Startup news and updates: daily roundup (June 15, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
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Fintech platform Money View announces multiple ESOP buybacks

Bengaluru-based fintech startup Money View has announced its first ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) buyback for its employees. The employees who completed one year with the startup will be eligible to participate and sell up to 20 percent of their vested shares in this buyback. The company plans another buyback by June 2023 with more to follow, it said. 

Co-founder and CEO Puneet Agarwal said, “We’re among very few startups that are growing profitably. This has only been possible because of the collective conviction and the contribution of the entire team. With this buyback programme, we are celebrating and acknowledging the hard work and passion of our colleagues.” 

The startup aims to hire 600 employees across tech, product and analytics roles, among other areas. 

Founded in 2014, Money View is an online credit platform that offers instant personal loans, cards, BNPL (buy now, pay later), and personal financial management solutions to customers. In March 2022, the startup had raised $75 million as part of its Series D funding round from Tiger Global, Winter Capital, Evolvence India, and Accel

B2B fintech EnKash to double its employee base

Spends management platform and corporate cards company Enkash on Wednesday announced its plans to double its team size by hiring over 120 employees over the next few months. 

The company will mass-hire high-potential talent from across cities, it said in a statement.

The fintech firm will hire across three major categories: technology, business, and support from verticals such as Engineering, Quality Assurance, Product Design, Data Science and Analytics, Direct Sales, Alliances and Partnerships, Sales Operations, Business Operations, Finance Operations, Customer Care, Legal and Compliances, Credit, Risk, Finance, and Human Resources. The team members will also be responsible for the company’s geographical expansion plans, globally.

To facilitate the training of fresh hires, the firm plans to organise training sessions with a blend of both virtual as well as in-person sessions. 

This recruitment drive will take EnKash’s total employee strength to over 250 members by March 2023. The company currently employs ramped up and recently ramped-up its team size by over 100 percent. It now plans to strategically increase its team strength to 500 within FY 23-24.

“Our hiring plans are aligned with our strategy of growing in a capital-efficient manner. Contrary to ongoing trends in the startup ecosystem, we are looking to hire innovative minds to further bolster our consistent growth. EnKash has witnessed an unprecedented growth of 10X in its user base. This potential talent will further help us innovate, solve and create a competitive advantage for us in the payments industry,” EnKash co-founder Hemant Vishnoi said.

In April 2022, EnKash raised $20 million in a Series B round from Ascent Capital, Baring India, and Singapore-based White Ventures.

PickMyWork to expand agent network, hire across verticals  

Gig employee hiring platform provider PickMyWork said it is expanding its agent network by 10X and aims to empower over one lakh agents. 

The Gurugram-based startup enables digital companies to acquire end customers, including individuals and shops, for their products through a pay-per-task model. It currently works with 10,000 gig workers and merchants as part of its agent network and offers them supplemental income opportunities. 

Among its clients are B2B (business-to-business) giants such as Meesho, Freecharge, AU Small Finance Bank, ICICI Bank, CityMall, Jar, Fi Money, Amazon Pay, and Lendbox.

PickMyWork was incorporated in 2019 by Kajal Malik, Vidyarthi Badireddy, and Utsav Bhattacharjee. The startup currently has a strength of 35 employees and aims to reach a mark of 100 within the next two quarters, it said. The brand will be aggressively hiring across multiple departments including tech, business development, marketing, alliances, and partnerships. 

“We aim at supporting consumer tech companies while also creating income opportunities in Tier-II and III cities, thus, trying to establish a holistic model for all. Furthermore, we are also strengthening our in-house team, which means that we will be able to create more permanent jobs too. This is also in line with our fiscal targets which we are sure to accomplish,” said Kajal Malik, Co-founder and CSO, PickMyWork.

OmniCard ties up with Mobileware Technologies to offer UPI-based interoperable wallet solutions

OmniCard, an omnichannel spending platform, has tied up with Mobileware Technologies to offer scalable payment solutions to organisations.

Mobileware will be offering OmniCard with Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) interoperability features along with hosted UPI switch to work easily in the interoperable UPI ecosystem.

OmniCard is a bank-independent, RBI-licensed PPI that offers a RuPay-powered card and a mobile app. The payment platform provides multiple online and offline payment modes, card controls, a security system, money management and other features. 

Commenting on the partnership, Satyajit Kanekar, Co-founder and CEO at Mobileware, said, “OmniCard has a unique product line that focuses primarily on the youth of India who influences the lifestyle and spending trends in today’s time. The financial freedom and responsibility that Omnicard provides the youngsters are remarkable, and we are happy to be offering our seamless interoperability solution that further makes online transactions easier for their customers.” 

