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

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Monday, March 14, 2022.
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BharatPe forays into secured loans; launches gold loan for merchant partners

Fintech startup BharatPe on Monday announced the launch of Gold loan for its merchant partners. This marks the entry of BharatPe in the secured loans category. The company has partnered with RBI-approved NBFCs to offer gold loans of up to Rs 20 lakh. BharatPe has already launched the Gold loan offering for its merchants in Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, and will be scaling this to 20 cities by the end of 2022. It has set a target of facilitating disbursals of Rs 500 crore by the end of 2022.

The company is facilitating gold loans at an interest rate of 0.39 percent per month. The loan application process is fully digital and the company claims that loans are disbursed within 30 minutes of completion of the assessment process. Merchants can see the best offer for them and apply for a gold loan via the BharatPe app. The company is providing doorstep as well as branch collection facilities in partnership with NBFC partners. 

 

The merchants can take loans for a duration of six, nine and 12 months, and have an option to repay the loan via Easy Daily Instalments (EDI). BharatPe will also be launching the EMI option for repayment shortly. The QR code-enabled product offering makes gold loan applications easy, with minimal paperwork.

 

Suhail Sameer, CEO, BharatPe said, 

“Gold loan will enable us to further empower our merchant partners and positively impact millions of small businesses. We had conducted a pilot for the product for two months and the response has been very encouraging. We facilitated disbursals of Rs 10 crore during the pilot phase. We are confident that with our lucrative gold loan product that is available at competitive interest rate, industry-best disbursal rate and with the option to pay via EDI, we will be able to facilitate gold loan disbursals of Rs 500 crore by the end of the year.”

ZFunds announces two new leadership appointments

Mutual fund distribution platform ZFunds on Monday announced two new leadership appointments as the company expands its footprints to make mutual funds Sahi and Asaan for the people of Bharat. While Yogesh Yadav joins as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Tanvi Jadhav has been appointed as the Head of Products. 

The appointments strategically enable ZFunds in the distribution of financial products in Tier-II, III and IV cities and rural India through ZFunds experts.

Manish Kothari, Co-founder and CEO, ZFunds said, 

“We are pleased to welcome Yogesh and Tanvi on board. Their belief in new age startups like ours despite their backgrounds with long-standing organisations is heartening. At ZFunds, we are proud of our culture of meritocracy, customer-centricity, growth, and diversity. These attributes serve us right in our mission of making purchase of financial products and decision making Sahi (Right) and Asaan (Easy) in the 500 bottom-most districts of India.”

Agnys develops an automatic composting machine that can convert waste into manure in just 10 days

Agnys Waste Management Pvt Ltd, a SIIC IIT Kanpur-incubated startup, has developed an automatic composting machine known as BHOOMI, in collaboration with Imagineering Lab, IIT Kanpur. BHOOMI stands for bio-composting of horticulture and organic waste into manure indigenously. The R&D for the device has been supported by Engineers India Limited.

The device is equipped with advanced features like carbon filters, shredders, air pumps, solar panels, which systematically convert waste into manure in just 10-20 days. 

Prof Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur said, 

“At IIT Kanpur, we resolve to work for sustainability and other key areas of environmental conservation. This is a prime step in this regard and I congratulate the whole team for developing BHOOMI. I believe this device would be a boon for treating organic waste and would contribute significantly towards the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives.”

The device follows a step-wise simplistic process where at first the organic waste goes through the hopper and the inbuilt shredder cuts it into small and uniform pieces. The finely cut waste then enters into the main body of the machine which contains a unique bacterial solution to initiate the composting process. A mixer and air pumps are installed inside to enhance its speed so that the composting is done within 10-20 days. Temperature and humidity sensors are also installed to regularly measure the day-to-day process. After the temperature stabilizes, the compost can be collected for use.

The common issue of smell has been solved by installing advanced carbon filters. Moreover, the solar panels keep the composter energy efficient.

MakeMyTrip launches limited edition NFTs to celebrate India's diversity, beauty

Online travel company MakeMyTrip has launched limited-edition non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to celebrate the spectacular beauty and diversity of India’s myriad landscapes, varied flora and fauna, and more.

The artworks have been conceptualised and designed to commemorate some of the popular as well as the unexplored travel gems of India. This will give travellers a chance to own digital collectables of their favourite destinations. The first batch of these digitally crafted, immersive artworks unravels the majestic landscapes of Goa, Ladakh, Odisha, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Each artwork has been designed using Advanced AI Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) wherein the AI tool is uploaded with several images and trained to produce realistic, creative and unique images. The artwork is conceptualised and designed by AI Bots, an online community of digital artists. Overall, the limited-edition artwork will present a kaleidoscopic meta-world view of the explored and the relatively lesser explored destinations in the country.

This limited collection of NFTs can be accessed through MakeMyTrip’s website/app and bought on ngageN starting March 09, 2022. With a starting price of Rs 14,999, the company has launched 25 tokens per artwork – and these will be available for purchase on a first-come-first-serve basis. These artworks have been minted on Polygon Blockchain, a platform for Ethereum scaling and infrastructure development.

