Startup news and updates: Daily Roundup (October 19, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, October 19, 2023.

Startup news and updates: Daily Roundup (October 19, 2023)

Thursday October 19, 2023,

9 min Read

Funding news

Biotech startup Mestastop secures $500,000

Biotechnology startup Mestastop Solutions has secured $500,000 (Rs 4.5 crore) in a Pre-Series A funding round. This round was spearheaded by a consortium of 92 angel investors along with Malpani Ventures. In 2021, the company secured a seed funding round of Rs 2 crore, led by IIM Ahmedabad's CIIE with participation from IKP and angel investors.

Founded by Arnab Roy Chowdhury and Debabani Roy Chowdhury, Mestastop is creating a cancer metastasis-focused platform, that uses wet lab biology and predictive analytics to identify and distinguish unique properties of metastasis and leverage them for drug discovery and patient treatment.

The funds will be used to generate proof of concept data with small molecules around the identified first-in-class targets and also help progress drug repurposing efforts to delay metastasis by identifying probable clinical candidates. This will also aid new animal models, clinical studies, and strategic business development.

Madsto secures an undisclosed amount in seed funding

Fashion retail brand Madsto has raised an undisclosed amount in seed round by Prajay Advisors LLP, Mumbai.

The funding round was advised and facilitated by capitalCORN, a platform specializing in helping early-stage startups with fundraising. This investment will further accelerate Madsto's growth story in the competitive fashion retail industry.

Founded by Prashanth Sathri, Madsto is a leading young clothing brand offering on-trend clothing at affordable prices.

Welcome Cure secures $500,000 in Pre-Series A

Homeopathy technology firm Welcome Cure has raised half a million in a pre-Series A round led by Inflection Point Ventures (IPV). The funds will be utilised for growth, talent acquisition, technology enhancement, and marketing initiatives.

Welcome Cure is a homeopathy treatment portal which offers online and offline services for diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring, via its telemedicine platform. Currently, it has over 2.5 million platform users and 1.5 million+ registered patients in 36+ countries. Its software business serves over 1 lakh doctors in 140+ countries.

Cross-border fintech platform HiWi raises Rs. 7.25 crore

Global cross-border fintech firm HiWi has secured Rs 7.25 crore in a pre-seed funding round led by Unicorn India Ventures and the Unmaj Group Family Office. The funds will be allocated for product development and strategic go-to-market implementation.

The startup aims to assist more than 25,000 students in remitting USD 100 million by March 2025 and plans to onboard 5,000 educational consultants onto its platform. It has facilitated transactions worth USD 3,00,000 to various geographies in its pilot phase. 

Headquartered in Mumbai, HiWi was co-founded by Dewang Neralla, a fintech entrepreneur and the former Founder and CEO of Atom Technologies, alongside Geeta Chauhan and Ujwal Tamminedi. 

HiWi is a cross-border fintech platform that primarily works in simplifying remittances for students studying abroad. The fintech aims to streamline the remittance process for students, and SMEs into international trade, and industries.

Smarter Dharma raises a seed round from Zerodha’s Rainmatter, Gruhas

Smarter Dharma has raised ~ $500,000 in its first-ever funding round, witnessing participation from Zerodha’s Rainmatter, Gruhas, Anthill Ventures and others.

Smarter Dharma is a sustainability resource planning platform for real estate, which generates business intelligence by combining data analytics & patented machine learning algorithms. It aims to address challenges on resource availability, consumption predictors & local innovative solutions. This further helps to create tangible NetZero Goals and simplifies decision-making with respect to building efficient infrastructure in India.

The company is launching a Sustainable Materials and Solutions marketplace for real estate, aiming to empower stakeholders to support India's COP-26 INDC commitments.

Healthcare firm Leucine Rich Bio secures fresh funds

Leucine Rich Bio has raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A round led by doctors including gastroenterologists, oncologists and biotech entrepreneurs.

The investment comes close to the heel of the company inaugurating a microbiome-focused gut health clinic in the heart of Bengaluru and exporting its products to the Philippines.

The company raised its pre-seed funding worth Rs 2.3 crore in 2017. Besides the Philippines, Leucine Rich Bio has been exporting its products to Thailand since 2022. So far, the company has exported products worth more than Rs 18,00,000.

The funds will be primarily utilised for marketing and development of new products. This investment will help the company in building its product portfolio and enhancing its R&D. The company witnessed 20% year-on-year growth in 2022-23, while the quarter-on-quarter growth was 30% in quarter 2 of the financial year 2023-24.

Other news

WhatsApp introduces dual-account feature

Meta-owned WhatsApp is now offering users the convenience of having two accounts simultaneously logged in. This feature will help individuals who need to toggle between different accounts, between personal and work profiles, carrying multiple devices, or worrying about sending messages from the wrong context.

To enable a second account, users will require either a second phone number and SIM card, or a phone that supports multi-SIM or eSIM functionality. 

The process to enable this feature is to access WhatsApp settings, tap the arrow adjacent to the user's name, and select "Add account." With this new capability, users can manage privacy and notification settings independently for each account for varied messaging needs.

