Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Feb 9, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, February 9, 2022.
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VC firm 3one4 Capital elevates Nruthya Madappa to Director

Early-stage VC firm 3one4 Capital has elevated Nruthya Madappa — Principal and Head of Growth and Capital Development — to Director and will continue to lead and expand the growth and capital vertical.

She has successfully led topline and capital growth for the portfolio at 3one4 Capital, the firm said in a statement.

Nruthya is deeply involved in helping the firm’s portfolio companies and founders plan and achieve financial and strategic objectives, including capital raises, revenue acceleration, M&A, and exits.

Before 3one4 Capital, Nruthya led investments in over 25 companies as the Managing Partner at The CoWrks Foundry, an early-stage business accelerator. She also established global partnerships with Yale and Columbia University for the programme.

In 2021, 3one4 Capital closed a total of 51 deals — 28 early-stage, 23 growth and late-stage, and 11 follow-on rounds at higher valuations from top-tier local and global VCs, PEs, and strategic investors.

NITI Aayog, USAID collaborate to accelerate health innovation and entrepreneurship in India

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered under the Sustainable Access to Markets and Resources for Innovative Delivery of Healthcare (SAMRIDH) initiative, which will improve access to affordable and quality healthcare for vulnerable populations in Tier II and III cities, and rural and tribal regions.

In 2020, USAID, IPE Global, and stakeholders from the Indian government, academia, and the private sector developed the innovative SAMRIDH blended finance facility to combine public and philanthropic funds with commercial capital to create and rapidly scale market-based health solutions.

This new partnership will enhance SAMRIDH’s efforts to reach vulnerable populations, leveraging AIM’s expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship. AIM and SAMRIDH will leverage philanthropic capital and public sector resources to offset barriers for commercial investments in small and medium health enterprises to invest in and scale healthcare solutions.

The collaboration will focus on innovations across the healthcare landscape with the common goal to mount an effective response to the ongoing third COVID-19 wave and build health system preparedness for future infectious disease outbreaks and health emergencies.

o9 Solutions collaborates with IIT Kharagpur, NITIE to drive R&D on AI-ML technologies

o9 Solutions, an enterprise AI software platform, has collaborated with IIT Kharagpur and NITIE to drive R&D on AI-ML technologies. The o9-IITKGP-NITIE Programme is a cohort-based research programme with the common goal of creating high-quality research papers in the field of AI-ML by using the o9 platform.

Narasimha Kamath, Senior Vice President - R&D, o9 Solutions, and Manoj Kumar Tiwari, Director, NITIE, will be guiding the entire collaboration.

o9, in association with the various departments at IIT Kharagpur and NITIE, will host research projects for students, where they will be provided with real-world complex/large datasets and would run new generation algorithms to improve forecasts, hence facilitating a better demand planning process.

o9 will provide research scholars with access to the company’s SaaS platform and software for the educational curriculum for skill development at these institutes too. Besides, o9 will also provide career opportunities to students from these universities.

Wow! Momo launches its new brand Wow! Chicken

Homegrown QSR Chain Wow! Momo, which owns and operates Wow! Momo and Wow! China, has launched its third QSR brand, Wow! Chicken.

With the presence of over 425 outlets across 19 major cities in India, through its latest offering, the company aims to tap into the Indian organised fried chicken industry, estimated to reach a valuation of Rs 5,000 crore by 2025.

Wow! Chicken will offer fried chicken, grilled chicken, burgers, paneer tikka grilled, veg and chicken snackjacks, cheese coins, shammi kebabs, and a range of biryani rice bowls. It launched Wow! Chicken's first physical outlet in Kolkata on January 26, and it plans to open over 50 outlets across major cities of the country by end of this year.

Eggoz Nutrition expands to South India market with Bengaluru as first destination

Fresh and chemical-free eggs company Eggoz Nutrition has ventured into the South India market by opening its brand in Bengaluru.

Eggoz Nutrition provides eggs that are safer, healthier, one-day fresh, packed with high-value nutritions, and tastier to eat because of the eleven quality-check. Another objective behind this expansion was to encourage and assist South Indian farmers in improving their livelihood. Eggoz Nutrition products will be available for customers via all major modern and general trade stores and ecommerce portals.

