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Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (April 2, 2024)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (April 2, 2024)

Tuesday April 02, 2024 , 17 min Read

Funding

Cold-pressed juice brand The Fresh Press bags pre-Series A funding 

Mumbai-based cold-pressed juice brand The Fresh Press has secured pre-Series A funding from Gruhas Collective Consumer Fund (GCCF). 

Founded by Mithil Lodha and Rahul Jain in 2018, the brand has onboarded actor-entrepreneur Dino Morea as both investor and co-founder.

“With the support of GCCF and Gusto Accelerators, we envision expanding our footprint nationwide, revolutionising the way people perceive and consume nutritious beverages. We anticipate that the current funding will definitely help in building a little bigger team since expansion is a major part of this fundraise,” said Dino Morea, Co-founder, The Fresh Press. 

The brand has partnered with PVR Cinemas, INOX, and Reliance and boasts 36 stores nationwide. 

A unit of TFPF Private Limited, The Fresh Press strives to deliver healthy and organic juices, smoothies, shakes, fruit platters, and desserts. 

D2C startup A47.in secures funding from Aditya Pittie

D2C brand, A47 ISRO Merchandise T-shirts

ISRO branded merchandise by D2C brand A47.in

D2C brand A47.in has raised an undisclosed amount from Aditya Pittie. The funds are expected to fuel expansion into new categories, collaborations, physical retail, and marketing. 

Owned by Black White Orange, a brand licensing and IP management company, A47.in was bootstrapped for the initial 2.5 years after launching Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) branded merchandise in 2021. 

Subsequently, A47.in forged collaborations with various units of the Indian Armed Forces, including The Indian Infantry, LCA Tejas, and the Flying Instructors School. More recently, the platform also collaborated with the makers of the action film Fighter

“A47 is more than just a brand for us; it is a passion that celebrates the essence of India. Aditya believed in our vision and his support will empower us to reach new heights and continue our mission to build the biggest India-centric pop culture brand," said Bhavik Vora, Founder and CEO, A47. 

"I also feel that with the current positive sentiment and a growing sense of pride in national identity, A47 stands at the forefront of fostering love for India's own,” he added.

Prath Ventures leads $2.1M investment in travel and lifestyle brand Assembly

New-age travel and lifestyle brand Assembly has secured $2.1 million a funding rounded spearheaded by Prath Ventures. This marks the third investment from its debut fund. 

Other investors in the round include Anicut Capital, Blume Founders Fund, and other prominent angels.

The funding will fuel the brand's product expansion, marketing and branding initiatives, and product and operations teams.

"The surge in domestic and international travel has expanded the opportunity in the luggage and travel goods space. Customers now seek products that seamlessly integrate with their lifestyle, prompting the rise of new-age travel brands," said Saptarishi Sen, Vice President, Prath Ventures. 

"We believe Assembly, with its robust supply chain capabilities and design aesthetics, is primed to capture this evolving trend. We are excited to partner with them in shaping a new-age challenger brand in the luggage space," he added.

Founded in 2019 by Aditya Khanna and Mohit Garg, Assembly offers mass-premium travel gear including luggage, backpacks, and travel accessories.

Bombay Shaving Company secures $3M in debt funding from Alteria Capital

D2C personal care startup Bombay Shaving Company has raised $3 million in debt funding from venture debt fund Alteria Capital.

Alteria Capital confirmed the investment on X. 

Bombay Shaving Company is a personal care brand catering to both men and women, offering products ranging from bath and body to skin and beard care.

Previously, the New Delhi-headquartered brand secured Rs 50 crore from Gulf Islamic Investments, as an extension to its Rs 160 crore Series C funding round led by Malabar. 

Other news

Log9 Materials gets BIS certification for LTO batteries

Log 9 Materials, an advanced battery solutions company, has announced that its LTO (Lithium Titanate Oxide) batteries have received certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

According to a statement, these Log9’s BIS-certified LTO batteries have enhanced safety due to their inherent thermal and chemical stability, minimising the risk of fire or explosion compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, these batteries have ultra-fast charging capabilities and extended durability, offering a significantly higher number of charge and discharge cycles compared to conventional lithium-ion batteries, translating to a longer battery lifespan for electric vehicles.

LTO batteries have applications in various sectors, including electric vehicles (EVs), two-wheeler and three-wheeler EVs, commercial vehicles, and energy storage systems.

ETML launches AI platform Adbytzz 2.0 

ETML has launched the latest iteration of its flagship product, Adbytzz 2.0, to drive digital growth for brands. This updated platform serves as a central hub, connecting and consolidating data and campaigns across marketing channels. 

Powered by its AI growth engine, Adbytzz 2.0 leverages over 100 growth recipes, frameworks, AI data models, and experiments. With Adbytzz, the ETML team aims to conduct thorough analyses and monitoring and generate insights across all key aspects of digital marketing. 

“Adbytzz 2.0 now goes beyond the regular campaign optimisation, ad-wastage control and live triggers. Adbytzz has been instrumental in unlocking completely untouched growth levers for our clients including the establishment of some of the complex data models such as geosynthetic brand incrementality, fatigue predictions, guardrails monitoring, lead grading, audience suppression, and more,” said Raghav Kansal, Founder and CEO, ETML. 

ETML is an advertising and analytics company, which turns market intelligence data into actionable insights, driving strategy and growth for major brands in India. Its clientele includes Lenskart, Cred, Urban Company, Blinkit, Forest Essentials, and Mamaearth.

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Smytten onboards QueueBuster as its retail point-of-sale partner

Tech-driven product trial and discovery firm Smytten has partnered with QueueBuster POS, a point-of-sale (POS) solution company as its retail technology partner for its offline stores. 

QueueBuster will provide a range of services including billing, inventory management, and customer relationship management (CRM) to Smytten's growing network of brick-and-mortar stores nationwide.

Utilising QueueBuster's user-friendly Android and cloud-based interface, Smytten can now provide customers with a convenient method to purchase minis from their physical stores. 

"We embarked on our online journey in 2015. After a thriving e-commerce venture, we decided it was time for us to expand to offline channels to provide an omnichannel experience to our users. We evaluated a few POS software, and QueueBuster became our natural choice for managing our stores’ billing and inventory," said Siddhartha Nangia, Co-Founder of Smytten.

"By integrating their Android POS solutions into our offline stores, we are able to provide a swift and easy experience, empowering our customers to explore and purchase their desired products with ease," he added.

Founded in 2016, QueueBuster is a POS solutions provider, serving clients such as Pure - Home & Living, Happilo, Nutraj, and Cococart.

PedalStart, FAAD Network team up to launch initiative to aid early-stage startups

PedalStart, a startup community builder and accelerator based in Gurugram, has teamed up with the venture capital firm FAAD Network to introduce an initiative named 'Gear One' to accelerate and support early-stage startup founders across India.

In this select cohort-driven online programme, five early-stage startups will be handpicked to access mentorship, acceleration support, resources, networking prospects, and angel funds. This aims to advance their entrepreneurial paths from idea validation/proof-of-concept (POC) to the minimum viable product stage, the companies stated. 

Each startup selected in the cohort will secure an initial angel investment of $100,000, coupled with the potential for up to $250,000 in follow-up funding through a pre-seed/seed funding round facilitated by PedalStart and FAAD Network. They will also gain access to resource-linked credits totalling $50,000, including AWS credits, coworking spaces, and payment gateway tools.

“Following the phenomenal impact and success of our previous online cohorts like Zero-to-One, One-to-N, etc, we at PedalStart are now elated to join forces with FAAD Network to introduce our Gear One Cohort, curated for supporting innovative early-stage startups," said Manas Pal and Aditya Darolia, Co-Founders of PedalStart.  

"This strategic move represents a significant step forward in realising our collaborative endeavor and shared vision to catalyze the early-stage startup ecosystem in the country,” he added.

Singularity appoints Sandeep Bapat as Senior Partner and co-CIO

Sandeep Bhapat, Singularity,

Sandeep Bapat, Senior Partner and Co-CIO, Singularity

Operator-investor-led growth equity platform Singularity Growth has appointed Sandeep Bapat as senior partner and co-CIO.

Bapat will be responsible for identifying key trends and leading investment activities and will also serve as a member of the investment committee.

 "Sandeep's experience and proven track record in the investment industry make him an invaluable addition to our team. We are thrilled to welcome him aboard and are confident that his leadership will contribute significantly to our continued success in delivering exceptional client results," said Yash Kela, Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Singularity. 

Bapat has over 15 years of investing experience in the technology, consumer, and financial services sectors. Before joining Singularity, he was a partner at Trifecta Capital and Executive Director at Hillhouse Capital and has worked at Blackstone in the past. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and IIT Bombay. He has also been an investor and an advisor to Swiggy, CRED, Atomberg Technology, and AuxiloFinserve.

Yatan Pal Singh Balhara joins advisory board of Skill Online Games Institute

Skill Online Games Institute has onboarded Yatan Pal Singh Balhara to its advisory board. Dr Balhara will guide on issues related to mental health, addictive behaviour, and e-health. 

He will lead the organisation’s initiatives on promoting a holistic approach to online gaming, placing importance on the mental and physical well-being of players, the company said. 

Balhara serves as the secretary general at the World Association on Dual Disorders and provides consultancy services to organisations like the World Health Organization and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Furthermore, he serves as a global master trainer on drug demand reduction for The Colombo Plan and UNODC. He also serves at the All-India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi. 

