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Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (March 20, 2024)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (March 20, 2024)

Wednesday March 20, 2024 , 11 min Read

Funding news

Walmart Foundation offers $1.5M grant to S M Sehgal Foundation

SM Sehgal Foundation has extended its project ‘Bolstering Farmer Producer Organisations’ in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.


Initiated in 2023 for two years with a philanthropic grant of $1.5 million from the Walmart Foundation, the next phase will reach 23 farmer-producer organisations (FPOs) with 23,000 members to enhance the capacities of FPOs, promote climate-resilient practices, and develop infrastructure that adds value to crop production.

Walmart Foundation Supports Resilient Agriculture with $1.5 Million Grant to S M Sehgal Foundation

Walmart Foundation Supports Resilient Agriculture with $1.5 Million Grant to S M Sehgal Foundation

“We are excited to support S M Sehgal Foundation for the second phase of the ‘Bolstering FPOs' project. We believe strengthening FPOs can enable more opportunities for smallholder farmers in India with capacity building at the core. Additionally, developing transparent structures, designing and implementing business models and establishing collaborations will help ensure more sustainable operations and outcomes,” Julie Gehrki, COO, Walmart Foundation, said.


The initial phase of the ‘Bolstering Farmer Producer Organisations’ project spanned from 2021 to 2023 and impacted 10 FPOs, strengthened 8,000 existing members, added 2,000 new members, and ensured one-third representation of women in leadership roles.

Rock Paper Rum secures funding from Vineeta Singh

Rock Paper Rum, a premium craft-rum brand, has secured funding of Rs 50 lakh from Shark Tank India judge, Vineeta Singh, Co-founder and CEO of SUGAR Cosmetics.


The company earlier raised seed funding of Rs 4.5 crore led by Mumbai Angels and other marquee investors including GSF, Anay Ventures, Ekcle Ventures and Faad Network, and Good Barrel Distillery (the parent company of Rock Paper Rum).


"Our selection of rum caters to the modern drinker who is just beginning their journey into the world of craft liquors, as well as those seasoned drinkers in search of unique and refreshing choices. Shark Tank India was an incredible platform to gain national exposure and showcase our commitment to sustainable growth," said Lali Kalani, Founder, Rock Paper Rum.

 Rock Paper Rum, a premium craft-rum brand secures funding from Shark Tank judge, Vineeta Singh Co-founder and CEO of Sugar Cosmetics.

Rock Paper Rum, a premium craft-rum brand secures funding from Shark Tank judge, Vineeta Singh Co-founder and CEO of Sugar Cosmetics.

Shoffr closes user-only round, raising $1.1M from 100+ customers

Shoffr, a company that offers airport transfers and hourly rentals in Bengaluru, has raised $1.1 million from 100+ customers.

"Any fundraise is a nice vote of confidence for founders. But for Kislay and me, being able to do this from our paying customers is the strongest affirmation we could've asked for," said Vikas Bardia, CFA, Shoffr.

"First, we wanted our early adopters to have a chance at the wealth creation Shoffr will engender. Second, customers investing in the company is the strongest signal we can send out as a company. Third and most importantly, we now have a community of 100+ folks who are willing to help us throughout our journey! This is what our community looks like," he added.

Shoffr

Other news

iD Fresh partners with Tata Motors; inducts the first batch of zero-emission Ace EVs

ID Fresh Food India has partnered with Tata Motors to convert their entire delivery fleet to electric. About 50% of iD Fresh Food’s delivery fleet will be converted to electric by 2025 and the remaining by 2027.


The company has procured its maiden batch of Ace EV for their Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi markets, and the plan is to convert its entire fleet to EV, across India, the US, and the UAE markets. 

The new Ace EV co-developed in rich collaboration with its users, has successfully completed stringent real-world market trials. The Ace EV comes with a holistic solution for hassle-free e-cargo mobility and a five-year comprehensive maintenance package.

The Ace EV’s supporting ecosystem includes the development and deployment of charging infrastructure, setting up of dedicated electric vehicle support centres for maximum fleet uptime, deployment of Tata Fleet Edge—the next-gen optimal fleet management solution, and support of Tata UniEVerse.

Zeeve launches data indexing tool ‘Traceye’ for ultra-fast Indexing of blockchain data

Blockchain infrastructure-as-a-service platform Zeeve has launched a new tool ‘Traceye’ for cost-effective indexing of blockchain ledger and smart contract data.

Traceye supports numerous blockchain protocols, appchains, and rollups with shared and dedicated indexer nodes. They will spend less time managing self-hosted infrastructure while directly indexing and decoding raw blockchain data.

