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Startup news and updates: daily roundup (December 5, 2023)

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

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (December 5, 2023)

Tuesday December 05, 2023 , 11 min Read

Funding

Rural fintech startup Navadhan raises $5M led by Prime Venture 

Rural fintech startup Navadhan has raised 40 crore ($5 million) in its Pre-Series A round led by Prime Venture Partners. Existing investors, Gemba Capital and Varanium NexGen Fintech Fund also participated. 

The funds will be used to further enhance the company’s AceN tech platform, which offers sourcing, digital enrollment, underwriting, payments and collection services to financial institutions, and scale up distribution and service delivery model, it said.

 

Currently, it claims to have 20 Bank/ NBFCs using its services. It also offers loans via its own books (NBFC license) and co-lends through partnerships.

Navadhan had earlier raised $3M in Seed and Angel rounds from Anicut Capital, Singapore-based impact fund BOPA, Flowstate Ventures, AngelList, Faad, and Saakav Firstbridge, among others. 

Nitin Agrawal, Founder of Navadhan said, “The fundraise will add tailwinds to our efforts at building solutions to bring such small businesses to the formal economy. We will continue to build it for banks, and NBFCs to leverage the regulatory advantage of priority sector assets. It is still early days for us and we are excited by the massive opportunity ahead of us.”

 

Sanjay Swamy, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners, added to this saying, ”The MSME sector in India has always been credit-starved, and yet remains one of the critical growth sectors in the country. Nitin, his co-founders, and the Navadhan team have demonstrated an extremely viable and tech-driven model for distribution, underwriting, and robust collections while leveraging co-lending to achieve meaningful scale.”

Scandalous Foods raises Rs 1.6 Cr in ongoing pre-Seed funding round

Restaurant-focussed B2B sweets brand Scandalous Foods has raised Rs 1.6 crore in the ongoing pre-seed funding round, backed by Anthill Angel Fund, EvolveX accelerator, Value360 and SapphireInk Ventures. 

Angel investors Sagar Daryani (Wow! Momo) Kamnaa Aggrawal, Vikas Aggarwal (We Founder Circle) and Harpal Singh Sokhi (ex-IndiaMart and Celebrity Chef) also participated. 

 

Founded in August last year by Sanket S and Pravesh Amin, the company aims to deploy the capital for the expansion of its production unit in Nasik, automation, expanding sales network beyond five cities and doubling down operations in Mumbai, Thane and Nasik. Funds would also go into product development. 

In its one year of operations, Scandalous Foods claims to have sold nearly 14 lakh pieces of sweets. The brand offers preservative-free sweets with a six-month shelf life, focusing on cloud kitchens. In the near future, it will launch mithai bars and sachets, catering to spontaneous indulgence.   

 

“We're planning to break new ground by entering wedding and corporate catering channels, extending our reach to smaller QSRs. Fueled by B2B2C aspirations, we're piloting a wholesale sweet shop under our brand. This funding empowers us to sweeten moments, one delectable venture at a time,” said CEO & CPO Sanket S. 

Quick commerce delivery service provider Pikndel raises $285K in pre-Seed round led by 100X.VC

Quick commerce delivery service platform Pikndel has secured $285,000 in a pre-seed funding round led by 100X.VC

 

Founded in 2022 by Teja Vadlamani, Siddharth Batra, and Tullika Batra, Pikndel aims to empower D2C and ecommerce brands to achieve swift, cost-effective same-day deliveries, along with the facility of product storage via dark stores. It is currently operational in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, and plans to expand this further.

“The investment received will be pivotal in our expansion plans as we intend to have a robust pan-India presence, making same-day deliveries a ubiquitous option for our customers,” said Vadlamani. 

 

Ninad Karpe, Founder & Partner, 100X.VC, said, “With a team that is passionate about their business and a model that will disrupt the D2C and ecommerce industry, Pikndel is poised to make significant strides in the burgeoning quick delivery space."

EsportsXO raises funding round led by SOSV’s Orbit Startups, SucSEED Indovation Fund

Esports and gaming startup EsportsXO has raised an undisclosed amount in its ongoing funding round led by SOSV’s Orbit Startups and existing investors SucSEED Indovation Fundand Mumbai Angels

We Founder Circle and Imperial Holding also participated. 

