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Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 26, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 26, 2023)

Wednesday April 26, 2023 , 8 min Read

Funding

Bengaluru-based Biotech firm Nkure raises pre-Series A round

NKure Therapeutics, an NK cell therapy company, has announced the closure of its undisclosed pre-Series A round, with participation from Endiya Partners, Kotak Investment Advisors, Featherlite, and angel investors. 

The firm expects to use the investments to complete its manufacturing protocols and complete its preclinical studies for planned IND submission.

Founded in 2022 by scientist Mahendra Rao (previously Founding Director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the NIH, USA), Nkure has successfully developed an NK cell platform at a laboratory scale coupled with agreements with CDMOs in India and the US. It has also secured exclusive licenses to a specialised CAR and related technologies to enable allogeneic cell therapy, the first of its kind in India. 

“Based on early results, soon-to-be patented technologies and availability of a world-class research facility (CCAMP), we will bring affordable solutions to cancer patients in India afflicted by late-stage leukemias and solid tumours. This disruptive technology holds promise for treating hitherto incurable cancers,” said Founder and CEO Mahendra Rao.

Superfoods Valley raises seed round of $1M 

Superfoods Valley, a nutrition and foodtech startup headquartered in Bengaluru, has secured a $1 million investment as part of its seed round to scale up its flagship brand, Good Monk. 

The institutional round was led by Multiply Ventures, along with the participation of angel investors, including Anand Kripalu (MD, EPL Limited), Bharat Puri (MD, Pidilite), Naveen Kukreja (Co-founder, Paisa Bazaar), Manoj Sinha (Co-founder, Husk Power Systems), Chella Pandyan (COO, HealthKart), Navin Talreja and Kawal Shoor (Founders, The Womb Communications), among others. 

"As parents, we have personally experienced the challenges of getting kids and families to eat healthily, and we recognise the heightened consciousness among Indian families regarding nutrition and health," said Founder and CEO Amarpreet Singh Anand. "We are inspired by the ingenuity of Moms and therefore we are developing a range of products that are built on this promise of “smuggling nutrition.” 

Other news

Neobank Jupiter secures NBFC license 

The Reserve Bank of India has granted a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) license to neobanking platform Jupiter as the company looks to foray into the lending segment.

The startup will offer loans under Amica Financial Technologies, the private entity that operates Jupiter, Founder Jitendra Gupta told Moneycontrol.

The neobank offers digital banking accounts and allows users to deposit and withdraw funds besides debit and credit cards facility in partnership with banks.

The platform, which offered small ticket loans in partnership with NBFCs under Loan Service Providers (LSP) model, can now lend via its own NBFC books to the tune of Rs 50,000 up to Rs 1 lakh. 

Backed by Tiger Global, QED Investors, Sequoia India, and Matrix Partners, Jupiter recently raised Rs 100 crore in venture debt from Alteria Capital. The startup said it would use the funds to scale and expand lending products in India. “We are infusing our own equity of Rs 100 crore and will be raising an equivalent of debt from banks,” he said.

InCred Capital enters equity capital markets; hires new leadership

Incred Capital, the institutional, wealth, and asset management arm of financial services firm InCred Group, has now expanded into the equity capital markets business. Further, it appointed Prateek Indwar as Managing Director - Head of Capital Markets, and Hitesh Mandot, Managing Director, Corporate Finance. 

The company aims to become a partner to clients looking to raise capital by bridging the gap between providers and issuers of capital through innovative ECM solutions, deep expertise, and a highly experienced management team, it said in a statement. 

Led by Founder Bhupinder Singh, the group is backed by prominent investors, including KKR, TRS, ADIA, Investcorp, Oaks, Moore Capital, Elevar Equity, Paragon Partners, Ranjan Pai, and Gaurav Dalmia, among others. 

The group enjoys a prominent position in the retail lending business through InCred Finance—its flagship tech-led NBFC.

Tech fund SilverNeedle Ventures onboards Viiveck Verma as strategic advisor, partner

SilverNeedle Ventures (SNV), an early-stage technology focused-fund has hired Viiveck Verma, Founder and CEO of Upsurge Global as a strategic advisor and venture partner. 

