Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (January 23, 2024)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Tuesday, January 23, 2024.

Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (January 23, 2024)

Tuesday January 23, 2024,

12 min Read

Funding

Gaming startup STAN secures $2.7M in pre-Series A funding

Bengaluru-based gaming platform STAN has raised $2.7 million in a pre-Series A funding round, which saw participation from investors Aptos Labs, Pix Capital, Maelstrom Fund, and GFR Fund and returning investors including General Catalyst. The round was supported also by CoinDCX Ventures, Climber Capital, TDV Partners, and Coinswitch Ventures.

The company plans to use the funds to democratise infrastructure for creators, leverage AI to build a community architecture, and enhance user personalisation.

STAN enables creators to monetise communities, connecting users with gaming celebrities through digital collectibles, chat/audio rooms, and exclusive communities.

“The Indian market today presents a lot of challenge for the creators to monetise from their followers and these creators have to move to multiple platforms to be able to learn and push for monetisation. Stan intends to tap into the creator supply and help them grow their fanbase and monetise on Stan from Day 1,” said Parth Chadha, Co-founder of STAN. 

Analytics Jobs raises undisclosed amount in seed funding

Course reviews platform Analytics Jobs has secured an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round led by Janardan Tiwari, Founder and CEO of HotelYaari.

“The infusion of funds will primarily boost the technological backbone of Analytics Jobs, facilitating the development of a mobile application and expanding the online reach of the brand,” said Kaushik Aeri, Founder and CEO of Analytics Jobs.

The platform's community-driven model allows users to share personal experiences with tech courses, offering insights for prospective learners.

"What Kaushik and the team are cultivating with Analytics Jobs is commendable. The platform's ability to guide learners in tech domains with authentic, experience-based insights is not just innovative, it's necessary in today's education landscape," said Janardan Tiwari, Founder and CEO of HotelYaari.

Other news

Co-living startup Union Living plans to expand across Mumbai

Union Living, a co-living startup, aims to add 1,000 beds in key locations across Mumbai in the current calendar year,

Founded in 2020 by Rishab Soni and Parth Soni, the startup’s current portfolio includes 1,050 operational beds across nine properties in Mumbai, Pune, and Ahmedabad.

The company serves both students and working professionals, offering short-term stay options. Rental accommodations are available at prices starting at Rs 20,000 per bed and going up to Rs 45,000.

The company said it will allocate Rs 10 crore towards security deposits to landlords and interior work for its new centres.

Union Living is set to introduce 220 beds in Mahalakshmi, 180 beds in Juhu, 100 beds in Khar/Santacruz, 150 beds in Goregaon/Malad, 100 beds in Chembur, and 200 beds in Navi Mumbai. A minimum of three properties, totalling around 500 beds, will be developed as built-to-suit properties, to meet the specific needs of occupants, said the company.

Jeh Aerospace launches manufacturing facility in Hyderabad

Jeh Aerospace, Manufacturing facility

Dignitaries at the Jeh Aerospace launch ceremony

Aerospace and defence manufacturing startup Jeh Aerospace has inaugurated its manufacturing facility in Hyderabad. The facility, scalable up to 160,000 sq ft, aims to deliver manufacturing solutions to the aerospace and defence (A&D) industry.

Located in JCK Horizon Industrial Park, Hyderabad, Telangana, the facility’s digital and AI technology aims to compete with established A&D manufacturing centres in the US and Western Europe.

“It is truly an honour to be part of this occasion as we launch Jeh Aerospace, a venture driven by Vishal Sanghavi and Venkatesh Mudragalla. Their dreams have led them to establish a significant presence in the aerospace industry, echoing the vision of the great industrialist, JRD Tata, whose nickname 'Jeh' now inspires this endeavour," said D Sridhar Babu, Minister for IT, Industries & Commerce and Legislative Affairs, Government of Telangana, at the launch of the facility.

HaiVE launches self-hosted multi-role AI assistant 

Singapore-based AI R&D firm HaiVE.Tech has introduced its new free and open-source self-hostable AI assistant, allowing companies to deploy automated customer service securely behind their firewall.

The chatbot allows organisations to implement AI while retaining full control and ownership of their data. It offers industry-leading functionality similar to HaiVE's hosted AI assistant, but with the entire system on clients' private infrastructure for security and privacy, said the company.

“Today’s tech-led business ecosystem calls for scalable, omnichannel customer service solutions at a pace that can only be powered by AI. But data privacy remains paramount, especially for heavily regulated industries," said Arjun Reddy, Co-founder at HaiVe. 

"We are proud to provide an AI- powered multi-role agent with the flexibility of both cloud and open-source self-hosted deployments. These agents can communicate via multiple channels like calls, sms, WhatsApp, Freshworks, Zendesk, Salesforce, and more,” he added.

