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

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Monday, February 14, 2022.
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SaaS startup BiteSpeed raises $1.9 million from Sequoia Surge

SaaS platform BiteSpeed said on Monday it has raised $1.9 million in seed funding from Sequoia India’s Surge, as well as CRED’s Kunal Shah, First Cheque, and Whiteboard Capital, among others.

The startup said it will use the funding to hire across its tech, marketing and product teams, and bolster its presence in the US, Europe and LatAm.

The team of BiteSpeed

Founded in 2019 by Vinayak Aggarwal in Gurgaon, BiteSpeed helps ecommerce and D2C brands an easy-to-use platform to engage with their customers via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, enabling greater customer retention rates, and reduced customer acquisition costs.

Real-estate metaverse startup Metamall raises $400K

Metamall said it has raised around $400,000 in funding via a sale of 80 million crypto-tokens offered on a decentralised exchange (what’s essentially called an IDO — initial dex offering), bringing its total funding to $7 million.

The Gurugram-based startup had raised $4.6 million in its seed round, and more than $2 million via NFT land sales, it said.

Founded in 2021 by Serge Gianchandani, who has 12 patents to his name, mainly on 3D and VR imagers, Metamall is virtual shopping, lifestyle and experience zone where users can use Mall tokens — the platform’s native currency — to buy virtual goods such as properties, shops, food courts, marketplaces, arcades, etc. Its land parcels start at $200, and go up to $20,000.

Asia Healthcare raises $170 million from GIC

Asia Healthcare Holdings on Monday said it has raised $170 million from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC. The company has earlier raised around $200 million from private equity company TPG Growth.

Asia Healthcare operates healthcare enterprises such as Motherhood, and Nova IVF, among others, in India, and was launched in 2016 with the acquisition of Cancer Treatment Services International (CTSI), which operated one facility in Hyderabad.

“The investment fits well with our strategy of investing in secular growth businesses in India and making quality healthcare more available and affordable,” Pankaj Sood, Head of Direct Investments, India and Africa at GIC said in a press release.

Slice completes ESOP buyback worth Rs 65 crore

Slice, the fintech startup which turned into a unicorn last year has announced the completion of its first ESOP buyback worth around Rs 65 crore where 60 former and present employees turned beneficiaries. The company noted that an average of Rs 1.2 crore was paid out to the eligible individuals.

Slice Founder & CEO Rajan Bajaj

Slice Founder and CEO Rajan Bajaj said, “This buyback plan is our little way of saying ‘thank you’ to our teams who have not only contributed to slice but also to the larger financial ecosystem. I cannot help but feel grateful for this opportunity to give back to the people who have shared the same vision and got on the journey from early on.”

In November 2021, Slice entered the unicorn club after raising $220mn in its Series B fundraise co-led by Tiger Global and Insight Partners.

Flipkart’s buyback programme of used mobile phones

India’s leading ecommerce marketplace Flipkart has introduced the “Sell Back Programme” that gives customers the opportunity to sell their used mobile phones while receiving the right buy-back value in the form of a Flipkart Electronic Gift Voucher.

This programme will be applicable for all mobile phones, whether purchased on Flipkart or not, and will be rolled out to additional categories later this year. The programme, which is live across 1,700 pincodes in cities such as Delhi, Kolkata and Patna and the company said this is in line with its efforts to contribute towards a circular economy.

The Sell Back Programme launch follows Flipkart Group’s recent acquisition of Yaantra, an electronics recommerce company.

Shiprocket picks majority stake in Glaucus Supply Chain

Zomato-backed logistics startup Shiprocket has acquired a majority stake in Glaucus Supply Chain Solutions for an undisclosed value. This transaction is expected to help Shiprocket in developing solutions that will improve speed, accuracy and efficiency in the post-purchase process across trade channels.

The key services offered by Glaucus are B2B distribution, sales return management, D2C marketplace fulfilment, and managed transportation. The services of Shiprocket include fulfilment, packaging among others.

Saahil Goel, CEO and Co-founder, Shiprocket

Shiprocket CEO Saahil Goel said, "In an environment where it is becoming increasingly important for every brand to delight their customers with both products and services, it is essential to build innovative, resilient solutions to unlock the next phase of growth for the industry at large.”

Bizongo liquidates ESOP worth $3.7 million

Bizongo, the B2B ecommerce startup has completed its first Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) monetisation programme worth $3.7 million. Of the 102 former and present employees of Bizongo eligible for this buyback, only 70 percent of the employees opted to liquidate their shares, the company said.

Bizongo said ESOPs have been a part of the company's talent welfare program strategy right from the beginning and given across all levels of employees at different stages of their tenure with the company in the form of joining bonuses or annual bonuses and rewards.

Bizongo co-founder & CTO Ankit Tomar

Ankit Tomar, Co-founder and CTO at Bizongo said, “Our employees are an invaluable asset and partners, who have helped us achieve newer heights and remain profitable even during the pandemic…this ESOP repurchase is our little way of sharing our success and growth with all who have been a part of Bizongo’s journey so far.”

The Nestery acquires Toy Academy

The Nestery, a vertical marketplace for Indian parents has acquired Toy Academy for an undisclosed amount. Founded in 2019 by Vaishnavi Rangarajan, Aparna Vasudevan and T S Viswanathan, The Nestery helps parents discover and buy the right products.

The founding team of The Nestery

Toy Academy founded by Stuti Agrawal and Prashant Adurty in early 2021 is a recommendation engine that helps parents identify and choose the right toys and games for their children based on their interests, skills, and specific learning outcomes. They have created proprietary IP rooted in pedagogy and extensive primary research with thousands of parents.

The acquisition of Toy Academy’s IP is expected to further bolster The Nestery’s focus on building an empathetic shopping experience for parents on their platform.

CredAvenue acquires majority Stake in Spocto Solutions

Fintech startup CredAvenue has acquired a 75.1 percent stake in Spocto, a tech company in the space of digital collections for an undisclosed value.

According to CredAvenue, this acquisition will help it to expand the product offering to include a digital collection solution for lenders on its platform. The solution of Spocto helps in risk mitigation by tracking errant borrowers through mapping of their digital footprint.

CredAvenue founder Gaurav Kumar

CredAvenue noted that integrating with the solution of Spoco will enhance its asset quality and profitability of its lending book.

Gaurav Kumar, Founder and CEO, CredAvenue, said, “This deal is a forward integration that completes the product suites for the entire lifecycle. It will shrink the resources and time required for collection while improving the recovery rate. From a broader perspective, it will improve the overall asset quality of our bank and NBFC partners.”

TheMathCompany rolls out ESOP buyback programme

TheMathCompany, a data analytics startup has rolled out its ESOP buyback programme worth Rs 93.2 crore where over 20 per cent of its present employees hold these shares.

According to this startup, as a part of the programme, there will be no restrictions on employees offering up to 100 per cent of their vested options. Early this year, TheMathCompany had secured funding of $50 million from Brighton Park Capital

Sayandeb Banerjee, Co-Founder and CEO, TheMathCompany said, “Being a people-centric organization, the well-being of our employees is our top priority. Our employees will continue to play a pivotal role in MathCo.’s growth journey, as we strive to become the world’s largest problem-solver.”

Bhuvneshwar Kumar NFT on Rario

Rario, the licensed cricket digital collectibles platform announced that cricketer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has signed an exclusive contract to make available his NFTs with them. Bhuvneshwar joins the likes of Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Smriti Mandhana, Rishabh Pant, Rashid Khan, Jason Holder, Quinton De Kock, M Siraj, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shafali Verma as player partners of the platform.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Bhuvneshwar said, “Having represented my country at home and overseas, I feel delighted that some of my most cherished moments on the field can now be collected and treasured as NFTs by cricket fans.”

EV startup EMotorad acquires Panine

EMotorad , an e-bike startup, has acquired Panine which is an EV battery subscription platform for an undisclosed amount.

A statement said the acquisition will allow EMotorad to offer Panine an international platform and reach for its battery technology while also enhancing the charging infrastructure. Bootstrapped venture EMotorad has its presence in the markets of the UAE, Nepal, and Japan. It plans to enter the US market soon.

The team of EMotorad and Panine

“Panine has mastered the data co-ordinated hardware space which is critical to battery technology and shall operate as a brand under the EMotorad umbrella while also helping develop our battery technology,” said Kunal Gupta, CEO & Co-founder of EMotorad. 

Rahi enter into partnership with Xtreme Media

Rahi, an enterprise technology firm has announced a strategic partnership with Xtreme Media, which is into active LED Displays and Digital Signage innovations and solutions.

Headquartered in Mumbai, India, Xtreme Media is one of the largest active LED display solutions providers in India with over 25 years of experience. “Rahi is one of the largest system integrators in the IT & Audio-video space having a strong global footprint across various industries. Partnering with Rahi, we look forward to redefining the display solutions business not just in India but across the globe”, said Sanket Rambhia (Director, Xtreme Media).

India’s Digital Signage Market is expected to grow at a 15.1 percent CAGR between 2019 and 2025, from $328.79 million in 2016 to $906.65 million by the end of 2022. A strengthened public infrastructure is leading to the awareness of digital signage in the country. Businesses are investing in digital signage and active LED solutions to promote their products and services, which will drive growth in this segment.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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