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How Pocket FM became “Netflix of audio”; Tea-picking robot solves labour shortage

So far, Pocket FM has raised ~$196.5 million. T-Rover is designed to navigate slopes up to 30 degrees with ease through its sensors and controllers, and its precision engineering picks tea leaves for processing. Real money gaming startup WinZO made a maiden profit of Rs 126 crore.

How Pocket FM became “Netflix of audio”; Tea-picking robot solves labour shortage

Saturday April 06, 2024 , 5 min Read

Hello,

Cross-border fintech has dominated the world and Y Combinator’s Demo Day recently.

According to a report by TechCrunch, xPay, which enables international payments API for businesses in India and Southeast Asia, and Infinity, a Bengaluru startup that specialises in cross-border banking for small businesses, have made it to YC’s Winter 2024 cohort

ICYMI: All that happened at the second round of Demo Day at Y Combinator. Of course, AI took all the attention! 

Speaking of AI, semiconductor maker Nvidia Corp and Indonesian telecommunications firm PT Indosat Tbk are planning to jointly build a $200 million AI centre in Indonesia.

Also, Samsung Electronics expects to post a 931% increase in first-quarter operating profit as chip prices rebound. 

Elsewhere, a confidential order showed that the Ranjan Pai-led MEMG Family Office in March initiated arbitration proceedings against BYJU'S for allegedly breaching terms of loans worth $42 million through a pre-agreed transfer of certain shares of Aakash Education.

An arbitrator, appointed under Singapore International Arbitration Centre rules, has ordered the beleaguered edtech firm not to dispose of 4 million shares of Aakash, which as per the loan agreement amounted to a 6% stake last year, according to the April 4 order.

Lastly, check out the blue, mysterious ocean dwellers lining up the US coasts.

In today’s newsletter, we will talk about 

  • How Pocket FM cracked audio entertainment
  • Tea-picking robot solves labour shortage
  • WinZO turns operationally profitable

Here’s your trivia for today: Which game developer released the ‘Street Fighter’ game in the 1980s?


Interview

How Pocket FM cracked audio entertainment

At the end of 2019, Rohan Nayak realised his startup Pocket FM had a three-month runway left. He and his co-founders, Prateek Dixit and Nishanth Srinivas, needed capital to stay alive. They fought against the dying light and landed a $5.6 million cheque from Lightspeed India and Tencent Holdings. 

“We had a near-death moment at Pocket FM even before properly starting up. What helped during this process was having good co-founders and a lot of naïve optimism. I knew we could figure this out,” says Rohan in a conversation with Shradha Sharma.

Audio storytelling:

  • So far, Pocket FM has raised ~$196.5 million. It has crossed an annual recurring revenue (ARR) of $150 million, growing 57% on a quarter-on-quarter basis.
  • The platform started with a user engagement rate of five minutes by the time of its Series B fundraise in December 2021, its user engagement rate had zoomed to 120 minutes per day. 
  • A combination of great writers and standout audio properties helped Pocket FM scale. To take it a step further, Rohan is keen to build an IP business as a byproduct. 
PocketFM


Top Funding Deals of the Week

Startup: Aerospike

Amount: $109M

Round: Equity

Startup: SiMa.ai

Amount: $70M

Round: Equity

Startup: Ola Electric

Amount: $50M

Round: Debt


Robotics

Tea-picking robot solves labour shortage

Valparai's workforce was once dominated by tea pickers but has significantly dwindled due to mass migration. To address this labour shortage and ensure continuous tea harvests, Surinova, which provides business solutions to the farming sector, introduced the e-vehicle T-Rover in 2022.

Helping hand:

  • T-Rover is designed to navigate slopes up to 30 degrees with ease through its sensors and controllers, and its precision engineering picks tea leaves for processing.
  • “T-Rover can do the work of 28 people, requiring just one operator and two assistants. This helps address the labour shortage faced by tea farms,” explains G Sundarrajan, CEO and Co-founder of Surinova.
  • Each machine costs Rs 30 lakh. The company is in the pre-revenue stage and has a Rs 60 lakh grant from Parry Agro.
Surinova


Earnings

WinZO turns operationally profitable

Real money gaming startup WinZO made a maiden profit of Rs 126 crore on the basis of its operations in the financial year 2022-23, a turnaround from a loss of Rs 120 crore incurred in the year-ago period.

Profit and loss:

  • On a consolidated basis, the company incurred a loss of Rs 710 crore for FY23. This loss is mainly attributed to treating Compulsorily Convertible Preference Shares (CCPS) as a liability rather than equity.
  • In FY23, it registered Rs 674 crore in revenue from operations, reflecting a nearly 3X increase from Rs 234 crore it earned in the preceding fiscal year.
  • Its largest expense component was advertising and promotions at Rs 257 crore. Meanwhile, employee benefit expenses stood at Rs 54.8 crore in FY23.
WinZO

WinZO


News & updates

  • E-rupee: The RBI plans to use third-party payment app providers like PhonePe, Google Pay, and Paytm to offer the e-rupee through CBDC wallets. The central bank piloted the CBDC, which uses distributed-ledger technology, but only allowed banks to offer these tokens, leading to subdued transaction volumes.
  • Go Green: Electric vehicle sales in India are expected to rise 66% this year after nearly doubling in 2023 as state subsidies help fuel demand and supporting infrastructure comes up in the country, according to research firm Counterpoint. 
  • Analysis: The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer globally is projected to double to 2.9 million a year by 2040, with annual deaths predicted to rise by 85%, according to the largest study of its kind. Prostate cancer is a major cause of death and disability, and the most common form of male cancer in over 100 nations.


Which game developer released the ‘Street Fighter’ game in the 1980s?

Answer: Japanese game developer and publisher, Capcom.


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