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Startup Digest: Elev8 announces $200M fund to invest in tech startups, Dia Mirza invests in Greendigo & BharatPe POS business hits profitability

Startup Digest: Elev8 announces $200M fund to invest in tech startups, Dia Mirza invests in Greendigo & BharatPe POS business hits profitability

Startup Digest: Elev8 announces $200M fund to invest in tech startups, Dia Mirza invests in Greendigo & BharatPe POS business hits profitability
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By Aishwarya Anand  Sept 29, 2022 10:57:13 PM IST (Published)

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Venture Catalysts-backed Elev8 announces $200M fund to invest in tech startups

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Venture Catalysts-backed Elev8 Venture Partners has announced the launch of a USD 200 million fund to invest in tech companies.
The fund intends to invest in growth-stage, technology-driven companies in Series B and C rounds, a statement said, adding that each bet will be between USD 5-USD 15 million.
It will be led and co-founded by Navin Honagudi, who was working as a partner at Kae Capital for over a decade and has invested in over 50 companies.
"Even though liquidity in technology investments is drying up, Elev8 has received an overwhelming LP (limited partners) interest as well as partnership avenues with seed funds, as the current vintage offers an excellent opportunity to invest in growth stage companies and earn/target attractive returns," Honagudi said.
It is in an advanced stage of discussions to establish several global partnerships, which will help portfolio companies expand beyond India during their growth phase, he added.
Dia Mirza invests undisclosed capital in Greendigo
Actor Dia Mirza has invested an undisclosed capital in Greendigo, a zero carbon, organic baby clothing brand, forming a strategic relationship with the apparel startup besides joining the brand as its ambassador.
According to the company, Greendigo will use the funds to invest in its tech infra, brand building and marketing activities.
The startup is also looking to raise awareness about toxic chemicals used in apparel, especially baby clothing and plans to leverage Mirza’s mass appeal.
Preimage bags $1.7M in a seed round led by pi Ventures and others
Cloud-based 3D reconstruction application Preimage has raised USD 1.7 million in a seed funding round led by pi Ventures, Better Capital, Java Capital, and other prominent angel investors.
The firm said in a statement said that it will use the fresh funds to double down on building the product, scale its team across business functions, and build a robust go-to-market motion in the drone-based mapping and surveying use case.
“The market for the creation of 3D digital clones of real-world environments is gaining momentum across several businesses in different verticals. We are one of the first companies in the world to rethink this market and empower users with the advances of AI to handle the scale of visual data for the current decade,” said Ugam Kamat, Co-Founder and CEO, Preimage.
Kidbea gets Rs.1.5 Cr from Agility Ventures in Pre-Seed round
Kidbea, a sustainable kidswear brand, has secured a pre-seed funding round of Rs. 1.5 crores which was led by Agility Ventures.
Individual investors including Nandi Mehta, the chief financial officer of Kaaf Funds, Tapas Sahu, chairman of CII Jharkhand, Divij Bajaj, founder of Power Gummies, Abhishek Kocchar, founder of Diamond Overseas and Vivekananda Nareddula, founder of Apaizer, also participated in the round.
The firm intends to use the funds to boost marketing efforts, expand the team, and improve R&D activities within the Indian kidswear market.
Aman Kumar Mahto, the start-up's co-founder, added that Kidbea would launch designer Indian ethnic kidswear in the next two years. "We will also onboard top Indian fashion designers to make Kidbea among India's top three kidswear brands," he claimed.
UK-based Reall invests in Syntellect in a Pre Series A round
Syntellect, a Mumbai-based global affordable housing fintech startup, receives strategic investment in Pre Series A funding round from UK-based Reall – an impact organization in affordable housing.
The funds will be used to further build and promote Syntellect’s flagship product RightProfileTM for affordable housing solutions in India, Africa and South America, a statement said.
RightProfileTM is an inventive customer profiling and loan underwriting tool, empowering lenders worldwide by providing creditworthiness insights of the underserved, unbanked low-income informal customer segment, thus opening the floodgates of financial inclusion.
