Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 17, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Monday, April 17, 2023.

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 17, 2023)

Monday April 17, 2023,

10 min Read


SwitchOn raises $4.2M led by a Singapore-based fund, Axilor Ventures, Pi Ventures, and prominent angels 

SwitchOn, a Vision AI company, has raised $4.2 million in its Series A round led by a Singapore-based fund, Axilor Ventures, Pi Ventures, and prominent angels such as Anuj Bihani, Laxmi Narayan, and others.

The company stated that the fund will allow SwitchOn to continue its rapid growth in India, scale internationally with large enterprises, make key hires in sales and technology, and invest in research and development.

Launched in 2020 by Aniruddha Banerjee (ex-Nvidia, ex-Samsung) and Avra Banerjee (ex-Schneider, ex-Team Indus) to eliminate defects in manufacturing, SwitchOn helps precision manufacturing industries reduce their manufacturing defects through the use of a one-of-a-kind field-trainable AI system.

Global manufacturers such as SKF, ITC, Unilever, and others use the SwitchOn platform to give quality superpowers to their Inspectors and ensure zero defects in their plants, the company said in a statement.

Aniruddha Banerjee, Avra Banerjee- Co-Founders, SwitchOn

Aniruddha Banerjee, Avra Banerjee- Co-Founders, SwitchOn

Impact Investor Acumen Fund backs Chennai agritech startup MyHarvest Farms

myHarvest Farms, an agritech startup focussed on improving livelihood of farmers by helping them grow and sell organic produce directly to consumers has raised funding from impact investor Acumen Fund through Acumen Angels.

Acumen Angels is a program for Acumen Academy fellowship and accelerator alumni that provides early stage capital to “blueprint stage” for-profit and nonprofit organisations. This programme awards entrepreneurs - the capital to scale their initiative and drive positive and meaningful impact.

Chennai-based myHarvest Farms provides access to safe, chemical-free produce like vegetables, fruits, and locally grown rice and millets. This agritech firm empowers farmers to follow climate resilient practices and helps to build a community on fair pricing with environmental sustainability. myHarvest Farms is one of the 21 awardees of Acumen Angels programme.

Archana Stalin, Founder of myHarvest Farms, plans to use the capital to scale the farmer community, automate their operations, and grow their team’s capacity.

Other news

Rockstud Capital forays into portfolio management services

Rockstud Capital, an alternative asset management firm, has forayed into portfolio management services. The firm will launch its core equity strategy called Rockstud Capital Yuva Bharat, an open-ended concentrated PMS portfolio, with a focus on the mid and small market cap.

The fund aims to invest in companies based on the theme of India’s GDP growth contributing to rising middle-class income, consumption, and digital wave to cater to the aspirational set of the population by identifying and investing in those high-growth sectors, the company stated.

According to a statement, the fund will be managed by a dedicated team with more than a three-decade of experience and will leverage its successful track record of Rockstud Capital Investment Fund–Series I hybrid equity venture capital fund, where few of the investments had generated multi-baggers returns over ~5x. It has received the final licence from the SEBI to start its PMS business operations. 

IVCA launches #VC101 learning programme for first-time fund managers

Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association (IVCA) has launched a one-of-a-kind learning and knowledge-sharing programme on fund management—#VC101—for emerging venture fund managers.

"The growth of entrepreneurship in India has been accompanied by the rise of PE-VC, both of which have contributed substantially to the country’s rapid economic progress. IVCA’s #VC101 Series, with sessions led by seasoned venture capital investors, should be of great value to budding venture capitalists in India” said Rajan Anandan, MD, Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, and Surge and Chair, VC Council, IVCA.

#VC101 will be a month-long, on-ground programme spanning three fortnights in June. The programme is divided into three modules with in-person learning sessions in each of the cities—Mumbai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi.

Specifically, the programme will discuss fundraising, formation, and portfolio management fund strategy, raising, and firm building; fund setup and deployment; and portfolio management, governance, exits, returns, n+1 fund strategy, and more.

