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Startup news and updates: daily roundup (September 13, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, September 13, 2023.

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (September 13, 2023)

Wednesday August 23, 2023 , 9 min Read

Funding News

Portkey.ai raises $3M in seed round led by Lightspeed

Portkey.ai, a deeptech startup that provides tools for enterprises to leverage GenAI platforms to build AI apps faster, has raised $3 million in a seed round of funding led by Lightspeed and angel investors.

Founded in January 2023 by Rohit Agarwal and Ayush Garg, Portkey.ai has built tools that allow businesses to monitor their language model operations (LLMOps), connect to multiple large language models (LLMs) efficiently, experiment, improve, and manage prompts effectively. It also offers deep integrations with players like OpenAI, Anthropic, Langchain, LlamaIndex and more.

Portkey.ai will use the fresh funding to scale the business for both technology and hiring while building new product capabilities. 

Rohit Agarwal, Co-founder, Portkey.ai said, "Tech chiefs are facing a rush of demand from teams for AI apps that will save money without too much delay. Our vision for Portkey has been to enable teams and companies to deploy Gen AI apps and features with confidence.”

CheqUPI raises $500K in pre-seed round

Cheq UPI on Wednesday said it has raised $500,000 from Y Combinator Accelerator, and secured a spot in its program for the Summer 2023 round.

Founded in 2021 by Sudhanshu Shekhar and Manish Shukla, CheqUPI is a UPI wallet for foreign nationals and travellers. It costs $10 to join and set up, and has been used by "hundreds of foreign nationals and NRIs" so far.

"With approximately 55 million merchants accepting UPI and nearly a billion transactions per month, UPI has transformed the payment landscape in India. However, foreign nationals and NRIs have been excluded from this ecosystem due to various constraints," said Shukla in a press statement.

"CheqUPI is on a mission to serve this underserved audience and simplify digital payments for those visiting India," he added.

ZEVO raises undisclosed funding from Agility Ventures

Electric vehicle supply chain and warehousing startup ZEVO on Wednesday said it has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from angel fund Agility Ventures.

Founded by Aditya Singh Ratnu and Dhruv Bhatia, ZEVO, which stands for zero-emission vehicle operations, helps companies electrify their supply chains from start to end.

"Their commitment to sustainability, innovative use of electric vehicles, and end-to-end supply chain solutions align perfectly with our vision for the future of logistics," said Dhianu Das, Co-founder at Agility Ventures.

ZEVO said it will use the funds to expand its EV fleet size to 1000, including three-wheelers and four-wheelers, to enhance its last-mile delivery capability.

"We are already delivering for some of India's largest and most successful companies and we believe there is a significant demand surge from Tier-2 cities in the years to come," said Rantu, CEO of ZEVO.

Entrepreneur First ups investment in Indian startups to $100K

Early-stage investor Entrepreneur First said it has increased its initial investment amount in each Indian startup to $100,000, from $75,000 earlier, in a bid to sharpen its focus and penetration in the country.

The investor's current portfolio in India consists of over 40 startups such as AarogyaAI, Medpay, Fello, Floworks, BharatMD, Beatover.AI, etc, across sectors including finance, health, and deeptech.

"This increased investment stands as a testament to our belief in the Indian market. We believe that a disproportionate share of the next decade’s deep tech giants will be built in India and we want to play a major role in making that happen," said CEO and Co-founder of Entrepreneur First, Matt Clifford.

The company has also launched a programme to promote entrepreneurship in India, where it has selected 32 people from across the country. The programme will help them collaborate, form co-founder teams, and develop a startup idea.

Entrepreneur First will provide tools, advisory and required funding to help them launch this startup until it becomes an early-stage company.

venture capital, investor, early stage, funding, money, startup idea

Credit: Shutterstock

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Other news

Adani TotalEnergies E-Mobility partners with Evera

Adani TotalEnergies E-Mobility Ltd said it has partnered with EV cab aggregator, Evera, to set up 200 EV charging point super hubs in Delhi.

In the long run, the charging infrastructure will expand across India, focusing particularly on major highways, workplaces, and other easily accessible spots, all equipped with fast-charging options.

"We are already engaged with Evera for operating its cluster hub at Okhla, Delhi. The upcoming hub is strategically located in close proximity to the Delhi International Airport and will support Evera to provide green rides to customers," said Suresh P. Manglani, CEO and executive director of Adani Total Gas Ltd, which owns Adani TotalEnergies E-Mobility Ltd.

Other EV aggregators and individual EV owners will be allowed to use the charging stations too, the companies said.

E-governance solutions company Protean partners with Google Cloud

Protean eGovt Technologies (formerly NSDL e-Gov Infrastructure) has partnered with Google Cloud to accelerate the deployment of digital public infrastructure and adoption of generative AI in public and private sectors.

The partnership aims to strengthen Protean's identity authentication solutions (such as eKYC, eSign etc), and data services.

Protean and Google Cloud will also set up a centre of excellence, leveraging Google's recently launch open commerce solution for ONDC, to help stakeholders deliver digital public goods across industries, including healthcare, agriculture, mobility and e-commerce.