“The limited edition NFTs are a confluence of new-age technology with the world of travel as it captures the beauty of some of the exotic locations of India. We are offering travel enthusiasts a never before chance to be owners of this beauty in the digital domain,” said Sunil Suresh, Group Chief Marketing Officer, MakeMyTrip. “These NFTs are in line with our overall marketing and communication objective of inspiring every Indian to discover and explore the majestic beauty of India.”

Mumbai Angels welcomes Hem Angels as its latest co-investment Partner

Mumbai Angels, a premier platform for early-stage investments, has announced Hem Angels, a part of Hem Securities Ltd, as its next partner for the co-investment programme. Hem Angels, a part of Hem Securities Ltd, has been actively raising early-stage funds through its network spanned across 21 states and 112 cities.

 

The co-investment programme launched in 2021 by Mumbai Angels offers a host of opportunities for emerging startups seeking financial backing and guidance. The companies chosen for the programme will also receive unrestricted access to Mumbai Angels’ Multiplier programme, an exclusive marketplace offering an array of services such as advertising, advisory, cloud storage and marketing solutions, among others.

Nandini Mansinghka, Co-founder and CEO of Mumbai Angels, said, “As one of the pioneers in introducing angel investment platforms in India, we strongly believe in creating a favourable environment for robust growth. Co-investment program is a step towards building up a startup ecosystem that is brimming with opportunities.”

“Through 14 months of operations, we have funded 16 startups through our investor network, and we are hopeful of doubling the numbers in 2022 through the partnership with Mumbai Angels. We believe that this collaboration will help us achieve our goals faster and would give an immense boost to our chosen startups,” added Gaurav Jain, Director of Hem Angels.

Magenta ties up with Xavier Institutes to set up EV charging stations at multiple campuses

 

Magenta, a charge point operator (CPO), has tied up with Xavier Institutes (part of the Jesuit Educational Network) to install EV charging stations at their multiple educational campuses. This initiative has been started off with the first EV charger installation at Mumbai's Xavier's Institute of Engineering Campus at Mahim. The EV charging station will be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

These chargers will be controlled via the ChargeGrid App, which features online remote monitoring and an automated payment mechanism.

The charging station is a combination of AC and DC chargers (30kW DC Fast Charger + 7.4kW AC), which shall support two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers. With this Magenta will be installing EV chargers across Xavier’s network of educational institutes in India which pervades 83 university colleges, 7 major institutes of business management, 22 technical institutes, 11 research institutes, over 92 high schools and 15 specialized institutions. 

  

Maxson Lewis, CEO and Founder of Magenta, said, 

"Colleges and institutions are leading the way when it comes to promoting low and zero-emission vehicles. We are pleased to see the support of the esteemed Xavier's Institute of Engineering to install an EV charging station. This reflects the Institute's dedication to sustainability and exhibits its foresight. We hope that this encourages healthy competition among campuses to be the greenest in the world."

Magenta EV Charging points are presently available in almost 34 cities and on many state and national roads under various business models and market niches, beginning with installing the first chargers in Mumbai. Magenta intends to build a network of 4800 charging stations around the country to convert entire roadway segments into e-highways. This move will support the government initiative of setting up 400,000 charging stations to meet the requirement for two million Electric Vehicles (EV) that could potentially ply on its roads by 2026.

ValetEZ ventures into the EV sector; unveils its latest offering ‘ChargeEZ’

ValetEZ, a smart parking solutions provider, has expanded its footprint into the EV sector with the launch of ChargeEZ, an EV charging solution for electric vehicles.

 

ChargeEZ is designed to match the needs of individual 2W EV owners and 2W and 3W fleet operators, allowing them to fulfil their EV charging requirements easily. It comprises an EV charging point hardware and an ‘EZ’ app to enable users to navigate to the nearest EV charging, as and when required.

 

It also comes with a dashboard and analytics for EV fleet owners, providing them with enough insights to better manage their EV charging needs. Complemented with a smart parking IoT suite, ChargeEZ offers comprehensive user support to consumers availing park and charge subscriptions.

 

Prashant Chandrasekaran, Co-founder and COO, said,

“As the EV market has taken off in the past few years, we have taken a giant stride towards building a park and charge platform to address pain points for consumers and businesses. Our pay-per-use and subscription services are designed to empower individual EV owners and fleet owners to get access to multiple charging points across the city, making the ValetEZ portfolio stronger and more connected.”

CL Educate acqui-hires NCR franchisee Knowledge Tree

Career Launcher, a part of CL Educate Ltd and an edtech and competitive test preparation platform, on Monday announced the acqui-hire of Knowledge Tree, the CL business partner of the Delhi-NCR region. 

 

Knowledge Tree (KT), founded and run by Deepak Madan and Jitin Arora, runs three of the NCR locations in Gurugram and Faridabad. They now join and lead the CL Delhi-NCR team, focused on accelerating business growth through a blended/omnichannel model approach.  

 

Deepak Madan, Director at Knowledge Tree, said,

"This is homecoming for us, with a greater responsibility to grow the business in the post COVID-19 era".  Jitin Arora, Co-founder at Knowledge Tree, added: "Our team is delighted at this integration as it offers faster and wider career growth for all our team members too." 

Deepak and Jitin worked at Career Launcher as employees for a few years before taking up franchisee centres in Gurugram and Faridabad.  

  

"Our consistent focus to maximise shareholder returns continues as we respond to the post-COVID-19 world through specific strategies and structures. We see ourselves on a very good trajectory for the next 36-48 months of undiluted execution focus. This is another step in that direction," said Nikhil Mahajan, Executive Director, Finance Group CEO, CL Educate.  

Xeno raises $1.6 million from Vinyl Capital, Vibe Capital, others

Xeno, a marketing automation firm, raised $1.6 million in a seed round led by Vinyl Capital, Vibe Capital, Java Capital, and Angel List

The round also saw participation from angel investors including Mamaearth’s Varun Alagh, CRED's Kunal Shah, Arjun Vaidya — who heads Verlinvest’s India investments, and Curefood’s Ankit Nagori

Xeno will use the funds to expand across teams including product, marketing, engineering and sales. The firm also plans on doubling its team size by the end of 2022. 

“We’re on a mission to enable over 100,000 brands to build experiences & marketing specific to an individual customer. This might feel like a solved problem, but it isn’t. Just see the SMS’s you get on your phone. This fundraise, mostly from entrepreneurs who’ve personally experienced this problem, is further validation of our mission,” said Pranav Ahuja, Co-founder and CEO, Xeno in a release shared by the company. 

The firm currently works with at least 50 brands including clothing players such as Vero Moda, Forever New, Jack and Jones, Barbeque Nation, and Taco Bell. 

Honc raises $400,000 in pre-seed round from 100x.VC, others 

honc, a tech firm, raises $400,000 in pre-seed round from 100x.VC and Dholakia Ventures, a Mumbai-based family office. 

The round also saw participation from Amey Mashelkar, who heads JioGenNext; Jasminder Singh Gulati, Co-founder of NowFloats; and Reliance Industries Ltd’s independent director Dr Raghunath Mashelkar, among other angel investors. 

“While car wash in India has an annual spend of $12 billion, it's still in the early stages of its  digital transformation. The fund infusion is a testament to investor’s confidence in the rising  demand for a doorstep solution. In the last year, we were able to add over 200 partners to our  network. We carry out 4,000 car washes per day in Hyderabad alone. We aim to make the  traditional car wash industry efficient, environmentally friendly and a customer-centric one,” said Niranjan Seelam, Co-founder and CEO, Honc, in a release shared by the company. 

The firm was founded in 2020 by Niranjan Seelam and Rahul Marwar

Benny’s Bowl raises $300,000 from Bookmyshow’s Ashish Hemrajani, others

Benny’s Bowl, a pet food firm, raised $300,000 in a pre-seed funding round led by Ashish Hemrajani, CEO of BookMyShow. 

The round also saw participation from Haresh Chawla, Partner at True North Co; Japan Angel Fund, and Rajesh Sawhney, among others. 

The Delhi-based firm, which was started in August 2021, will use the funds to create more products. 

“We believe that our pets also deserve to eat fresh and healthy food just like we humans do, with Benny's Bowl we aim to simplify feeding fresh food to our pets and improve the quality of life and lifespan of our pets,” said Akshay Gupta, Co-founder of Benny’s Bowl, in a release shared by the company. 

Battrixx acquires 100 pc stake in Varos Technology 

Battrixx, the manufacturer of lithium-ion battery packs for e-vehicles, on Monday announced that it has acquired 100 percent stake in Pune-based Varos Technology Pvt Ltd pioneers in developing and leveraging IOT tools for EV infrastructure and battery management systems.

Battrixx, the battery division of Kabra Extrusiontechnik which is a part of Kolsite Group, has been making inroads into the two and three-wheeler EV segment. To facilitate its continuous growth in the overall segment and create a synergy between Battrixx products and services, Varos Technology will anchor its capabilities to develop end-to-end battery management systems by leveraging cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven analytic tools to help predict battery life and monitor battery performance. The Machine Learning (ML) algorithms will provide constant inputs in adjusting and improving battery performance.

 “The collaboration with Varos Technology follows a recent proposal of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the formulation of a battery swapping policy for EV charging stations. We expect very strong business synergies to be generated through this acquisition. Battrixx' vision of developing and producing green energy systems and solutions for OEMs as well as swapping station operators  would be strengthened with strong IOT capabilities and tools of Varos,” said Anand Kabra, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Kabra Extrusiontechnik.
Edited by Kanishk Singh

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