[Funding roundup] ARTH, Wooly Farms, Wastelink, Alt Co, HOBC raise early-stage deals

Here are the Indian startups that announced early-stage funding rounds on June 7, 2022.
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Fintech app ARTH raises $2.5 million from DEG, MIT alumni, Impact Angels

Mumbai-based fintech app Arth has raised $2.5 million through equity financing led by DEG, a Germany-based development finance institution and MIT Alumni Network. The funds will be used to strengthen ARTH’s tech infrastructure, expand its offerings and build risk management systems to meet scale requirements. 

This takes the startup’s total funding to $3.5 million. It had previously raised an internal round from founders, friends, and family.

Founded in 2018 by Shweta Aprameya, ARTH is a regulated MSME fintech that supports micro-entrepreneurs with capital for their multiple needs. The company currently provides well-priced working capital, embedded insurance, and income-generating payment services through its financial services platform, specially designed for micro MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterpruses). The platform claims to have facilitated 3.5 lakh loans and insurance covers, to date. 

“We are one of the first movers in the market who have been able to build an integrated credit and payment solution for the micro-MSME through last-mile collaborative partnership model. The model also reduces the information gap that exists for underwriting the segment and hence improves access to formal credit. For financial institutions like ours, the model allows us to go deeper and faster in Indian markets with well-evolved data and decision-making tools,” the founder said. 

The company plans to scale to one million nano and micro business owners through its ‘phydigital’ model offering both credit and payments services with the aim to become a dominant revenue generating start up for the MSME segment in India.

ARTH has been able to build a strong business and customer base even during COVID. The very nature of their model, to keep customer at the heart of their business with a well-balanced technology and partnership distribution model which makes them different from most other fintech lending players in the market,” said Brian J. Bailey, a U.S. based- fintech executive and early stage investor.   

ARTH founder Shweta Aprameya during a field visit

Bengaluru-based Woolly Farms raise Rs 4.39 Cr from Mumbai Angels

Bengaluru-based farming-as-a-service startup Woolly Farms has raised Rs 4.39 crore from Mumbai Angels. Other investors, including Callapina Capital, Malabar Angels Network and Mentorous Ventures, also participated in the round. 

The venture will use the funding to build its technology platform with an NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) ecosystem for consumers to participate in farm constructions built on blockchain technologies, and IoT-driven farms that enable centralised monitoring systems to manage farms at scale, and bolster sales and marketing efforts, it said in a statement. 

Woolly Farms’ helps in construction of sustainable farms (urban hydroponics), co-owned by consumers, in urban areas. With financial contributions ranging from Rs 10,000 upwards, consumers are also engaged in responsible urban farming through volunteering contributions in technology, farm works and agri knowhow, in return for entitlement of fresh farm produce.

The company has so far touched 12,000 households in Bengaluru, with a close community of 6,000 consumers and urban growers.

"Woolly Farms has built a unique platform that ensures sustainable farm production of organic and affordable vegetables, especially off-season greens, through its consumer/producer participation approach based on a decentralised finance model. I am confident that the fresh funds will enable Woolly Farms to widen its reach as it scales up its tech infrastructure and business in different geographies,” said Nandini Mansinghka, Co-founder and CEO at Mumbai Angels.

Bushair AP, Co-founder and CEO at Woolly Farms, said, “We are delighted to be backed by prominent investors in our quest for good quality food and sustainable agriculture. The funding will allow us to bolster our infrastructure and expand our customer reach and footprint.” 

Food upcycling startup Wastelink raises 10 Cr in seed funding

Wastelink, a B2B food upcycling startup, has announced that it has secured a seed funding of Rs 10 crore led by Matterhorn Projects LLP, Indigram Labs Foundation, Sanjiv Rangrass, and other angel investors.

The capital raised will be used to expand Wastelink’s footprint across India and scale up their nutrition science and food waste supplier platform capability, the startup said in a statement. 

Founded in the year 2018, by engineers Saket Dave and Krishnan Kasturirangan, Wastelink transforms food waste into high energy ingredients for the animal feed industry with the help of its proprietary processing technology. 

“We are extremely excited to have raised our first-ever funding and the opportunities that come with it. The collective experience of our investors along with the capital will immensely benefit us as we chart our journey towards national expansion. We aspire to make a meaningful positive impact on society by upcycling one million metric tons of food waste within two to three years,” said Saket Dave, CEO of Wastelink. 

Plant alternative brand Alt Co raises over $1 million

Green food startup Alt Co. has raised $1 million in funding in a round led by major investors from Singapore, the Middle East, and India. With this injection of funds, the Bengaluru-headquartered plant-based alternative brand will expand and grow its sales and product basket.

It aims to launch new categories of proprietary plant-based dairy alternatives, including ice creams, yoghurts, hot chocolate, chocolate bars, and also plant-based eggs and nutrition products.

In the lead-up to the funding round, Alt Co claims to have expanded its presence into new states, increased the number of retail touch points, and seen a rise in online sales.

“More and more of us are realising every day the importance of sticking to a healthy diet, a diet that takes nature as its inspiration. We, at Alt Co, have been going out of our way to ensure that Indians have meal options that are animal-friendly and dairy-free, and have been incredibly heartened by the response to our products,” said Basan Patil, Co-founder, Alt Co.

The brand was launched in 2020 by Basan, Rithwik Ramesh, Rohit Kalro, Sasha Jairam, and Sumair Sachdev. Alt Co products, including its flagship Oat Milk, are sold both online and offline in brick and mortar stores. They are available online across 15 different platforms including the Alt Co website, Amazon, Flipkart, Blinkit, Vegan Dukan, and others. They are also in physical stores located across India including Nature’s Basket, Le Marche, Simpli Namdharis, Modern Bazaar, and others.

Alt Co co-founders

D2C aggregator startup House Of Brands Company raises funds from ah! Ventures

D2C aggregator startup House Of Brands Company has raised seed funding from ah! Ventures. Other investors, including Lets Venture, also participated in the round.

Structured on the model of US-based Thrasio, HOBC was founded by Roopam Nayak and Sreelaj John in May 2021. The startup claims that it has added five premium brands in the fashion and lifestyle segments to its portfolio in less than six months, and is on track to acquire eight more by the end of the financial year.

So far, it has been operating under the radar and building its portfolio, said Sreelaj John, Co-founder of HOBC.

“We wish to concentrate on bringing high-end brands to the Indian population. Further, this segment of 15-20 million upper-middle-class customers forms only 1 percent of the Indian population but generates 70 percent of all ecommerce revenue in India, making this group the ideal market for any D2C brand,” he said.

“House of Brands Company has an extremely profitable business model and it's showing amazing traction with a good pipeline of upcoming D2C brands. Nearly zero inventory model and vendor integration with the help of technology has resulted in inventory cost optimisation. Founders are also very experienced in both fashion and supply chain which are two most important pillars of this business," said Sachin Garg, Deal Lead and Venture Partner at ah! Ventures.

Startups like Mensa Brands, G.O.A.T Brand Labs, GlobalBees, Evenflow, Powerhouse91,UpScalio and 10Club, are also operating in the space and have raised significant funding in the past.

(This story was updated with more funding news.)

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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