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    Funding Rundown: VerSe Innovation raises $805M, Speciale Invest closes Second Fund at Rs 286Cr & Aavishkaar Capital marks first close of its sixth India fund at $130M

    Funding Rundown: VerSe Innovation raises $805M, Speciale Invest closes Second Fund at Rs 286Cr & Aavishkaar Capital marks first close of its sixth India fund at $130M

    Funding Rundown: VerSe Innovation raises $805M, Speciale Invest closes Second Fund at Rs 286Cr & Aavishkaar Capital marks first close of its sixth India fund at $130M
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    By Aishwarya Anand   IST (Updated)


    Here’s a lowdown of the top deals from the startup space.

    Here’s a lowdown of the top deals from the startup space.
    Dailyhunt parent VerSe Innovation raises $805M at a valuation of $5Bn
    VerSe Innovation, the parent of news aggregator Dailyhunt and short video app Josh, has raised $805 million at a valuation of $5 billion as part of a Series J funding round.
    This is also the largest funding round by an Indian startup this year, followed by Swiggy which raised $700 million. Polygon, Byju's, and Uniphore raised over $400 million each.
    VerSe Innovation said CPP Investments led the funding round with USD 425 million investment, while other prominent investors included Ontario Teachers', Luxor Capital and Sumeru Ventures. Existing investors Sofina Group, Baillie Gifford and others will also participate north of their pro-rata in this round.
    Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial advisor to VerSe Innovation on the transaction.
    The company has raised over $2 billion in funding so far, of which $1.5 billion was raised in 2021 alone. It plans on both deepening and broadening its AI/ML (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning) and data science capabilities to further cement its position across all user, engagement and retention metrics.
    Besides, the firm aims to drive deeper monetisation including influencers, e-commerce and live streaming and forays into Web 3.0 experiences across its local language creator base of over 50 million creators as well as its local language content ecosystem which experiences over 80 billion video plays per month.
    Speciale Invest closes Second Fund at Rs 286Cr with focus on DeepTech & SaaS
    Seed stage venture capital firm Speciale Invest has announced the final close of its second fund at Rs 286 crore. This is more than twice the expected corpus of Rs 100 crore announced at the time of launch in April, 2021.
    The fund, which primarily invests in deep science and enterprise technology across India and Asia, will now look to invest in more than 20 early-stage startups through pre-seed and seed rounds with the average cheque sizes ranging from $100,000 to $ 1 million.
    Speciale Invest is focused on investing in startups building enterprise software products (including SaaS), developers tools and frontier technologies like climate, advanced materials, space tech, robotics, photonics, alternative energy and more.
    Aavishkaar Capital marks first close of its sixth India fund at $130M
    Aavishkaar Capital, the impact investing arm of the Aavishkaar Group, has Rs 1,000 crore ($130 million) towards the first close of its eighth impact fund.
    The fund will be looking to increase the size of this fund over the next few months, the firm said in a statement. It is currently backed by British International Investment, Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets and Fund of Funds for Startups.
    The ‘Aavishkaar India Fund VI’ will invest in businesses, largely MSME’s with technology as a key enabler in the core sectors of sustainable Agri-tech, Financial Inclusion and Essential services with a focus on Climate-tech, with the intent to build commercially attractive and impactful businesses, it added.
    “We are excited about partnering with the opportunities that tech led businesses are able to disrupt in traditional sectors like agriculture, financial services and essential services. We are confident of delivering attractive returns whilst bringing about a significant positive change in the lives of the people,” said Sushma Kaushik, Partner, Aavishkaar Capital.
    The new fund is the group’s sixth India-focused investment vehicle. It is also 2x certified, meaning almost 30 percent of the money has to be invested in meeting gender diversity goals by backing companies having women founders or at senior leadership roles or with products catering to women.
    The fund will be led by partners of Aavishkaar Capital – Vineet Rai, Sushma Kaushik, Anurag Agrawal and Tarun Mehta.
    Aavishkaar’s Fund V was a Rs 800 crore pool which invested across more than 15 companies. Since 2008, the group has invested in 62 companies and has secured partial or full exits from 38 portfolio firms.
    WestBridge Capital leads $30M Series B round in co-working startup IndiQube
    Co-working startup IndiQube has bagged $30 million in a Series B funding round of funding led by WestBridge Capital.
    The round also saw participation from its existing investors Ashish Gupta, former managing director of Helion Ventures. Out of $30 million, IndiQube’s promoters have infused $17 million, the firm said in a statement.
    “Over the next two years, we plan to more than double our PAN India footprint to over 10 Mn Sq.Ft., venture into 15+ Tier II cities and further ramp up technology integration, creating a consistent experience for our clients,” said Rishi Das, Co-founder, IndiQube.
    IndiQube counts Walmart, Philips, KPMG, BYJU’s, Unacademy, Grofers, Hitachi, among others as its clients.
    Health communications platform Doceree secures $11M Series A round
    Doceree, a digital platform meant for networking of healthcare professionals and physicians, has gotten $11 million in Series A funding round led by Eight Roads Ventures, a global investment firm backed by Fidelity.
    F-Prime Capital and Alkemi Growth Capital also participated in the round.
    As per the firm, it will use the fresh funds to scale its global operations, expand partnerships, augment its product portfolio and advance the platform’s measurement and behavior lift capabilities to bring greater transparency to results.