Samosa Singh introduces ready-to-cook range

Indian snacking brand Samosa Singhhas launched ready-to-cook samosa packs to broaden the reach of its snacks globally. Along with traditional samosas and Indian street snacks, the brand will offer a ready-to-cook range of samosas.

These samosas were developed after rigorous research and development, resulting in a combination of pleasure and minimal fat–up to 50% less, with no cholesterol, no trans fat, and no preservatives or additives for health-conscious consumers, claims the company.

It offers over 20 flavours including paneer tikka samosa, soya keema samosa, cheese and corn samosa, onion kachori, and punjabi aloo samosa. 

"We are excited to extend our product portfolio with the launch of ready-to-cook samosas, now available for a global audience. With over 100,000 hours dedicated to research and development, we are delighted to provide guilt-free enjoyment that blends traditional flavors with a modern twist,” said Shikhar Veer Singh, Founder, Samosa Singh. 

Cleartrip and Flipkart Travel launch ‘Darshan Destinations’ 

Flipkart-owned Cleartriphas launched ‘Darshan Destinations’. With the travel boom ahead of the temple opening at Ayodhya, Cleartrip is offering 1,008 complimentary flight tickets to senior citizens to visit Ayodhya. This offer will also be available on the Flipkart Travel platforms. 

As an ongoing initiative under Darshan Destinations, special fares on flights, hotels, and buses to various religious destinations are being introduced. Travellers can avail themselves of a 20% discount on bookings for buses, hotels, and flights to revered spiritual destinations in India, including Ayodhya, Madurai, Tirupati, Amritsar, Bhopal, Shirdi, Bodhgaya, Kochi, and Katra (Jammu). This ongoing initiative aims to provide devotees with evolving discounted fares across flights, hotels, and buses.

According to the company, Cleartrip and Flipkart Travel have observed an overall 1500% increase in searches for Ayodhya across the platform.

Orios Venture Partners Returns 1x of Fund I

Venture capital firm Orios Venture Partnershas delivered a 1x return to its investors from Fund I. Established in 2014 and closing at Rs 300 crore in 2015, Fund I concentrated on investments in 18 companies, primarily in health-tech, consumer-tech, and ecommerce. The fund aims to strengthen its position with anticipated returns in 2024 and 2025.

“Early-stage funds are a long journey as they grow along with the companies they invest in. During the journey, they also see ups and downs as some portfolio companies grow and others falter. However, the rewards of that patience are gratifying. We are glad to have returned 1x of the fund, which means the corpus invested with us is back with investors and now the upside remains. With several good companies in our portfolio, we hope to be able to deliver strongly on the upside,” said Rehan Yar Khan, Managing Partner.

Fund I allocated its resources primarily on Marketplaces, commanding a leading share at 27.07%, followed by D2C at 17.7%, and HealthTech at 14.45%. Some of the key portfolio companies that emerged from the fund include Country Delight, Pharmeasy, Intelligence Node, and Zostel, with the fund playing a crucial early investment role in each of these ventures.

IISc and Wipro GE Healthcare sign MoU to drive MedTech innovation

IISC, Wipro GE Healthcare,

Wipro GE Healthcare and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote healthcare innovation, research, and technology development in India. 

This partnership seeks to solve the care gap by adopting an approach involving the co-development of solutions, validation of technologies, and local manufacturing to bring them to market. 

The partnership will involve collaborative initiatives in basic and applied science, systems engineering, product and software development, consultancy and publications, academic studies, as well as internships, fellowships, and training. A joint working committee, consisting of representatives from both IISc and GE Healthcare, will be established to focus on research related to product and solution development.

“We see a tremendous need for innovative R&D that can improve outcomes in patients with NCD. The collaboration will emphasise combining science and engineering with translational & clinical research to epitomize “bench-to-bedside” innovation. GE HealthCare is the right partner for us in this initiative, given their leadership and strong footprint in India for R&D and manufacturing,” said Govindan Rangarajan, Director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

Rebel Foods joins ONDC Network to enhance its D2C presence 

Internet restaurant company Rebel Foodshas joined the Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC), an initiative by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. Through the Open Network, customers can conveniently order from nine customer-centric Rebel Foods brands.

Rebel Foods stands as the only world's largest internet restaurant company to have its brands integrated into the Network.

This move aligns with the startup’s goal to strengthen its Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) offerings for a convenient delivery experience across networks. The cloud kitchen company will extend its D2C platform, EatSure, to include various restaurant brands on the ONDC Network, such as Behrouz Biryani, Oven Story Pizza, Faasos, Sweet Truth, LunchBox, The Good Bowl, Firangi Bake, The Biryani Life, and more. 

