity, Adobe, and Burda Principal Investors.

Further, half a billion additional internet users by the end of 2022 in India promises a widening opportunity. 

“India has a flourishing edtech sector valued at over $15 billion. Combined with a growing population of millennials looking to pursue and monetise their creative passions, and the rising demand for creative classes, the Indian market presents huge opportunities for Skillshare to widen our online learning community,” Matt added.

India Innovation Hub and Dubai Silicon Oasis Partner with EaseMyTrip and HSBC to support tech startups

Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) and India Innovation Hub on Wednesday announced their partnership with EaseMyTrip and HSBC to facilitate 200 Indian startups to showcase their business ideas and innovations to global investors at Expo 2020 Dubai.

It will focus on startups in fintech, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, health and tech-enabled platforms in key priority sectors.

Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder, EaseMyTrip, said, “We have had a strong presence and long-standing relations with the UAE, and we are delighted to collaborate with DSO and India Innovation hub for strengthening the Indian startup ecosystem. We believe that the business ideas put forward by these startups are truly innovative and will add significant value to the region.”

Online supermarket Bigbasket expands to 18 new Tier II and III cities

Bengaluru-based online food and grocery store marked its presence in 18 more Tier II and III cities including Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Jamshedpur, Rajkot, Ambala, Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu, among others. The company now records over seven million monthly orders.

With the first Fresho retail store launched in Bengaluru last year, it aims to open 200 stores by the end of 2023.

Shashi Shekhar, National Head for Tier-II cities, Bigbasket, said, “The demand for doorstep delivery of high-quality groceries and fresh food items increased tremendously during the pandemic.”

Cleantech industry veteran Kalyan C Korimerla joins EV manufacturer Etrio’s board

Kalyan C Korimerla, who has been in the US, Europe, and India’s renewable energy space for more than two decades, has joined the board of electric vehicle manufacturing company Etrio Automobiles as its managing director and co-promoter.

Prior to this, he was the Chief Executive Officer of NSL Renewable Power and as founder and managing director of OneEarth Power Ventures where he managed and developed renewable energy portfolios of 510 MW and 133 MW respectively.

Kalyan said, “Building on the current product portfolio that consists of industry-first Electric Light Commercial Vehicle (eLCV) and a proven electric three-wheeler platform, order pipeline, and strong team, I am confident that we will lead Etrio to newer and more exciting heights of growth and success while bringing operational discipline, innovation, resilience and customer orientation to the company.”

Hyderabad-based Etrio is focused on providing Cargo Electric Vehicles for the logistics sector and will work on reducing the carbon footprint of the sector.

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