[Funding roundup] mewt, DPDzero , Jade Forest, more raise early-stage deals

Here are the startups that announced early-stage rounds of funding on June 15, 2022.
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MSME banking super-app ‘mewt’ raises $4.6M in seed round

mewt, a banking super app for India's micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), on Wednesday announced that it raised $4.6 million in a seed funding round. The round was led by global fintech investor Quona Capital, with participation from existing investors BEENEXT, DG Daiwa Ventures, Goodwater Capital, and Allin Capital, as well as a clutch of fintech angels. 

The funds will enable the startup to work towards financially empowering a million small businesses in India by the end of 2022.

The 10-month-old Bengaluru-headquartered company, founded by entrepreneurs Rishabh Jain and Kushal Prakash, has impacted over 200,000 small businesses across 600+ Tier-II and III cities in India within just four months of its launch in January 2022. The startup aims to reach a million users by 2022-end. The company will use the funds raised to expand its team and launch its super-card, a rewarding debit card for Indian MSMEs.

Rishabh Jain, Co-founder and CEO of mewt, said, 

“mewt began with the mission of impacting the lives of as many Indians as possible. Within four months, mewt has been able to reach over 200,000 small businesses, and in the coming four years, we aim to be the face of the Indian business banking ecosystem. With the funding, we are all set to grow our team to unlock the next level of growth, as well as elevate the banking experience for millions of small businesses in India.”

The company is looking to hire product, engineering and development talent. In 2021, mewt raised around $600,000 as seed capital from BEENEXT and a slew of angel investors. In March 2022, the company hit the milestone of one million transactions and a $25 million monthly transaction volume in just two months after its launch.

Fintech startup DPDzero  raises Rs 3.9 Cr from Better Capital 

Fintech startup DPDzero has announced raising Rs 3.9 crore in pre-seed funding led by Better Capital. Angels  Kunal Shah (Founder, CRED), Ramanathan RV (Co-founder, Hyperface), Nishchay AG (Co-founder and CEO at Jar), Vijay Rajagopalan (Head of Sales and Business Development, Amazon Pay—Offline), and Abhishek Kothari (Co-founder, FlexiLoans) also participated in the round.  

The fresh funds will be used to make DPDzero's technology accessible across all cohorts of lenders, and help them limit their focus to acquiring new borrowers and not spend expensive engineering bandwidth building non-scalable internal tools to keep operations running. The company has witnessed strong interest from several fintech lenders and NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Companies) and has partnered with companies such as  OTO capital, BharatX, OkCredit, ZeroPay, RupeeLend, Saija MicroFinance, Kanakadurga Finance, Padmasai Finance, among others. 

Ananth Shroff, Co-founder and CEO, DPDzero, said,

"We're excited to announce our first round of financing to help financial institutions all over India streamline their lending operations. To meet the shortfall in credit demand in India, lenders need to scale up their capital base and improve their operational processes. We're helping fintech and NBFCs of all sizes automate and streamline the entire lending operations, so they can focus fully on acquiring the right borrowers."

"Having seen the automation opportunity across several organisations—from marketing and sales to finance and design—via our investments, we are excited to be founding stage partners to DPDZero as the team builds the automation stack for fintechs in India and across global markets," added Vaibhav Domkundwar of Better Capital, an early backer of breakout companies like Open, Teachmint, Slice, and many others.

DPDzero identifies that only 100 million people in India today have access to formal credit and the rest are stuck with money sharks. The startup is aiming to solve this issue by increasing the formal credit penetration and working with lenders to drive down the cost of operations.  

Jade Forest raises $1M led by Mumbai Angels Network 

Jade Forest, a non-alcoholic beverage brand, has raised funding of $1 million in a round led by Mumbai Angels Network, a premium platform for early-stage investments, along with other investors. The funds will be utilised towards further geographical expansion and launch into the ready-to-drink beverage segment.

Launched in August 2019 by two experienced entrepreneurs in the F&B industry—Shuchir Suri and Punweet Singh, the company is currently growing at 15-20 percent MoM (month-on-month). By creating a range of drinks that are low in calories and sugar without the use of any artificial ingredients, the brand says it was able to reach a larger audience, especially during the pandemic, which witnessed a sudden positive shift towards homegrown consumption of beverages. The products are currently priced between Rs 80 and Rs 85 for a 250ml glass bottle, and are now available in all major metros in the country, taking consolidated presence to over 23 cities pan India.

The company previously raised a seed round of $250,000 in November 2020. Following an omnichannel sales approach, it sells through a number of offline retail channel partners and last-mile delivery platforms, as well as through its own ecommerce website and Amazon. 

Nandini Mansinghka, Co-founder and CEO of Mumbai Angels Network, further added, 

“Today, the younger generation is constantly on the lookout for beverages that are low on sugar and carbs and yet please their taste buds. Jade Forest has managed to capture the attention of thousands of millennials and Gen Z consumers, and has established its presence in 23 cities in two years. This funding is a testament to the brand’s remarkable growth and progress. We believe that the fresh capital will allow them to achieve their goals, and further scale the business.”

