Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (January 30, 2024)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Tuesday, January 30, 2024.

Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (January 30, 2024)

Tuesday January 30, 2024,

7 min Read

Funding news

Evolve raises Rs 2.5 Cr

Mental health startup Evolve has raised Rs 2.5 crore in funding from the Indian Angel Network, as well as Rajesh Ranavat, Executive Director of Fung Strategic Holdings.

Co-founded by Anshul Kamath and Rohan Arora in 2020, Evolve focuses on providing underserved LGBTQIA+ community mental health services.

The funds raised will be employed by the company to enhance and diversify its app offerings, with a particular focus on expanding into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives within corporate sectors.

"With a global user base of over 600,000, Evolve's innovative approach positions them as pioneers in mental health," said Padmaja Ruparel, Co-founder of the Indian Angel Network, in a press release.

Optimizers raises seed funding from Finvolve

Hospital-based optical retailer Optimizers has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Finvolve and India Accelerator.

Other investors such as Brew Opportunities Fund and Recyclean Infotech also participated in the round.

The company plans to utilise the funds to expand its presence in key regions, strengthen its training academy, advance its ERP, and secure inventories.

Founded in 2020, Optimizers is an optical retail chain integrated within hospitals. It has partnered with leading hospitals like EyeQ Superspeciality Eye Hospitals, institutions such as CL Gupta Eye Institute, and private and charitable hospitals across Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, UP, and Rajasthan.

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Electrifi Mobility raises Rs 25 Cr

Commercial electric vehicle (EV) leasing startup Electrifi Mobility has raised Rs 25 crore in seed funding from ADB Ventures, AdvantEdge, and other investors.

The debt and equity investment will help the company expand and lease an additional 20,000 EV assets over the next three years.

Founded in 2023 by Kunal Mundra, ex-CEO of Cars24, Electrifi helps commercial fleets electrify. It operates two-, three- and four-wheeler commercial wheelers, as well as chargers and batteries.

"The capital and support from our investors at ADB and AdvantEdge will enable us to build on our strong start and deploy over 20,000 EVs in India while also building a platform for us to continue to scale in the future," said Mundra in a press note.

Vgenomics raises seed investment angel investors

Biotechnology startup Vgenomics has raised a seed investment round from investors including O2 Angel Network and Mumbai Angels.

The company intends to use the investment to develop diagnostic solutions and expand its current operations in collaboration with neonatologists, gynaecologists, paediatricians, and clinical geneticists.

Vgenomics specialises in harnessing next-generation sequencing technologies, combining genomics and artificial intelligence to create innovative diagnostics and therapies for rare pediatric diseases arising from DNA alterations at birth.

It was founded in 2022 by a team of women scientists with over 35 years of cumulative experience.

"This will help us in uniting organisations dedicated to rare diseases, and establish Vgenomics as the one-stop hub for rare disease solutions," said Rahila Sardar, Founder and CEO of Vgenomics.

IIT Madras

Image: Edex Live

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IIT Madras receives Rs 110 Cr in endowment

IIT Madras said it has received Rs 110 crore in endowment from Sunil Wadhwani to set up a data science and AI school.

The school aims to advise the government and policymakers on data science and AI-related policy areas.

“With the advent of Industry 4.0, wherein AI and Data Science are the main movers, the need for a school for Data Science and AI is critical," said V Kamakoti, Director of IIT Madras.

The new AI school—named Wadhwani School of Data Science and AI—will offer bachelor's and master's degrees in the two disciplines. It will also run a course in conjunction with the University of Birmingham, UK.

"The Wadhwani School will enable close collaboration between domain experts and AI researchers to develop solutions that integrate AI with existing approaches," said B. Ravindran, founding head, of Wadhwani School of Data Science and AI, IIT Madras.

Finance startup Black Opal raises $3M

Real estate-focused finance startup Black Opal Group has raised $3 million in funding from SBI, HDFC Bank, and other investors.

The company said it will use the funds to launch more services and hire for its integrated tech platform,

The JustHomz app has over 5,000 customers, over 250 verified channel partners, and more than 240 verified projects. The company aims to add over 1 lakh customers and disburse $3-5 million in loans over the next 3-6 months.

