Startup news and updates: daily roundup (October 4, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, October 4, 2023.

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (October 4, 2023)

Wednesday October 04, 2023,

11 min Read

Funding news

Alternate investment platform Altitude raises $500K in pre-seed round

Delhi-based alternate investment platform Altitude has secured $500,000 in pre-seed funding from leaders of The Good Glamm Group, Swiggy Dineout, Yes Bank, Robinhood, and Wipro.

The company said it will use the funds to accelerate the launch of its flagship product Altitude Prism—a structured fixed income instrument—with the aim of listing it on the National Stock Exchange. A part of the funds will be used to strengthen leadership in fund and risk management teams.

Altitude added that it aims to create a financial ecosystem with "superior investment opportunities" to making the financial ecosystem accessible to a wider audience. On the Altitude platform, investors can find a new class of alternatives beyond the usual corporate and NBFC bonds, according to the company.

"At Altitude, we are on a mission to expand the fixed income horizon with safe and high-yield investment instruments. The funding we have raised is an important milestone in realising that mission,” Krishna Maggo, Founder of Altitude, said.

Consumer fitness brand Cube Club raises $1.1M in seed funding

Consumer fitness brand Cube Club has secured $1.1 million in seed funding from unnamed investors.

The Mumbai-based company will use the funds to launch Dopamine, a social fitness network. Cube Club customers will get priority access to Dopamine and an exclusive Cube Club community that offers challenges, influencer content, and rewards for their fitness achievements, the company said in a statement.

Founded by Pratik Agarwal, Siddhesh Ghuge, and Yash Thakur, Dopamine aims to revolutionise the fitness landscape by infusing positivity, fun, and a strong sense of community into the fitness experience. Dopamine focuses solely on connecting fitness enthusiasts around the world, amplifying their motivation and engagement levels, the company noted.

"At Dopamine, we are not just building a fitness app; we are cultivating an ecosystem that unites fitness aficionados, trainers, fitness centres, and product brands under one virtual roof," Pratik Agarwal, Co-founder of Dopamine, said.

Cube Club Dopamine

Pratik Agarwal, Siddhesh Ghuge, Yash Thakur (Co-founders, Cube Club)

Handloom brand Dressfolk raises Rs 3.3 Cr from All-In Capital

Indian handloom ethical clothing brand Dressfolk has secured Rs 3.3 crore in seed funding led by All-In Capital. Other strategic investors include Sidhant Keshwani of Libas, Sidhesh Chauhan of Jade Blue, and Riju Jhunjhunwala of RSWM Ltd.

The company plans to use the fresh funds to strengthen its product portfolio, expand distribution channels, and expand its team and operations, according to a company statement.

Founded in 2017, Dressfolk was set up with the aim of modernising the traditional Indian weaves while empowering the local artisans community. Dressfolk works with over 600 weavers and 120 artisans across 6 states and is catering to customers globally.

“At Dressfolk we draw inspiration from the past, but create for the future. We design and co-produce all our garments with our artisan community from scratch. We’re delighted that investors saw the immense potential in our long-term vision of building the most compelling destination for luxurious and high-quality Indian looms”, said Nitin Mehrotra, Founder and CEO, Dressfolk. He added, “We are proud of the fact we are not only Made in India but Made of India."

Fintech startup DPDzero raises $3.25M in seed round

Fintech firm DPDzero has secured seed funding of $3.25 million in a round led by Blume Ventures and India Quotient. Banking and fintech veterans Sunil Gulati and Nikhil Kumar have also participated in the round. 

The new funds will be used primarily to enhance product distribution, expedite product development, and expand the team, the startup said in a statement.

Founded by Ananth Shroff and Ranjith Ramachandra in March 2022, DPDzero aims to build fintech infrastructure by extending credit to the underserved.

"Our journey is in its early stages, but our commitment to reshape the financial landscape is unwavering. We know lending is hard, but collection is harder. We want to solve the hardest problem first," Ananth Shroff, CEO and Co-Founder of DPDzero, said.

