Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (October 5, 2023)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, October 5, 2023.

Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (October 5, 2023)

Thursday October 05, 2023,

12 min Read

Funding news

FlexifyMe raises $1M in seed round led by Flipkart Ventures

FlexifyMe, a healthtech platform, has raised $1 million in a seed round of funding led by Flipkart Ventures. The other investors in this round include GSF, iHub Anubhuti, Chandigarh Angels (CAN), Venture Catalyst, OneCapital, and angel investors.

FlexifyMe aims to use this capital to further enhance its technology platform—AI motion coach, making it available in local languages. It is also looking to expand the reach of this platform to MENA and North American regions.

Founded in 2021, by Manjeet Singh and Amit Bhayani, FlexifyMe operates in the space of chronic pain management combining technology along with physiotherapy and yoga to treat patients. This startup claimed it has grown 5X in the last 12 months.

Answer Genomics raises $500K in pre-Series A Round

Machine Learning and Genomics startup Answer Genomics has raised $500,000 in a pre-Series A round from Inflection Point Ventures. 

The funds will be utilised for supporting sales and marketing efforts as well as expanding the talent pool through strategic hiring initiatives, the company said in a statement. It has plans to sequence 10,000 genomes in the next 12 months.

Founded in 2019, Answer Genomics aims to unlock the power of genetics to provide potential know-how for dealing with several health and lifestyle ailments. The company is collecting samples from people with their consent to create a database of genetic information. It takes a small amount of blood and analyses more than five million data points. It helps in giving personalised advice for staying healthy, the company says.

Other news

PickMyWork expands to over 20 states

Gig employment startup PickMyWork has expanded its reach to more than 20 states since its inception in 2019. The Gurugram-based startup has onboarded eight lakh gig workers. 

Vidyarthi Baddireddy, CEO and Co-founder, PickMyWork said that this growth represents a positive trend showing the widespread acceptance of gig work in today’s economy.

The gig platform helps digital businesses in acquiring end users (individuals and merchants). It has allocated gig workers across various states. Maharashtra leads with 12% gig worker acquisition. Uttar Pradesh follows closely with 10%. Karnataka stands at 8% followed by Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Haryana, and Punjab.

Xiaomi India introduces Xiaomi Easy Finance (XEF) programme

Xiaomi India has launched the Xiaomi Easy Finance Program (XEF), a user-friendly digital loan initiative available across India. It has forged a partnership with axio, a digital consumer financial services provider, as well as Trustonic, a player in security and services.

This programme delivers comprehensive financial solutions, presenting individuals with flexible and affordable choices for purchasing smartphones. With XEF, customers can acquire a Redmi smartphone through instant approvals and a streamlined digital process that eliminates the need for physical paperwork, the company said.

It also enables customers to own Redmi smartphones through zero-cost EMI options. The XEF programme is accessible at Mi Homes, Mi Studios, Mi Stores, Mi Preferred partners, regional retail chains, and all authorised outlets nationwide.

PedalStart announced the launch of PedalUp Cohort

Startup accelerator and founders’ community PedalStart announced its latest initiative PedalUp Cohort, an exclusive program for startups incubated within PedalStart. It aims to accelerate the growth journey of these startups providing them with the tools, mentorship, networking opportunities, and support needed to scale their businesses rapidly.

PedalStart is currently running 3 cohorts, hosting more than 100 startup founders from different domains including edtech, logistics, fintech, healthcare, cleantech, mobility, gaming, sports, and agri. It intends to deploy Rs 2.5 crore in each cohort and also incentivise startups with cash prizes and rewards.

Pre-festive sales: Meesho records nearly 1 crore orders 

Indian marketplace Meesho closed nearly 1 crore orders in the recently concluded sale events for Onam, Raksha Bandhan, and Ganesh Chaturthi. The platform welcomed more than 50 lakh new customers. 

The company saw nearly 75% of the demand coming from Tier II markets such as Amravati, Aurangabad, Dehradun, Nellore, Solapur, and Warangal. In the last two months, it also onboarded nearly 2 lakh new sellers in preparation for the festive season.

“As we gear up for the upcoming festivities, we are certain to see the momentum uplift for categories such as Personal Care & Beauty, Home & Kitchen as well as Electronic Accessories to grow by more than 100%, when compared to 2022,” said Megha Agarwal, CXO, Growth at Meesho.

