Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 14, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Friday, April 14, 2023.

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 14, 2023)

Friday April 14, 2023,

8 min Read


Direct2U raises Rs 1.8 Cr in seed round

Ecommerce firm Direct2U has raised Rs 1.8 crore in a seed round led by Inflection Point Ventures (IPV).

The funds raised will be used for technology development, hiring, marketing and expansion plans.

Direct2U is a consumer durables marketplace that brings together lead generation, order fulfilment, cash (online transfer), and credit purchase options, along with doorstep delivery for the demand-rich, underpenetrated rural Indian consumers in the deep rural pockets of Bharat. It operates on a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) model.

With partnerships with major brands like Samsung, Vivo, and Prestige, Direct2U offers a wide range of products to rural audiences in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Odisha.

Other news

WhatsApp launches new security features

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp recently launched a set of new security features to enhance the security and privacy of its users. These include Account Protect, Device Verification, and Automatic security codes.

One of the features is account protect, which will double check if users wish to switch to another device. The app will ask the old device to verify that the user wants to take this step as an extra security check. This feature can help alert you to an unauthorised attempt to move your account to another device.

Another feature called device verification will save the users from mobile device malware. The app has added checks to help authenticate the users' accounts.

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WhatsApp launches ability to transfer chats from iOS to Android

WhatsApp comes with a security code verification feature that ensures the user that they are chatting with the intended recipient. “To make this process easier and more accessible to everyone, we’re rolling out a security feature based on a process called “Key Transparency” that allows you to automatically verify that you have a secure connection,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

DNEG signs MOU to acquire Prime Focus Technologies

DNEG, a leading visual entertainment services company, has entered into a memorandum of understanding to buy Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), a cloud-based software and artificial intelligence (AI) technology for the media and entertainment (M&E) industry.

Acquiring PFT's media workflow and automation software suite, CLEAR, and the purpose-built AI platform, CLEAR AI will enable DNEG to expand its media tech and distribution services, including fulfilment, localisation, and marketing. It will also allow DNEG's client base to manage their content's entire lifecycle with one trusted partner.

The proposed transaction is subject to customary due diligence, corporate approvals, and lender consent.

Prime Focus Limited, has offices located across North America, the United Kingdom, and India.

Zee Music renews agreements with YouTube and Meta

Image : shutterstock

Zee Music Company, a division of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, has renewed its licensing agreement with two of the world's largest digital content-streaming companies—YouTube, and Meta (formerly known as Facebook)—for three and two years, respectively.

The company's music collection has already garnered over 290 billion views across its YouTube channels with 130 million plus subscribers.

As part of the deal, users can continue to use Zee Music Company’s entire catalogue across YouTube as well as Meta platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.

The company’s music libraries from India will offer users and YouTube Shorts creators access to the most current and popular music trends. This development is significant as YouTube continues to be one of the most important digital content platforms worldwide, with a massive user base.

Zee Music Company has a rich catalogue across many different genres including film and non-film music, as well as devotional and pop music in more than 22 languages. In the last fiscal year, the label released over 2,500+ new songs.

Koo pays tribute to Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar with its like button

As India celebrates Ambedkar Jayanti, Koo App, a multilingual microblogging platform, paid its tribute by converting its like button to a floating icon with Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar’s image. 

Through this special update, the platform aims at celebrating the principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity enshrined in the Indian constitution.

"Dr Ambedkar's contributions to India's social, economic, and political fabric are immeasurable, and we at Koo are honoured to commemorate his birth anniversary with this special update,” Aprameya Radhakrishna, Co-founder and CEO of Koo, says.

Launched in March 2020, Koo is the second-largest micro-blogging platform available to the world—offering 20+ global languages. It is an independent startup backed by global investors including Tiger Global and Accel Partners. To date, it has over 60 million downloads and is used in over 100 countries. 

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Koo posts Rs 4.88 Cr revenue, losses widen to Rs 197.15 Cr

GPS Renewables appoints Prabhunath Gupta as Executive VP of Business Development 

GPS Renewables, a full-stack biofuels firm based in Bengaluru, has appointed Prabhunath Gupta as Executive Vice President of Business Development for its Biofuel EPC Vertical.