Content marketplace NewsReach launches local news community programme

In order to promote indigenous content and empower hyperlocal publishers, NewsReach has launched an initiative under the name ‘Local News Community Programme’. The programme is focused on bringing upfront the local news publishers. 

The programme is being launched with support from OHO Gujarati, a premium Gujarati content streaming platform, and Supercity Lifestyle.

“Our first goal when we started in 2020 was to reach out to the unreached. The growth of small and medium vernacular local houses was on our agendas. Though high-quality journalism has a social and political influence, most of these publications are not yet sustainable. With targeted finance and support, we hope they can pave new paths to long-term viability for journalist-entrepreneurs,” said Darshan Shah, Founder, NewsReach. 

The 15-day cohort will begin on July 15, 2022. The deadline for the application is July 5 and the announcement for the finalist will be made on July 10. The publishers across print, electronic, and digital media having local exposure as per eligibility criteria can apply.

NewsReach allows stringers/reporters to directly license their content to publications and media houses. The content marketplace has worked with over 2,000 publications and 3,000+ journalists.

Founders of NewsReach — Soniya Kundnani and Darshan Shah

Agritech startup Kisanwala adds new co-founder 

Agritech startup Kisanwala has onboarded former President for DuPont South Asia, Ramkrishna Mudholkar as its new co-founder and Executive Director. 

Kisanwala was launched in 2020 by Suresh Alturi and Parag Modi. The platform offers services such as soil testing, advisory, agronomy, and forecasting via its app. 

Ramkrishna worked with DuPont for over 25 years where he led the Crop Protection business in South Asia and ASEAN, Solae Soy Protein business in South Asia, and as DuPont Corporate President, South Asia.

Before DuPont, he worked for a German MNC Hoechst AgrEvo in the field of agro products in India. Post his DuPont career, the leader worked as an independent strategy consultant to agri input companies like Biostadt and Nuziveedu Seeds and is also on the board of NACL as an independent director, associated with Global BioAg Linkages as an advisor, and is an investor in startups.

Audio content platform Kuku FM crosses one million active paying subscribers in India

Vernacular audio content platform KukuFM on Wednesday said it has crossed one million active paid subscribers on the back of massive adoption and growth of audio content listeners in India.

Founded by former IITians and former Toppr executives Lal Chand Bisu, Vinod Kumar Meena, and Vikas Goyal, the platform claims to have clocked 27X growth in the last 12 months. 

To date, the startup had raised $25 million from Krafton, Verlinvest, Vertex, 3one4 Capital, and IQ.

“India has emerged as the ultimate frontier for acquiring content subscribers with top OTT platforms, having captured over 100 million, mostly English-educated subscribers, so far. With Kuku FM's focus on regional languages, it is a product with ambitions of capturing subscribers from the remaining 1.2 billion Indians who are not English educated, the company said in a statement. 

Among the seven Indian languages that Kuku FM has, it has recently started audio content in South Indian languages which, as per the startup, is seeing month-on-month growth of over 80 percent. It claims to have 30,000 creators on its platform and hosts 150,000 hours of content across audiobooks, stories, book summaries, courses, and podcasts on its platform.

Gig jobs see surge in demand for sales and marketing roles: Taskmo Gig Index

Taskmo (FeedMyPockets), an on-demand gig talent discovery platform, on Wednesday revealed the first edition of the Taskmo Gig Index (TGI)—a tool to measure the demand and supply for gig work across India.  

According to the index, hiring demand for gig workers continues to grow at a rapid pace in the post-pandemic employment market, with the highest demand being recorded for sales and marketing roles. On the back of growing marketing and sales across segments, job profiles such as business development executives, field sales executives, digital promoters, brand promoters, and micro-influencers have seen a huge spike in demand for the gig segment.

 

The first Taskmo Gig Index report details various trends in the gig jobs for the period between January-May 2022.

Taskmo witnessed a surge in demand for gig workers across quick commerce (300 percent), healthtech (250 percent), fintech (200 percent), and ecommerce (198 percent) sectors, while Gen Z and millennials constituted 48 percent of the gig economy, the report reveals.  

“Almost half of the gig economy (49.5 percent) prefer monthly payouts as opposed to daily/weekly payments. Work-from-home (33 percent) and on-field (67 percent) split observed even within the gig workforce,” it adds. 

While cities such as Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai saw maximum growth, demand across Tier-II cities such as Indore, Bhopal, and Pune were almost at par with the metros. 

Commenting on the growing demand for gig jobs, Prashant Janadri, Co-founder, Taskmo said, “Over the last two years, rapid tech advancements followed by the introduction of flexible work models have created an evolution in the gig economy at large. Now we see every other company promoting gigification of traditional job roles. Furthermore, we have seen that emerging segments in gig are largely dominated by Millennials and Gen Z today.”

 

As per the TGI, the number of active gig workers registered on the platform in May is 60,000, marking a 15.38 percent growth in the workforce joining the gig economy compared to the previous month.

Space Matrix acquires B2B ecommerce platform Pursuite

Singapore-headquartered international design firm Space Matrix has acquired Pursuite, a B2B ecommerce platform in the hospitality sector. 

Pursuite, which has business operations across Asia and Europe, provides an online solution for procurement of operational supplies and Equipment (OS&E) and furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) segments. Its the acquisition, Amit Shukla, Founder and CEO at Pursuite would join Space Matrix as the Global Chief Technology Officer, (CTO).

Amit, who served as former CTO at KOOVS, will be responsible for shaping the company’s global technological vision, leading technology solutions across regions and fostering new skills within the organisation tied to big data, analytics, and machine learning.

Also, more than 1,500 vendors across key markets of India, Singapore, China, and the rest of Southeast Asia will be brought onboard Pursuite, the company’s statement read. 

“The process of procuring products and services to build an office is very archaic and is filled with multiple issues including cost and time unpredictability, quality and consistency of products, price transparency, governance, and even product discovery. Hence, the applicability of a digital procurement platform like Pursuite for the workplace sector is immense,” said Arsh Chaudhry, CEO of Space Matrix.

Space Matrix has seen strong demand in India, across South-East Asia, and Singapore given the adoption of hybrid work practices and corporates choosing to re-design their existing workplaces on post-pandemic design principles. The company’s global revenues continue to grow 54 percent year on year.

“This proprietary technology platform will enable vertical integration for Space Matrix and help transition a fragmented workplace design and build industry into a unified ecosystem and provide a seamless end-to-end experience, offering our customers a compelling value proposition currently not available in the industry,” he added.

LeadSquared partners with Netherland-based CM.com 

Bengaluru-based sales automation software provider LeadSquared has tied up with Netherland-based mobile services company, CM.com.

CM.com is a cloud-based conversational commerce platform that provides products such as mobile marketing cloud, mobile service cloud, conversational AI cloud, communications platform, e-sign, messaging, voice, payments, and authentication APIs.

The partnership will enable businesses to use omnichannel engagement efficiently and leverage marketing and sales analytics to reach potential customers operating in high-growth sectors like education, insurance, lending, banking, healthcare, and real estate, in marketplaces across India, US, Middle East, and the APAC region, the company said in a statement. 

“CM.com has been providing thousands of global businesses with software solutions, setting new standards in customer experience. With this partnership, we are looking forward to helping brands elevate their closures, manage pipelines, attribute their ROI, drive better sales, and take their mobile experience to a whole new level,” said Chetan Borkar, Country Manager for India and Sri Lanka, CM.com. 

Founded by Nilesh Patel, Prashant Singh, and Sudhakar Gorti in 2013, LeadSquared enables businesses to transform their sales processes through intelligent automation, activity tracking, digital customer onboarding, and an advanced mobile CRM (Customer Relationship Management). It is currently used by over 2,000 organisations in around 40 countries.

Team LeadSquared

Fintech firm Infibeam Avenues appoints Rahul Hirve as CEO of CCAvenue SoftPoS

Infibeam Avenues Ltd, a listed fintech company, has announced the appointment of Uvik Technologies founder Rahul Hirve as the Chief Executive Officer of CCAvenue softPoS. 

Infibeam Avenues Ltd is the parent of payment gateway CCAvenue

Rahul will be responsible for strategising, implementing, and overseeing the quick deployment of softPoS technology—CCAvenue TapPay—across India to transform the Indian POS market by “aggressively scaling up CCAvenue softPoS technology and providing a simple, zero-cost and easily accessible alternative/replacement for/of the traditional costly physical POS machine that is currently dominating Indian market”. 

Rahul was the founder of Uvik Technologies, which developed India’s first and the only ‘Made in India’ softPoS technology. In March 2022, Infibeam acquired the Bengaluru-based fintech in a cash and stock deal. 

“We are excited to welcome Rahul Hirve to Infibeam Avenues Ltd. His professionalism and rich experience in softPoS technology development at UVIK Technologies will help us to build a strong world-class softPoS business vertical. He will play a pivotal role in transforming the current physical POS machine ecosystem into a software-driven SoftPoS ecosystem for Indian merchants,” said Vishal Mehta, Managing Director, Infibeam Avenues Ltd. 

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

Edited by Kanishk Singh