Startup news and updates: daily roundup (June 23, 2022)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, June 23, 2022.
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Flipkart Group commits to net zero carbon emissions by 2040

The Flipkart Group has committed to setting an ambitious Net Zero target to decarbonise its own operations by 2030 and the larger value chain by 2040. This is in line with the global Science-based Targets initiative (SBTi) of keeping the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius per the Paris Climate Agreement.

As part of this commitment, the Flipkart Group will take measures in its own operations to reduce 100 percent of emissions by 2030 by increasing energy efficiency at its corporate office, supply chain facilities, and powering its energy requirements through renewable sources such as solar. Recognising that the majority of the climate impact comes from Flipkart’s extended value chain of suppliers, waste in operations, transportation and logistics, and product end-of-life, it will also work with its sellers, consumers and partners to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2040.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Chief Executive Officer, Flipkart Group, said, “This commitment is a significant undertaking in our journey towards building a sustainable business, and we want to play our part in adopting a proactive approach to create shared value across the ecosystem.”

In this endeavour, the Flipkart Group has joined hands with initiatives such as the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative to deploy 25,000 electric vehicles across the country by 2030, and not-for-profit environmental organisation Canopy for responsible sourcing of sustainable packaging and man-made cellulosic fibres to offer sustainable products to millions of customers among other initiatives.

PS Jayakumar and Tabassum Inamdar join Indifi Board

Indifi Technologies, a digital lending platform for MSMEs, has appointed PS Jayakumar and Tabassum Inamdar as independent directors.

Jayakumar is a veteran financial services professional who also served as CEO of Bank of Baroda. He also held key positions at Citibank besides foraying into the entrepreneurial world by co-founding Value Budget Housing Company and Home First Finance.

Tabassum Inamdar has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry with stints at Goldman Sachs, UBS Securities and Jardine Fleming. She also serves on the board of Franklin Templeton AMC India.

Indifi Technologies Co-founder & CEO Alok Mittal said, “We are delighted to have Mr Jayakumar and Ms Inamdar join this endeavour. Having worked extensively both on the financing and inclusion front, we are certain their insights and expertise will strengthen our mission manifold.”

Indifi also recently onboarded Rajnish Kumar, former Chairman of the State Bank of India; and Sam Hodges, Co-founder of Vouch Insurance, as advisors.

Exotel to hire 500 professionals

Exotel, a Bengaluru-based customer engagement platform, aims to hire 500 new professionals across growth and technology functions as the company achieved an annual recurring revenue of $60 million with a CAGR of 70 percent for FY22.

According to the company, its focus on sustainability and strong unit economics have been its defining culture across the organisation.

Ishwar Sridharan, co-founder and COO – Exotel

“People are the foundation on which business success is built–and no business, perhaps, will agree with it more than us. Exotel is one of the few high-growth companies with strong unit economics and a clear value proposition for our clients. This success has been achieved and sustained because we have the best talent in the industry,” Ishwar Sridharan, Co-founder and COO, Exotel, said.

Exotel noted that most of its senior talent has been with the company for 6-10 years.

“We prioritise our people and give them interesting challenges to solve. This focus on strong work culture, employee enablement, and high quality of work is why more than 100 people have rejoined Exotel after leaving,” Ishwar noted.

With its recent merger with Ameyo, acquisition of CognoAI, and a new virtual telecom operator licence, Exotel is now aiming to achieve an ARR of $200 million in the next four years.

The Hosteller plans to expand into newer locations

The Hosteller, a chain of backpacker hostels, will be extending its presence from 10 locations to 50 locations across the country. This startup is largely present in the Northern part of India and plans to enter into states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu in the southern region. It aims to have around 15,000 beds in South India with a presence in over 100 places by 2024.

The Hosteller founder and CEO Pranav Dangi said, “We began with a simple dream, and now we aim to become India’s largest self-operated backpacker hostel chain. We wish to establish our presence in 12+ states pan India and five countries globally and achieve 40 percent+ operating margins, enabling young entrepreneurs to participate.”

