Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (February 8, 2024)
YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, February 8, 2024.
Upekkha infuses $4.3M across 37 startups in 2023, plans to fund 70 startups in 2024
Upekkha, an early-stage SaaS fund and accelerator, funded 37 companies in 2023, deploying a total of $4.3 million. Looking ahead, the firm plans to back 70 startups in 2024, highlighting its commitment to fostering the Indian SaaS ecosystem. Some of the startups invested in are Enthu AI, Medpiper, Toothlens, Kommunicate, and InsightGig, among others.
recently completed the first close ($15 million) of its ($40 million) Upekkha fund. The funding was led by WestBridge Capital and Godard Abel, CEO of B2B SaaS marketplace G2.com, was among the LPs in the first close.
The fund’s thesis is focused on B2B SaaS startups from India for global markets. With AI startups playing a central role, Upekkha invests across sectors such as healthtech, martech, HRtech, and edtech. Notably, 10% of the startups it funded in 2023 hailed from tier II and III cities in India.
"The investment is of $125,000 in each startup under SAFE guidelines. By strategically deploying capital and mentorship, we aim to empower promising startups, transforming them into market leaders shaping the future of Indian SaaS," said Prasanna Krishnamoorthy, Managing Partner at Upekkha.
Upliance.ai gets funding from OpenAI’s first venture investor
, the AI-powered home appliance company has raised a seed round of Rs 34 crore at a valuation of Rs 143 crore. The round is led by Khosla Ventures, which has invested in multiple AI-focused startups like OpenAI, Rabbit, and Sarvam.
Khosla Ventures has been investing in startups for over 20 years. Its portfolio includes Doordash, Block, Instacart, Gitlab, and Stripe.
With this round of funding, upliance.ai aims to grow its revenue to Rs 150 crore in 2024 and to scale production to 20,000 units per annum in the next six months. The company launched its first appliance in 2023, an AI cooking assistant which integrates both machine learning and AI to automate cooking tasks.
Neodocs raises Rs 16.6 Cr ($2M) in seed round for smartphone-based diagnostics
, an IIT Bombay alumni initiative building instant and affordable smartphone-based test kits, has raised Rs 16.6 crore ($2 million) in a round led by Omidyar Network India, an investment firm focused on impact. Other investors include YCombinator, 9Unicorns, Gemba Capital, Titan Capital, and angels such as Prashant Tandon and Gaurav Agarwal (1Mg), Rohit MA (Cloudnine), Kunal Shah (CRED), Varun Alagh (Mamaearth), Viren Shetty (Narayana Healthcare), Harshad Reddy (Apollo Hospitals), and Vivek Gambhir (boAt).
Neodocs now plans to expand its footprint in international markets, including Europe, Australia, the
Middle East, and the Americas. The company is also working on rolling out ‘instant’ finger-prick blood
tests that will give results on the phone by just clicking a picture.
“India is often referred to as the chronic disease capital of the world, and this is largely due to a lack of timely diagnosis. By enabling in-clinic testing Neodocs is empowering doctors to screen and diagnose patients instantly and start treatment immediately,” said Nikunj Malpani, CEO and Co-founder, Neodocs.
F MEC International collaborates with Finayo to disburse Rs 25 Cr
RBI-registered NBFC F MEC International Financial Services Limited partnered with AI-powered SaaS technology green mobility lending platform Finayo to strategically disburse Rs 25 crore within the next 12-18 month period. Focused on revolutionising the climate financing space, the disbursement is aimed at enhancing EV penetration in the country and boosting the green financing ecosystem.
With the Rs 25 crore disbursement, Finayo will collectively focus on expanding the EV network. Additionally, with allocated funds, it will accelerate sustainable mobility and financing in the two-wheeler, three-wheeler, and e-rickshaw segments.
Brajendra Singh Tomar, Founder and CEO of Finayo, said, “We aim to strengthen our mission by providing EV financing services to the underserved segment of the country. We want to leverage this disbursement to invest in cutting-edge technologies, which will help foster an intricate landscape of green technology, whilst accelerating the creation of an inclusive network of EV financing.”