“With the investment received from Reall, we intend to grow our platform, take our capabilities to lenders and promoters across India, Africa and South America. We will bank the unbanked across the world and make affordable housing a reality while helping lenders expand their customer base without having to take unnecessary risks,” said Sumedha Salunkhe Naik, Founder and CEO, Syntellect.
BharatPe POS business hits profitability in two years of launch
Fintech unicorn BharatPe said that its POS business, BharatSwipe, had become profitable within two years after the product's launch. The company said this was the country's fastest-ever launch to profitability narrative for any brand in the Point-of-Sale (POS) sector.
BharatSwipe currently accounts for over 20 percent of the business's total payments Transaction Processed Value (TPV) on an annual basis, according to the company, and is the country's No.2 private POS player, with around 2 million units deployed across 250+ cities.
The company's founder Shashvat Nakrani, who also spearheaded the launch and scale-up of BharatSwipe, said, “BharatSwipe turning profitable is a great validation of the merchants’ trust in us and our business model. Today, we clock close to 4 million transactions on our POS devices monthly."
He said the company was committed to scaling the business and aiming to end this financial year with USD 6 billion in annualised TPV.
"Earlier this year, we had announced a strategic partnership with Ingenico and will be launching the new Axium POS machines coupled with PPaaS soon," Nakrani said.
Indifi disburses Rs 2800 Cr loans to 30,000+ underserved micro businesses
Indifi Technologies, the Gurugram-based fintech lender has disbursed 50,000 loans amounting Rs 2800 crores to more than 30,000 MSMEs, in the last 6 years.
Out of the loans disbursed, 20 percent were to women entrepreneurs. Further within the women-led businesses, 25 percent of the loans were given to first time borrowers and 25 percent to businesses from tier 2, 3 and 4 cities.
The share of loans disbursed to women MSMEs within the e-commerce and restaurant delivery verticals was 50 percent higher than the retail and offline verticals, a statement said.
“We believe MSMEs are a key driver in India’s economic ambitions and we are committed to empower their true potential. Micro entrepreneurs have historically struggled with access to timely capital but, with advancements in technology and data, the industry today is equipped with great tailwinds to change that,” added Alok Mittal, Co-Founder and CEO, Indifi Technologies.
Hiring in India amps up ahead of festive season — up 13% year-on-year: Naukri JobSpeak
A report by Naukri showcased a spurt in hiring activity in September this year with the Naukri JobSpeak index recording a double-digit year-on-year (YoY) growth at 13 percent and 10 percent sequential growth.
The insurance sector recorded a sequential YoY growth of 90 percent in September while growing by 71 percent year-to-date. 
Apart from insurance, the report revealed that Real Estate has also shown a significant jump in hiring intent as it grew by 66 percent YoY.  Other sectors such as BFSI, Travel & Hospitality, Oil & Gas, Auto, FMCG, and Retail also continue to do well.
While the IT sector shrank six percent year-on-year in September this year as against the same period last year, hiring activity has gone up by eight percent month-on-month (MoM) indicating signs of recovery. Apart from IT, Medical/Healthcare also shrank in September 2022.
Lending platform EarlySalary rebrands itself to Fibe
Digital lending startup EarlySalary has rebranded itself to Fibe and plans to clock assets under management (AUM) of USD 2.5 billion over the next five years.
“Fibe will focus on multi-channel and multi-vertical customer acquisition. The new branding backed by technology is bound to create ease of access and thereby creating a frictionless experience for availing of financial services. For the same, we have also created a new website called Fibe.in,” said Akshay Mehrotra, Co-founder and CEO, Fibe.
The firm said it has expanded its presence from 18 cities to 150 cities and increased its customer base from 35,000 new customers per month to 1 lakh new customers per month.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
SoftBank cuts about 150 staff globally: Report
Japan's SoftBank Group is cutting around 150 staff globally at its Vision Fund unit and SoftBank Group International as CEO Masayoshi Son retrenches following huge loss on his tech bets, Reuters reported, citing sources.