By the end of 2024, The Hosteller intends to serve 10,000 guests every day throughout its inventory of 12,500 beds internationally.

PESU Venture Labs to invest in 50 startups

PESU Venture Labs, a partnership with PES University & CoCreate Ventures, has announced that it will be investing in 50 startups. CoCreate had partnered with PES University in 2021 and set up PESU Venture Labs (PVL), a concept stage fund and has invested in over 24 deeptech startups across sectors like weather tech, edtech, cybersecurity, crypto, and pet wellness.

With the goal of identifying budding entrepreneurs and innovative startup ideas, CoCreate and PVL started programs like ‘Unicorn Launchpad’, which is a search for ideas from campuses that could be unicorns. These ideas would be assessed by VCs and analysts and would be built toward becoming a successful start-up. Another program ‘Venturethon’ is a month-long event where teams submit their ideas and these ideas would be assessed by a jury of VCs and analysts. Ideas & Entrepreneurs with the potential to create a large impact will be provided funding of up to $200K.

Suresh Narasimha, Co-founder and Managing Partner of CoCreate, said, "The support structure that we have created at PESU is enviable and aspirational for any startup founder and the kind of idea flow we see from students is unseen outside. We believe this is going to be the future of entrepreneurship & destination for the brightest students.”

WhatsApp partners with RazorpayX

WhatsApp payments has on boarded RazorpayX, the neo-banking arm of Razorpay, as its technology partner to enable a smooth cashback experience via UPI for its users across the country.

According to WhatsApp, this partnership with RazorpayX will help ensure minimal chances of failures and pending transactions. UPI crossed the $1-trillion mark in transaction values for FY 2021-22 after the payments system crossed 5 billion transactions in a month for the first time in March 2022.

Razorpay co-founder Harshil Mathur

Razorpay Co-founder & CEO Harshil Mathur said, "With India’s preference towards instant digital modes of payments growing exponentially, Payments on WhatsApp will play a key role in financial inclusion for its 500 million users.”

Manesh Mahatme, Director, Payments, WhatsApp India, said,WhatsApp is often the first digital gateway for Indians, especially those in rural and semi-urban areas and through payments on WhatsApp our goal is to expand financial inclusion to those who need it the most.”

RazorpayX currently serves over 30,000 businesses and in the last year has processed UPI transactions to over 20 percent of all UPI registered users in India. It has seen over 200 percent growth in its Payouts business.

Piper Serica launches angel fund to invest in startups

Mumbai-based Piper Serica Advisors, established in 2003 as a portfolio management service provider, has recently launched SEBI Registered Category 1 Angel Fund to invest in early-stage companies. The current fund size is capped at Rs 100 crore with a small green shoe option. The Fund will make 30-40 investments over the next three-year period.

Piper Serica’s Angel fund aims to be a seed-to-IPO fund and will use its proprietary AI ML-based tool called Yoda.ai to screen investment opportunities. Abhay Aggarwal, Founder and Fund manager, Piper Serica, said, “It is a very exciting time to invest in startups in India just as the startup ecosystem is ramping up. We are seeing some exceptional talent aspire to become entrepreneurs. India’s economic growth over the next decade will create hundreds of unicorns. HNI investors should definitely allocate a portion of their equity portfolio to startups with the objective of making high returns over a long holding period.”

The/Nudge competition for water tech startups

The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation and Ashirvad Pipes has selected 25 water-tech startups for ‘The/Nudge Prize | Ashirvad Water Challenge. The challenge was opened for applications in February this year. Selected out of a total of 140 applicants, these 25 startups will now compete for a total prize purse of Rs 2.5 crore.

Of the 25 water-tech innovators, four work in the areas of water leakage and distribution, five in wastewater treatment, nine in water purification, three in atmospheric generation of water, and four towards enabling water ecosystems. Many of the semi-finalists use deep tech interventions such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Some are working on efficient ways for rainwater harvesting, watershed management, or membrane filtration for purification, a statement noted.

Edited by Megha Reddy