Simpl introduces ‘Early Settlement’ for D2C Merchants

One-tap checkout network Simpl has introduced its latest business offering, 'Early Settlement,' designed for Direct-to-Customer (D2C) merchants, which aims to slash the settlement time for Cash on Delivery (CoD) orders by up to 90%, leading to an almost 40% improvement in daily sales.

This is particularly significant considering that CoD orders, constituting around 60% of all online orders, usually take 15-20 days for settlement, impacting cash flow and increasing merchants' working capital needs.

The new offering also ensures the fastest settlement for prepaid orders, empowering merchants to enhance their cash flow through same-day settlement for both Cash on Delivery (CoD) and prepaid orders. It further provides settlements every day of the year, not restricting the process to business working days alone.

Betterhalf to hire 100 professionals in 2024

AI-enabled matrimony platform Betterhalf aims to bring on board 100 skilled professionals throughout the 2024, aligning with the company's achievement of Rs 40 crore annual gross revenue (AGR) in 2023.

With 150 current employees, Betterhalf is expanding its wedding services to more cities. In 2024, it plans to systematically recruit, creating 70 positions in Wedding Business operations, 20 in Product and Technology, and 10 in Marketing and Growth.

“Committed to reshaping a robust AI-driven matrimony and wedding services ecosystem, Betterhalf will capitalise on the prowess of its skilled team to deliver unmatched quality services along with competitive deals to urban professionals. We are already committed to offering support to employees and looking forward to onboarding talented professionals to align with our plans to touch Rs 1000 crore annual turnover in 2024,” said Pawan Gupta, Co-founder, and CEO of Betterhalf.

Vhub.ai launches AI-driven digital matchmaker for brands and influencers

AI-powered SaaS platform vHub.ai, which helps brands in identifying suitable influencers for their campaigns, has unveiled an AI-driven platform addressing the growing creator economy in the country. The company plans to onboard over 500 brands and more than one lakh influencers by the end of 2024.

During its three-month pilot phase, vHub.ai onboarded 40,000 influencers and attracted hundreds of brands, enabling them to leverage the advantages of the influencer ecosystem. The platform is engineered to deliver a 3x return on investment for brands and creators, at five times the speed of execution, claims the company.

“With vHub.ai, we are making influencer marketing as easy and effective as digital marketing. This gives confidence to brands and marketers to allocate larger budgets to influencer marketing. We are enabling influencer marketing with technology which will eventually unlock sustainable income for creators as well,” said Sachin Modi, CEO & Co-Founder, vHub.ai.

Advait Greenergy appoints Mallikarjuna B as the new CEO

Clean tech startup Advait Greenergy has appointed Mallikarjuna B as its new chief executive officer.

Mallikarjuna brings over 15 years of experience in strategic partnerships, renewable energy, and international business development. Before joining Advait Greenergy, he served at various European and German renewable energy companies.

He has served in the roles of country manager and head of business development across the Indian sub-continent, Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, leading the deployment of large-scale utility solar PV, green hydrogen projects, battery energy storage systems, and digital solutions for renewable energy projects.

Steer appoints TN Hari as executive chairman

Manufacturing firm Steer has appointed TN Hari as its executive chairman. In this role, he will define the direction for STEER’s engineering, life sciences, and materials businesses, oversee implementation and guide the CEOs of STEER's businesses and the corporate services group.

With 5 global offices, 10 satellite offices, 4 application development centres, and a workforce exceeding 500 professionals, STEER group operates in over 50 countries and holds 90+ granted patents.

"I am personally enthusiastic about the collaboration and have complete confidence that, under Mr Hari's guidance, STEER World will continue to set industry benchmarks and redefine the boundaries of engineering innovation," said Dr Babu Padmanabhan, Founder and MD at Steer.

Aye Finance disburses Rs 100B loans to micro-enterprise sector

Micro lending platfrom Aye Finance has disbursed loans worth Rs 100 billion to the underserved segment. 

The company claims that, since inception, it has brought over 8 lakh grassroots businesses into the folds of organised lending through affordable credit products.

The Alphabet-backed company serves micro SMEs that are deprived of credit from traditional financial institutions using a differentiated cluster-based customer underwriting/risk management process for customer acquisition.


The lender’s AUM as on 31 December 2023 was Rs 3,600 crore and its PAT (unaudited) stood at Rs 110 crore.

 

Aye has closed its Series F equity round and raised Rs 310 crore from British International Investment and others. The MSME lender also raised Rs 2200 crore of debt from leading global as well as Indian financial institutions for on-lending.

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


Edited by Megha Reddy