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Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (May 22, 2024)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (May 22, 2024)

Wednesday May 22, 2024 , 10 min Read

Funding

NoPo Nanotechnologies secures $3M in pre-Series A round

Bengaluru-based startup NoPo Nanotechnologies has secured $3 million in a pre-Series A funding round co-led by deeptech funds Axilor’s Micelio Fund and Inflexor Ventures.

The round was also subscribed by other climate-focused funds Spectrum Impact and Aureolis and angel investors.

The company plans to deploy the funds to scale up production, enhance engineering capabilities, and execute a global go-to-market strategy.

Founded by Gadhadar Reddy and Kelley Bradley, NoPo has pioneered the technology for producing single-walled carbon nanotubes, which are used by EV battery manufacturers to improve energy density. They are also used in the design of semiconductors to make quantum computing a reality.

“NoPo is excited to be a pioneer in driving the development of this material and its associated applications. We are happy to partner with Micelio and Inflexor as they bring with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the deeptech and climate space," said Gadadhar Reddy, Founder and CEO of NoPo.

SuperKalam bags $2M seed funding

SuperKalam, an AI-led personal mentor for students preparing for competitive exams, has concluded a seed funding round, raising $2 million.


The funding round was led by Y Combinator and Fundersclub with participation from notable investors, including YC Partner Puneet Kumar, GoodWater Capital, Nurture Ventures, SuperCapital, and Pareto Ventures.

The funds will be used to enrich SuperKalam's AI-led educational platform, expand its reach, enhance user experience, and foster continuous innovation in personalised learning services.

Founded in July 2023 by Vimal Singh Rathore and Aseem Gupta, SuperKalam leverages artificial intelligence to provide personalised guidance and support for competitive exams. By utilising AI-driven analytics, the platform adapts to each student's unique needs, offering tailored learning paths, instant doubt resolution, and progress tracking.


This is the second edtech startup by cofounder Vimal, following Coursavy, which was acquired by Unacademy in September 2020.

Soleos Solar Energy secures Rs 48.5 Cr equity funding

Soleos Solar Energy Pvt Ltd has raised Rs 48.5 crore in equity funding, a statement from the company said.


The funding round’s investors include India Ahead Venture Fund, Sunil Singhania's family office, Madhuri Madhu Kela, Nabs Vriddhi LLP, Pawan Agarwal, Head of PCG at InCred Capital, Faruk G. Patel - CMD (KP Group) and several other HNI investors.


The lead advisor of this transaction was Swastika Investmart Ltd along with Beeline Capital Advisors Private Limited.


The company will use the funding infusion as working capital, to develop its global renewable energy portfolio and establish manufacturing facilities across the globe. It plans to enhance capabilities in project execution, foster stronger international collaborations, and support the development of independent power projects (IPP). 


“This funding will enable us to achieve our expansion goals and bolster our capabilities in delivering cutting-edge solar solutions. With an already established global footprint, this investment will further strengthen our foothold in domestic and international markets,” said Bhavesh Rathod, Founder and Director of Soleos Solar Energy.

In April this year, Soleos Solar Energy had raised Rs 26.5 crore in equity funding from Swastika Investmart Ltd.

Other news

GPS Renewables, SAF One partner to develop sustainable aviation fuel projects

GPS Renewables, a full-stack technology and engineering company dedicated to clean fuels, has partnered with Dubai-based SAF One, a platform focused on the development of global sustainable aviation fuel solutions, for the construction and development of sustainable aviation fuel projects in India. 

As a part of this partnership, GPS’ project platform, ARYA, along with SAF One, will co-develop a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) facility for 20-30 million litres per year using lignocellulosic waste feedstock or residual dry plant matter.

“As India moves towards mandating 1-5% blended usage of SAF starting in 2027, we need more collaborative efforts to address the challenges associated with the production of sustainable aviation fuel. This collaboration with SAF One is a step in that direction. We look forward to a fruitful partnership to accelerate the production of SAF and help India become a leader in sustainable aviation fuel,” said Mainak Chakraborty, CEO and Co-founder, GPS Renewables.

Agilitas Sports appoints Becky Edington as VP of product creation & engineering

Agilitas Sports, an innovation-led sportswear and athleisure solutions platform, has appointed Becky Edington as vice president of footwear, product creation, engineering, and R&D.


Edington will drive Agilitas Sports' innovation agenda and enhance its product development processes.

Becky Edington, Vice President, Footwear, Product Creation, and Engineering, Agilitas

Becky Edington, Vice President, Footwear, Product Creation and Engineering, Agilitas

Her career spans over three decades, at Converse and NIKE, with leadership experience in innovation, sourcing, supply planning, and product creation. She most recently served as NIKE’s vice president of footwear development before leaving the company in the summer of 2023.


In her new role at Agilitas, Edington will oversee product development engineering, materials development, and product testing, and will work closely with the development and manufacturing teams at Mochiko.

Swiggy launches mobile medical units and teleconsultation for delivery partners

Swiggy has launched two initiatives that prioritise the health and well-being of its delivery partners starting this summer. 


In collaboration with Dial 4242 and Reliance-powered Visit app, Swiggy has introduced mobile medical units and teleconsultation services for its entire fleet of delivery partners as part of its ‘Delivering Safely’ charter.

The Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) conduct health check-ups, first aid, vision screenings, and health education sessions.

The mobile medical units provide health check-ups, first aid, vision screening, and health education sessions.