"His (Balhara) extensive experience and deep understanding of mental health and addictive disorders will be invaluable as we endeavour to champion responsible gaming practices and cultivate a culture of holistic well-being within the gaming community,” said Amrit Kiran Singh, Founder President, Skill Online Games Institute.  

Control Print Italy acquires business assets of Italy-based V Shapes for €3.7M

Integrated coding and marking solutions provider Control Print Italy S.r.l has acquired the business assets of Italy-based V Shapes S.r.l. for € 3.7 million. 

A wholly owned subsidiary of Control Print Limited (CPL), the company’s past acquisitions include an 80% stake Markprint BV, headquartered in the Netherlands, which specialises in manufacturing Inline digital printing solutions. It has also acquired a majority stake in Codeology Group Ltd, a UK-based provider of print and application systems.

“Innovation and sustainability are two of the core pillars around which CPL endeavours to provide solutions to its customers. V Shapes will help us in expanding our product portfolio in the packaging machinery industry. We are committed to further investing into developing this technology and marketing it globally,” said Shiva Kabra, Joint MD, Control Print Ltd. 

iThink Logistics goes live on ONDC network 

Ecommerce courier service provider iThink Logistics has integrated with the Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC).

This integration brings forth benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Indian ecommerce space

“Logistics is a critical component if you want to conduct your business digitally in the current ecommerce landscape. We welcome iThink Logistics on ONDC Network and we are confident that it will enhance delivery options for the small and medium sellers on the Network,” said Shireesh Joshi, CBO, ONDC. 

Businesses that use ONDC can expand their market reach beyond their current boundaries, granting SMEs and MSMEs entry to a wide customer base. 

The SaaS platform for D2C brands operates across 26,000+ pin codes in India and serves customers in 180 countries worldwide. The company's online portal integrates with marketplaces or online stores through APIs for order importation. Additionally, it features a built-in channel that facilitates connections with various courier partners.

VAMA.app appoints Divick Kishore as CTO, elevates Nitin Saxena to CBO

Virtual spiritual platform VAMA.app has appointed Divick Kishore as its chief technology officer (CTO) and promoted Nitin Saxena to the role of chief business officer (CBO) overseeing operations and partnerships. 

Kishore will spearhead technological innovation, enhance product offerings, and fuel the platform's growth in the digital spiritual services sector. Saxena, in his role as CBO, will continue optimising operations, forging partnerships, and leading initiatives to strengthen the platform's market position.

"The future of the astrology and religious tech market in India is on a trajectory of exponential growth. The foundational shift in consumer behaviour towards digital spirituality, bolstered by our innovative platform, sets the stage for this expansion," said Manu Jain, Co-founder, VAMA.app. 

"With Divick and Nitin’s impressive backgrounds and visionary leadership, we are poised to propel VAMA.app into its next phase of expansion. Our aim is to enhance the technological infrastructure and business strategies to better serve the digital and spiritual needs of our growing user base,” he added.

Founded in 2020 by Aacharya Dev, Himanshu Semwal, and Manu Jain, VAMA.app has established partnerships with over 250 temples and a network of more than 300 astrologers. The platform provides services such as e-pujas, e-darshans, and astrology consultation.

Underdog Tech Awards announces three entrepreneurs as 2024 winners

The Underdog Tech Award, which recognises the top tech startups outside major tech hubs, has revealed its 2024 winners. Launched last year, the award aims to help entrepreneurs overcome challenges like limited resources, funding constraints, and geographical barriers to industry events.

The ceremony, which was held online, celebrated global founders reshaping industries and communities despite geographical challenges.

Elmira Safarova from Chile, Founder and CEO of Rarus Health, a startup focusing on rare genetic diseases, clinched the first place ($30,000 Prize). Mohamed Tarek Mohamed Abdelzaher from Egypt secured second place ($20,000 Prize) for P-vita, which repurposes agricultural waste for the cosmetics and food industries. Saúl Paniagua-Lapenta from Bolivia claimed third place ($10,000 Prize) for Vaka, which promotes agricultural sustainability by connecting farmers and micro-investors.

"The Underdog Tech Award serves as a beacon of encouragement and validation to innovators navigating uncharted territories. By spotlighting their achievements, we hope to inspire a new wave of entrepreneurship and foster a more inclusive tech ecosystem," said Ekaterina Smirnova, Head of the Underdog Tech Award. 

Apollo Hospitals appoints Vishal Lathwal as CEO for homecare business

Mr. Vishal Lathwal, CEO, Apollo Homecare

Vishal Lathwal, CEO, Apollo Homecare

Apollo Hospitals has onboarded Vishal Lathwal as the chief executive officer (CEO) for its homecare business.

Lathwal will oversee relationship-building with stakeholders, identify growth prospects, manage finances, and ensure delivery of top-tier home healthcare. 