"We are excited about this partnership with Google Cloud as we believe it holds potential to accelerate India’s digital transformation agenda on the back of delivering digital public infrastructure and open digital eco-systems. This partnership will influence ONDC network adoption and the centre of excellence will power multi-sectoral innovations at population-scale," said Suresh Sethi, managing director and CEO of Protean eGov Technologies.

M2P Fintech appoints Mayank Kapoor as head of HR

M2P Fintech said it has appointed Mayank Kapoor as its Global Head for people success, a largely human resources-focussed role.

Kapoor joins M2P Fintech from FreeCharge where he was head of HR and administration. He has over 20 years of experience under his belt.

"The focus will be on moulding People strategies to develop a talent mix which can deliver sustainable growth," said Kapoor in a press release.

At M2P, he will be responsible for driving the company's HR strategies, as well as launch new initiatives for 1,300-plus employees of the company.

Kapoor has worked with the likes of Snapdeal, Aircel, NIIT-Genpact, 247 Inc, and IBM, among others, in the past.

artificial intelligence

Representational Image

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Generative AI platform Kore.ai appoints Devendra Kumar Sharma as president, COO

Kore.ai said it has appointed former Citigroup International CIO Devendra Kumar Sharma as its president and chief operating officer.

Sharma will lead the conversational and generative AI startup's global operations, as well as go-to-market functions, revenue growth, client success, strategy and cross-functional collaborations, in his new role.

Sharma joins Kore.ai from Citigroup International, where he held leadership roles. He has also worked with startups and other global organisations, and is an investor in companies such as Percipient and Latize.

"Kore.ai’s powerful and unique combination of undisputed product leadership and strategic relevance in an emerging technology space positions it for market success," Sharma said in a press note.

CIIE.CO, Reserve Bank Innovation Hub join hands to support women-owned MSMEs

IIM Ahmedabad's entrepreneurship centre CIIE.CO said it has partnered with the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) to launch a programme that can help women MSME owners access credit easily.

The two entities said they will focus on advancing 'end-to-end digital straight-through process (STP) lending solutions for micro to medium-sized women-owned enterprises.

The Swanari Techsprint 2023--the name of the initiative--will also enable winners to do a paid proof of concept study with HDFC Bank, as well as offer access mentorship and help raising funds.

"Women entrepreneurs own and lead less than 20% of the MSMEs in India. Among several other factors, access to capital is a huge barrier for women looking to set up and grow their businesses" said Supriya Sharma from CIIE.CO.

Meesho to help digitise 10 million sellers by 2027

Ecommerce marketplace Meesho said it has set its sights on onboarding 10 million small businesses onto its platform by 2027, in a bid to help digitise them. Currently, Meesho has 1.3 million sellers on the platform.

"Our commitment to onboard 10 million sellers onto the platform by 2027 serves as a resounding testament to our ongoing mission of democratising internet commerce for all," said Vidit Aatrey, CEO and founder at Meesho.

The Bengaluru-based company, last month, said it had attained profitability for the month of July 2023 at a consolidated level for the first time, thanks to growing order volumes and monetisation rate.

It did not disclose specific numbers, but stated that revenue grew by 54% over the last 12 months.

Shiprocket partners with Shopalyst to join the ONDC network

Ecommerce logistics company Shiprocket said it has partnered with discovery-led commerce platform Shopalyst to join the government-backed Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC) network as a seller.

The partnership will help merchants not selling online to easily start selling on ONDC, as well as improve their visibility. More importantly, the collaboration will help merchants in lower-tier cities list online and start selling to a wider audience.

"Digital commerce powered by ONDC will be a game changer for ecommerce brands in India," said Girish Ramachandra, Co-founder at Shopalyst.

Mensa Brands was the latest to join the ONDC network. The Tiger Global-backed startup said it will feature three of its brands on multiple buyer-side apps of ONDC.

Infosys Foundation announces winners of Aarohan Social Innovation Awards

Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic and CSR arm of Infosys, announced the winners of the third edition of the Aarohan Social Innovation Awards. These awards, established in 2018, aim to recognise and reward individuals, teams, and NGOs for creating solutions for social good, benefiting the underprivileged in India.

This year, Infosys Foundation recognised winners across three categories: healthcare, education, and women empowerment. The winners were shortlisted from a pool of over 2,400 submissions and awarded Rs 50 lakh each.

In the healthcare category, the winners were Subrahmanyam Prasad Muddam and Akitha Kolloju from Hyderabad who developed ‘nLite 360’—an advanced, portable, standalone, and battery-powered smart phototherapy device that provides customised treatment for severe and dynamic jaundice conditions.

In the education category, Seetharam Muthangi from Bengaluru developed ‘Smart Vision Glasses’—an artificial intelligence-enriched assistive device that helps people with visual disabilities identify objects and people, gauge distance, detect currency, read books and manuscripts in Indian regional languages, among other things. In the category of women empowerment, Shelter Associates, an NGO from Pune created ‘One Home One Toilet’—a data-driven model focused on facilitating sanitised household toilets for the underprivileged urban women. 

(This copy was updated to change the name of 'NSDL' to 'NSDL e-Gov Infrastructure' in the news item about Protean partnering with Google Cloud)


Edited by Megha Reddy