Founded in 2020 by Vikas Goel, Utsav Umang, and Rohit Raj, Bengaluru-based EsportsXO offers online esports tournament management systems. The SaaS-based platform collaborates with game developers and brands to enhance visibility among the gaming community through community-building and targeted advertising. 

EsportsXO

L-R- EsportsXO Founders: Rohit Raj, Vikas Goel and Utsav Umang

“XO aims to become the largest game and player discovery platform for gamers. Game advertising is a $130 Bn market. With BattleXO, we are not just targeting gamers but also addressing the needs of game developers and tournament organisers, enabling them to leverage technology for scalable reach through data-driven campaigns,” said Goel. 

The firm claims to have achieved positive EBITDA for the last quarter.

Vikrant Varshney, Co-founder and Managing Partner of SucSEED Indovation Fund, said, “Since the time we funded them in the first round, EsportsXO has kept us impressed with their journey of growth. They have hosted 25,000+ tournaments, have 1000+ tournament organisers on their platform, generated over $4M lifetime revenue with less than $1.5M spend, and have distributed $100K+ in sponsored rewards.”

Indian Angels closes Season 1 with Rs 6.5 Cr of investment in 12 Startups

Indian Angels, a startup pitch and investment show, closed its first season with Rs 6.5 crore of investment in 12 startups from among a panel of investors, including Ajinkya Firodia (Kinetic Group), Ankit Agrawal (InsuranceDekho), Aparna Thyagarajan (Shobitam), Kunal Kishore (Value 360), Rikant Pittie (EaseMyTrip) and Shreedha Singh (T.A.C – The Ayurveda Co). 

As per the format, entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to the investors in a 60-second elevator pitch, followed by a Q&A session. It also allows viewers to invest in these ventures alongside the six angel investors. 

Streaming on Jio Cinema, the most recent episodes saw participation of startups of Bare Wear, iYatraa Holidays, TriGo Electric, Habbits, Priyam Online, and Estoqi, of which TriGo managed to secure Rs 40 lakh at a valuation of Rs 7.5 crore for 5.33% equity from Firodia while Habbits raised Rs 30 lakh for 15% equity and the potential for an additional Rs 20 lakh debt at 10% interest from a consortium. 

Other

BetterPlace appoints former Hubilo VP Deepak Lamba as Enterprise Sales head for India

In a bid to accelerate their growth in the Indian market, Betterplace, a frontline workforce management SaaS platform, has appointed Deepak Lamba as Enterprise Sales Head for India. 

Prior to joining BetterPlace, Lamba played a pivotal role in building companies like Wingify and Hubilo as their Head of Sales for UK and Europe and Vice President of Global Sales, respectively.

“With India experiencing rapid growth, enterprises across industries want to quickly adapt and increase their margins by optimising their processes. This provides an immense opportunity for us, and Deepak’s expertise in driving sales across different markets will help us tap into this potential and consolidate our position in the market further,” said Pravin Agarwala, Co-founder & Group CEO, BetterPlace. 

Lambha is also the co-founder of Revenue Circuit, a B2B sales community. At BetterPlace, he would lead the entire Sales team in India and align India’s sales efforts with the global teams.

Eversource receives catalytic concessional capital from the US Department of State, USAID, the Danish Government

Climate impact investor Eversource has received catalytic concessional capital from the US Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its programme Blended Finance for Energy Transition (BFET) and the Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) under the Danish Development Finance Institution (DFI). 

The same was announced at the COP28 by John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

 

Eversource will launch financial vehicles to deploy capital in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other South and Southeast Asia markets, it said in a release. Investments will address both the supply (renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, waste-to-energy sectors) and demand (e-mobility, urban sustainability, sustainable food and agriculture) sides of an inclusive transition to clean energy.

The India-based climate investment manager has raised and deployed over $740 million via climate impact fund.

Vi, EaseMyTrip tie-up for exclusive deals 

Indian telecom operator Vi has partnered with online travel tech platform EaseMyTrip, for exclusive deals in flights, hotels, trains, buses, and cab bookings on the former’s App. 

 

As an introductory offer, there will be zero convenience fees on all flight bookings. Additionally, the users will soon be entitled to get offers on domestic and international hotels, holidays, buses, activities and cab bookings. As part of the association, the users will also be able to avail exclusive benefits on travel-related services such as activities, experiences and holiday packages on the Vi App. In future, users will have access to other value-added services like free airport pick up/drop on flight and hotel bookings at a minimum booking value, it said.  