With 15+ years across consulting, automobile, and healthcare, Lathwal earlier served as the founding member of Max@Home. 

Established in 2015, Apollo Homecare operates in over 11 cities nationwide, providing essential pre- and post-hospital care services. As a home healthcare provider, it meets the urgent demands of the post-pandemic era, specialising in bringing hospital-quality care to patients' homes. 

Way2News appoints Amit Chopra to its board of directors

Hyperlocal digital news platform Way2News has onboarded Amit Chopra, Co-founder of Avanzia Consulting, to its board of directors. 

Concurrently, the platform has formed an alliance with Avanzia Consulting, which will serve as a key advisor to support Way2News’s growth journey.

“With his deep expertise in media and technology and a remarkable track record of driving growth, his (Amit Chopra) joining not only signifies an elevation but also marks a significant milestone in our journey towards pioneering excellence in digital news. Amit's expertise and strategic acumen will undoubtedly propel us towards sustainable growth,” said Raju Vanapala, Founder and CEO, Way2News.

Gaurav Tandon steps in as Limited Edt India's managing director

Singapore-based sneaker and lifestyle chain Limited Edt has appointed Gaurav Tandon as managing director to lead the business and expand the brand to the Indian market.

His previous leadership roles include serving as the vice president of Deutsche Post AG and the founder of Amaze Consulting Services and consulting firms Aon Hewitt and Mercer. 

 "I am thrilled to spearhead Limited Edt's journey into India's burgeoning sneaker and streetwear fashion scene. We want to create an experience that is all about authenticity, exclusivity, and exceptional craftsmanship," said Tandon.

Our upcoming partnerships are going to celebrate and promote India's local culture, talent, and design while, of course, catering to the diverse needs of Indian consumers. I am someone who believes in shaping trends, and this opportunity as an M.D. is all about that," he added.

Founded by Mandeep Chopra, Limited Edt has expanded to 15 stores across Singapore. It is known for its curated collections with top labels such as Puma, Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Converse, and Asics.

Central Bank of India partners with Veefin Solutions

The Central Bank of India has collaborated with digital lending and supply chain financing provider Veefin Solutions to venture into the segment of supply chain financing. 

The partnership will enable the bank to use Veefin’s end-to-end supply chain finance stack, allowing it to cover the entire journey of supply chain financing in the process. This includes onboarding vendors, channel partners, and anchors, as well as conducting credit underwriting through pre-built APIs linked to India stack.

“With SMEs contributing ~ 30% to the GDP and the government aiming to increase this to 50%, this initiative aims to facilitate growth within this ecosystem. SCF (supply chain financing) has proven to be a form of SME lending that can help SMEs grow rapidly and thus increase their contribution to the economy. After examining multiple vendors, Veefin’s expertise and high-quality technology led us to onboard them as our tech vendor in our SCF journey,” said VV Natrajan, GM, Central Bank of India. 

Table Space appoints Megha Agarwal as its chief marketing officer

Managed office space solutions provider Table Space has appointed Megha Agarwal as chief marketing officer (CMO).

Agarwal will lead brand-building, marketing, and growth initiatives in its expansion phase. She will also be responsible for building a digital-first marketing ecosystem, establishing new lead generation channels, and enhancing portfolio offerings to fuel brand strategy focused on ROI-driven client acquisition and growth.

“Table Space occupies a unique position in the flexible workspace industry as the leader in premium managed offices. The brand has established expertise by delivering over 9.5 million square feet of custom workspaces, for some of the leading Fortune 500 companies," said Agarwal.

"I am personally very excited to be involved in the brand's next growth phase as we launch new products and begin building a digital-first foundation,” she added.

With over 16 years of brand management and digital marketing experience, Agarwal earlier served as CMO at WeWorkIndia.

Google launches initiatives to combat misinformation

Googlehas announced a series of initiatives to combat misinformation and empower Indian users with tools for making informed decisions.

One such initiative is the support for Shakti, India Election Fact-Checking Collective, which aids in the early detection of online misinformation, including deep fakes, ahead of the Indian general elections. This collaborative effort involves news publishers and fact-checkers, facilitated by DataLEADS and supported by the Google News Initiative, to debunk misinformation, especially in regional languages.

YouTube has introduced new AI labelling features, requiring creators to disclose when content is altered or synthetic, providing viewers with transparency. The "About this Image" and "About this Search" features, now available in Hindi and other local languages across the APAC region, offer context on images and websites, assisting users in assessing content trustworthiness.

Additionally, Google.org has committed a $ 4 million grant to the CyberPeace Foundation for a nationwide awareness programme and multilingual digital resource hub, benefitting nearly 40 million underserved individuals. Earlier initiatives include the $13.2-million Global Fact Check Fund, enhancing the fact-checking capabilities of local media organisations.


Edited by Swetha Kannan