Co-founder Punweet added, “Apart from this, we have invested and continue to grow our digital marketing efforts and hope to reach a larger consumer base. We use a combination of digital performance ads, social media content, and brand collaborations and tie-ups.” 

The brand plans to expand its portfolio of drinks into different verticals as well as venture into the export market in the coming years.   

Plutoverse raises undisclosed sum from multiple investors 

After receiving backing from Polygon co-founder Jaynti Kanani, tech-entertainment startup Plutoverse raised undisclosed funding from investors including Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal, Tykhe Block Ventures founder Prashant Malik, and OYO Global CSO Maninder Gulati.

Sandeep Nailwal, Co-founder, Polygon said, 

“Plutoverse is not just an attempt at creating a world unseen, but also a revolutionary idea that can redefine the Metaverse. It will allow users to holistically immerse into a shared universe with an easy interface and seamless integrations. I am looking forward to working with this team of young guns to make a memorable product.” 

According to the official release, this fresh round of funding will further strengthen the company’s efforts to provide Indian users with a unique yet world-class Metaverse experience.

Elaborating on the road ahead, Prashant Sharma, CEO and Co-founder, Plutoverse added,

“With Plutoverse, we want to give consumers a never-before-seen experience. Nailwal, Gulati and Malik’s backing will further strengthen our mission. Nailwal has been a maverick of the fintech space; the way Polygon changed the blockchain arena is what we are attempting to do in the Metaverse market.”

YourNest leads Pre-Series A investment in VTION

VTION Digital Analytics, a consumer behaviour intelligence platform, on Wednesday announced a Pre-Series A fundraise of $1.3 million led by YourNest Venture Capital and two other key investors. 

 

VTION provides Android smartphone based real-time behavioural data from a representative panel of consumers made available through real-time dashboards on a SaaS (software-as-a-service) model. The startup will utilise the funding to accelerate its India growth by scaling up its advertising activation strategy, panel enhancement, and targeting specific sector-specific growth initiatives while driving global market expansion.

 

Founded in 2018, VTION Digital Analytics helps organisations in analysing and deriving inferences from consumer behaviour and trend data. The company provides data intelligence in a way that not only protects consumer privacy but also rewards the consumers for contributing their data. With more than 100,000 downloads from the Google Play Store so far, VTION’s app measures an individual’s behaviour and media consumption on all digital platforms in the Android ecosystem.  

 

Manoj Dawane, Founder and CEO of VTION, said, 

“Our data-driven culture, strong technology leadership and scalable architecture have made us a strong player within the fast-growing SaaS-based digital analytics/digital advertising sector. With a 40,000+ strong consumer panel, statistically representing over 195 million Android smartphone users, the VTION platform generates more than 20 million unique events every day and is used by marquee brands in India for sharper segmentation and efficient message delivery.” 

Girish Shivani, Executive Director and Fund Manager, YourNest Venture Capital added,

 

“The dynamics around digital advertising/analytics have witnessed huge disruptions over the last few years. We find tremendous potential in VTION, with its privacy first and strong patent-protected technology stack, especially in the cookie-less world, and firmly believe that the platform will be able to corner a disproportionate share of the digital advertising activation market within the next five years.”

 

VTION has raised about $2 million so far. Prior to the current raise, VTION had raised $750,000 in two seed rounds—which included $500,000 from angel investors in India anchored by Angel List and investors from Sweden, the US and Dubai, apart from raising $250,000 from Core 91 VC. 

Innovist raises $3.5M in Pre-Series A round

Onesto Labs, rebranded as Innovist, the parent company of Gurugram-based D2C hair brand Bare Anatomy, Chemist at Play (ceramide-based skincare brand), and SunScoop (a sunscreen-only brand) has raised $3.5 million. The Pre-Series A funding round was led by existing investors Accel Partners and 72 Ventures. 

Other investors including Sauce (Manu Chandra), Arihant Patni (Patni Family Office), and new investors Jani Ventures Inc, Nihir Parikh, Rashmi Kwatra (Sixteen Street Capital), Kunal Shah (CRED), Alok Mittal, and Shripad Nadkarni (Maverix Platforms and Fingerlix) also participated. Innovist will use the freshly infused capital to further strengthen the company’s R&D capabilities, marketing, hiring, and distribution channels.

 

Rohit Chawla, Founder and CEO of Innovist, said, 

“The name Innovist was coined after we decided to rebrand from Onesto because we are a science and innovation-led platform, and we wanted the name to reflect that. The journey so far has been incredible. We are grateful to our investors for their renewed faith in us and for always staying aligned with our vision. Their unrelenting support has helped lay a strong foundation upon which our success is built. With the new capital, we are confident that we can bolster our infrastructure substantially and grow further.”

Founded in 2018 by Rohit Chawla, Sifat Khurana, and Vimal Bhola, Onesto Labs (Innovist) is on a mission to revolutionise the personal care and beauty industry with products that are science-first in approach. Innovist’s brands Bare Anatomy, Chemist at Play, and SunScoop sell beauty and personal care products designed with ingredients that have proven efficacy and are backed by scientific research. These products are sold on their website, ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Nykaa, and modern retail stores across India.

(This is an ongoing story and will be updated with the latest updates throughout the day.)

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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