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

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Monday, April 11, 2022.
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GOI funds Epygen Biotech to make affordable COVID-19 vaccine for less than Rs 150

Epygen Biotech, a biopharmaceutical company engaged in research and manufacturing therapeutic proteins, has received funding from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India to initiate the Phase I and Phase II trials of an indigenous affordable Receptor Binding Domain (RBD based vaccine) against present and future SARS-CoV–2 variants.

With an anticipated price point of less than Rs 150 per dose, an Indian company, for the first time, will be able to adopt the highly productive C1-cell protein production platform, which has been demonstrated by scientists at the European Union Zoonotic Anticipation and Preparedness Initiative (ZAPI) programme, the company said.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to the government as well as for private consumption and it is expected to hit the Indian market by the end of 2022 or early 2023.

Epygen is developing and expects to produce large quantities of the vaccine at a much lower cost at its Patalganga (near Mumbai, India) based state of the art Biologics facility.

Eight startups get together to organise Startup Premier League

A gully cricket Startup Premier League was organised between eight startups in Chennai on April 10, 2022 to welcome their employees back to work. 

The series was won by M2P Fintech and runner-up was Superops.AI. Other participants include Rocketlane, PipeCandy, Everstage, Growfin, Guardian Link, and IppoPay

The match was organised by QED Corporate Advisors, a boutique advisory firm based out of Chennai, and was powered by Fego.AI, HSBC and Tether.

A total of six players, led by the respective founder, represented their startup. The winner walked home with 25$ NFT from World’s First NFT Cricket Game to be launched by Guardian Link and the runners up got 1$ AWS credit. 

The winner trophy and prize cheque was given by Suresh Sambandam, Founder of Kissflow, and Kumar Srivatsan, Founder of Fego.AI.

“Every startup founder is handling this transition of work from home to back to office. We wanted to be a part of this whole transition process and as it is the IPL season, we came up with the idea of hosting a Startup Premier League. All the startups exhibited their cricketing skills and made the Startup Premier League a huge success,” said Aravind S, Founder, QED Corporate Advisors. 

Unacademy signs MoU with Delhi Police to conduct aptitude tests

Learning platform Unacademy has signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Delhi Police to conduct a series of aptitude tests over the course of four years for Delhi Police employees and their children. 

As part of the initiative, the children of Delhi Police personnel can avail a 50 percent discount on the annual price of select courses at Unacademy. Students from Class X till Graduation can apply for the test.

Additionally, 750 girl children of Delhi Police personnel will receive free scholarships under Unacademy’s mega national program ‘Shikshodaya’.

Unacademy will also conduct a series of career guidance sessions at Delhi Police Public Schools to sensitise students on emerging career opportunities.

Unacademy Co-founders (L to R), Roman Saini, Hemesh Singh and Gaurav Munjal

Pine Labs partners with Home Credit India to strengthen Digital EMI lending option

Merchant commerce platform Pine Labs has entered into a partnership with consumer finance company Home Credit India. 

This partnership will enable access of instant Equated Monthly Instalment (EMI) purchase option to HC customers on Pine Labs PoS terminals pan India. Even for shoppers who are not the customers of Home Credit, merchants can provide them with a QR to scan and digitally onboard them in less than 5 minutes.

Initially, the programme will be launched across 18,000 stores and for purchase of electronics, home appliances, and mobile phones. More stores and newer categories will be added subsequently.

Pine Labs is scaling its issuer network and currently has more than 30 issuers including India’s leading banks and non-banking financial companies offering EMI purchase options via Pine Labs’ Android PoS terminals, the company said in a press release.

Magenta  to deploy over 1,000 electric cargo vehicles in partnership with Euler

Integrated charging and electric mobility solutions firm Magenta has deployed over 100 electric cargo vehicles under its EVET brand in Bengaluru, in partnership with Euler Motors, with plans to deploy 1000 more in the coming months.