Yubi Group unveils premier fixed income investment platform Aspero

The YubiGroup of Companies has announced the launch of Aspero, its premier fixed-income investment platform. The platform, under the umbrella of CredAvenue Securities, will be used to change the way retail investors interact with fixed-income securities in India. It would further provide retail investors with accessible investment options.

Gaurav Kumar, Founder and CEO of the Yubi Group said, "Recent developments, including SEBI’s push for Online Bond Platform Providers (OBPPs), have set the stage for a fundamental shift. The Indian bond market holds immense potential, yet its accessibility remains limited."

In FY23, the unit previously known as Yubi Invest recorded a GTV of ~INR 20,000 growing 2x YoY with 0% issuer defaults. With this launch, Yubi Invest will also be rebranded to Aspero and cater to wealth managers, financial advisors, as well as directly to retail investors.

Genpact utilises 'AI Guru' to enhance employee learning

US IT firm Genpacthas leveraged 'AI Guru' to boost learning, manage teams, and guide leaders. 

In 2019, Genpact launched 'Genome,' an online learning platform, which, by early 2023, drew over 50,000 learners monthly. However, it lacked expert curators and content. To address this, Genpact introduced 'AI Guru,' a chatbot powered by OpenAI's GPT-3.5 via Azure OpenAI Service.

AI Guru, trained on three years of course content and internal Q&A, is available globally to thousands of senior learners. It serves as a learning companion, leading content management, and has answered 1,500 questions, including team leadership advice.

EatSure becomes the first foodtech platform to partner with IRCTC

EatSure has launched an order food on-train facility on its app, where customers can order food from multiple restaurants and get it delivered to their seats while travelling on the Indian Railway Network.

The food ordering feature will be available on 100 railway stations across 75+ cities including Hyderabad, New Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Nasik, NCR, Vizag, and more.

EatSure is the first foodtech platform to partner with IRCTC(Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) to transform the food ordering experience for train travellers. With real-time order tracking, multi-brand ordering, customer support, and other features, passengers can place their orders in advance or just one hour before the upcoming station using their PNR numbers. 

IRCTC, with over 7.5 crore active travellers, will be able to provide offerings from various brands such as Behrouz Biryani, Faasos, Oven Story Pizza, Sweet Truth, LunchBox, and The Good Bowl for its passengers.

Sarika Saxena appointed Managing Partner for IAN Alpha Fund

The IAN Group (Indian Angel Network) has appointed Sarika Saxena as the Managing Partner of IAN Alpha Fund, a sector-agnostic Venture Capital fund registered with SEBI as an AIF Cat II. 

With a career spanning over 25 years, Saxena has held key leadership roles across organisations, and her investment portfolio spans various sectors such as consumer and technology, both in domestic and international markets. 

Under her leadership, Sarika has facilitated early-stage investments totalling approximately $100 million and overseeing an AUM of around $300 million.

In October of the previous year, the Indian Angel Network (IAN) launched its second fund with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore (approximately $121 million), surpassing the size of its first fund of Rs 375 crore that closed in 2019.

Google and FACE collaborate to uplevel efforts against predatory lending apps in India

During Google for India 2023, Google revealed its collaboration with the industry body Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment (FACE) as a priority partner to strengthen its ongoing initiatives in combating predatory digital lending apps on the Play Store in India.

FACE will support Google with market intelligence to inform detection and enable swift action against predatory personal loan apps in India that are non-compliant with Play Store’s policies.

This collaboration supports Google's safety initiative, DigiKavach, designed to protect people from online financial scams in cooperation with industry experts. In the last 15 months, FACE has reported 700+ dubious apps to app stores, regulators and government authorities.

NPCI Bharat BillPay dives into B2B to boost business payments and collections

NPCI Bharat BillPay Ltd. (NBBL), a fully-owned subsidiary of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), has launched its services in the Business-to-Business (B2B) category to cater businesses, including versatile invoice presentation, complaint management, Management Information Systems (MIS). The B2B category marks its debut on the MyJio app, featuring Biller Arzooo with Axis Bankas the Biller Operating Unit (BOU).

Within the B2B category, Bharat BillPay's strategy involves onboarding sellers, such as manufacturers and distributors, as Billers, and facilitating their buyers, including retailers and shopkeepers, in paying for goods and services across Bharat BillPay-enabled channels and modes. This category allows Bharat BillPay to empower sellers to issue multiple invoices to their buyers.

The platform provides various payment methods and channels, including UPI, net banking, cards, and wallets. Additionally, partial payments are allowed to meet the cash flow needs of the B2B segment.

Meta introduces new tools for GenZ users on Instagram

In a recent product session held in Gurgaon, Meta introduced a host of creative tools, including the Birthday feature, Audio Notes, Selfie Video Notes, and the ability to create Multiple Lists in Stories. These additions are aimed at enhancing Instagram's appeal as it celebrates its 13th anniversary.

The Birthday feature is designed to help users share their special day with friends and followers, enabling celebrations with stickers and confetti. Audio Notes introduces the option to leave voice recordings as notes, whereas Selfie Video Notes lets users capture short looping videos within their notes, visible for 24 hours, addressing a highly requested feature.

Additionally, Instagram is expanding its list-making capabilities, allowing users to create lists for various groups of friends, family, or anyone they choose. This update promises more personalised interactions on the platform.

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

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta