Startup news and updates: daily roundup (June 14, 2022)

YourStory presents daily news roundups from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
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HDFC Bank to cater to needs of startup ecosystem, signs MoU with 100X. VC 

HDFC Bank on Tuesday announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with early-stage venture capital 100X.VC in order to engage more deeply with India’s startup ecosystem. 

It aims to do so through Smart-Up, a full suite of specialised services and facilities tailored for the needs of startups that will be extended to “all the firms associated with 100X.VC”. The bank will also extend additional credit facilities and evaluate investment opportunities in these startups.

With this MoU, HDFC Bank and 100X.VC plan to conduct joint programmes for startups. HDFC Bank will be the recommended bank for portfolio startups of 100X.VC, and will also evaluate startups for investment and extending loans.

The MoU was signed by Abhishek Deshmukh, Branch Banking Head of Maharashtra, and Yagnesh Sanghrajka, Founder and CFO of 100X.VC. 

“India is among the largest and fastest-growing startup ecosystems in the world…100X.VC has done transformational work in the early-stage ecosystem since their launch three years ago and we hope to leverage their expertise in mentoring startups identified by HDFC Bank. Together, we hope to continue growing our objectives of contributing to the Indian startup ecosystem,” Abhishek said. 

Mensa Brands acquires smart wearable brand Pebble

D2C House of Brands Mensa Brands forays into the wearable tech segment with its latest acquisition of Delhi-based Pebble which offers affordable lifestyle electronics. With this acquisition, Pebble hopes to strengthen its online footprint and amplify marketing and branding efforts to become a household digital brand.

Founded in 2013 by the father-daughter duo Ajay Agarwal and Komal Agarwal, Pebble has nationwide offline distribution with marquee products like the Cosmo line of smartwatches, Wireless Audio, and devices like the Comet and Buds Pro.

Komal Agarwal, Co-founder of Pebble, said, "Being part of Mensa Brands will help strengthen our position in the wearables market and open up new opportunities for us to leverage. While maintaining our commitment to innovative design and affordable prices, Mensa Brands will provide us with technological innovations and digital brand-building capabilities to disrupt the global smart wearable market."

Komal Agarwal, Co-founder, Pebble.

Mumbai Angels and DLabs at ISB come together as co-investment partners, sign MoU

Mumbai Angels on Tuesday announced that it has signed an MoU with DLabs Incubator Association (DLabs) at the Indian School of Business, which is backed by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. 

Through this partnership, DLabs aims to further strengthen its infrastructural offerings to entrepreneurs to interact, engage, and collaborate with mentors, investors, and academia. 

The partnership enables unrestricted access to Mumbai Angels’ Multiplier Programme, an exclusive marketplace for its portfolio companies, for availing services like advertising, cloud storage, and marketing solutions, among others. 

Nandini Mansinghka, Co-founder and CEO of Mumbai Angels, said, “DLabs offers the ideal platform to interact and engage with one another as startups, and with founders and academia. Their fostering infrastructure has enabled several student entrepreneurs and startups to rise, and there are yet many more ventures that need nurturing.”

D2C brand Almo ropes in Pharmeasy’s Kshitij Ladia as Co-founder and COO 

Men’s clothing and apparel brand Almo has roped in Pharmeasy’s Kshitij Ladia as its co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. At the Gurugram-based D2C brand, Kshitij will be responsible for driving the strategy, operations, and supply chain and spearhead cross-functional teams across fulfilment, customer care, merchandising, finance, and human resources. 

Kshitij brings over a decade of experience in the ecommerce space, having led the strategy, business operations, and supply chain across high-growth consumer internet startups like Pharmeasy, CarDekho, and Iksula.

Kshitij shared his hopes of tripling Almo’s revenue by FY23 and said, “I am thrilled to be a part of the Almo founding team and looking forward to making it the most customer-loved brand in the coming decade. I have worked with both Abhishek and Chhavi in my previous stints and we possess strong complementing skills that will help us scale and grow Almo phenomenally fast ahead.”

PhonePe marks the first million sale of two-wheeler insurance policies 

Fintech platform PhonePe on Tuesday announced that it has sold over one million two-wheeler insurance policies on its insurance broking platform. A whopping 75 percent of the insurance purchases come from Tier-II and III cities. 

The company further claimed that it has tapped a previously underserved market as 80 percent of the insurance was bought by users with expired covers, attributing this to its efforts in increasing customer awareness, and ensuring affordability and availability of insurance.

Prannay Batra, Head of General Insurance, PhonePe said, “It is gratifying to note that more than 75% of the purchases come from Tier-II and III cities which is a testament to the fact that our product adoption in India has been truly inclusive. We aim to double down on this early momentum to drive insurance adoption in the country in line with the IRDAI’s vision of insurance for all by 2047, while working closely with our insurance partners to make insurance products simple, affordable and accessible to all.”

Kisanwala appoints Ramkrishna Mudholkar as the new co-founder and executive director

Hyderabad-based agritech startup Kisanwala on Tuesday announced the appointment of Ramkrishna Mudholkar as the startup’s new co-founder and executive director. Ramkrishna, who has 35 years of experience working in major agri industries, will lead the team as a strategy expert.  

He has previously worked at DuPont for 25 years where he led the crop protection business in South Asia and ASEAN, Solae Soy Protein business in South Asia. He also served as the DuPont Corporate President for South Asia and worked with DuPont’s international teams in the USA for three years. 

Post that, he worked as an independent strategy consultant to agri input companies like Biostadt and Nuziveedu Seeds, and is on the board of NACL as an independent director, associated with Global BioAg Linkages as an advisor, and is a startup investor.

A recipient of the FICCI Agchem Industry Leadership Award, he is also credited with chairing a few prestigious committees and industry associations such as AMCHAM F & Ag Committee (2016 – 2017), Crop Life India Industry Association (2014 – 2017), and FICCI Agrochemical Subcommittee (2013 – 2017). 

Apart from his professional experiences, Ramkrishna is a keen supporter of girl child education and women’s empowerment and dedicates his time to these causes by working with NGOs like Prayatna School of Excellence, Talent Nomics, and Indi Gram Labs.

WRMS Receives $2.19M in grant from InsuResilience Solutions Fund 

Gurugram-based agriculture risk management firm WRMS (Weather Risk Management Services) on Tuesday secured €2.1 million ($2.19 million) to improve the resilience of 100,000 smallholder Indian farmers against climate risks, to incentivize smart agricultural risk management practices, as well as to scale up the yield guarantee solution for crops such as cotton, chili, paddy, wheat, and potato.

So far, the firm’s smart and sustainable solution SecuFarm is offered to more than 25,000 farmers in 22 states across India either directly or by partnering with farmer producer companies, agriculture input companies, and local banks.

Anuj Kumbhat, Founder and CEO of WRMS, said, “At WRMS, our aim is to build the resilience of smallholder farmers by giving them equal opportunities to thrive. With this new association with InsuResilience Solutions Fund, our focus will be on reaching out to over 100,000 smallholder farmers and building digital SecuFarms to create a larger economic, social and environmental impact.”

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

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