Supply chain management firm FreightFox raises $600K in seed funding

Pune-based supply chain platform FreightFox has secured $600k in seed funding from Aeravti Ventures. The firm will use the funds to develop its platform and enter new markets, it said in a statement.

Founded by Nitish Rai, FreightFox aims to streamline and optimise first-mile supply chain operations by using intelligence. It builds on top of varied data with a proprietary technology to provide superior end-to-end supply-chain management.

"Aeravti Ventures has been an early believer of our platform and with their backing, we're poised to boost our data and AI capabilities, streamlining logistics for the manufacturing sector," Nitish Rai, Co-founder of FreightFox, said.


Co-founders of FreightFox

Nayanthara, Vignesh Shivan launch skincare venture 9Skin

Actor Nayanthara and Director Vignesh Shivan have raised an undisclosed amount of funding to launch a new skincare venture 9Skin. Serial entrepreneur Daisy Morgan has joined as a co-founder.

9Skin’s aims to provide individuals of all skin types and backgrounds with access to products that are high-quality and free of cruelty, parabens, and harmful chemicals, according to a company statement.

"I am passionate about products that ensure the well-being of the skin without harming it in any way and this was also the inception point for 9Skin. Our investment in this brand is testament to the fact that we want everyone to be able to experience the magic of a healthy skincare routine with products that match their needs," according to Nayanthara.

Other news

Flipkart launches two new features to enhance virtual shopping experience

Ecommerce firm Flipkart has introduced two new features as part of the SwipeScreen experience—Flippi and Vibes.

Flippi is a virtual shopping assistant powered by ChatGPT, which will enable consumers to find products that align with their individual tastes and needs in an intuitive and conversational manner. Vibes is a video-browsing feature, which can be accessed by swiping to the right on the Flipkart app homepage, integrate the shopping experience with video content, and bring the traditional window-shopping experience to the Flipkart platform.

“We’re thrilled to unveil our latest on-app experiences ‘Vibes’ - a video-led browsing experience and a shopping assistant ‘Flippi’ powered by ChatGPT, that are going to change the way millions of Indians experience e-commerce, especially in the run-up to this year’s festive season," Bharath Ram - Senior Vice President, Growth and Retention at Flipkart, said.

Clothing brand Snitch appoints Dunzo's Aniket Singh as Chief Business Officer

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) men's fashion brand Snitch has appointed Aniket Singh as Chief Business Officer. Singh was previously the Vice President of Dunzo Merchant Services.

In the new role, Singh will be responsible for spearheading Snitch's strategic initiatives to drive sustainable growth and operational efficiency, the company said in a statement.

"I am thrilled to join the fastest emerging D2C startup. I am excited to contribute my experience in scaling businesses to drive the next phase of Snitch's growth. Together, we will continue to push boundaries and set up new benchmarks for the business," Singh said.

Westbridge-backed TSS Consultancy appoints John Mathew as advisor

TSS Consultancy, which has built TrackWizz for fighting financial crimes, has announced the appointment of John Mathew as Advisor, who comes with 36 years of rich experience holding various senior-level positions at the HDFC Group.

Prior to joining TSS, John was a member of the start-up team at HDFC Asset Management. He has been on many governmental and industry committees relating to AML and headed the HDFC Group conglomerate on AML Principal Officers. John has led many initiatives within the industry, such as setting up the first unified digital KYC model, conceptualised and facilitated the launch of the MF Central aggregator platform, and liaising with regulatory bodies and committees on AML/CFT standards and compliance, the company said in a statement.

“TSS philosophy is to empower the finance industry in fighting financial crime, money laundering, terror financing, etc, with its software product suite TrackWizz and Screenzaa. We are serving more than 350+ financial institutions and customers in India including Banks, Lending companies, Capital and commodity market institutions & insurers," said Sagar Tanna, CEO and Founder of TSS Consultancy.

IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE exits 4 startups in H1 2023

IIM Ahmedabad's CIIE has successfully exited four startups—GUVI, Barrix , Transerve, and Riskcovry—in the first half of 2023 which were discovered and nurtured through IIMA-CIIE's flagship accelerators, including The Power of Ideas, Financial Inclusion Lab, and India Innovation Growth Program.

The current funding winter has been a testing period for the entire startup ecosystem and despite challenging market conditions, IIMA-CIIE’s portfolio companies have endured and created value and impact. In addition to the investments, IIMA-CIIE’s rigorous support including focused mentorship and bespoke industry expertise, has enabled its portfolio companies to thrive, the institution said in a statement.

"We are thrilled to announce these successful exits during a time when the market conditions have been particularly tough. This achievement is a testament to the resilience and determination of our team, as well as the strength of our proprietary scouting and investment strategy," Vipul Patel, Partner (Seed Investments) at IIMA-CIIE, said.

Gruhas Fund, DLF family office and Anthill Ventures launch second cohort of accelerator programme

Gruhas Fund, DLF Family Office, and Anthill Ventures unveiled the second cohort of Gruhas Aspire—a proptech accelerator program. The cohort features six startups in the construction and real estate industry which will receive strategic investments, expert guidance, and market access opportunities.

The selected startups are building in a range of sectors including smart property management, sustainable properties and clean energy, the firms said in a statement.

“Proptech is one of the key pillars to success and longevity of the human race. Gruhas understands that after AgriTech,  Proptech as an ecosystem needs more disruption and exposure. With this thought, we look forward to supporting the incoming Cohort of Gruhas Aspire as they navigate the Proptech ecosystem and scale to new heights,” Abhijeet Pai, Co-Founder of Gruhas Fund, said.

Mamaearth parent appoints Nishchay Bahl as Senior Vice President of Offline Business

Honasa Consumer Pvt Ltd—the parent company of D2C beauty brand Mamaearth—has appointed Nishchay Bahl as the senior vice president of its offline business.

In the new role, Bahl will be responsible for driving growth and profitability and build a comprehensive offline network strategy for the brands, namely, Mamaearth, The Derma Co., Aqualogica and Bblunt, the firm said in a statement.

An alumnus of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, Bahl comes with over 15 years of leadership experience managing cross functional teams in leading companies like Britannia and Reckitt.

“I am extremely enthused to lead Honasa Consumers’ vision of building consumer brands driven by a purpose. Mamaearth, the flagship brand has established itself amongst the Indian consumer and the acceptance of the brand offline has been inspiring. I look forward to being part of the brand's growth trajectory to many more milestones,” Bahl said.

SBI launches handheld device to enhance financial inclusion

The State Bank of India—the country's largest lender—has introduced a  'Mobile Handheld Device’ for its FI customers. This initiative, unveiled by Dinesh Khara (Chairman of SBI), aims to empower financial inclusion and extend essential banking services to the masses.

The device aims to enhance banking accessibility by bringing kiosk banking directly to the customer’s doorstep. It offers greater flexibility to customer service point (CSP) agents enabling them to reach out to customers wherever they are. The initiative will particularly benefit customers who face challenges in accessing CSP outlets due to health issues, Senior citizens and Divyangjans, according to SBI.

"With the introduction of the Mobile Handheld Device, customers will have a seamless and vivid experience conducting transactions at their location. This technology-driven initiative underscores SBI's commitment to deepening financial inclusion and social welfare through digitization by providing convenient and doorstep banking to our customers,” Dinesh Khara, Chairman of SBI, said.

Namma Yatri to launch initiative for Persons with Disabilities

Auto ride-hailing platform Namma Yatri is set to launch the Purple Rides initiative to offer disability-friendly options to Persons with Disabilities (PwD) on October 5.

The Bengaluru-based firm will partner with EnAble India—an NGO dedicated to ensuring life with dignity for persons with disabilities. Namma Yatri has also enhanced its app for users with visual, hearing, or physical impairments.

(This was updated to correct a spelling error in the Snitch news item.)

Edited by Megha Reddy