“With Traceye, users need not worry about any data inconsistency or maintenance of their indexer nodes. Developers building across any DeFi applications, metaverse or gaming dApp, or on-chain data platforms where ledger/smart contract data is essential can use our managed infrastructure nodes without writing complex code for data retrieval and filtering. This allows projects to ship their dApp in days instead of weeks, leveraging custom GraphQL APIs,” said Ravi Chamria, Co-founder and CEO of Zeeve.

Kiya.ai strengthens footprint in the Philippines

Fintech company marks Kiya.ai its global expansion in the Southeast Asia region with a strategic focus on partnering with a multitude of financial institutions. The company marked its presence in the Philippines, starting with Country Builders Bank, Inc—a prominent rural bank. CBB serves a diverse clientele across the Philippines region—Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan areas.

CBB has partnered with Kiya.ai for a comprehensive suite of banking solutions, including core banking, loan origination, loan management, anti-money laundering (AML), mobile banking, and internet banking tailored for both retail and corporate clients.


Kiya.ai is currently working with 650+ financial institutions and aims to onboard around 20 financial institutions in the Philippines in the next three years.


“Like many other countries, the Philippines has witnessed a significant shift towards digital banking in recent years. Traditional banks have been investing heavily in digital infrastructure to offer online and mobile banking services, allowing customers to perform transactions conveniently from their smartphones or computers,” said Rajesh Mirjankar, MD and CEO, Kiya,ai.

CBB has partnered with Kiya.ai for a comprehensive suite of banking solutions, including Core Banking, Loan Origination, Loan Management, Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Mobile Banking, and Internet Banking tailored for both retail and corporate clients.

CBB has partnered with Kiya.ai for a comprehensive suite of banking solutions, including Core Banking, Loan Origination, Loan Management, Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Mobile Banking, and Internet Banking tailored for both retail and corporate clients.

Radisson Hotel Group appoints Nikhil Sharma as MD and ASVP for South Asia

Radisson Hotel Group has announced the appointment of Nikhil Sharma as the Managing Director and Area Senior Vice President (ASVP) for South Asia, effective April 1, 2024.


Nikhil Sharma, Managing Director and Area Senior Vice President (ASVP), South Asia at Radisson Hotel Group

Nikhil Sharma, Managing Director and Area Senior Vice President (ASVP), South Asia at Radisson Hotel Group

In his new role, Sharma will lead Radisson Hotel Group’s operations in the dynamic South Asia region, which boasts over 165 hotels in operation and development. He will play a pivotal role in strengthening the group’s leadership in the Indian market, nurturing relationships with its valued partners, driving revenue growth, and ensuring operational excellence, the company said.


“Nikhil’s appointment reflects our commitment to strengthening our leadership team and driving strategic growth in South Asia. This region is a key market for us, and with Nikhil’s strategic vision and deep understanding of the industry, we are confident in our ability to further elevate our presence and deliver exceptional experiences to our guests,” said Chema Basterrechea, Global President and Chief Operations Officer at Radisson Hotel Group.

Alvarez & Marsal appoints Pankaj Bhagat as its MD

Global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal has appointed Pankaj Bhagat as Managing Director to spearhead its infrastructure and capital projects INFRA sector expertise/capabilities expansion in India. 

A&M India’s INFRA offering will address market needs arising from continued Indian government infrastructure spending and private capital investments expanding manufacturing capabilities across multiple sectors including steel, mining, clean energy and energy transition.

Pankaj Bajaj, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal

Pankaj Bajaj, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal

Recently, Himanshu Bajaj was appointed Managing Director and India Co-Country leader. 

“Adding Pankaj to our team strengthens our global network of boots-on-the-ground professionals to drive growth for clients. The firm’s integrated platform and India’s extensive infrastructure push position the market as a key expansion route for A&M’s INFRA service offering.,” said Bajaj.

Myelin Foundry, Mahindra partner to bring AI into cabins

Myelin Foundry, a deeptech product startup specialising in Edge AI for the automotive, industrial, and media sectors, is collaborating with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. The partnership aims to deliver AI into automotive cabins and mobile phones.

M-Lens, the first product from this collaboration, is designed to seamlessly interpret cockpit warning signs and in-cabin controls, making driving safer and more intuitive in the increasingly digital world of automotive technology. Accessible through Mahindra’s mobile application, Adrenox Connect, M-Lens operates offline on the user’s smartphone.


The automotive solution streamlines the driving experience and enhances road safety. M-Lens is part of the current XUV-700 rollout.

ClickPost, Porter partner for last-mile deliveries

ClickPost and Porter have partnered to combine ClickPost’s shipment tracking and resolution workflow with Porter’s tech-enabled logistics solutions. This collaboration aims to benefit ecommerce businesses, companies, and individual shippers.

Porter’s efficient logistics solutions utilise a network of fleets across 20+ cities for on-demand deliveries, while ClickPost ensures successful deliveries and high customer satisfaction through granular delivery updates and NDR processes. Together, they aim to achieve faster deliveries and exceptional post-purchase experiences, optimising omnichannel operations and hyperlocal deliveries.