Meesho is proactively introducing new sub-categories and products in response to emerging trends, including festive decorations like jharokhas, diya thalis, rangoli stencils, torans, lanterns and string lights, thereby meeting the evolving customer demand.

Axis Bank launches its digital bank proposition - ‘open by Axis Bank’

Axis Bank has unveiled its new digital banking service called 'open by Axis Bank' in a recent advertising campaign. The campaign, named Open 2023, highlights 15 key features of the bank's digital services. This launch is the result of the bank's multi-year effort to create a user-friendly digital banking experience. The introduction of this mobile application shows the bank's commitment to improving its digital services, it said in a statement.

Commenting on the announcement, Sameer Shetty, President & Head of Digital Business & Transformation, Axis Bank, said, “We have been continuously investing in digital-first products that reimagine customer propositions, both for existing bank customers as well as for new ones. Axis 2.0 is now ‘open by Axis Bank’ and we will continue to deliver personalised, individualised, hassle-free customer experiences under this umbrella."

Betterhalf expands leadership team for growth

Betterhalf, India's matrimony app, has expanded its leadership team to solidify its position in the matchmaking and wedding industry. The company achieved $2.5 million in annualised revenue in FY23 and tripled its registered user base. 

To support its growth, Betterhalf has appointed three key leaders: Shantanu Singh (Head of Wedding Business), Pooja Singh (Associate Director - Human Resources), and Ramkumar Venkatasubramaniar (Associate Director - Product). The new leadership team will further enhance its offerings, the company said.

Singh, with 19 years of experience, will focus on improving customer-centric wedding planning services; Venkatasubramaniar, an experienced product leader, will strengthen the product development efforts; Pooja Singh, with a 10-year track record, will foster an inclusive work environment for employees.

Unicommerce launches Pack-Fast solution for festive season surge

Unicommerce, an ecommerce enablement SaaS platform, has introduced Pack-Fast solution to enhance warehouse operations for e-commerce platforms and retail brands. This solution aims to streamline the management of increased order volumes during the festive season, starting in early October.

The solution aims to optimise warehouse tasks by improving the efficiency of picklist handling. It includes features like image-assisted sorting for multi-item shipments, auto-focus on the next action, and zero-click printing, reducing the workload on packers and enhancing packing efficiency. It is particularly beneficial for beauty, personal care, and pharmaceutical products with multi-item orders, as it helps improve packing accuracy by identifying missing or damaged items, the company said. 

Additionally, the new feature focuses on optimising order assembly by allowing brands to delay order picking in case of unusual situations, such as missing or damaged products. 

Chaabi launches a WhatsApp learning platform for blue-collar workforce

Ex-Googgle Puneet Dhiman has launched chaabi, a WhatsApp Learning Platform with the aim to revolutionise training for India's blue-collar workforce. The platform offers AI-powered vernacular Content in over 10 Indian languages, making training more accessible. It stands out by allowing customisable training creation, real-time data analytics, and intelligent user enrollment.

A survey conducted by B2B SaaS platform Chaabi revealed that 92% of workers lack vocational training, with 87% struggling with English and Hindi. To address this, Chaabi's AI-Powered Vernacular Content enables personalized learning in preferred languages, allowing individuals to progress at their own pace while improving skills relevant to their career goals.

By using WhatsApp as a primary platform, Chaabi aims to deliver efficient job-specific training tailored to India’s blue-collar workforce, enhancing their productivity and employability.

PlayboxTV holds 4th position among India’s OTT aggregators

With over one million subscriptions and content from over 22 OTT apps, PlayboxTV announced that it now holds the position of fourth largest OTT aggregator. It collaborates with over 50,000 cable operators helping them offer digital products and services. 

Playbox allows users to stream content on any device including mobile phones, laptops, or televisions. It has a library of more than 550 channels spanning over 10 languages. The subscription plan starts at Rs 49 per month. 

PlayboxTV is focusing on Tier II and Tier III cities and in doing so it aims to democratise access to high-quality digital entertainment, making it accessible to a wider audience.

Amazon Great Indian Festival to start from October 8, 2023

Amazon sale

With over 5,000 new launches planned across categories, the Amazon Great Indian Festival is set to commence on October 8, 2023. There will be offers across categories such as smartphones, fashion and beauty, large appliances and TVs, consumer electronics, as well as grocery. 

