Startup news and updates: daily roundup (March 11, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Friday, March 11, 2022.
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Rural commerce startup VilCart says eyeing Rs 1,250 Cr in turnover next FY

Rural commerce startup VilCart, which helps village kirana stores easily procure inventory, and manage logistics and supply chains, expects to hit Rs 250 crore in turnover by the end of the current financial year, Co-founder and CEO Prasanna Kumar told YourStory in a conversation.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup said it is targeting Rs 1,250 crore in turnover in the next year, Rs 6,000 crore in the year after that, and Rs 12,000 in the next three years, by conservative estimates.

For the current financial year, the startup is expecting to post an annual run rate of Rs 300 crore.

Prasanna added that VilCart is operationally reaching breakeven soon, and is expected to turn a profit thereafter, thanks, largely, to the tight leash it has on expenses.

"Our capital efficiency and return on capital employed are much higher too because we've raised very little (from VCs)."

Ashneer Grover mocked those who said he was "lavish"; Employees say he spent $130K on dining table

A new report shows that BharatPe founder Ashneer Grover, who recently quit his position as managing director of the company under public scrutiny, allegedly "purchased a porsche" and "told multiple people at the company that he spent $130,000 on a dining table."

Grover's wife Madhuri Jain Grover was fired as Head of Controls in February over issues around her management of BharatPe's funds, while Grover himself was under investigation for financial wrongdoings at the time of his departure.

Additionally, as reported yesterday, BharatPe is under investigation by GST authorities for allegations that they have been issuing bogus invoices without providing services over the last four years.

Last week, in the wake of leaving BharatPe, Ashneer Grover published a post on LinkedIn mocking those who said he had a "lavish" lifestyle. He said that even when travelling to the US and the UK to raise a $370 million Series-E round for BharatPe, he would spend the nights at friends' houses, even having "no qualms sleeping on the floor." All this despite the fact that he was within rights to stay in a luxury hotel on the company's dime.

Is moving to Bengaluru the new cool?

If Tweets and Facebook posts for decent accommodations and broker less-leads for flats in Bengaluru were anything to go by, it would seem there's a mass migration happening in the country where everyone seems to be moving - or wanting to move - to India's prime startup hub.

For the past couple of days, there has been a substantial increase in the number of people taking to social media and announcing that they're moving to Bengaluru - and the numbers have been so astounding, that "moving to Bangalore" has been trending on and off on Twitter India.

With offices opening up and some even making it mandatory for employees to move back, there has generally been a lot of movement all over the country, especially to major cities. Bangalore stands out because all the startups that have raised funds over the past two years are finally able to set up a physical workplace - a first for many, including companies founded after March 2020.

Twitter begins testing ‘Shops’ feature to grow social commerce

Twitter has announced the launch of a beta experiment for Twitter Shops, a feature that allows vendors to handpick a collection of up to 50 products to feature on their Twitter profiles. The selection can contain up to 10,000 items, and features details including their names, descriptions, pricing, and other details.

The beta test for Twitter Shops will be accessible to "select merchants and managed partners" in the United States and will be visible to people who consume the Twitter iPhone application, the organisation said.

The feature, which is free to use, allows people to view items from the profiles of their beloved brands.

Unlike Instagram, these transactions do not take place on Twitter itself. If consumers are interested in an item or come across them on their timelines, they can search for them on Twitter as well. To make a purchase, users will have to tap on their preferred product, which will open an in-application browser where they can see more details about the item and checkout on the merchant’s site.

Healthtech sector in India grew 51pc in 2021: Redseer report

The healthtech sector in India is disrupting all spheres, including fitness and nutrition, diagnosis, treatment and disease management. This remarkable rise in the space of pharma, diagnostics, and consultation is being broadly termed as eHealth by consulting firm RedSeer Consulting.

According to a report released by RedSeer, India's eHealth sector has seen a 47 percent increase in terms of its Net Promoter Score (NPS), indicating that customers are more likely than ever to not only use eHealth platforms themselves, but are also recommending it to people they know.

Representational Image

The report also noted that Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) had reduced, implying that there is room for organic growth in the sector, with scope for profitability. A key aspect in pushing this segment was the concept of quick commerce, that is, same-day deliveries. Cross-selling too has aided eHealth to soar.