Age-tech startup Ivory Raises $500,000 led by Capital A
Ivory, an age-tech startup specialising in brain health, has raised $500,000 in a funding round led by early-stage VC fund, Capital A. TDV Partners (Ujwal Sutaria) and several notable angel investors including Abhishek Kabra (MD, Samara Capital), Tushar Vashisht (Co-founder and CEO, ), Abhishek Ganguly (Co-founder and CEO, ), and Rajeev Singh (VP, SAP India) also participated in the round.
With this funding injection, Ivory aims to expand its reach to over 15 million elderly Indians at risk of dementia.
Historically, there has been insufficient attention and understanding of dementia, especially in India. The lack of symptom identification tools combined with scant access to high-quality neurological advice at the right time makes this a pressing problem for every Indian household with an ageing parent. Urban seniors, particularly those living alone, face challenges in monitoring cognitive health, exacerbated by pandemic-induced isolation.
"With this fundraise, our aim is to bridge these gaps by offering a tech-driven platform that makes clinical tools and expertise for better brain health accessible to millions of Indians," said Issac John, Co-founder and CEO, Ivory.
Grand Continent Hotels raises Rs 12 Cr led by Negen Capital
Grand Continent Hotels (GCH) has completed a funding round led by Negen, securing Rs 12 crore to fuel its expansion plans in the Indian hospitality sector. Indorient Financial Services are the advisors to GCH for the fundraise.
GCH, established in 2011, currently manages a portfolio of 10 properties with over 450 keys.
"Having established a robust business model that ensures excitement to all stakeholders, GCH aims to achieve 750 keys across 16 properties in this fiscal (ending March 24) and reach 5,000 keys’ offering by 2028. In this journey, GCH is delighted to have Negen as a key investor partner. I thank Neil and his team at Negen for their reposing faith in our business,” said Ramesh Shiva, Managing Director of Grand Continent Hotels.
ONDC, NCCF, Shiprocket to support 'Sarkar se Rasoi Tak' initiative
To streamline access to essential household commodities, the Shiprocket have joined forces to support the government's 'Sarkar se Rasoi Tak' initiative. This collaboration aims to deliver key staples such as wheat, lentils and rice directly to consumers' homes via the ONDC network, ensuring affordability and convenience., the National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India (NCCF), and
Through this initiative, residents of the Delhi-NCR region (Gurugram and Faridabad) will be able to order Bharat brand rice, wheat flour and lentils online at government-approved prices. Orders are shipped within 24 hours and are free of delivery charges.
Consumers can place orders for these products through ONDC-supported buyer applications such as, , , and Pincode. Additionally, aims to enhance the seller experience on the ONDC Network by offering streamlined onboarding and comprehensive post-support services. This will further enable sellers to broaden their customer base.
redBus joins ONDC as an independent mobility app
Online bus ticketing platformhas joined Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to offer multi-modal transport booking services on its platform in various cities. By integrating with ONDC Network, redBus now offers metro ticket booking facilities in Kochi and Chennai. redBus has also unveiled auto-rickshaw bookings in Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad.
redBus said it is the first independent mobility app on the ONDC Network.
"Together with ONDC, we are not merely providing mobility services; we're delivering a reliable first and last-mile travel experience for our users, setting new benchmarks in convenience and choice for customers,” said Prakash Sangam, CEO, redBus.
Startup TN launches to support startups run by SC/ST entrepreneurs
StartupTN, Tamil Nadu's nodal agency for startup and innovation, launched various new initiatives in an event titled ’Seiga Pudhumai', for SC/ST and women entrepreneurs.
TM Anbarasan, Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Tamil Nadu government, launched Smart Cards for startups and issued them to the first 10 startups. The Smart Card offers a comprehensive selection of products and services at subsidised rates, specially tailored to meet the needs of startups in their early stages.
The minister gave away sanction orders to four startups run by entrepreneurs from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, amounting to Rs 9.05 crore under the Tamil Nadu SC/ST Startup Fund as equity investment. He also launched products and services for 20 startups run by women entrepreneurs under the Women Launchpad initiative.
LaunchPad is a platform designed to help startups gain initial offline and online market traction for their new brands and products on a public forum.
(The copy will be updated with the latest news throughout the day)
Edited by Kanishk Singh