Magenta, which launched its e-mobility platform under the EVET (Electric Vehicle Enabled Transport) brand earlier this year, aims to deploy and operate over 2,400 electric vehicles (EV) in its fleet in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai in 2022, the company said.

The new electric cargo fleet is meant for mid-mile and last-mile delivery servicing e-commerce, food delivery, pharma and other last-mile logistics clients. While Euler Motors will cater to vehicle deliveries and service support, EVET will oversee customer deployments and servicing last mile transportation.

The key cities targeted for the deployments include Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru among others.

“We are thrilled to be adding an environmentally friendly electric fleet to address the ever-increasing need for last-mile logistics and transportation. Our strong intention is to assist ecommerce and logistics enterprises in scaling up while keeping their sustainability and cost-effectiveness goals in mind,” said Darryl Dias, Co-founder and Director, Magenta.

GoKwik appoints Amazon’s Pranav Merchant as Head of Operations

Ecommerce enablement company GoKwik has onboarded amazon’s Pranav Merchant as Head of Operations.

In his new role, Pranav will be the key visionary for strategising the organisation’s overall operational intricacies, stakeholder management, and further drive the brand’s aim to be a preferred partner of D2C ecommerce merchants for all their problems relating to conversions, cart abandonment, return to origin, and customer acquisition costs.

Before joining GoKwik, Pranav worked at organisations like Amazon, ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund, and Aditya Birla Group in leadership roles and has led the operational setup and process stabilisation for them. 

In his previous role at Amazon, he led the formation of a new node at Pune for the Compliance Operations team which eventually grew to 900 resources in the last five years.

"I share a passion for scaling businesses that show immense grit and conviction for solving hard-hitting problems customers face. Combine that with incredible proprietary algorithms in place, and there will be only one way forward, the upward way,” said Pranav.

“As ecommerce is showing good velocity in India, we must solve problems this industry faces and support the growth manifold. GoKwik is driven by that goal and that passion. I am excited to scale this business, set up operations and strategies in place that will make the journey from 1 to 100 and change the face of how people see D2C and ecommerce.”

goSTOPS and Shoshin Tribe partner to support sustainable travel in India

Backpacker hostel brand GoStops has partnered with Shoshin Tribe in their initiative Odyssey Travel Scholarship 2022 to create awareness and bring stories on sustainable and responsible travelling in India to the forefront.

Through an all-expense paid travel scholarship powered by goSTOPS to six individuals to travel across tourism hubs of India. Commencing from Delhi on 10 April 2022, this 35-day long expedition will cover destinations such as Patiala, Amritsar, Mcleodganj, Dehradun, Mussoorie, and Rishikesh among others. 

The trip will include experiential and recreational activities such as meditation drives, photography walks, Triund Hike with Waste Warriors, village walks and visits to attractions like Golden Temple, Wagah Border, Historic Harappa era excavation site, and Norbulingka Monastery.

“As travel seems set for a major comeback post pandemic and with the increasing impetus on responsible and sustainable travel today, a fully financed enriching and education expedition opportunity will surely prove to be a life-changing experience for these passionate tribers,” said Pallavi Agarwal, Founder and CEO, goSTOPS

Pallavi Agarwal, CEO and Co-founder of goSTOPS

Lummo onboards Abishek Murthy as Chief Growth Officer

Jakarta and Bengaluru-based SaaS company Lummo (formerly known as BukuKas) has appointed Abishek Murthy as their Chief Growth Officer.

At Lummo, he will be responsible for all things business right from marketing to post purchase support. Abishek comes with a strong background both in marketing and sales and has excelled at leadership and management roles, the company said.

In his previous role at Freshworks, Abishek was the Chief of Staff, for the CRO, and was partnering with the go to market teams in driving growth.

“Abishek  brings years of industry expertise and experience to the company. With his creativity and unique outlook on company strategy he will be instrumental in formulating a brand-new formula for growth strategies that align with Lummo’s business goals for coming years,” said Krishnan Menon, Founder and CEO, Lummo.