Black Opal assists people in buying homes through research, technology, and credit access. A profitable company with $1.75 million in profit after tax, the company has earned $4.5 million in revenue.

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Other news

ZERO21 Renewable Energy to turn 1 lakh autos electric

Hyderabad-based ZERO21 Renewable Energy has launched Project Gagan to aid in the electrification of one lakh auto-rickshaws either through retrofitment or exchange over the next five years.

The retrofitting will take less than four hours, the company said.

"Through Project Gagan, we have laid a platform for faster transition into EVs for all our potential three-wheeler customers across the country," said Rani Srinivas, Founder and CEO of Zero21.

Veranda Learning Solutions ties up with BVM Global Schools

Veranda Learning Solutions has tied up with BVM Global Schools to provide both academic and non-academic services to students.

This collaboration will affect students across BVM Global's six schools in Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy, and Bengaluru, catering to a student body of over 5,000 active individuals.

Veranda's partnership with BVM Global Schools entails delivering comprehensive services covering both academic and operational aspects. Key goals include improving students' academic performance, streamlining administrative processes, venturing into new geographical territories, and making a positive impact on an extended student community.

It will also introduce a STEM curriculum, cater to diverse career aspirations, as well as integrate sports education into the curriculum.

“Our collaboration with BVM Global is a commitment to providing a well-rounded education. Beyond STEM and robotics, our programs encompass teacher empowerment, diverse career pathways, and sports education to nurture holistic development," said Suresh Kalpathi, Executive Director and Chairman of Veranda Learning Solutions.

IKEA to deliver in 62 new districts in India

Swedish home furnishing retailer IKEA will now deliver to 62 more districts across India, especially in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.

Customers in these 62 new districts will be offered over 7,500 products to choose from, and they can be ordered on the app, online, or through the 'shop by phone' assistance service.

"Expanding our reach further in these markets means making IKEA more accessible to our customers, more convenient, and truly omnichannel," said Susanne Pulverer, CEO & Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA India.

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The Circle: Founders Club launches accelerator programme for water-tech companies

The Circle: Founders Club has launched a business accelerator for 10 water-tech companies, in collaboration with the Embassy of Israel and IDE Technologies.

The Water Challenge Accelerator focuses on startups that address critical water-related issues in India—from water for agriculture to affordable water purifiers.

The 10 startups that have enrolled for the programme are Phyfarm, Aumsat, Hydrotec Solution, Nimble Vision, Waterlab Solutions, Hygienity Solutions, Biofilm Engineers, EcoEnso, Watsan Environtech, and iSync.

The programme provides tech validation support, helps founders refine their go-to-market strategies, and offers fundraising opportunities.

IDE Tech, Absolute, Kristnam Technologies, Hunch Ventures, Omnivore Partners, Speciale Invest, MITCON, and Enviraj Consulting will provide mentorship to the cohort of companies.

"In a world where water scarcity is a looming challenge, we are dedicated to supporting startups driving change, pushing the boundaries of innovation and ensuring that India emerges as a global leader in water-tech solutions," said Nemesisa Ujjain, VP of Innovation, The Circle: Founders Club.

PhonePe's Indus Appstore launches startup awards in collaboration with Startup India

PhonePe's Indus Appstore has launched the Indus Appstore Emerging Startup Awards in collaboration with Startup India to identify and celebrate innovative companies across key sectors such as fintech, e-commerce, social impact, agritech, healthtech and gaming.

Startups registered under the Startup India initiative, operating for a year, at least, and having their applications listed on the Indus Appstore Developer Platform will be eligible to participate, said PhonePe.

Winners in each category will be given Rs 2 lakh. They will also get entry into the Indus Accelerate Program, which will help the companies better their apps and grab more eyeballs.

"Our goal is to foster a vibrant ecosystem where Indian entrepreneurs can thrive and create solutions that cater to our unique market," said Akash Dongre, Co-founder and CPO of Indus Appstore.

Edited by Swetha Kannan