According to the press release, Gupta was previously heading gas marketing at H-Energy (Hiranandani Group) and heading Business Development at OCS Services where he was responsible for end-to-end management of strategic planning, business development, marketing, tendering, proposals, and costing, among many other responsibilities. 

Prior to that he was a part of the L&T Hydrocarbon business development team and had also worked as an Executive Assistant to Shri AM Naik, L&T Chairman.

Dubai-based Global Educational Venture joins hands with King’s College

Dubai-based educational company Global Educational Venture has collaborated with King’s College based in the UK to provide holistic education across the globe in various disciplines like science, commerce, the humanities, liberal arts, and more.

This unique approach to education aims to provide students with the necessary support to become great thinkers, creative problem solvers, artists, musicians, sportsmen and sportswomen, entrepreneurs and future leaders. This partnership opens the way for the establishment of quality British schools across the regions of India, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and Nepal.

According to the agreement, GEV has been granted exclusive rights to establish and develop King’s College across all the regions. These schools will cater to learners of age groups 3-18 years while covering K-12 education (kindergarten to grade 12) preferably offering Cambridge curriculum leading to IGCSE and A Levels or IB diploma.

Many top investors and partners of GEV have plans to invest around $750 million in the coming years to develop world-class schools with the very highest educational standards.

ADIF urges India to address anti-competitive practices by Google, condemns actions of the tech giant in South Korea

The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF) has strongly condemned the actions of Google in blocking the release of games on a competitor's platform in South Korea. This comes after the recent $32 million fine imposed on Google by South Korea's fair trade regulator, Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC).

The Foundation believes that the incident is a clear reflection of Google’s abuse of its market dominance to stifle competition and undermine the local app markets.

Expressing serious concern over the tech giant’s practices ADIF says that “anti-competitive practices are detrimental to the growth and commercial viability of the Indian app ecosystem.”

It suggests that the dominance of a few big players in the market has led to a situation where local app developers are at a significant disadvantage, both in terms of market access and visibility. 

As such, it has requested the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to investigate anticompetitive practices in the Indian app market and take appropriate action to ensure that fair competition is maintained. It has also urged the Government of India to frame provisions as part of the Digital Competition Act to support the local app market and create a level playing field for Indian app developers.

In 2021, Google was fined more than 200 billion won by the KFTC for blocking smartphone makers from using other operating systems.

Muthoot Finance to raise Rs 300 Cr

Muthoot Finance is looking to raise Rs 300 crore through a Public Issue of Secured Redeemable Non-Convertible Debentures of the face value of Rs 1,000 each. 

The Issue, which opened on April 12, 2023, and closes on April 26, 2023, with an option to close on an earlier or extended date, has a base size of Rs 75 crore with an oversubscription option of up to Rs 225 crore, aggregating up to a tranche limit of Rs 300 crore. 

The Secured NCDs proposed to be issued under this Issue have been rated AA+ (Stable) by ICRA, indicating a ‘high degree of safety regarding timely servicing of financial obligations’. The NCDs will be listed on BSE, and the allotment will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are seven investment options for Secured NCDs, with interest rates ranging from 8.25% p.a to 8.60% p.a. for individual investors. The interest payment frequency options are ‘Monthly’ or ‘Annual,’ or investors can opt for ‘on maturity redemption’ payments.

The funds raised through this issue will be utilised primarily for lending activities of the company.

Mittal Books acquires 50% stake in Invincible Publishers

Mittal Books, a leading distributor of educational books in India, has acquired a 50% stake in Invincible Publishers, a five-year-old publishing house founded by Ajay Setia in 2017.

Mittal Books' acquisition of Invincible Publishers will allow for expansion into new markets and provide better educational resources for students across India. The collaboration is expected to make a significant impact in the education industry, particularly in test preparation. This move comes as Mittal Books plans to expand its presence in the competitive education market in India.

Mittal Books is a major player in both online and offline sales, with a strong supply chain and four warehouses in India. Invincible Publishers has recently partnered with the renowned publishing house Trueman, which has over 40 years of experience in the industry, to expand its offline distribution network.

(The copy will be updated throughout the day with the latest news.)

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti