Startup news and updates: daily roundup (June 13, 2022)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Monday June 13, 2022.
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Unwind Minds raises Rs 2 Cr in pre-seed round from Marwari Catalysts, others

Unwind Minds, a Jodhpur-based firm, has raised Rs 2 crore in a pre-seed funding round from Marwari Catalysts and a group of investors including Jaipur Rugs' director Yogesh Chaudhary; Vikas Maheshwari, senior portfolio manager at Abu Dhabi Capital Group; and Prithvi Bhati of PM International.

Started by Surendra Rajpurohit and Sushil Sharma, who is also the founder of Marwari Catalysts, Unwind Minds is a nanotechnology textile fashion brand to be launched in about four months.

At the moment, the firm is working on getting patents on a few technologies, which it would use to produce fashion. With head office in Jodhpur, Unwind Minds also has a small office in Bengaluru.

8i Ventures makes a partial exit in M2P Fintech

8i Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, made a partial exit in M2P Fintech at a 36X multiple over two years. The Mumbai-based firm first invested in M2P Fintech in 2020.

The Chennai-based fintech startup provides banking as a service by creating application programming interface (APIs) for over 500 fintech firms and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs)—including Kunal Shah-led CRED; Jupiter, a neobanking platform; and credit card challenger Slice. M2P Fintech has seen its valuation soar to $600 million after raising $56 million from Insight Partner, among others, in January 2022.

8i Ventures, which is a seed investor in Slice, launched its first fund of $15.5 million in May 2019, with the final close in July 2021. The investment firm currently has $13 million worth assets under management (AUM) and another $2.5 million co-invest AUM.

Simplilearn set to add 800 more team members this year

Skill training platform Simplilearn aims to expand its workforce by 800 team members this year. The hiring is a part of the company's plans to strengthen its teams in India and international markets to address the burgeoning demand for reskilling and upskilling.

Following the Blackstone investment in July 2021, Simplilearn has strategically deployed funds in two key areas – the organisation's workforce and marketing. The bulk of the hiring has been in the product, tech, and marketing teams, where the tech team has tripled from 60 to 200.

In the coming months, Simplilearn is looking to hire across CXO, Vice President, and Senior Vice President levels in both India and the US, with both markets constituting 80 percent of the company's business.

In the US, Simplilearn aims to appoint various C-suite-level executives who will assist in strengthening and structuring the team in the country. The company also aims to hire 20 percent freshers onto the Simplilearn workforce to provide fruitful career opportunities to young professionals and college graduates.

Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn.

Ozonetel Communications appoints Keshav Goel as CFO

Full-stack call centre solutions provider Ozonetel appointed Keshav Goel as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO). With over two decades of leadership experience across various finance verticals, Keshav will lead the corporate finance function at Ozonetel. He will also take ownership of financial planning and analysis, treasury, and commercial functions at Ozonetel. 

Keshav has spent over 16 years at Wipro, where he contributed in areas of business planning, M&A activities, investment and borrowings, forex risk management, cost optimisation, international business operations, setting up internal control architecture, and business process transformation.

Commenting on this appointment, CSN Murthy, Founder and CEO, Ozonetel, said, “Ozonetel is on an aggressive growth path.  The company recently raised Series A funding from Stakeboat Capital and aims to reach $100 million ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) in the next four years. We plan to increase our employee strength by 100 percent this year, and roping in leaders like Keshav at this crucial juncture will ensure our scaling up phase is smooth.”

Suresh Raju, Founder of Fitday

Fitday.in taps into artificial meat market, launches plant-based meat in India

Nutraceutical startup Fitday has launched a series of products in the plant-based meat segment. Plant-based meat is manufactured to taste, look, and feel like traditional meat from animal products.

Fitday VeganMeat is curated with the Indian palate and cuisine in mind and will not be frozen products. This imitation meat is made from soy and natural ingredients, which can be used as fillings, pizza toppings, and gravy additions in any cuisine.

Dishes like VeganMeat biryani, spaghetti, sandwiches, dosa, and momos may be made using this plant-based meat.

Suresh Raju, Founder, Fitday.in, said, “Veganism is becoming more popular among consumers for health and ethical reasons, while vegetarian ingredients are becoming more popular among customers who want to prevent animal cruelty and consume sustainable food. Since India closely follows the US trends, we expect similar growth for plant-based meats in India.”

CleverTap completes acquisition of Leanplum

Retention cloud platform CleverTap on Monday said it acquired San Francisco-based Leanplum, a leading multi-channel customer engagement platform.  

The acquisition, originally announced on May 19, was closed within three weeks. With this acquisition, CleverTap has strengthened its footprint in the US and Europe. It will combine the product stack of both organisations and extend its solutions and technology to all its customers and prospects worldwide.  

Momchil Kyurkchiev, Co-founder of Leanplum, has joined CleverTap’s leadership team as the Chief Strategy Officer. With the completion of the acquisition, CleverTap also welcomed marquee investors Norwest Partners, Shasta Ventures, Canaan, and Kleiner  Perkins as its shareholders.   

L-R - Hari Krishnan Nair, Mohan Lakhamraju, Arjun Nair

The University of Arizona introduces MS in Information Science: Machine Learning in collaboration with Great Learning

The University of Arizona, in collaboration with Great Learning, introduced a fully online MS in Information Science: Machine Learning course. This 21-month programme is designed for early career, mid, and senior-level professionals by leading experts at the University of Arizona and practising industry professionals. 

The programme will equip professionals with the knowledge to design information-driven solutions for business problems and develop effective management frameworks for the future. With live online classes and recorded lectures, the programme includes 11 hands-on projects and dedicated mentorship sessions to enhance the learning experience of learners.  

Learners will gain the specialised skills needed to solve real-world information management challenges and graduate with the qualifications needed for in-demand roles, including information architect, database administrator, data scientist/engineer, digital artist, software programmer/engineer, web programmer, etc.

Learners will also be given access to GL Excelerate’s extensive pool of 4,700+ industry experts and dedicated career assistance in the form of a curated jobs portal, enabling them to apply to relevant positions. Great Learning works with over 7,800 companies to offer unparalleled placement support to its learners. Some of the marquee companies include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Dell, IBM, Flipkart, Infosys, Intel, Deloitte, etc. 

Rebel Foods joins ClimateAngels Fund-backed Zero Single-Use Plastic Challenge

Sustainability-focused climate tech fund, Climate Angles has joined hands with Rebel Foods and GoMassive Earth Network for its  ZeSUP Challenge – the Zero Single-Use Plastic Challenge — for startups who are leading the fight against single-use plastics in the F&B industry.

Under this initiative, Climate Angels will collaborate with GoMassive to accelerate Indian startups for the next six months to pilot their solutions to reduce single-use plastic waste. The selected startups will get project and startup funding from a pool of $500,000, dedicated mentorship and technical assistance for the project, and securing partnerships with F&B partners like Rebel Foods to pilot solutions, deep learning, and network-building opportunities.

The challenge is implemented by The Incubation Network and funded by the PREVENT Waste Alliance, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the ECCA Family Foundation. It is part of PREVENT’s Innovate and the PREVENT programme.

GoMassive has been chosen as an Entrepreneur Support Organisation (ESO) by The Incubation Network and is working with partners like Rebel Foods in India to overcome the challenges faced by the F&B industry.

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

Edited by Suman Singh