    The funding will also help it embolden healthcare professional (HCP) communications for pharma and life sciences brands, agencies and health information technology platforms, the firm added.
    “It is critical for industry players like pharma companies and HCP-only platforms to understand and react to the digital touchpoints and behaviors of HCPs for delivering messages they resonate with,” Harshit Jain, founder & Global CEO, Doceree said.
    “Our identity resolution technology and tailored products for different markets that adhere to the country-specific regulations and guidelines make it easy for pharma brands to engage with HCPs on digital mediums, while enabling publishers to improve engagement on their platforms with relevant medical information from pharmaceutical and life sciences brands,” Jain added.
    The company said that it has expanded to key international locations, such as emerging markets in the UK & Europe, within two years of the platform’s launch in the US.
    Varun Dhawan invests in cloud-kitchen operator Curefoods
    Cloud-kitchen operator Curefoods has received an undisclosed investment from Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan. The firm has on-boarded the actor as the brand ambassador for its food brand EatFit.
    “The intersection of food and lifestyle has always been an area that excites me. In an age where the need for an active healthy lifestyle is more pronounced than ever, food – especially healthy food – definitely requires more attention. I strongly resonate with Curefoods and Eatfit's mission to provide access to multiple food categories while featuring healthy options. I look for the same while eyeing my fitness goals. As such, I am beyond excited to endorse Ankit and his team as an investor and brand ambassador. I can't wait to show the audience some of the great campaigns we have in the works.”
    Dhawan’s investment in the cloud kitchen operator comes along with the company's launch of its direct-to-consumer food ordering platform,
    The platform is aimed at providing direct access to popular brands under Curefoods. It will also play a role in inculcating sustainable food ordering habits by promoting its food subscription options, especially for its healthy food brands, which customers can consume multiple times a month, the company said in a statement.
    “Varun is passionate about food while also being a strong believer in eating healthy and being fit. He exudes positive energy and immense warmth which make him such a huge hit with his fanbase. Our intention behind having him as the face of EatFit is to tie in these aspects of his personality with our own brand persona,” said Ankit Nagori, founder, Curefoods. “Having him with Curefoods as an investor too adds another level to our association with him. His belief in our capabilities and vision really encourages us further to scale greater heights. We are excited to have him on board right around the time of our D2C platform launch and hope that we can make greater headway in the industry together,” he added.
    Earlier this year, Curefoods announced the acquisition of Frozen Bottle. It has also bagged the south India franchise rights for pizza chain Sbarro. In January, the company secured $62 million in funding from Iron Pillar, Chiratae Ventures, Sixteenth Street Capital, Accel Partners, and Binny Bansal. It has over 150 kitchens operating in 15 cities.
    Crypto wallet Leap gets $3.2M from token sale
    Leap, a non-custodial wallet for the Terra blockchain, has secured $3.2 million in a token round led by blockchain-focused investment firm CoinFund and Pantera Capital.
    The private sale also saw participation from Arrington Capital, Accel and Terraform Labs. The firm intends to use the proceeds from the sale to expand the team in the fields of engineering and design and product development, it said in a statement.
    The company is looking at scaling its team in the coming months in India. Leap is currently working closely with the Terra India team to raise awareness and build a robust DeFi ecosystem in the country.
    Crypto platform Kassio secures $1.6M in pre-seed round
    Kassio, a crypto-for-everyone platform that allows users to buy, sell, borrow, earn and utilize cryptos, has raised $1.6 million in its pre-seed round led by two major European investment funds and Aalto Capital.
    The firm will use the funds to launch its operation in the Indian and European markets, further strengthening its product development process and adding more talent to the senior management across its legal, compliance, institutional relationships, and design functions, Kassio said in a statement.
    While the product is set to exit private beta in mid-April in India and mid-May in the EU, the platform already has an AUM (Digital Assets under Management) worth $16 million and a loan playbook of $9 million.
    Agritech startup TraceX raises $1M from investors
    Agritech firm TraceX Technologies has raised $1 million (about Rs 7.5 crore) from investors including Nabard-backed NABVENTURES fund.
    In its pre-series A funding, Paipal Ventures, an early stage family office investment fund, and angel investor Sunil Kumar also participated.
    The newly raised capital will be used towards scaling up operations across geographies in India and in international markets, enhancing the technology platform, foraying into other value chains and for building high performance teams across functions, the company statement said.
    Founded in 2019, the company is in the business of enhancing supply chain traceability and transparency. bags undisclosed sum in Seed round
    Healthtech startup has raised an undisclosed sum in seed funding round which was led by Angel Investors from Kuwait and USA.
    GetFive Corporate Advisors, an Ahmedabad-based boutique Investment Banking and M&A Transaction Advisory firm helped Rises to secure the seed funding from the Angel Investors.
    This capital infusion will help accelerate the startup’s growth and market expansion. The funds from the seed round will be used for product enhancement, enhancing the technical team and improving market outreach, the firm said in a statement. team is aiming to get several large hospitals and diagnostics clinics onboard in the coming months. It is also looking to set up of a footprint in the US market while cementing the several strategic partnerships.
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