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Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 18, 2024)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (April 18, 2024)

Thursday April 18, 2024 , 11 min Read

Funding

Includ bags $1.5M in seed round led by Incubate Fund Asia

Includ, a D2C premium kidswear brand, has raised $1.5 million in a seed funding round spearheaded by Incubate Fund Asia. Other participants in the round include Escape Velocity, Abhishek Goyal (Co-founder of Tracxn), and the IIM Indore Alumni Angel Fund.

The funds will be used to enhance the brand's supply chain, develop in-house technology, and boost brand awareness.

“We are excited to partner with Includ as they build design-led high quality and affordable brand for the Indian kidswear market,” said Mr Rajeev Ranka, Partner of Incubate Fund Asia.

Founded in 2023 by Ashwin Rastogi, the startup aims to bridge the gap in the Indian kidswear market by offering high-quality cost-effective clothing for children ranging from newborns to 14-year-olds.

Sapience Automata bags Rs 1.75 Cr in seed round

Sapience Automata, an AI powered driver assistance startup, has raised Rs 1.75 crore in a seed round led by Inflection Point Ventures. The funds will be used for sales expansion for driver camera, building partnerships in the automotive sector, development of advanced driver-assistance systems technology, and pursuing international patent filings.

Founded in 2021 by Satyajit Neogi and Unmesh Dabhade, the startup aims to enhance road safety in India by offering plug-and-play driver assistance technology.

“Most of us know someone whose family member or close one has experienced a major road accident. It is an unfortunate reality that can't be helped, given our dependence on different modes of transportation and driver's circumstance.

"Sapience, with their AI powered tech, reduces such unavoidable reality. IPV will always focus on supporting startups that offer innovative solutions to significant problems, and Sapience’s approach is one we’ll continue to endorse,” said Vikram Ramasubramanian, Partner, Inflection Point Ventures.

ZEPIC closes $2.1M pre-seed round from Neon Fund and Angels

ZEPIC, a customer experience software firm, has concluded its $2.1-million pre-seed investment round. The round saw participation from Neon Fund, which invested $500,000, and angel investors in senior positions at Apple, Chargebee, Freshworks, Microsoft, and Zoho.

The Delaware-headquartered SaaS firm has launched a platform that aids businesses with hyper-personalised customer engagement opportunities.

"ZEPIC is fundamentally designed and built on customer records, serving as the source of truth for all teams within the business. With all browsers blocking third-party cookies, ZEPIC helps businesses prioritise first-party data collection through its intelligent visitor tracking, identity resolution, and progressive customer profile enrichment," said Naveen Venkatesan, Co-founder and Product Head, ZEPIC.

Founded in 2023 by Naveen Venkatesan, Bharathi Kannan Ravikumar, Sunil Kumar, and Sreelesh Pillai, the company is one of four global firms chosen for the Victorian government-backed Cremorne Digital Hub Scaleup programme.

Also Read
How ZEPIC helps marketers woo customers with hyper-personalised marketing

IndoSup raises funds by CCI group’s Naresh Sharma and Satish Sharma, Yatra.com’s Rohan Mittal

B2B procurement platform IndoSuphas secured a strategic funding round led by CCI Group promotors. Other investors include Rohan Mittal, the CFO of Yatra.

With CCI Group promoters now holding a majority stake in the company, the investors own over 26% of the stake after dilution.

This infusion of capital will drive the company's expansion into new geographic markets, onboard brands onto its platform, and support the development of solutions such as white-labeled products and credit lending tools for customers.

"IndoSup's innovative model is disrupting a massive yet traditionally fragmented industry. We are impressed with the team's vision, execution capabilities, and the immense market opportunity. IndoSup is well-positioned to capitalize on the digital transformation happening in the construction supply chain," said Naresh Sharma, Promotor of CCI Group. 

In addition to expanding geographically into cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai, the firm plans to launch white-labeled products across 5-6 SKUs by February next year. The company is actively collaborating with major financial institutions to develop credit lending solutions that cater to its customers' working capital requirements.

Other news

Kore.ai launches XO Platform V11.0 for AI-automated business interactions

Enterprise conversational and GenAI platform Kore.aihas released a new platform named Experience Optimization (XO) Platform Version 11.0, which will help drive AI-driven business interactions for customer, agent and search experiences.

“Coming off the heels of a successful $150 million round, this next wave of innovation reinforces how Kore.ai is leading the way with generative AI. We have reimagined what it takes for our platform users to bring new AI-automated solutions to market faster and deliver value with speed, accuracy and cost," Raj Koneru, Founder and CEO, Kore.ai.

"XO V11.0 will take the complexities and time out of building and managing AI and focus on putting it to work to drive value at scale,” he added.

The platform's features include multi-LLM generative AI for human-like interactions, XO GPT models to understand user intent, advanced retrieval augmented generation for content discovery, outbound campaigns for proactive outreach, and agent assistance for real-time coaching.

OneVerse Gaming acquires PokerSaint

Metaverse and gaming tech firm OneVerse Gaming has acquired PokerSaint, an online poker platform. This marks the company’s fourth acquisition.

The acquisition will help OneVerse Gaming to strengthen its market position and broaden its product portfolio. With a focus on delivering immersive gaming experiences and fostering community engagement, Poker Saint brings valuable assets and a loyal user base to the OneVerse Gaming's ecosystem.

"This acquisition fits perfectly with our strategic vision and growth objectives. Poker Saint's pioneering gaming strategies and fair market position make them an ideal addition to OneVerse Gaming as we seek to expand our player base and boost shareholder value over the long term," said Paul Micheal, CEO of OneVerse Gaming.

BEI Confluence board elevates Abhishek Gupta to joint managing director

BEI Confluence has promoted Abhishek Gupta, who has served as deputy managing director overseeing business operations for the past four years, to the position of joint managing director (JMD).

Under his leadership, the agency attained a 15% revenue surge and growth, with new business acquisitions including Total Energies, Mrs Bector’s Cremica Biscuits & English Oven Bread, and Wai Wai Instant Noodles from CG Foods.

“With Abhishek as JMD and partnered by Shahid Hussain as National Creative Director (NCD), the leadership team is now future-ready for further growth and consolidation,” said Tapas Gupta, Chairman & MD, BEI Confluence.

Gupta has been a part of BEI Confluence since 2016, transitioning from Ogilvy & Mather. At O&M, he served as client servicing director for more than four years, overseeing flagship brands Sprite and Kinley from the Coca-Cola Company as well as managing the lighting division brands of Philips.

With nearly two decades of expertise in creative and brand management, Gupta began his career with agencies such as Euro RSCG (now Havas Media). He was responsible for managing brands such as Max New York Life Insurance, MakeMyTrip, and Indiatimes.com.

Indore Smart City Accelerator programme backed by IIMA Ventures aids 14 startups

In its inaugural cohort, IIMA Ventures has backed 14 startups from Indore through the Indore Smart City Accelerator programme.

In collaboration with the Departments of Science and Technology, Government of India, and Smart City Indore, the initiative mentors startups in developing business models and proposals for engaging with public sector clients.

With a focus on addressing challenges within the city, the programme attracted applications from 100 Indian startup entities to find solutions in areas such as urban mobility, cleanliness, citizen safety & security, and air quality. The initiative aims to aid early-stage startups targeting urban local bodies in securing pilots to validate their solutions.

Indore Smart City has selected three startups from the cohort—Aumsat Technologies, Arc Robotics, and Pod Pitara—for pilot projects.

The startups underwent training sessions covering areas such as business modelling, unit economics, B2G sales, government tender applications, and investment readiness, facilitated by angel investors.

Vineet Aggarwal appointed head of partnerships and initiatives at Cashinvoice

Digital supply chain finance platform Cashinvoicehas onboarded Vineet Aggarwal as the head of partnerships and initiatives. In his new capacity, Aggarwal will lead strategic collaborations and spearhead initiatives to fuel the company's growth.

With 20 years of experience in leading banks and card networks such as MasterCard, Bank of America, DBS, and HSBC, Aggarwal brings expertise in supply chain finance, commercial cards, payments, and cash management.

"Vineet’s proven track record and industry acumen makes him an invaluable addition to our team. We believe his leadership will drive fresh projects and relationships, strengthening Cashinvoice's performance in the ecosystem,” said Arun Poojari, Co-founder and CEO, Cashinvoice.

Cashinvoice recently raised $4 million in its Series A funding round, with backing from HDFC Bank, Pravega Ventures, and Accion Ventures.

FOIP acquires 150 Crore holiday homes project in Shimla

Real estate investment platform FOIP (Fractional Ownership Investment Platform) has acquired Great Wall, a holiday homes project, valued at over Rs 150 crore. 

"We are excited to announce our exclusive mandate acquisition for the Great Wall project in Shimla. This project represents a prime investment opportunity in one of India's most sought-after holiday destinations. With our expertise in real estate fractional ownership and strategic partnerships, we are confident in delivering exceptional value and returns to our investors," said Aankush Ahuja, Founder and CEO, FOIP. 

Located in Shimla, the project offers 128 units spread over 2.5 acres in Phase 1. FOIP will supervise the entire project journey, handling sales, fractional ownership, marketing, branding, fundraising, and channel partner management. 

Xenious Hotels & Resorts will oversee the asset, aiming for an annual rental return of 7-8% and an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 16% over the next three years for investors after the project handover.

Vivek Wadhera appointed as CEO & MD of ORIX India

Financial service provider ORIX India has appointed Vivek Wadhera as its new Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 

With over 25 years experience in the financial sector, he previously served at organisations such as Citigroup, Barclays, and most recently DMI Finance, where he served as Group Chief Financial Officer.

After spending a decade with ORIX India, Vivek is returning to the organisation where he previously held the position of Group Chief Financial Officer.

With expertise in financial management, money markets, portfolio transactions, and strategic planning, he will be responsible for expanding service offerings and enhancing customer experiences.

Iksula acquires Ambab Infotech

E-commerce solutions provider Iksula has acquired Ambab.com, an e-commerce development company.

Founded in 2007 by Samarjeet Singh (Chairman) and D.J. Basumatari (CEO), Iksula offers e-commerce and management solutions, including product merchandising, order and inventory management, pricing intelligence, CRM, marketing, logistics to retailers, brands, and marketplaces worldwide. 

"We are delighted to welcome Ambab.com into the Iksula family. This acquisition marks a strategic milestone for us, empowering us to augment our digital capabilities and provide even greater value to our clients. Leveraging Ambab's track record of delivering cutting-edge technology solutions, we are confident that together, we will continue to redefine the standards of excellence in the e-commerce industry," said Samarjeet Singh, Chairman of Iksula.

Under the acquisition terms, Ambab.com will function as a business Unit of Iksula, with Sanjayan Nair and the current leadership team delivering outcomes for clients.

Mygate rebrands as living experience technology firm

MyGate has introduced its new corporate brand identity as a living experience technology firm. 

Founded in 2016 by Vijay Arisetty, Abhishek Kumar, and Shreyans Dag, Mygate enables the exploration of local service providers, provides access to a classifieds platform, offers home services, and facilitates property purchases. 

By focusing on living experience technology, the firm transitions from being a community management app to enhancing the daily living experiences of residents.

"We build for the home just as much as we build for the community. The idea is to empower the individual to take over more of their own space and time, to be able to live life on their own terms. The new positioning accurately captures the depth of our vision in elevating everyday, through the seamless integration of technology,” said Abhishek Kumar, Co-founder and CEO, Mygate. 

KaleidEO Space Systems achieves new benchmark in earth observation payload

KaleidEO Space Systems, a Bengaluru-based startup and subsidiary company of SatSure Analytics India, announced the successful aerial testing of its high-performance optical and multi-spectral earth observation (EO) payload.


The startup said this aerial testing makes it one of the first private Indian companies to design and develop a high-resolution optical EO payload. The successful prototype test, conducted aboard an aircraft over the UK and Austria (in collaboration with the Global Assistant and Logistic Group), was aimed to assess the functionality and stability of the payload in the real-world environment. This milestone makes KaleidEO and SatSure, combined, a full-stack earth observation company.

Entitled Solutions rebrands end user interface as Sarvam

Entitled Solutions, a B2B2C platform that enables businesses to provide solutions for the financial and healthcare needs of their low-income workforce, announced the rebranding of its end-user-facing ecosystem to Sarvam.


Founded in 2020 and headquartered in Mumbai, Entitled Solutions provides solutions for the financial and healthcare needs of their low-income workforce, particularly gig and blue-collar workers. It offers a range of tech-driven products through its partnerships with more than 60 companies and gig-work platforms.


The enterprise-facing business will continue under the Entitled Solutions banner.


Edited by Swetha Kannan