Positioned at key locations, the mobile medical units provide health check-ups, including vital sign monitoring, identification of underlying health issues, and first-aid treatment for minor injuries sustained during delivery hours. Additionally, vision screening and eye care services are being provided by dedicated optometrists. Health education sessions are also being conducted to promote wellness and preventive care practices among delivery partners.


Starting with Bengaluru, the mobile units will be deployed across different locations in the city, benefitting approximately 200 delivery partners daily.

MPOWER Financing issues inaugural securitisation of international student loans

MPOWER Financing, a fintech firm that specialises in international student financing, has completed its first securitisation, MPOWER Education Trust 2024-A. The $215.2-million collateral pool comprises US dollar-denominated, fixed-rate loans made to primarily graduate international students at leading US colleges and universities.

Along with $300+ million of warehouse commitments that MPOWER secured last year from Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and Värde Partners, this securitisation enables the company to put more than $500 million towards its rapidly growing portfolio of loans issued to Indian and other international students attending colleges and universities across the United States and Canada.

“We’re helping students—many of whom are first-generation college students from India—make a quantum leap for themselves and their families. Indians continue to study abroad in record numbers, and last year we saw a stunning four-fold year-over-year rise in applications from Indians to study artificial intelligence and machine learning," said Manu Smadja, Chief Executive Officer of MPOWER.

HDFC Bank, Pravega Ventures select two startups under Co-Lab initiative

HDFC Bank, in collaboration with Pravega Ventures, a venture capital firm, has selected two innovative startups under its Co-Lab initiative.


As co-owners of the Co-Lab programme, the bank and Pravega Ventures have identified startups that demonstrate exceptional potential to address modern banking challenges and drive innovation in the fintech sector.


Co-Lab was launched last year to foster collaboration between established financial institutions and emerging startups to deliver innovative products and services to customers.


GrayQuest , which works towards education financing, and ePayLater, which provides retailers with accessible financing solutions through its platform, are the two selected startups. 


"We are happy to welcome GrayQuest and ePayLater to the Co-Lab programme," said Ramesh Lakshminarayanan, Group Head - Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, HDFC Bank.


"These startups bring unique expertise and solutions that have the potential to transform the fintech landscape," he added.

Disney+ Hotstar rolls out enhanced self-serve platform

Disney+ Hotstar has launched version 2.0 of its self-serve platform, in time for the highly anticipated ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

Its initial release in August 2023 coincided with the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

This upgraded version promises a seamless and accessible experience for advertisers across all businesses and sizes in five languages—English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada, a statement from the company said.

Designed to cater to the diverse needs of advertisers, the enhanced self-serve platform now extends support to advertisements spanning across both live sports and the entertainment portfolio of Disney+ Hotstar. This empowers small and medium-sized advertisers to effectively connect with their target audiences on one of India’s leading streaming platforms.

“Our enhanced self-serve platform will enable advertisers of all sizes to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented by the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024. With the inclusion of our entertainment offerings, advertisers can extend their engagement beyond the marquee tournament, ensuring sustained audience connection,” said Dhruv Dhawan, Head of Ads, Disney+ Hotstar India.

Nikhil Kamath invests in Collective Artists Network

Entrepreneur Nikhil Kamath has invested in Vijay Subramaniam-led Collective Artists Network. The investment, a secondary transaction, facilitates a staggering return of over 5X via a strategic exit for InMobi’s Glance, which previously invested in Collective in 2021.

Vijay Subramaniam of Collective Artists Network and Nikhil Kamath

Vijay Subramaniam of Collective Artists Network and Nikhil Kamath

Collective Artists Network offers integrated solutions encompassing talent management, creator tech, production, creative strategy, influencer marketing, youth marketing, sports sponsorship and consulting, and media distribution.

This investment follows a recent collaboration between Nikhil Kamath-backed Gruhas and Collective Artists Network earlier this year. Together, they unveiled the Gruhas Collective Consumer Fund (GCCF), aimed at nurturing consumer-focused enterprises and attracting external investments. The fund provides financial backing, mentorship, and operational support, championing efficient marketing and brand-building for its portfolio companies.

Decentro launches Next-Gen Payment Aggregator stack for India

Fintech infrastructure platform Decentro has launched its next-generation Payment Stack (Flow 2.0). The stack is designed to seamlessly address businesses' expansive payment needs, delivering high performance, compliance, and security.

“This milestone couldn't come at a more opportune moment as we complete our four years of operations as one of India’s leading fintech infrastructure providers. Our goal has been to streamline the most intricate financial processes for businesses across the spectrum, and the introduction of the Flow 2.0 stack underscores this commitment," said Rohit Taneja, Co-founder and CEO, Decentro.

Flow 2.0 will help enterprises sharpen their focus on critical features, including performance through fast and reliable transaction processing and complete RBI compliance to ensure operations within frameworks.

Noise acquires AI-focused women’s wellness platform SocialBoat

Smartwatch and connected lifestyle brand Noise has acquired AI-powered women’s wellness platform SocialBoat for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will expand Noise’s tech offerings and build specialised innovation prowess for its flagship smart wearable, Luna Ring.

Noise aims to strengthen the health tracking analytics and will now be able to integrate AI to ensure the overall well-being of the women cohort as well. SocialBoat's AI-powered algorithms analyse data from various sources, including wearables, to offer personalised recommendations for nutrition, fitness, menstrual health, and overall well-being. 


“This strategic acquisition will propel innovation in Luna Ring. Luna Ring was launched to transform the lives of users profoundly and in our commitment to nurturing the Luna ecosystem, we recently brought AI to it, to further enhance the overall smart wearable experience,” said Amit Khatri, Co-founder, Noise.

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


Edited by Swetha Kannan