According to a statement released by the company, there will be a 10% instant discount on State Bank of India credit and debit cards and EMI transactions and there will be exciting offers for other credit and debit card users as well.

Amazon is also offering customers a chance to Rs 1000 in their Amazon Pay wallet by paying any bill or recharging their mobile or DTH. Customers can unlock offers up to Rs 700 on online payments through Amazon Pay on various apps like Zomato, BookMyShow, Swiggy, Dominos, and more.

For festive shopping, customers applying for the Amazon Pay ICICI Bank credit card can enjoy welcome rewards up to Rs 2,500 and earn 5% unlimited cashback on payments and purchases. Amazon Pay Later offers instant credit up to INR 1 lakh based on eligibility. 

India's FinTech Q3 2023 funding records a 68% Surge from Q2 2023: Report

Tracxn's Q3 2023 Geo Quarterly India FinTech Report reveals a resurgence in India's FinTech sector, with a 68% increase in funding compared to Q2 2023. Despite challenges like rising borrowing costs and global economic recession, India ranks 4th globally in FinTech startup funding. 

Alternative Lending, banking tech, and RegTech are standout performers in H1 2023, with Alternative Lending growing by 259%, Banking Tech by 396%, and RegTech by 100% in Q3 2023. The government's $16.7B investment in the BharatNet project is expected to boost digital solutions and connectivity in rural areas, attracting more investments. Late-stage funding rounds also saw significant activity, with Perfios securing $229 million in a series D round.

Two companies, Zaggle and Veefin went public in Q3 2023, showcasing the growing maturity of the Indian FinTech ecosystem. Bengaluru emerged as the leader in total fintech funding raised during Q3 2023, followed closely by Mumbai and Noida, reaffirming the significance of these as Fintech hubs in India's startup landscape.

Industry bodies respond to telco’s demands to regulate OTT communication services

Industry groups and civil society organisations oppose telecom companies' demands to regulate and charge over-the-top (OTT) services. Industry bodies such as the Information Technology Industry Council, Broadband India Forum, Alliance of Digital India Foundation, CUTS International, Internet Freedom Foundation, Internet and Mobile Association of Indiaargue that OTT services complement traditional telecommunications, are already regulated, and benefit telecom providers by increasing data usage. 

They warn that proposed revenue-sharing models could stifle digital enterprise growth, increase costs for consumers, and violate net neutrality. Existing regulations, including the IT Act, are deemed sufficient, and additional regulation is seen as excessive and potentially harmful to innovation.

Delhi Metro expands WhatsApp-based ticketing system to all lines

Delhi Metro

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has expanded its WhatsApp-based ticketing system to all metro lines, including the Gurugram Rapid Metro. Passengers can now easily purchase metro tickets by sending a message to a WhatsApp chatbot (text 'Hi' to +91 9650855800 on WhatsApp) or scanning a QR code. 

This user-friendly service covers 12 metro lines, 288 stations, and offers the convenience of purchasing tickets with a single click. DMRC aims to enhance the travel experience and make metro tickets as easy to buy as sending a message. Meta, in collaboration with DMRC, aims to simplify transit for WhatsApp users, and a nominal fee applies for transactions. This initiative represents DMRC's commitment to improving the metro experience for passengers.

Up to a maximum of 6 QR tickets can be generated by a user in a single time. Tickets can be booked between 6 am to 9 pm for all lines and from 4 am to 11 pm for the Airport Line (Orange Line). Ticket cancellations are not allowed in WhatsApp ticketing. A marginal convenience fee will be applied to transactions made via credit or debit card, while no convenience fee will be charged for UPI-based transactions.

Zendesk unveils new generative AI offerings

Cloud-based customer service platform Zendesk has unveiled new generative AI advancements aimed at enhancing customer experience (CX) by improving customer satisfaction, reducing costs, and increasing loyalty. These include generative AI-powered bots, AI-generated conversation summaries and transcripts for agents, and advanced data privacy and protection features. 

These innovations aim to create authentic and efficient customer interactions. Zendesk is expanding its intent detection capabilities to industries like insurance and travel or tourism and introducing AI for voice to summarise phone conversations and identify customer sentiment. Additionally, the company is offering an advanced data privacy and protection package to enhance data security and privacy. This move aligns with the growing demand for AI-driven, personalised experiences while addressing data protection concerns.

(The copy will be updated with the latest news throughout the day)

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti