Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 5, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Monday, April 5, 2022.
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Ninjacart partners with Avanti Finance to launch innovative credit products focused on the agri value chain

Ninjacart has expanded its capabilities within the agri-tech space championing digital financial inclusivity through a strategic partnership with Avanti Finance.

Through this alliance, Ninjacart and Avanti Finance will work to provide easy access to credit products as well as leverage unique technology capabilities and resources for the upliftment of the agri value chain community. It will co-create and make available relevant credit products to the Agri community at a reasonable cost, thereby helping them manage their cash flow, improve their working capital and alleviate their financial hardships, according to a statement.

T-Hub partners with Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre India to offer Rs 4M grant to automotive atartups

T-Hubtoday announced its partnership with Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre India (RNTBCI), a global technical and development centre for the Open Innovation Challenge. 

Through this partnership, RNTBCI will partner with some of the most innovative automotive startups scouted by T-Hub. With an aim to bolster the growing automotive ecosystem, the winning startups will get an opportunity to pitch in front of RNTBCI leadership and access their global mentorship network.

 The programme offers the startups an opportunity to participate under four themes - First and Last Mile Connectivity, Digitisation, Mobility as a Service with social impact (MaaS) and Circular economy. Six to eight startups will be shortlisted for each theme out of which four startups will win Rs 1 million grant each and receive co-working opportunities with RNTBCI.

 The programme will focus on automotive space including AI (artificial intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), blockchain, robotic process automation (RPA), electrification, big data, AR/VR, application development, cloud-based, materials, alternative fuel etc. Applications are also open for growth stage startups with minimum viable product (MVP) ready, in Electric vehicle (EV), Automated vehicle (AV) and Assistive technology (AT) technology, bio-based materials, internet of waste, re-use, upcycle anywhere from India.

IITK gets 100 cr contribution from IndiGo co-founder Rakesh Gangwal

IIT Kanpur and its distinguished alumnus Rakesh Gangwal (co-founder of IndiGo airlines) have inked an agreement to work together for establishing the School of Medical Sciences and Technology on the IIT Kanpur campus. Under this agreement, Gangwal will be donating INR 100 Crores to support the establishment of the school.

Prof Abhay Karandikar, Director IIT Kanpur said, “We are extremely grateful for the generous contribution of Mr. Rakesh Gangwal. The proposed medical school will play an important role in driving IIT Kanpur’s innovations in medical research and technology and catapult India into the global league of institutions that are converging medical sciences and technology to benefit humankind.”

It is expected to build academic and research leadership in the clinical research and MedTech domains. This will be achieved through the Centers of Excellence (CoE) on futuristic medicine and a Super-specialty Hospital.

The proposed School will be named as “Gangwal School of Medical Sciences and Technology”. Gangwal will also be joining the advisory Board of the School.

CHARGE ZONE partners with Marriott International to deploy EV charging stations at hotel properties in India.

Charge+Zone, a technology-driven EV Charging network company today announced that it has partnered with Marriott International to deploy EV charging stations across all its properties in India. As part of the partnership, CHARGE+ZONE has installed a fast charging station with dual charging guns at "The Westin Mumbai Powai Lake" and will complete the installation of more than 100 EV chargers in a phased manner by December 2022.

This initiative is also part of Marriott’s commitment to sustainable operations and creating an Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging infrastructure around the globe. These charging stations will be open to the public as well as to users of Marriott’s EV fleet.

KL Rahul, Indian cricketer

XYXX onboards KL Rahul as investor and brand ambassador

XYXX, a premium men’s innerwear label, has roped in Indian Cricketer, KL Rahul as their first-ever ambassador for the innerwear and loungewear category.

The company had raised INR 30 Crore in Series-A funding from Sauce.vc, DSG Consumer Partners and Synergy Capital Partners. This April, KL Rahul joined the ranks as an investor in XYXX for an undisclosed amount.

Currently in a high-growth stage in its journey, XYXX is on its way to scaling up its physical presence to 19000 touchpoints by September 2022. In addition to this, XYXX also retails on 14 key digital marketplaces such as Amazon, Myntra, Ajio, amongst others as well as their own website.

