Startup news and updates: daily roundup (March 3, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, March 3, 2022.
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Vikrant Gupta joins apna.co as Head of People 

With a mission to further strengthen its leadership team, Apna, one of India’s largest jobs and professional networking platforms, announced the appointment of industry veteran Vikrant Gupta as its Head of People.

In this role, Vikrant will be providing strategic guidance, enablement, thought leadership, and operational rigour to the human resources and talent acquisition agenda at apna. He will also help uphold the diversity and inclusion goals, assisting the brand in becoming a global employer partner as the platform scales further.  

With an industry experience of more than two decades, Vikrant brings with him a wealth of rich and diverse experiences across functions including HR business partnering, talent supply chain, talent development and culture and organisational development, finance, control and auditing, and M&A. He has previously worked with various global organisations including GE, Nike, Accenture, HCL, and Harman.

Apna currently is among the youngest unicorns in the country, following Mensa and GlobalBees.

Khatabook to become a merchant-focused digital bank in 2022

Fintech startup KhataBook announced its plan to become a digital bank for MSMEs before the end of 2022. This decision is in line with Khatabook's mission to empower MSMEs with digital business capabilities, resulting in improved business efficiency and incomes for MSMEs.

The FinServ offerings on the Khatabook and Biz Analyst platforms are designed to improve the bottom line for MSMEs. The startup plans to hire 80 people in its lending, payments, and FinServ teams this year.    Contributing towards building the infrastructure for better financial access in India, the Khatabook platform will provide digital touchpoints to avail and manage credit, savings, and cash flows.

Ravish Naresh, CEO, and Co-founder, Khatabook, said, "With our merchants-focused Digital Bank initiative, we aim to solve the lack of equal access to Financial services due to legacy infrastructure. We intend to become the most accessible Neo-bank for the MSMEs in India. The biggest strength of Khatabook Neo Bank is the in-depth knowledge of varied requirements of retailers, suppliers, wholesalers and ensuring customised financial services for each role within the traditional supply chain. Our FinServe portfolio will result in increased profitability and business expansion for our merchant users."   

OYO appoints ex-PayU exec Prakash Padariya as Chief Information Security Officer 

Global hospitality technology platform Oyo has announced the appointment of Prakash Padariya as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for IT and security teams.

In his role at OYO, Prakash will helm a security strategy for OYO's systems globally, including regions such as India, SEA, Europe, the US, and the UK. Prakash will be leading the operations for teams working specifically for IT and Cyber Security services. In addition to this, Prakash will be also responsible for leveraging technologies such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence to enhance cyber security functions from the ground.

Prakash brings with him 19+ years of experience across geographies with extensive expertise in corporate security consulting, cyber security, vulnerability assessment, ethical hacking, surveillance audits, legal regulatory compliance, among others. Besides PayU, Prakash has worked in senior management roles across leading Fortune 100 MNCs like GE, Royal Bank of Scotland, IBM, Target Corporation, and Accenture.

Practically acquires Fedena school ERP

Practically, an experiential learning app for students of classes VI to XII, has acquired Fedena (Foradian Technologies Pvt Ltd) — the world’s most widely used ERP.  With this acquisition, Practically claims to have become the world’s first edtech company offering a comprehensive end-to-end product suite for schools.

The integrated product will now offer one-in-all product and services that a school needs from experiential learning content, innovative and collaborative teaching tools, to easy-to-use administrative and support tools. 

Charu Noheria, Co-Founder and COO, Practically

Fedena offers cloud-based technology solutions for easy administrative and resource planning for educational institutes. At present, through its open-source project, Fedena’s products are used extensively in 40,000 institutions, by 20 million users in 20 different languages spread across 180+ countries with India, Middle East, Africa and South East Asia being the major markets. Through its commercial and customised offerings, Fedena has served 1,000+ education brands globally. 

Paytm and Flipkart are the most talked-about consumer internet brands: Report

According to Wizikey’s latest report on the consumer internet companies of February 2022 in India, Paytm and Flipkart comes as the most talked-about internet brands.

The announcement of becoming the official acquiring partner for the government's e-RUPI vouchers initiative, coupled with its partnership with Twitter to ramp up the support for its ‘Tips’ feature in India got everyone's attention on Paytm. Further, Paytm stocks continue to be a central focus.

Flipkart ranked second. The brand made quite buzz for its offers, discounts, especially drop in iPhone prices made quite a flash. Besides, Flipkart's announcement of 45-minute grocery delivery was widely talked about.

In the third place is BharatPe. The payment gateway company grabbed the headlines for Ashneer Grover, the former Managing Director of the company–his recent controversies and the internal probe.

CRED occupied fourth place, especially for reports about the company eyeing to raise $300 million at an aggressive valuation of over $6 billion. In the fifth rank is Zomato. The food tech company was in the limelight for its stocks and buzz around Zomato Financial Services Ltd.

Verloop.io partners with WebEngage to empower brands to build engaging customer experiences

Conversational AI platform for customer support automation, Verloop.io announced in a statement that it has partnered with WebEngage, a full-stack Retention Operating System, for consumer businesses.

