Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (January 8, 2024)
YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Monday, January 8, 2024.
EVIFY raises $1.3M from GVFL and Piper Serica
Surat-based EV logistics startup EVIFY has raised $1.3 million in a pre-Series A round of funding from GVFL and Piper Serica. The company has been operational in Surat and Ahmedabad for more than a year.
Evify plans to expand its fleet of EV bikes from 400 to 4,000 by March 2025. It is also developing a full stack in-house technology platform to provide information on fleet management, driver management, route optimization, battery management system (BMS), telematics, financing and loan management, credit risk analysis, and client access to insights.
The core focus of Evify is on the logistics sector with segments like ecommerce, food delivery, grocery delivery and hyperlocal delivery. It counts the likes of Big Basket, BB Now, Swiggy, Zomato, Flipkart, e-Com Express, and Blue Dart as its clients.
Rincell Corporation raises $1.2M in seed round
Rincell Corporation, an advanced chemistry battery cell manufacturer, has raised a $1.2 million seed round led by US-based NextGen Battery Chem Ventures LLC, managed by venture capitalist Sandiip Bhammer.
Rincell Corporation was founded in 2023 by Jignesh Parikh and Dr Jagjit Nanda.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Sandiip Bhammer—a veteran clean-tech investor and Founder of early-stage India climate fund Green Frontier Capital. Not only does Sandiip have a stellar reputation for supporting founders, but we’ve immediately felt the positive impact in just the short period of time we’ve started working together,” said CEO Parikh.
The infusion of capital will allow Rincell to get its 18,650 and 21,700 silicon-graphite batteries ready for commercial production in CY2024.
D2C PrabhuBhakti raises seed funding from Prajay Advisors
PrabhuBhakti, a D2C startup and devotion and style brand, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Prajay Advisors. Founded by Samast Ahlawat and Raju Kumar in 2021, PrabhuBhakti focuses on three key categories—apparel, silver jewellery, and puja items that remain in high demand.
As per reports, the spiritual market, standing at $50 billion, is growing at 10% CAGR. In a short span, the platform is receiving orders from across the country with a major chunk of the sales being driven by its ecommerce platform, as per a statement from the company said.
"This capital injection will enable us to expand our product range, reach new markets, and further solidify our position as a pioneering force in the D2C religious product market. With this funding, Prabhubhakti is looking to grow 10X, by expanding its user base, and further enhancing its product offerings," said Samast Ahlawat, Co-founder, PrabhuBhakti.
Bootstrapped HRTech startup InCruiter secures Rs 1.1 Cr from GetVantage
Interview solutions provider InCruiter has secured Rs 1.1 crore in undiluted revenue-based funding from GetVantage.
The Bengaluru-based startup, founded in 2018, provides interview solutions for businesses. The company recently launched a new product, 'IncBot', registered a new office in the US, and successfully onboarded 87 new clients last year. Utilising AI video interviews, they saved over 10,000 minutes of HR time in three months and surpassed the milestone of conducting 4 million+ total interview minutes.
Talking about the company's future and what it plans to achieve this year with the funds raised, Anil Agarwal, CEO, and Co-founder of InCruiter, said, “We plan to expand our global footprint beyond that of the Indian clientele. To achieve these targets, we plan to exponentially expand our team size by hiring across tech, sales, and marketing sectors.”
Last year, the company raised Rs 20 lakh in debt-based funding from the government under the Startup India scheme. Here, the funds were allocated towards the expansion plans, enabling the company to tap into new markets.
Kids fashion brand Kidbea raises $1M in funding in pre-Series A round
The funding round also saw involvement from Agility Ventures and BestVantage Investments, as well as notable figures in the industry such as Sandeep Agarwal and Upasana Agarwal, Founders of Droom; Ashok Bahadur alongside a group of experienced angel investors; and Hiro Mizushima, a well-known celebrity actor in Japan.
Kidbea specialises in creating bamboo plant-based, skin-friendly, and comfortable children's apparel.
Kidbea will use the funding to boost its marketing and branding initiatives, expand its team, and improve operations. Additionally, a strategic portion of the funds will be allocated to research and development and technology to maintain a leading position in the rapidly evolving children's fashion industry.
Rainmatter invests Rs 28 Cr in fitness startup Fittr
Zerodha-backed venture fund Rainmatter has invested Rs 28 crore (around $3.5 million) in fitness startup Fittr.
Fittr was started as a WhatsApp group in 2014 by the founder Jitendra Chouksey (JC) to help people around him stay healthy. It became a Facebook group and today a company that leverages technology and human coaches that help over three million people with their nutrition and fitness needs.
"We are happy to partner with and support FITTR in its mission to educate people about the importance of nutrition and health. Their mission aligns with our desire to do whatever we can to help Indians live well," said a statement from Zerodha.
The Fittr app offers a full suite of easy-to-use tools such as a free diet tool, training tool, body fat calculators, macros calculator, and many others. The platform also provides personalised guidance, customised plans, and weekly check-ups through Fittr’s certified coaches.
HostBooks appoints RD Mishra as Vice President, FnB
HostBooks, a SaaS-based accounting platform, has appointed RD Mishra as the Vice President—FnB Business from January 2024. With his appointment, HostBooks aims to continue on its growth strategy, strengthen its leadership position, and acquire a significant market share across FnB markets.