NPCI Bharat BillPay onboards SBI Card under the credit card category

NPCI Bharat BillPay (NBBL), the wholly-owned subsidiary of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), has onboarded SBI Card under credit card category of Bharat BillPay. 

The other major credit card issuers live under this category are Kotak Mahindra Bank, BoB Financial, Federal Bank, AU Small Finance Bank, IndusInd Bank, and Canara Bank.

 

SBI Card boasts a customer base of around 1.68 crore. By leveraging Bharat BillPay, SBI Card customers will be able to manage their credit card bill payments across all Bharat BillPay supported payment channels, be it online through bank or payment apps or via the network of Bharat BillPay enabled physical outlets.

 

Noopur Chaturvedi, CEO, of NBBL said, "Through strategic partnerships with major players in the credit card ecosystem, we’re setting unprecedented standards for accessibility, convenience, and reliability.”

ElectricPe

(L to R) Avinash Sharma and Raghav Rohila, Co-founders of ElectricPe

ElectricPe opens EV Mobility Centers

ElectricPe has launched virtual and physical mobility centres to simplify EV ownership. At these stores or via the app, customers can identify and test drive E-2Wheelers from a variety of OEM brands before purchase, as well as choose charging solutions for their home or work.   

 

Further, they can take advantage of subscriptions, financing options, and assistance with vehicle exchange, insurance, and registration at the mobility centres. The stores are currently located in Bangalore, with more outlets planned for 2024.

 

“Mass EV adoption still has two major problems–range anxiety, which we have solved with our dense charging network, and 200+ EV two-wheeler brands to choose from, which creates a lot of confusion. To alleviate this confusion, our mobility centres and online app serve as educational hubs, empowering buyers to make informed decisions aligned with their specific needs,” said Co-founder, and CEO Avinash Sharma.

 

The mobility stores facilitated the sale of 6% of Bangalore's EV two-wheelers in October, showcasing a positive impact, the co-founder added.

AIC T-Hub launches incubation programme for spacetech startups 

Startup incubator T-Hub has launched an incubation programme for spacetech startups in collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). 

The selected startups—Onnes, Nveeas Labs, Spantrik, STEM & Space, TaraMandal, Hindustan Magnesium Products Private Limited—will gain exclusive access to resources, including grants, venture capitalists, engineering laboratories, global mentors, industry experts, service providers, and the insights of veteran Spacetech entrepreneurs, including from Skyroot and Dhruva Space. 

Digital investment platform Vested ventures into P2P lending, bonds, solar 

Digital investment platform Vested is expanding its alternative investment portfolio by offering Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending via Vested Edge, and INR (Indian Rupee) bonds and solar projects via Vested Solar. 

"We are excited to add additional alternative assets to our existing US investing offering. We believe that alternative assets are the future," Vested CEO Viram Shah said in the statement. 

Over the next decade, "our investment portfolios will look very different" from what they do today, with investors participating in multiple assets like bonds, solar, P2P lending, real estate, global stocks and more, along with traditional mutual funds, FDs and gold, Shah stated.

We chose to add these three assets first, based on their market potential over the next 10 years and the safety guardrails inherent in these assets relative to other alternative assets, he said. 

Along with the new asset classes, the company has also launched its Vested Academy, which provides comprehensive information on alternative assets so that investors can make informed decisions.

Startup WOCE, SkyJumper Sports to develop sustainable theme parks

Startup firm World of Circular Economy (WOCE) has partnered with SkyJumper Sports to develop environmentally sustainable amusement centres in India.

The firm in a release said that SkyJumper Trampoline Park in Gurugram will be the first theme park, which will be developed on these lines.

"The collaboration aims to achieve carbon neutrality for the park by the end of January," Anup Garg, Founder and Director of WOCE, said. The park would be made carbon neutral by first measuring carbon emissions in the construction, maintenance, and operation of the park. Steps like using green energy and prohibition on plastic products in the area will be included to make it carbon neutral apart from offsetting through the purchase of green credits.

Citing a report, the startup said that the theme park tourism market is expected to grow from $49.1 billion in 2022 to $166.67 billion by 2032.