[Funding roundup] Daalchini, XR Central, Papa Pawsome, Evolve secure deals

Here are the companies that announced early-stage rounds during the day.
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Guwahati-based Zerund raises Rs 7.8 Cr in seed capital

Sustainable bricks manufacturer Zerund said it has raised Rs 7.8 crore in seed capital from private investors including Dreamweaver Investments.

The startup said it will use the new funding to increase its annual production capacity, and expand its sales and distribution network beyond Assam to other Indian states in the coming months.

"We are on track to boost our annual production ninefold to 2.3 crore bricks in 2026, in line with the expanding demand for sustainable bricks," said David Gogoi, who co-founded Zerund with Mousum Talukdar and Rupam Choudhury.

In 2021, Zerund had raised Rs 4 crore from investors including NEDFi Venture and Villgro Foundation.

Zerund's bricks use 70% waste materials such as plastic and fly ash sourced from the National Thermal Plant Corp (NTPC) in Assam.

Metaverse startup XR Central raises $250K in seed capital

Gurugram-based metaverse builder platform XR Central said it has raised $250,000 in a seed round led by famous angel investors, including fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani, Adani Group's consumer business unit SVP Nitin Sethi, and Amitabh Vira, Founder and CEO of Netprophets Cyberworks.

The startup said it will use the funds to further its vision of its DIY metaverse building platform, MetaQube, hire development and design teams, and expand into new territories.

Founded in 2020 by Anshul Agarwal and Shrey Mishra, XR Central helps companies and people create metaverse experiences.

"The funds come at a crucial stage for us as we look at expanding into new regions and adding more dynamic and talented folks to the team. We believe that in order to grow, we need to have strategic associations with the right people at the right time," said Anshul.

Project Hero raises Rs 25.5 Cr from Ankur Capital

Construction tech startup Project Hero said it has raised Rs 25.5 crore in seed funding from Ankur Capital and Omidyar Network India.

Other investors such as Titan Capital and others also participated in the round.

The startup said it will use the funds to scale up its technology, onboard more people, and expand its market presence.

Project Hero currently has over four lakh construction workers on its platform, and has placed over 3,000 workers in ongoing projects, it said.

The startup was founded by IIT graduates Satya Vyas, Pukhraj Grewal, and Raghu Chopra.

Retailtech startup Daalchini raises $4M in Series A round

Daalchini Technologies on Wednesday said it has raised $4 million in a Series A funding round led by Unicorn India Ventures.

The round also saw participation from investors including Artha Venture Fund, Ajay Kaul (former CEO of Domonis), and VSS Investco, Vijay Shekhar Sharma's investment vehicle.

The startup, founded in 2017 by ex-Paytm colleagues Prerna Kalra and Vidya Bhushan, said it will use the funds to expand its footprint and build its tech.

"The retailtech segment in India is going through a massive transition from its traditional physical store form to a digital one, the speed of which has been intensified by the pandemic," said Ruchi Pincha, Investment Associate, Unicorn India Ventures.

"In this phase, Daalchini represents the best of both worlds with a ubiquitous physical presence backed by a strong technological framework that prioritizes its customers’ needs and convenience," she added.

Daalchini earned Rs 12 crore in revenue in FY2022, and its app has more than two lakh monthly active users. The startup hopes to earn Rs 50 crore in revenue, and a GMV of Rs 130 crore in the next 12 months.

Daalchini provides instant, affordable, and healthy home-cooked food to professionals through its IoT-enabled vending machines.

Papa Pawsome raises $250K in seed funding

100X.VC-backed startup Papa Pawsome said it has raised $250,000 (Rs 2 crore) in its latest seed round from investors such as DBR Ventures, ITI Group Opportunities, and StrongHer Ventures, among others.

New York-based 93 East Capital, OpenbookVC, and marquee investors such as Peebuddy founder Deep Bajaj, KRS Jamwal, Mandar Joshi, and Naveen Gupta participated in the round as well, the startup said.

The natural pet care brand said it will use the fund to expand its presence across India, invest in research and development, and add more products to its portfolio.

Founded in 2019 by Nishita Agarwal and Nikita Agarwal, Papa Pawsome offers pet products for dogs and cats. The startup claims its products are chemical-free.

MSA Novo invests in 6 Indian startups, including Apps for Bharat, Slice, Jar

Multi-stage global VC fund MSA Novo said it has invested in six Indian startups including MPL, Jar, Slice, Apps for Bharat, Flint, and QuestBook.

It added that along with an initial investment of more than $15 million, it plans to inject more funds by the end of FY23.

The VC firm did not outline how much it had individually invested in each of the startups.

"We are incredibly bullish on investing in India. Of all emerging markets, it has the strongest fundamentals in the depth of its entrepreneur base, engineering talent, total addressable market, capital availability and public market maturity," said Ben Harburg, General Partner at MSA Novo.

The VC fund is also looking to invest in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, it said.

Mental health startup Evolve raises Rs 3 Cr in pre-seed round

Evolve, an LGBTQ+ community-focused mental healthtech startup, said it has raised Rs 3 crore in a pre-seed round led by Rajesh Ranavat, executive director of Fund Strategic Holdings.

The round also saw participation from angels such as Ankit Mehrotra and Nikhil Bakshi, founders of Dineout, as well as global executives from Meta and McKinsey, the startup said.

The funds will be used to expand the core team, and build the product, founder Anshul Kamath said.

"Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are three to four times as likely to experience serious mental illness. We are proud to be one of the first companies globally solving for the needs of the community and our user growth and love are testaments to the quality of our offerings so far," he added.

Toffee Coffee Roasters raises Rs 1 Cr from the Indian Angel Network

Specialty coffee startup Toffee Coffee Roaster said it has closed a Rs 1 crore seed funding round from the Indian Angel Network.

The round was led by investors such as Hari Balasubramanian, Uday Chatterjee, and Rajeev Sarda.

The startup said it will use the funds to strengthen its product portfolio and grow its topline 10X in the coming months.

The Mumbai-based startup, founded in 2019 by Nandini Shrivastava and Rishabh Nigam, has over 20 SKUs of coffee, including speciality coffee blends, single-origin coffee, fermented coffee, and South Indian filter coffee, among others.

"In three years of our existence, we have had 40% repeat customers...While we started by targeting coffee lovers in Tier-I cities, our reach has expanded to Tier-II cities post COVID-19," Nandini said.

(This article will be updated with the latest news throughout the day.)

Edited by Kanishk Singh