WhatsApp launches browser extension for user safety

Meta-acquired instant messaging platform WhatsApp has launched a browser extension called Code Verify, that will let users know if the WhatsApp Web version they are using is authenticated.

The Web extension robotically checks the authenticity of the WhatsApp Web code being served to the users, and affirms that their messaging expertise is protected and never tampered with, the company owned by Meta said.

The Code Verify expansion has been created in association with Cloudflare, a Web infrastructure and safety firm. It's available there as an open-source undertaking to let various organisations, groups, and people join the indistinguishable skill for their applications. Open-sourcing might help in obtaining contributions from builders worldwide to upgrade the extension over time.

CB Insights offered $100M acquisition, co-founder Anand Sanwal declines

Anand Sanwal, Co-founder and CEO of research firm CB Insights took to Twitter on Friday, March 11, to announce that he has declined a $100 million offer to acquire his company. The co-founder then shared with his followers screenshots of how this particular acquisition conversation unfolded between the interested party and him.

Anand Sanwal, Co-founder and CEO of CB Insights

Anand added that this insight was "A great reminder to never check or respond to Twitter DMs again."

Once Anand expressed his disinterest, the aspiring acquirer of CB Insights got rather passive-aggressive and responded that Anand "Missed the opportunity of a lifetime," and that they are going to create and build a competitor.

In a relatable note, Anand also shared his earlier Twitter thread on signs to look for that suggest that one's startup equity won't be worth a penny.

A new report shows that 71 pc people would rather work at home than get a promotion!

A report on how the pandemic has affected people's willingness to come back to office has revealed that a whopping 71 percent of respondents would rather work from home than get a promotion!

Curated by software firm Ivanti, 42 percent of the report's respondents said they would be happy with a hybrid model of work, 30 percent said they would like to work from home permanently, and only 13 percent said that they wanted to come back to office full time.

“The pandemic has catalysed a monumental shift in where and how people work,” said Jeff Abbott, CEO of Ivanti.

The report found 24 percent of respondents have left their job in the last year, while 28 percent are considering leaving in the next six months. The latter number jumps to 36 percent for 25-34 year olds!

Edtech major Unacademy launches first 'store' in offline push

Bengaluru-headquartered edtech major Unacademy launched its first experience centre Unacademy Store in Delhi. It is the first of four stores to be launched in Kota, Jaipur, and Lucknow, besides its current location.

Gaurav Munjal, Co-founder and CEO, said the startup had a long term vision of going public over the next five years and was aiming for profitability for its core business in entrance test preparation.

Targeted at students evaluating online test preparation options, the store will serve as a counselling centre for potential students, provide a meeting point to connect with educators on the Unacademy platform, besides offering a library, classrooms, and other infrastructure. These offline stores will offer counselling for nearly 50 entrance examinations at a single point.

“The offline distribution channel is a strong one, and the customer acquisition cost will likely go down as the average order volume goes up. We haven’t decided whether these stores will be targeted at non-metros only, and depending on the performance of the stores, will take a call on adding new ones,” said Gaurav Munjal said during the launch.

He added the stores will serve as a touch-point for potential students and parents who might want to talk to sales representatives before signing up for a course online. Gaurav did not disclose the investment made by the startup to grow its offline network.

Unacademy will also continue to look for new distribution channels as hybrid learning is picking up and will continue to invest in growing its hiring platform Relevel, he said.

Nazara commits $4M to Griffin Gaming Partners Fund II

Gaming company Nazara Technologies's Dubai subsidiary will invest Rs 4 million (Rs 30 crore) in Griffin Gaming Partners Fund II, as a Limited Partner, over the next three years.

Griffin Gaming Partners Fund II was founded by Peter Levin, Phil Sanderson, and Nick Tuosto, with LionTree as a strategic partner to the fund. The firm prefers to invest in gaming platforms and infrastructure, gaming content, and game studios.

Nazara will utilise the Griffin network for future M&A from the current portfolio of the funds, and co-investment opportunities in highly sought-after companies, according to a press release from Nazara.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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