Founded by former Xseed Partners co-founders—Ajay Jain and Deepesh Agarwal—SilverNeedle was launched in October last year with a fund size of Rs 100 crore. It aims to invest in Pre-Series A/Series A round of early-stage startups focused on B2B SaaS, D2C/consumer internet, sustainability, fintech, deeptech, generative AI, and others. Its current portfolio includes names like Disprz, Knorish, Samaaro, ThingsUp, and Doqfy.

In his new position, Verma—who previously held leadership positions in Srinivasa Farms, Karvy Group, Galileo, IBM-Daksh, DHL, and BPL Mobile—will look after strategy on brand building, fundraising, and partnership.

G.O.A.T Brand Labs appoints Saumitra Kumar as engineering, product, data head

D2C brands aggregator platform G.O.A.T Brand Labs has appointed Saumitra Kumar as the Head of Engineering, Product, and Data.

Founded in 2021 by Rishi Vasudev and Rameswar Misra, G.O.A.T acquires and scales digitally-native brands in the lifestyle space, providing them with inbuilt capabilities in operations, warehousing, finance, brand building, along with the leadership team.

It currently has about 20 brands in its portfolio. The platform is looking to further boost its capabilities on the tech front to scale acquired brands in India and globally, it said in a statement.

“In my new role, I will be working with the team to create a suite of tech products that can help our brands grow exponentially. I will also be driving product-led growth and data science initiatives to scale the brands,” said Kumar, whose previous stints include Amazon, Verizon, and Sears Holding Corporations.

Uber expands ‘Reserve’ to six more cities in India, allows cash payment 

Cab aggregator Uber has expanded its recently launched feature Reserve, which allows users to book a cab ride up to 90 days in advance, across six more cities in India, taking the total count to 13.

The feature will now be available for cash payments, offering riders access to pre-booked rides. With the Reserve option in addition to on-demand trips, drivers can select from offers that are best suited for their time on the road. 

“At Uber, we are always reimagining mobility in a way that it works for riders, drivers and cities and with Reserve we are unlocking even more certainty when you use our services,” said Prabhjeet Singh, President, Uber India and South Asia.  

Delhi HC rejects Dream Sports-backed Rario’s plea against Striker

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea by Dream Sports-backed cricket non-fungible token (NFT) platform Rario against Web3 fantasy platform Striker to prevent it from using art images of cricketers.

 

The HC said the plaintiffs cannot claim to have an exclusive right over the use of a freely available NFT technology.

Rario had filed a petition against MPL and Striker in February, alleging that the platform—backed by Mobile Premier League(MPL)—was minting and distributing NFTs with images of players like Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh, and Umran Malik, with whom it had exclusive agreements. 

It claimed these exclusive license agreements entitle only the company to create (mint) and distribute NFTs of these players, besides allowing users to collect, trade, and license them. 

Justice Amit Bansal pronounced the order saying, “NFT Player Cards are in fact ‘in-game’ assets to be used for enhancing the experience of playing the game. There is no difference between online fantasy sports (OFS) with NFT-enabled player cards and ordinary OFS game in so far as the use of the name or artistic impression/ photograph of a player is concerned.”

 

Striker works with individual artists who produce original cricket-themed art using publicly available events and recollections. The platform was joined in its petition by the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and Winzo.

In its intervention, AIGF had said that "not being able to use specific identifiers for players could impact the growth of smaller companies," thereby placing the Indian gaming industry at a disadvantageous position with respect to other countries.

Simple Energy to commercially launch e-scooter in May, quiet on delivery schedule

Electric two-wheeler maker Simple Energy on Wednesday said it will commercially launch its maiden e-scooter Simple One next month but remained quiet on its delivery schedule.

The Bengaluru-based EV startup has in the past come out with various delivery schedules.

In October last year, the company announced deferring deliveries of its maiden scooter to the March quarter.

"With the launch (of Simple One) scheduled for May 23 in Bengaluru, the company will strive to disrupt the burgeoning electric 2-wheeler market in India," Simple Energy said in a statement.

It, however, did not specify when the customers would receive the e-scooter, whose booking commenced on August 15, 2021, when it unveiled the vehicle some 20 months ago with much fanfare.

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


Edited by Suman Singh