UpGrad KnowledgeHut rolls out Bootcamp for aspiring candidates focusing on careers in Data Science

UpGrad KnowledgeHut, Bangalore-based technology skilling provider and a part of Asia’s Higher Edtech major, upGrad, today announced the launch of its first-ever Data Science Bootcamp to provide a well-rounded learning experience to aspiring candidates who are looking to up skill or kick start their career in Data Science.

In the three-month intensive Data Science Bootcamp, the candidates will get the benefits of using the self-paced content as well as the live sessions conducted by instructors. It is designed with an aim to make candidates industry ready by gaining real-world experiences and building a portfolio of projects through the course of training.

Manipal HealthMap acquires Hyderabad-based Medcis PathLabs 

Manipal HealthMap, a leading integrated diagnostic service provider in India, announced the acquisition of Hyderabad-based MEDCIS PATHLABS INDIAin an all-cash deal for a majority stake.

Through this acquisition, Manipal HealthMap will have access to additional 19 laboratories, including one NABL accredited central laboratory (based in Hyderabad), which takes the total number to 60 centres across 14 states, strengthening its position as a major integrated diagnostic services brand.

He added that the deal was also in line with their strategy to achieve high growth in the integrated diagnostic space and gain significant market share by acquiring existing facilities and organically expanding our reach and offerings.

The combined entity will also have a consolidated back-end operation of its labs at common locations of Pune, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Nagpur.

Tek Travels DMCC acquires 51 percent stake in BookaBed AG

Tek Travels DMCC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of TBO Tek Limited has announced today that it has acquired 51 percent shareholding of BookaBed AG . 

Investment in BookaBed will enable TBO to scale up its business’s services and offerings. BookaBed AG, based in Switzerland, is also a B2B accommodation provider to the Irish and UK travel industries. BookaBed intends to increase its market share in Ireland and the UK by leveraging TBO’s global API business, and TBO Academy that trains and educates travel agents and travel trade partners.

TBO is one of the leading global travel distribution platforms connecting over 100,000 travel buyers across more than 110 countries with millions of travel suppliers, as of October 31, 2021. 

Gaurav Bhatnagar, Co-Founder and Joint Managing Director of TBO, commented on the news and said: "We are excited to welcome everyone at BookaBed to the TBO family. BookaBed allows TBO’s entry into the Irish market and strengthens our UK presence. Both TBO and BookaBed have a significant opportunity to leverage each other's strengths and further expand our presence in current and future markets.”

Meesho integrates grocery With core application

Meeshois integrating its grocery business within the core application by the first week of May, 2022. The company has also rebranded Farmiso to Meesho Superstore, representing its continued focus to fulfill consumer demand for daily essentials in tier 2 markets.

Meesho Superstore currently provides 500 products across categories like fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, groceries, home care and packaged food among others. The integration will now provide the company’s 100 million Meesho users access to over 87 million active product listings across more than 36 categories on a single platform.

After its pilot, in less than 9 months , it has scaled its grocery offering to 6 states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. As the pilot continues to gain momentum, Meesho plans to make Superstore available in 12 states by the end of 2022.

PhonePe to double employee headcount by December 2022

PhonePe, India’s leading digital payments platform, today, announced that it will double its total employee strength by the end of December 2022.

The company plans to hire across levels and functions for Engineering, Product, Analytics, Business Development, and Sales teams with about 2800 open job positions, it plans to fill in the next 12 months across Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, and the rest of the country.

Arzooo hires Saket Kumar Dwivedy as its Vice President of HR

Arzooo, a B2B platform for offline retail, has onboarded Saket Kumar Dwivedy as the Vice President of HR. In this role, Saket will be responsible for leading the HR and administration functions, and be instrumental in helping Arzooo scale up its operations by driving enormous growth.

Saket has managed different facets of HR before joining Arzooo. He started his career with HCL Technologies and later worked with Upgrad, MX player and Times Internet. Saket proved his mettle at Airtel as the HR Head- Digital, setting up differentiated processes in Performance Management, Leadership, and Capability Building.

ANAROCK strengthens flexible workspaces portfolio

ANAROCK Group, leading independent real estate services consultancy today announced the acquisition of myHQ, one of the largest Indian flexible workspace platforms, to strengthen its flexible workspaces portfolio. myHQ, headquartered in Delhi-NCR, currently has over 50,000 subscribed members across 700+ spaces in 7 cities.

