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Startup news and updates: daily roundup (May 10, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, May 10, 2023.

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (May 10, 2023)

Wednesday May 10, 2023 , 8 min Read

Funding deals

Capital 2B, IIFL Fintech Fund lead $5M round in digital escrow platform Castler

Digital escrow platform, Castler has raised $5 million in a Pre-Series A round led by Capital2B (an Info Edge fund) and IIFL Fintech Fund

Stride Ventures and Piper Serica also participated in the round along with existing investors Zerodha, Venture Catalysts, 9Unicorns, and FAAD Network, along with Navin Suriya, Chairman FCC, Ajay Rajan, Head of Transaction Banking & Digital Transformation, Yes Bank, and Naveen Kukreja, Co-Founder & CEO, Paisabazaar. 

Castler has previously raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed and seed round from investors, including Lets Venture, and AngelList.

The company will use the funds to grow its domestic and cross-border escrow product portfolio, and expand banking partnerships to 25 banks. It further aims to grow business 10x over the next couple of years. 

Founded by Vineet Singh and Dinesh Kumar in 2021, Castler offers an escrow banking stack to businesses, which acts as a middleware between banks and enterprises for complex transaction flows, source of money, identity verification, fraud management and customer-consumer protection.

The company claims to have 10 banking partners and over 500 enterprises as clients, managing over Rs 5,000 crore in transactions every month.

Commenting on the investment, Vibhore Sharma, Partner, Capital 2B, said, ”Escrow banking is becoming the core banking stack anchoring most businesses and use cases. Apart from the regulator-mandated usage in capital markets, real estate, liquidation and insolvency and government subsidies, escrow is now becoming the core stack powering financial transactions across the value chain and adds an additional but imperative layer of security and transparency.”

Agrifood processing firm Agrizy raises $5M debt funding

Agrizy, an agrifood processing company, secured debt funding of $5 million from SBI, Yes Bank, Vivriti Capital, and other financial institutions. 

The funding will be deployed for strengthening technological and processing capabilities, and expanding reach to more agrifood processing SMEs in India, and large agrifood buyers in domestic and international markets, the firm said in a statement. 

The B2B platform enables agrifood processors, specifically SMEs, to procure pre-processed and semi-processed agrifood products, providing end-to-end fulfilment services through quality assurance, logistics, and payment offerings besides working capital via lending. 

Soptle raises $1M in pre-seed funding

Soptle, a SaaS-led B2B marketplace for FMCG manufacturers and retailers, has closed a $1 million pre-seed investment round led by Kube VC and We Founder Circle. 

The round also saw participation from Iceland Venture Studio (IVS), Nyra Ventures and founders of Jar, Bijak, and Managing Partner of Rocketship.vc besides existing investors—Kube VC and Dunzo founder Ankur Agarwal.     

 

The capital will power Soptle’s expansion of the retailer-network reach and manufacturing-partner footprint across India, with new product offerings and technology enhancement, it said in a statement. 

 

Founded in 2021 by Pravas Chandragiri, Gurugram-based Soptle enables FMCG manufacturers to digitise their workflow and day-to-day activities, conduct their existing business in a more efficient manner, and also increase sales to retailers in other geographies by enhancing their utilisation capacity. 

Other News

New leadership at SaaS platforms SupplyNote, Kapture CX, actyv.ai

Food business management SaaS platform Supplynote has announced the appointment of Pramod Buram as Business Head. 

With his new role, Buram, who previously worked in scaling well-known brands like Theobroma, Ribbons & Balloons, Future Group, Coffee by Di Bella, Cure Foods, Box8, Swiggy Kitchens, Ola Foods, Freshmenu, 99 Pancakes, will be working towards enhancing the platform's operational profitability, solidifying its position as a leading player in the Indian F&B sector's supply chain, and expanding its global reach. 

His vision includes extending the business to the UK and SEA, and the MENA region by forming strategic partnerships with key players, the company said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Kapture CX, a SaaS-based Customer Experience platform, has appointed Neelakantan Kushal as Director - Consumer Durables, as the company looks to strengthen its position in the space.

Prior to his stint with Kapture CX, Neelakantan had previously worked with renowned brands such as USHA, Reliance, Jyothy, Eastern, among others, and remained committed to continuous improvement and perseverance towards achieving growth.

Kapture CX is deployed by over 1000 customers across multiple verticals, out of which, customers from Consumer Durables account for 20% of business. In a short span, it has acquired several prominent brands as its clients. Hence, Neelakantan’s appointment is considered pivotal for developing progressive strategies, overseeing the vertical’s operations and ensuring maximised performance to drive growth in the segment.

Also, AI-powered Enterprise SaaS platform Actyv.ai has roped in Pravan Malhotra to its Global Advisory Board.

Malhotra has held several senior positions at global corporations, including the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group), ORIX, and the Bank of Montreal. He has also been a Senior Advisor to Nomura, and is an Investment Committee member at Trifecta Capital, Arkam Ventures, Antler India, SIDBI, and the Singapore American School. He has been a Board member or investor in technology companies, including Moglix, FINO, Lenskart, and Bigbasket, and is currently the Founder of Malacca Ventures. 

Satyen Sail joins as Mobility Business Head at Magenta Mobility

Magenta Mobility, an integrated Electric Mobility solutions provider, has appointed Satyen Sail as its new Mobility Business Head as the company gears up for growth post its recent investment. In his new role, Sail shall work closely with the founders and the board to grow the mobility business, focusing on developing operational excellence.

 

Sail has over 27 years of work experience with international brands such as Coca-Cola, Vodafone, Kingfisher and Reliance. He has also been an entrepreneur and a professional in Electric mobility. Before joining Magenta, he worked on fleet operations with Lithium. 

Earlier last month, the brand announced the investment by bp Ventures and Morgan Stanley. Previously Magenta has been invested in by HPCL, JITO, Lets Venture and Dr Kiran Patel.

T-Hub ties up with real estate firm Berkadia for startups mentorship

Hyderabad-based innovation hub and ecosystem enabler T-Hub has partnered with commercial real estate company Berkadia to foster innovation, growth, and knowledge exchange in the Indian startup ecosystem. 

This two-year contract will have Berkadia actively participate in T-Hub's membership programme, where it would look after networking, proofs of concept, pitch analysis, design assessments, business reviews, technical discoveries, and market analysis for startups building in the commercial real estate industry. 

T-Hub's startups will also gain access to Berkadia's network based on their focus areas, creating opportunities for collaboration and potentially scaling their businesses. The programme aims to connect at least 40-56 startups with Berkadia during the alliance period.

“BeEngaged (programme) advises and accelerates startups that are redefining the commercial real estate industry by providing them with resources, strategic counsel, and a collaborative network to test and grow innovative concepts. Since its origination in 2019, the programme has accelerated more than a dozen CRE tech startups. T-Hub's track record of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in India, and their commitment to driving growth and development, is commendable," said Bryce Nyberg, Director, Berkadia Digital.

Tata Capital to offer UPI 123PAY Digital payment facility for feature phone users

Tata Capital, the financial services arm of the Tata Group, will now offer UPI 123PAY digital payment facility, an instant IVR-based payment system to make secured transactions through feature phones, as well as smartphones. 

Developed by NPCI and powered by ToneTag VoiceSe, UPI 123PAY will be useful for low-value payments, for microfinance customers and will increase operational and debt servicing efficiencies.

This new payment solution will also benefit customers with limited or sporadic access to internet connectivity and smartphones. It entails a three-step procedure—call, choose, and pay. For instance, the initial step is to dial the IVR number from a registered phone number, select the preferred language, choose the UPI-linked bank account, set up the UPI PIN and eventually make payment.

 

The payment solution will be made available in phases and will be rolled out initially in six regions namely Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, and will be available in five languages.

NSDC inks pact with Pernod Ricard for skill training programme for transpersons

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), has signed an MoU with alcohol beverage company Pernod RicardIndia to roll out the ‘Livelihood Creation’ project. 

The programme is aimed at providing skill training to 240 transpersons on market-driven courses in Mumbai, enabling them to integrate harmoniously into society by making them employable and future-ready. It will be a placement-linked skill training programme, where candidates will get skill training across job roles, such as retail sales and front office, the statement read. 

 

According to the Census 2011 report, only 65% of transgenders were able to find work for more than six months in the year, compared to 75% in the general population.

 

"The lack of livelihood options contributes to a significant proportion of transgender people choosing or continuing to engage in illicit sexual work, which carries HIV- and health-related risks. The success of any public health program depends on addressing transgender people's livelihood barriers. I am confident that the collaboration will help build a stigma-free and equal society, which will enable the community to have access to better education, employment, and health services and live a life with dignity," said Ved Mani Tiwari, COO (Officiating CEO), NSDC.