“Through this partnership, our focus is to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and customer satisfaction for Indian brands,” said Naman Vijay, Co-founder at ClickPost.

Arihant Patni joins Clover Infotech’s advisory board

Clover Infotech has inducted entrepreneur and VC Arihant Patni into its advisory board. With a stellar background in entrepreneurship, venture capital, and wealth management, Patni brings extensive experience and strategic insights that enable businesses to scale and grow sustainably.


Arihant Patni, entrepreneur and VC, has joined Clover Infotech’s Advisory Board.

Arihant Patni, entrepreneur and VC, has joined Clover Infotech’s Advisory Board.

Arihant serves as the Managing Director of Patni Financial Advisors, the administrative entity for the Patni family office. In this role, he oversees the deployment of assets across a diverse portfolio, including listed securities, private equity, debt instruments, real estate, and other alternate asset classes in both Indian and international markets. He currently holds the position of Venture Partner at Ideaspring Capital, an early-stage fund dedicated to investing in enterprise technology innovation. He is also the Co-founder of The Hive (India), a Silicon Valley-based 'Big Data' incubator, and Nirvana Ventures, a fund focused on the Indian consumer internet space.

Sukoon Health launches mental health hospital in Bengaluru 

Sukoon Health, which opened India’s first NABH inpatient psychiatry hospital in Delhi, has announced the launch of its first state-of-the-art mental health facility in Bengaluru. The launch of the Bengaluru hospital is its fourth hospital unit.

Dinesh Gundu Rao, Minister, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of Karnataka, inaugurated Sukoon Health's mental health hospital in Bengaluru.

Dinesh Gundu Rao, Minister, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of Karnataka, inaugurated Sukoon Health's mental health hospital in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru psychiatrist, Dr Satish Ramaiah, serves as the Executive Director of Psychiatric Services and the Centre Head.

“Concentrating on functional recovery, social engagement, and the prevention of future relapses, we seek to improve the quality of life for the individual. We achieve this by empowering our patients with personalised care and teamwork, actively involving their families and loved ones in the recovery process," said Dr Ramaiah.

Zolostays in India taps AxisRooms for efficient online distribution

Co-living and student housing platform ZoloStays has adopted its AxisRooms Channel Manager solution to ensure efficient distribution and last-minute room sales across multiple Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).

Nikhil Sikri, CEO & Co-Founder, Zolostays

Nikhil Sikri, CEO & Co-Founder, Zolostays

Established in 2015, Zolostays offers co-living solutions for students and young professionals in India seeking extended stay options ranging from budget-friendly to premium accommodations.

Speaking about their decision to adopt AxisRooms Channel Manager, Sneha Choudhry, Co-founder of Zolostays, said, "Adopting AxisRooms Channel Manager is a strategic move for us, paving the way for unparalleled efficiency in distribution, razor-sharp pricing strategies, and improved presence across all online booking platforms."

Cropin, AWS Collaborate to address hunger and food insecurity

Global Agtech leader has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) focused on enabling Cropin to build a solution to address the issue of global hunger and food insecurity. This initiative aims to help Cropin develop core data architecture, analytics, modelling, and simulation components that can aggregate global farmland data and broader climate intelligence within a single solution.

The solution will provide decision intelligence to governments, development agencies, and agri-businesses, and help them ensure food security for vulnerable populations.

As part of this initiative, Cropin will develop workloads that could eventually constitute a Food Security Decision Intelligence solution powered by AWS. The solution would leverage AWS's advanced computing capabilities, including High Performance Computing (HPC), modelling/simulation, internet of things (IoT), robotics, visual/spatial computing, and generative artificial intelligence.

STEERWorld to create strategic advisory board

Engineering innovations company STEERWorld will form a strategic advisory board which will provide strategic guidance and support the company's growth into new markets and domains.

The Board comprises startup veterans, including Naiyya Saggi, Co-founder of The Good Glamm Group and Founder BabyChakra; Vipul Parekh, Co-founder of Bigbasket; and Sachin Oswal, Co-founder Infibeam.

"We believe that their deep industry expertise, insights on building large and sustainable businesses coupled with their personal and professional values, will help shape and guide our journey in the next phase of growth,” said TN Hari, Executive Chairman of STEERWorld. 

Kiko Live crosses 100,000 fulfilled kirana orders on ONDC network

Kiko Live, a SaaS solution for neighbourhood stores and a seller network participant on the ONDC network, has successfully unlocked a major milestone for local kirana stores and retailers by processing over 100,000 total orders on the ONDC network.

Kiko works directly with kirana stores to digitise their business.

Kiko Live helps sellers build their digital storefront on the ONDC network and helps them give their store customers an online experience.

(This article will be updated with the latest news throughout the day.)


Edited by Kanishk Singh