WebEngage customers can now use Verloop.io to send out their transactional and promotional messages via their WhatsApp channel by hyper-personalising the content based on user behaviour. This enables the customer to start a conversation with end-users, which will be taken care of by Verloop chatbots.

Gauraav Singh

"WebEngage is a leader in the user retention and customer engagement and we're excited to be working with the company to extend the channel capabilities of Verloop.io platform," says Gaurav Singh, Founder & CEO, Verloop.io. "This partnership will enable brands to seamlessly build automation on their channels from one dashboard.”

Digital banking platform Jupiter logs in ESOP transactions worth $4M

Mumbai and Bengaluru-based digital banking and financial services startup Jupiter announced that it has facilitated Employee Stock Options (ESOPs) for several of its employees (past and present) across the company. The two liquidity transactions for the same have totalled up to approximately $4 million (Rs 30 crore).

Jupiter, which was in stealth mode until October 2021, has now emerged as the leading consumer-focused digital banking services company across India. The platform has onboarded close to 800,000 users since its inception in 2019, and has partnered with the Federal Bank to provide bank accounts to its customers.

The liquidity events, which have benefited 21 former and current Jupiter employees, come less than two months after the company announced the closure of its $86 million Series C funding round, which was led by a variety of marquee investors such as Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital India, US-based venture fund QED Investors along with its existing backer Matrix Partners India.

Mumbai Angels and Faad Network join hands to co-invest in innovative startups

Mumbai Angels, a premier platform for early-stage investments, has announced its next partner, Faad Network, an early-stage investor network offering pre-seed to Series A rounds investments in sector agnostic startups.

The co-investment programme initiated by Mumbai Angels aims to offer exceptional growth opportunities for startups in addition to financial backing. The selected companies receive unrestricted access to the MA Multiplier platform, an exclusive marketplace for its portfolio companies to receive invaluable services, such as bookkeeping, cloud storage, marketing solutions, and more.

Nandini Mansinghka, Co-founder and CEO of Mumbai Angels, said, “With the investment focus that complements our vision, Faad Network presents an ideal fit for our co-investment programme. As we continue identifying and investing in promising startups, we are positive about complimenting on our individual strengths. We look forward to lasting, synergistic growth in time to come.”

Founded in 2015, Faad Network invests in sector-agnostic startups from $50,000 to $1 million. The platform currently has over 1,000 investors and 50+ portfolio companies.

Dating app QuackQuack crosses 16 million registered users

One of India’s primary dating apps — QuackQuack announced that it has crossed 16 million registered users. Started with an aim to provide Indian locals with a platform to connect like-minded individuals, the app has so far been able to successfully match 16 lakh profiles in the last year, spanning across geographies, cultures and ideologies across the Indian heartland. 

Commenting on the new milestone, Ravi Mittal, Founder and CEO said,

“With the complexities surrounding multiple aspects of life, finding that perfect someone to share your views and feelings with has become a necessity. It gives us immense pleasure to cater to these emerging desires. Over the years, we have been able to establish a reputation of trust and therefore we are consistently making efforts towards addressing the requirements of modern-day dating communities. Our continued offerings and our expanding services have carved out a promising market for the future, as well.

Ravi Mittal, Founder, QuackQuack.in

According to a report shared by App Tweak, QuackQuack saw more installations this Valentine’s Day and was also the most downloaded dating app in India in the last six months as compared to international counterparts namely Tinder and Bumble.

ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management launches Mumbai global initiative to educate 100 million learners by 2030

The Thunderbird School of Global Management (Thunderbird) at Arizona State University has rolled out its transformative new global initiative Mumbai on Thursday to educate and empower 100 million learners by 2030.

Launched in Phoenix on January 20, 2022, the global initiative will be rolled out across continents beginning with today’s event in Mumbai. The announcement coincides with the opening of Thunderbird’s Center of Excellence in Mumbai, part of a global network of offices expanding the school’s engagement and impact worldwide. 

With the help of a $25 million donation from the Francis and Dionne Najafi Global Initiative, Thunderbird will offer an online Global Management and Entrepreneurship Certificate, consisting of five world-class courses in 40 different languages. The certificate will be covered by full scholarships and thus will be made available at no cost to learners due to the philanthropic support undergirding the initiative.

JustMyRoots is collaborating with celebrity chefs to deliver their signature dishes to food lovers

With an aim to revolutionise interstate food delivery in India, JustMyRoots is set to announce a one of its kind collaboration with top celebrity chefs catering to the wishes of the consumers, enabling delivery of made to order dishes by their favourite celebrity chefs and influencers.

With a robust network of delivery system and a rock-solid supply chain JustMyRoots claims to be the only brand in the country to have developed this concept of taking meals cooked by celebrity chefs to the end consumer, across cities.

Under this collaboration, customers will be able to place live orders while the celebrity chef is cooking. Whether the chef is cooking on any platform, be it on social media channels or OTT, their fans can place order on the JustMyRoots App and get that favourite dish delivered right at their door step.

Multiple celebrity chefs will be streaming live onto the JustMyRoots App, where you watch them cook your “on-demand” dish. JustMyRoots will then ensure that the food is delivered to you in time. JustMyRoots is working with multiple cloud kitchen partners across different cities to ensure ease of delivery.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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