Lummo has been expanding its leadership team in India with the addition of names in key roles including Alexander Peter, Senior Vice President, Founder's Office and People Strategy, Renuka Thakur, Head of Product - Buyer and Storefront at Lummo, and Amit Chhajer, Director of Engineering.

Mirae Asset launches marquee trading platform m.Stock

Financial services provider Mirae Asset has launched m.Stock, a platform for investment in the capital markets across the world.

This new product combines access to all trading and investment products under one roof paired with a ‘Zero Brokerage and No Commission’ model. 

m.Stock has an account opening fee of Rs 999 with zero brokerage, no platform fees, and a one-time account opening structure. The platform also has features like pre-designed index baskets, voice search for individual stocks and contracts, access to long term historical data, one-click full exchange basket buy, and intuitive help sections.

“We at Mirae Asset are extremely excited to bring m.Stock, a global platform that has been curated keeping in mind the ever-changing technological innovation in the investment management space. It is a product that not only caters to the need of seasoned traders but also new-age investors making it a one-stop shop for the investor community in India,” said Arun Chaudhry, Director and Chief Business Officer, Mirae Asset Capital Markets.

THIP Media launches health information and fact checking WhatsApp chatbot Ask RAKSHA

Health information and fact checking platform THIP Media has announced a new chatbot ‘Ask RAKSHA’ on WhatsApp. RAKSHA, an acronym for Readily Accessible Knowledge and Support for Health Action, is built on WhatsApp's Business Platform.

The chatbot will help Indian citizens find answers to their health question and fact check any health information for free. Users can also further subscribe to daily health tips or play a quiz to evaluate their health knowledge. 

The chatbot is currently in English but the company confirmed that a Hindi and Bengali version will be launched soon.

To access the chatbot and start a conversation with RAKSHA, users will just need to send a “Hi” to the number +91-85078-85079 on WhatsApp.

“We’re pleased to support the launch of ‘Ask RAKSHA’ - The Healthy Indian Project’s chatbot built on the WhatsApp Business platform that will help users access credible health related information from the independent third-party fact-checker, certified by International Fact-Checking Network,” said Shivnath Thukral, Public Policy Director, WhatsApp India. 

Agribazaar and Rivulis sign MOU to bolster India’s agri-output with the power of micro-irrigation

Agritech startup AgriBazaar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rivulis, a micro-irrigation products and solutions company, as a part of which it will enable farmers on its platform to deploy Rivulis’ field irrigation management products and solutions.  

In the first phase, Agribazaar will facilitate purchasing and installing Rivulis' drip irrigation systems for the sugarcane farmers on its platforms, which it will eventually extend to over 3,00,000 farmers currently registered on the agribazaar platform.

The MOU will help farmers increase the yield output of their lands.

OroPocket announces gold and silver delivery along with vault updates

Oropocket, a fintech solution that provides real-world assets like gold, silver into online gold and silver, announced that it will be moving to a dual-vault system.

With this feature, a user can have a UK vault and an Indian vault. They can use this to get deliveries of the assets by converting digital gold to physical gold and the delivery comes with insurance. This feature is only available in the Indian Vault.

Tarusha Mittal, COO and Co-founder, OroPocket said, “We at OroPocket, have been working towards making investments in digital assets like gold simpler and more transparent so that you can get the most out of your savings. In order to provide the best-in-class services to our users, we’re glad to announce the dual vault feature. Under this, users can liquidate their assets whenever they want and can transfer their gold or silver to the Indian vault at the same price. They can also enjoy the ease of service by directly buying gold or silver from Indian vaults and converting them into physical gold by ordering at-home delivery.”

Mohit Madan, CEO and Founder, OroPocket said, “All the future purchases including gold and silver AIP on OroPocket app, would happen in the Indian vault from now on. This will enable us to start physical deliveries of gold and silver to the customer’s doorstep. Users can liquidate the assets whenever they want and can transfer their gold or silver to the Indian vault at the same price.”

Apart from this, it will also launch their developer programme, under which OroPocket will act as a platform to build a bunch of financial services applications using our APIs.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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