Post-acquisition, myHQ will retain its distinct brand and independence. Utkarsh Kawatra and Vinayak Agarawal, both IIT-Delhi graduates who founded myHQ in 2016 will remain on board as founding partners and are enthusiastic about the firm's next innings under the ANAROCK banner.

Gupshup acquires Active.Ai, the Leading Conversational AI Platform for Banks and Fintech Companies

Gupshup, a conversational engagement startup, announced today the acquisition of Active.Ai, the leading Conversational AI platform used by banks and fintech firms. The acquisition strengthens Gupshup’s customer experience (CX) solutions for BFSI customers.

“Active.Ai’s robust CBaaS (Conversational Banking-as-a-Service) platform adds more vertical depth to our product stack, giving BFSI customers the tools to create intelligent, frictionless micro conversations with consumers using voice, video and messaging channels”, said Beerud Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, Gupshup. “We are happy to welcome the Acitve.Ai team to the Gupshup family and look forward to driving the next phase of innovations in conversational engagement and commerce.”

“Active.Ai's conversational engagement platform powers leading financial enterprises across 43 countries,” said Ravi Shankar, Co-founder and CEO, Active.Ai. “We are excited to partner with Gupshup to help shape the future of conversational engagement in the financial services space.”

Headquartered in Singapore, Active.Ai’s marquee customers include the Royal Credit Union and CommFirst Federal Credit Union in the USA, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Tata Capital, IndusInd Bank and HDFC Securities Ltd in India, to name a few. The company has established strong partnerships with AWS, Microsoft, Infosys (Finacle), TCS, Finastra, EY, PwC and Accenture. Active.Ai’s investors include InnoCells, Kalaari Capital, Vertex Ventures, Chiratae Ventures, CreditEase, DI and Kstart.

Spinny launches SpinnyMax

Spinny, a full-stack used car buying and selling platform, has launched its luxury segment Spinny Max. The platform marks the first used luxury cars offering that operates at a national scale and offers an assortment of over 500 cars - including marquees such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover with pan-India delivery service through 250 cities.

Niraj Singh, Founder & CEO, Spinny, said: “Spinny Max aims to create a niche in the market for luxury automobiles - making accessible luxury a reality for young men and women. Each car is thoroughly vetted and test drives and ownership are designed with highest levels of quality and support,  keeping customer delight and simplicity in mind.”

Founding Team of Spinny

ICRIER and Prosus set up the Centre for Internet and Digital Economy

The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), one of India’s premier economic think tanks, and Prosus, one of the largest technology investors in the world, are partnering to establish the ICRIER Prosus Centre for Internet and Digital Economy (IPCIDE). 

The centre will conduct research at the intersection of technology, policy and economics and offer insights to the government on the most pressing issues regarding the digital economy. Areas of focus for the Centre will include measuring India’s digital economy, fintech, crypto assets and digital currency, platform governance and competition, artificial intelligence — ethics and governance, cybersecurity and new approaches to regulating India’s digital economy. 

Based at ICRIER, New Delhi, the Centre will undertake analytical research to support India’s transition towards a more efficient, inclusive, and sustainable digital economy and shape the next phase of India’s digital transformation.

The Centre will collaborate with other institutions, both within and outside India, to deliver key insights into India’s rapidly evolving digital economy. The Centre’s activities will be overseen by an eminent panel of advisory members, including Professor Payal Arora, Mr. Rajesh Bansal, Mr. R. Chandrashekhar, Mr. Toomas Ilves, Professor Carl Frey, and Ms. Aruna Sundararajan. The advisory panel will invite and add new members over time.

Jio-Bp Mobility station

Jio-bp and TVS Motor Company to collaborate on EV solutions

Jio-BP (Reliance BP Mobility Limited) and TVS Motor Companysaid that they have agreed to explore the creation of a robust public EV charging infrastructure for electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers in the country, building on Jio-bp’s growing network in this space. 

Under this proposed partnership, the customers of TVS electric vehicles are expected to get access to the widespread charging network of Jio-bp, which is also open to other vehicles. Partnership aims at creating a regular AC charging network and a DC fast-charging network. 

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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