Some of the industry veterans and experts of IVCA’s Venture Capital Council who will mentor the participating fund managers include Rajan Anandan (Managing Director, Surge and Sequoia Capital India), Rahul Khanna (Co-founder and Managing Partner, Trifecta Capital), Manish Kheterpal (Founder and Managing Partner, WaterBridge Ventures), Ruchi Khajanchi (Chief Financial Officer, A91 Partners), Priyanka Chopra (Chief Operating Officer, Managing Partner, Seed Investing, CIIE.CO, IIM Ahmedabad, and Venture Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund), Anil Joshi (Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures), Sameer Brij Verma (Managing Director, Nexus Partners), and Sehraj Singh (Managing Director, India, Prosus Ventures). 

CleverTap launches Scribe, an OpenAI-integrated content creation assistant

CleverTap on Monday announced the integration of OpenAI with the CleverTap platform and launched its AI-generated content creator Scribe. The AI content feature can generate campaign creatives, analyse emotions, and rewrite them keeping in mind a specific emotion that resonates with the brands’ users. The feature will be rolled out to customers in April.

Scribe can interpret the emotion of messages and suggest the best alternative that users are more likely to engage with, the company stated. 

The technology enables brands to automatically determine the tone of their messages. Marketers can leverage user engagement data based on emotion analysis to develop hyper-personalised content consistent with the brand and also resonates with the user. Scribe is available to CleverTap enterprise customers on an invite basis.

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PwC India to invest over Rs 600 Cr towards employees' well-being

PwC India has committed to invest over Rs 600 crore towards the holistic growth, development, and well-being of its employees through its new People Experience Framework. 

The framework enables employees to access personalised opportunities, including meeting the needs of their families and finding work that aligns with their purpose and values, thereby creating an environment where they are building the skills needed for the future. 

“We want to enable limitless possibilities and infinite experiences for our people. Towards this, our new People Experience Framework will bring in an increased emphasis on growth and development, customised rewards, benefits and well-being stitched into our daily experiences, and where we have the flexibility to support our people as their lives and needs shift over time,” said Sanjeev Krishan, Chairperson, PwC in India.

IIT Guwahati collaborates with Tata Elxsi to foster EV technologies

Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tata Elxsi, a global technology services provider for the automotive and transportation industry, to jointly work on developing and commercialising state-of-the-art solutions for the electric mobility market.

The MoU was signed between Prof Parameswar K Iyer, Officiating Director, IIT Guwahati and Manoj Raghavan, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Tata Elxsi, in the presence of Prof Praveen Kumar, Dept of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, IIT Guwahati; Anil Radhakrishnan, Director Products; and Atul Kulkarni, Chief Technical Officer, Tata Elxsi.

The collaboration between IIT Guwahati and Tata Elxsi will bring together researchers and experts for advanced research in the fields of material science, digital twins, and deep artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

IIT Guwahati

IIT Guwahati

IIT Madras develops screening device for assessing blood vessel health

IIT-M institute researchers have developed a non-invasive device to assess the health and age of blood vessels and thereby provide early screening for cardiovascular diseases. Called ARTSENS, the device can be used in routine medical examinations by even non-experts, to assess and predict vascular health.

It is powered by a proprietary non-imaging probe and an intelligent computing platform and is developed by the Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC) at IIT Madras. The device has been assessed on more than 5,000 human subjects. The technology already has five utility patents in the US, European Union and India, 10 design patents, and awaits awarding of 28 patents in various jurisdictions.

The product is ready for technology transfer and commercialisation after extensive testing. The IIT Madras team intends to deploy this to conduct over a million vascular screenings per year.