In one year since its launch, Eggoz Nutrition sells around two lakh eggs daily through its platform and more than sixty lakh eggs in a month. It generates Rs 40 crore of annualised revenue and will reach Rs 60 crore by the end of the year. The farmers in North India earn up to 40 percent extra income by working with Eggoz Nutrition.

Abhishek Negi, Co-founder, Eggoz Nutrition, said, "Eggoz Nutrition is thrilled to embark on this new journey in Bengaluru with a highly motivated and innovative team. With this new beginning, we will provide the people of South India with our top-notch services and pave the way for great success. The goal for Eggoz Nutrition is to become the next unicorn brand, and with the help of our devoted team and hardworking farmers, I am confident that we will meet this goal very soon.

Qdesq to enter the workspace technology SaaS market

Qdesq, a marketplace to discover, evaluate, and book flexible workspaces, backed by JLL, and operational across 55+ cities in India, serving 400 + corporates and transacting 4000 desks every month, and lists 3500+ workspaces on its platform.

Qdesq was founded in 2015 by Paras and Lavesh and has fundamentally dominated the flexible workspace market since then through transactions, technology, and aggregation.

In 2022, the market leaders are all set to enter the workspace technology SaaS market, which is globally valued at $20 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 21.3 percent for the next six years.

Qdesq has entered the market to monopolise and digitalise workspace usage and experience, with the launch of its workspace tech SaaS product Qudify — a QR-based workspace scheduling interface for organisations. 

GetSetUp launches startup accelerator programme for older adults

GetSetUp launched GetSetUp Startup Accelerator Programme to empower the community of adults over 55 years of age through learning new skills and unlocking new experiences. Anyone above 55 years of age with a business idea in food, arts and crafts, apparel and accessories, or coaching categories can apply.

Deval Delivala, Co-founder and SVP, GetSetUp, said, “We want to support our community members who wish to become entrepreneurs. We already teach many classes that help members with different aspects of running a business, like marketing, social media, technology classes, and financial planning. It does not matter whether you are just starting, have already established a business, or have nothing but an idea written down in your diary! If you are passionate about your vision and sharing it with others, we are looking for you.”

Candidates who comply with all requirements will be invited for a video call interview. GetSetUp will select 20 participants for the programme. Participants will partake in a demo day to present their final business or service to a team of three experts, where two business ideas will be selected for financial support at the end of the programme. All participants will receive free coaching and support during the duration of the programme.

Picsart acquires learning platform Code Republic to expand its focus on education

Picsart, a digital creation platform, has acquired learning platform Code Republic for an undisclosed sum to join its educational division Picsart Academy.

Operating since 2016, Picsart Academy provides world-class learning opportunities for the most qualified students in IT, including web development, AI, machine learning, data science, product management, and more.

The acquisition of Code Republic will allow Picsart Academy to support additional programmes and expand into more locations.

Artavazd Mehrabyan, Co-founder and CTO, Picsart, said, “This acquisition allows us to scale Picsart Academy and take education to the next level with the help of the talented and passionate Code Republic team.”

As part of the acquisition, all 20+ Code Republic employees will join the Picsart Academy team. In fact, Code Republic’s Founder Vardan Grigoryan is a boomerang Picsart employee, having previously worked at the company as a Senior Engineer for more than two years. Grigoryan is rejoining Picsart as Director of Picsart Academy, leading the company’s educational efforts to attract new talent.

CredAvenue to develop co-lending solutions for Indian banks

Fintech startup CredAvenue has collaborated with digital banking solution provider Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, to develop innovative co-lending solutions called CredCoLend.

The platform will offer real-time reporting of the co-origination assets in banks’ core banking and loan processing systems, helping meet RBI compliance requirements. CredAvenue and Infosys Finacle are already in discussion with multiple banks to launch the solution platform.

CredCoLend enables discovery, operations, and portfolio management services for Indian and global banking clients’ co-lending (co-originated) assets and has been the choice of several leading banks and NBFCs.

Gaurav Kumar, Founder and CEO, CredAvenue, said: “This partnership with Infosys Finacle is a game-changer and a global first, which will resolve the integration problems between banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) at the category and ecosystem levels. This platform will simplify the co-lending processes of banks and NBFCs through deep integration between banking platforms and co-originator platforms.”

Indifi’s online marketplace for unsecured SME loans grows 200 pc YOY

MSME lending platform Indifi Technologies announced the milestone of over 200 percent YoY growth in loan amount disbursed via partner lenders in December 2021.

Besides, Indifi also registered a 100 percent growth in the number of loans disbursed from December 2020 to December 2021. During this period, Indifi has also doubled its lending partners and has demonstrated the highest collection efficiency in the last 12 months, the highest in the history of the company.

Sustaining this growth momentum, Indifi aims to grow its lender partnership-led business by over 100 percent in 2022 and onboard at least three new lending partners in Q1’22, including a marquee private bank and public sector banks.

Social audio platform Swell launches student ambassador programme

Social audio platform Swell launched a Student Ambassador Programme, which aims at giving voice to the Gen-Z community by helping them drive conversations around topics that matter to them. Through this programme, Swell is targeting to onboard over 500 students from over 300 colleges across India.

The asynchronous nature of the platform will allow for more voices to be heard, breaking barriers of language, geographies, and conventional social audio trends of spotlighting a few. Swell allows for authentic conversations and genuine connections, allowing students to be as true to themselves, moving away from the superficial overtones of social media in general.

Commenting on the announcement, Sudha K Varadarajan, CEO and Co-founder, Swell, said, “We believe this initiative will bring in a new wave of audio-focused creators in India. This programme will help students be more articulate and confident of self-expression in their voice. The youth are the future, and their thoughts will shape tomorrow’s world. We want students to feel safe in this space, where their views are respected and the connections they make are genuine, human, and healthy.”

KFintech acquires Hexagram to expand into fund accounting and reconciliation solutions for asset managers

Investor and issuer platform KFin Technologies acquired Hexagram Fintech, an IT product company specialising in fund accounting and reconciliation product development. Post this acquisition, Hexagram will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of KFin Technologies.

With this acquisition, KFin Technologies shall further expand its fintech product offerings by addingfFund accounting and reconciliation solutions to its platform. This acquisition shall also strengthen KFin Technologies’s presence in Southeast Asia due to Hexagram’s established base of BFSI marquee clients in the region.

The acquisition will add to KFin Technologies’s competencies by opening up the asset side of the investment management industry, and allow KFin Technologies to provide holistic solutions to its clients, drive rapid expansion into the alternatives segment, and globalise its offerings.

Sreekanth Nadella, CEO of KFin Technologies, said, “Fund accounting has been a strong focus area for us, and the acquisition will bring together some of the best minds in the space to create a truly global end-to-end platform for asset managers and intermediaries. We believe the adjacencies, innate synergies, domain expertise, and a compelling value proposition to the clients would help us achieve our stated objective to be the SaaS leader in the asset management space.”

MS Chandrasekhar, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Hexagram, said, “This acquisition is highly synergistic and shall enable Hexagram to accelerate product innovation, provide an end-to-end solution as part of KFin Technologies’s integrated offerings and reach customers in new domains and geographies.”

Crayon Motors launches Made for India, Low-speed Electric Scooter – Snow+

E-mobility solutions startup Crayon Motors has introduced the Snow+ Electric Scooter in Indian markets. The low-speed electric two-wheeler offers best in class comfort and functionally superior performance at 14p/km. Starting at Rs 64,000, the EV is launched in four colours – Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Classic Grey, and Super White.

Taking inspiration from the classic scooter designs, Snow+ is designed for light mobility needs. The top speed of the electric scooter is 25kmph speed and does not require a driving license or registration. It comes with a high-efficiency 250-Watt BLDC motor that offers a peak power output for cruising at its top speed.

The electric scooter Snow+ also offers several additional features such as a digital speedometer, central locking, USB charging for mobile, and anti-theft and navigation (GPS). It comes with large boot space, and hence, could be ideal for last-mile delivery applications.

Edited by Suman Singh

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