Notices are going out to employees on Thursday and will affect around 30% of employees across the two businesses. Major cost centres including the United States, Britain and China are affected, the report added.
The cuts will affect staff in the investment teams and back-office staff in departments such as finance and legal
Brands blast Twitter for ads next to child pornography accounts
Some major advertisers including Dyson, Mazda, Forbes and PBS Kids have suspended their marketing campaigns or removed their ads from parts of Twitter because their promotions appeared alongside tweets soliciting child pornography, the companies told Reuters. DIRECTV and Thoughtworks also said they have paused their advertising on Twitter.
Brands ranging from Walt Disney, NBCUniversal and Coca-Cola to a children's hospital were among more than 30 advertisers that appeared on the profile pages of Twitter accounts peddling links to the exploitative material, according to a Reuters review of accounts identified in new research about child sex abuse online from cybersecurity group Ghost Data.
Some of tweets include key words related to "rape" and "teens," and appeared alongside promoted tweets from corporate advertisers, the Reuters review found. In one example, a promoted tweet for shoe and accessories brand Cole Haan appeared next to a tweet in which a user said they were "trading teen/child" content.
In a statement, Twitter spokesperson Celeste Carswell said the company "has zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation" and is investing more resources dedicated to child safety, including hiring for new positions to write policy and implement solutions.
She added that Twitter is working closely with its advertising clients and partners to investigate and take steps to prevent the situation from happening again.
Tech IPO market faces worst year since global financial crisis
Initial public offerings by US tech companies have sunk to their lowest levels since the global financial crisis of 2008, as stock market volatility, soaring inflation, and interest rate hikes have soured investor sentiment towards new listings.
According to Refinitiv data, only 14 tech companies have floated their shares on stock exchanges so far this year, compared with 12 in 2009. The IPOs this year have raised USD 507 million, the lowest amount that has been raised through flotations since 2000.
Total IPO volumes fell 90.4 percent in the first nine months of this year, compared with last year. Analysts interviewed by Reuters said a steep drop in stock market valuations has deterred tech firms from pursuing stock market launches.
The forward P/E (price-to-earnings) ratio of the S&P Information Technology index was trading at 20.18 -- the lowest level since April 2020.
Amazon plans to close several US call centers: Report
Amazon is planning to close several call centers in the United States in a move toward remote working, Bloomberg News reported.
The shift to remote working across most industries was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic with cloud call center companies such as Five9 seeing a boom in business.
Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is also encouraging its customer service employees at some call centers in the country to work from home in a move that would save money on real estate, the report added.
Amazon is working with employees to make sure their transition to remote working is seamless, a spokesman for the company told Reuters, but did not comment on the planned closure of call centers.
Amazon raises hourly pay for warehouse and transportation workers
Amazon’s warehouse and transportation workers will receive an increased average starting pay of more than USD 19 per hour from USD 18, the world's largest online retailer said.
The wage hike would help the company attract and retain workers in a tightening US labor market as the peak season for gifting gets underway. Amazon said the pay hikes would cost the company nearly USD 1 billion over the next year.
Employees will now earn between USD 16 and USD 26 per hour depending on their position and location in the United States, the company added. Amazon's minimum wage for hourly employees in the US remains USD 15, a spokesperson told Reuters.
Google to build its first cloud region in Greece
Google will set up its first cloud region in Greece, the company said, giving a boost to the country's efforts to become a world cloud computing hub.
The deal is estimated to contribute some 2.2 billion euros (USD 2.13 billion) to Greece's economic output and create some 20,000 jobs by 2030, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
Since taking office in 2019, Mitsotakis's conservative government has stepped up moves to diversify the economy and attract foreign investment and high tech companies to the country which emerged from a decade-long financial crisis in 2018.
"Today, we are very pleased to be announcing our first cloud region in Greece which will provide storage and cloud services for Google customers," said Adaire Fox-Martin, president of Google Cloud International, announcing the investment at an event in Athens.
The investment would enable organisations to better use their data, help improve low latency and ensure users' security in the face of cybersecurity threats, she said.
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