ARTSENS, the image-free ultrasound device to assess the health and age of blood vessels developed by IIT Madras Researchers

ARTSENS, the image-free ultrasound device to assess the health and age of blood vessels developed by IIT Madras Researchers

Zendesk adds OpenAI integration to expand AI-powered customer experiences

Zendesk is collaborating with OpenAl, an Al research and deployment company, to launch new capabilities that add to the power of Zendesk’s proprietary foundational models with OpenAl’s capabilities.

Zendesk foundational models are customised and trained against decades of Zendesk customer experience (CX) data and industry-specific insights and already save Zendesk customers hundreds of hours each week. Zendesk's knowledge management solutions combined with OpenAl will enable businesses to save more time by leveraging the power of generative Al to more effectively and efficiently resolve customer service cases.

Sugmya Finance reaches Rs 300 Cr plus AUM milestone, enables loan disbursements worth over Rs 465 cr in FY 23

Non-banking financial company (NBFC), Sugmya Finance Pvt Ltd., has registered 295% growth in FY23 through its aggressive expansion plans. The company’s consolidated Asset Under Management (AUM) has touched Rs 302 crore (own book portfolio of Rs 250 crore and managed book portfolio of Rs 52 crore), as compared to Rs 102 crore registered in 2022.

With one lakh plus active loan customers on board, Sugmya has cumulatively disbursed loans worth over Rs 465 crore in FY 2023. This is a 370% increase in the number of loan disbursements in the previous year.

The tech-enabled NBFC has rapidly increased its footprint and currently has a network of 140 branches. The company has on boarded as many as 41 new lender partners and is associated with leading NBFCs such as Vivriti Capital, Ananya Finance, MAS Financials and Real Touch Finance to name a few.

CRED rolls out UPI-based peer-to-peer payments

While UPI has created a revolution in digital payments with a focus on utility, CRED seeks to move beyond being transactional- creating an elevated UPI experience for members. This experience hinges on making payments instant, secure, and rewarding.

With CRED UPI P2P, members get access to a trusted and rewarding payment experience, when they ‘pay anyone’ - be it CRED members, or non-members; by searching their contact list, adding phone numbers, or UPI id’s.

The new payment experience has been introduced after the launch of Scan & Pay, which allows members to ‘pay everywhere’ through UPI. Members now have multiple payment options available to them on CRED- from offline payments (UPI P2P, Scan & Pay, Tap to Pay), online merchant payments (CRED Pay, CRED flash) and bill payments.

Credgenics turns operationally profitable, eyes Rs 240 Cr revenue this fiscal

Credgenics, a SaaS-based debt collections and resolution technology platform, has announced that it has achieved operational profitability in its fourth year of operation. Credgenics anticipates growing by more than 100% in the current fiscal year, with an expected revenue of approximately Rs 240 crore.

Backed by WestBridge Capital, Tanglin Venture Partners, and Accel Partners, Credgenics has touched an overall loan book worth $47 billion in FY 22.

Credgenics has seen lenders improve their collection efficiency by 25% and reduce the costs of collections by 40%. Credgenics is working with some of the leading private banks and non-banking financial companies, including IIFL Finance, Mahindra Finance, IREP Credit Capital and others, as well as Fintechs, the future lenders. The company has handled 40 million retail loans till date and sends 60 million digital communications every month.

DroneAcharya Aerial Innovations partners with IIT Ropar

DroneAcharya Aerial Innovations Limited, a DGCA-certified drone pilot training company, has collaborated with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Ropar. This association will provide a learning environment and a culture of excellence that technologically enables innovative, socially conscious leaders who will make major contributions to the betterment of society at large.

The partnership is driven by the Department of Defence & Studies Research Centre of the IIT Ropar. It aims at looking at training people from all walks of life to fly drones including personnel from the Indian Armed Forces.

It also looks at setting up a CoE on Drone Technology to address the many research questions and problem statements concerning the use of drones in defense as well as civilian applications. The aim is to give a fillip to the development of a drone ecosystem in Punjab and its neighboring states in North India.

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

Edited by Megha Reddy