With over 33 years of experience in the FnB industry across the gamut of sales, operations, marketing, and communications, Mishra is set to take charge of the new development in the products, and leadership delivery at HostBooks. His experience in leading and building excelling business strategies will facilitate the platform’s profitable growth trajectory and fortify its presence in the HORECA industry.
“We’re excited to have RD Mishra in our team. His impressive track record in overseeing diverse operations across multiple globally renowned companies of the FnB industry will bring spark to our products. The domain knowledge and network he brings to the forum will enable us to solidify our position as the leader in the automation software space of the FnB industry," said Kapil Rana and Biswajit Mishra, Founders of HostBooks.
Jocata enters into a strategic collaboration with SBM Bank India
Digital lending transformation partner Jocata has collaborated with SBM Bank India to complement the bank's digital capabilities by leveraging Digital Document Execution (DDE) platform, which provides a seamless and secure end-to-end digital execution of loan documents for both retail and corporate customer segments.
By utilising the DDE platform, SBM Bank aims to achieve a substantial reduction in the loan disbursal turnaround time (TAT), thereby providing its customers with a quicker and more streamlined lending experience.
“Utilising Jocata's DDE platform, the bank is poised to decrease loan disbursal turnaround time (TAT) while simultaneously strengthening its control and management of documentary risks," said Prashant Kadam, Chief Operations Officer, SBM Bank India.
GoMechanic, iACE join forces to impart automotive skills
GoMechanic, in an initiative aimed at advancing automotive skill development, has entered into a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Automobile Centre of Excellence (iACE). iACE is a joint initiative of Gujarat government and Maruti Suzuki India Limited, and has a centre for automobile training with state-of-the-art infrastructure and technical labs.
"This collaboration is not just about upskilling; it's a holistic effort to transform the automotive workforce. By integrating iACE's expertise with GoMechanic's extensive network, we aim to create a workforce that is not only technically proficient but also adaptive to the evolving automotive landscape," said Muskan Kakkar, COO and Co-founder of GoMechanic.
Younion appoints Arindam Roychowdhury as Vice President, Strategic Growth
Younion, a Bengaluru-based marketing agency, has appointed Arindam Roychowdhury as Vice President, Strategic Growth.
In his new role, Roychowdhury will help Younion develop growth strategies, identify and create strong opportunity pipelines, and foster robust client relationships. Under the new leadership, Younion aims to capitalise on several exciting opportunities for growth, emphasising the integration of emotional and transactional dimensions in marketing.
To expand into new markets, Roychowdhury's role will include conducting market research, leveraging existing client relationships, and exploring strategic collaborations.
With nearly three decades in the field of marketing, his past roles include prominent positions at Dentsu, Fountainhead MKTG, and VMLY&R Encompass, where he managed projects for globally recognised brands.
Hitachi Payments introduces cash management services
Hitachi Payment Services, the end-to-end payments and commerce solutions provider, has completed its acquisition of Writer Corporation’s cash management business and unveiled its new name—Hitachi Cash Management Services, in line with Hitachi’s single brand identity. Hitachi Cash Management Services would be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi Payment Services Pvt. Ltd.
This acquisition will enhance Hitachi Payment Services’ market position as a holistic provider of payments and commerce solutions, further strengthening its value proposition to financial institutions and merchants.
Hitachi Cash Management Services would offer ATM Cash Replenishment services for Financial Institutions and Retail Cash Management Services (RCM) for retail outlets. With a strong network of close to 40,000 touchpoints including ATMs and Retail spanning 25 states across 1,500 locations, Hitachi Cash Management Services’ end-to-end offerings are tailored to meet the needs of financial institutions and retailers, helping them manage their day-to-day cash-related requirements in a seamless and efficient manner.
Hyperlocal Pharmacy Aggregator MedPay joins ONDC Network
Health-tech startup MedPay has onboarded the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), an initiative of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. This integration will enable seamless access to the extensive local network of MedPay pharmacies via the Open Network.
As Medpay joins ONDC, the catalogue of pharmacies on Medpay’s network can be seen on all apps that a consumer is shopping from across the open network that is rapidly developing, while seamlessly facilitating transactions. This will enable Medpay to expand its customer base by making its own network of pharmacies available to buyers on buyer apps like Pincode, Paytm, etc. MedPay going live on the ONDC Network will help the Bengaluru-based brand grow its presence across the country.
Aptia formally launches with 1,100 clients
Aptia, a dedicated pension, health and benefits administration specialist, has announced its formal launch with 1,100 global clients to support more than seven million people with health and wealth administration. Aptia was formed by the acquisition of the UK pension administration and US health and benefits administration segments of Mercer, a business of Marsh McLennan, by Bain Capital Insurance with participation from Bala Viswanathan, Founder and Group CEO, and Dominic Burke, Founder and Group Chairman.
The transaction included more than 3,500 employees across the UK, US, India, and Portugal that provide specialist solutions that are focused on the skills and technology that clients require to manage the health and wealth administration for their employees, members, and policyholders.
Aptia is led by Viswanathan, Burke, and a highly experienced management team. In preparation for its global launch, Aptia has bolstered this team with a series of senior appointments, welcoming leading specialists with expertise in financial services, operations, and technology, including Mike Methley as Group President and Chief Administration Officer, Chris Rayner as Group Chief Financial Officer, Imran Ali as Group Chief Information Officer, Melissa Hetherington as Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, R K Rangan as the Chairman and President India, and Roopa Abraham Kochar as Chief People Officer.
(This article will be updated with the latest news throughout the day.)
Edited by Kanishk Singh