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Funding Rundown: Sense raises $50 mn led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Pocket FM secures $22.4 mn, CHARGE+ZONE raises $10 mn bridge round

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Here's a look at the action in the start-up space. Start-ups from a variety of sectors have been mopping up fund for further growth.

Funding Rundown: Sense raises $50 mn led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Pocket FM secures $22.4 mn, CHARGE+ZONE raises $10 mn bridge round

Here’s a lowdown of the top deals from the start-up universe.

HR tech start-up Sense raises $50 mn led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2: Reports

AI-driven talent engagement and communication platform Sense has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

This financing comes a few months after $16-million Series C round in June 2021. Sense has, so far, raised $90 million from investors such as Accel, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Avataar Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures, and Signia Venture Partners, as per reports.

The start-up plans to use the funds for international expansion, with the focus on high-growth markets such as Western Europe. The proceeds will also be used to ramp up its go-to-market strategy and increase awareness with companies that hire at scale across industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, logistics and retail, reports added.

Founded in 2015, Sense enables talent acquisition teams to accelerate their hiring while enabling them to personalise interactions at every stage of the employment cycle.

Read also| Startup funding

Pocket FM secures $22.4 mn in Series B funding round from Lightspeed

Audio-based over-the-top (OTT) platform, Pocket FM, has raised $22.4 million as part of its Series B funding round led by Lightspeed,

The funding round also saw participation from Times Group and first-time investor in the company, Tanglin Venture Partners.

The start-up said it will use the fresh capital to scale up its operations, and further bolster its community of content creators, while increasing its presence across geographies. The company will also use the proceeds from the fund-raise to invest in technology and improve recommendations for users.

“We are at a juncture where both Pocket FM and the overall audio OTT space are witnessing exponential growth. Audio storytelling has now become a mainstream content format for entertainment and our mission is to build Pocket FM as a global entertainment service provider,” said Rohan Nayak, co-founder and CEO, Pocket FM.

Pocket FM allows creators on its platform to offer premium audio-based long form content in eight Indian languages. Within three years, the company claims to have registered over 40 million downloads, 3 billion monthly listening minutes, and more than 110 minutes being spent by users daily on its app.

CHARGE+ZONE raises $10 mn bridge round from Venture Catalysts

Electric vehicle-charging infra start-up CHARGE+ZONE has raised $10 million as a bridge round, led by Venture Catalysts and others.

The funding will help the start-up in amping up its already existing charging network of over 1,000 points across 19 cities, largely for electric buses and cars, it said in a statement.

“With FAME-II, positive government regulations and clarity on EV charging protocols, we have already commenced the distribution of AC-Type2 EV charging network as well as intercity Fast DC charging networks for the 1,500 new points over next 150 days,” said Kartikey Hariyani, CEO and Co-founder, CHARGE+ZONE.

The company will further raise Series A funding worth $50 million in 2022. Launched in 2018, CHARGE+ZONE is an EV-charging infrastructure company specialising in B2B and B2C charging services by using smart-grid networks.

Wispr AI bags $4.6 mn from NEA and 8VC in seed funding round

Neurotechnology start-up Wispr AI has raised $4.6 million in seed funding, co-led by New Enterprise Associates and 8VC.

Other prominent angel investors who participated in the financing round include CTRL-Labs CSO and Co-founder Josh Duyan, Berkeley Neuroscience Professor and iota Biosciences Co-CEO Jose Carmena, Warby Parker CEO Dave Gilboa, Stanford NLP Professor Chris Manning, Salesforce Chief Scientist Richard Socher and Nesos CTO Vivek Sharma.

The start-up plans to use the funds to accelerate the development of the functional thought-powered digital interface.

Founded in 2020, Wispr AI is building a wearable that can convert deliberate thought into action and high-bandwidth digital input.  The company has a team of neuroscientists, hardware engineers, ML engineers and product engineers.

LoanKuber raises Rs 13 cr in Pre-Series A round led by Lets Venture

Loan marketplace platform LoanKuber has raised a pre-Series A round of Rs 13 crore, led by Lets Venture and Inflection Point Ventures, among other investors.

The start-up said it will use the proceeds for building and expanding the team, enhancing the existing tech stack, onboarding 1,000 MSMEs and rapidly growing its loan book to Rs 75 crore in the next 12 months.

Founded in 2017, LoanKuber is a digital-first automated mortgage platform enabling mortgage lending MSMEs against owned residential collateral. The firm is currently operational in 10 cities across NCR.

AI Health Highway raises seed round from Venture Catalysts, The Chennai Angels

AI Health Highway, a medtech start-up incubated at Society for Innovation and Development of IISC, has raised an undisclosed seed round of funding from Venture Catalysts and The Chennai Angels.

The start-up will use this capital for expansion and product development.

According to this firm, non-communicable disorders (NCDs) kill 41 million people every year globally and cardiovascular disorders account for the majority of the NCD deaths, i.e., 17.9 million deaths annually.

The company, through its product AiSteth, offers real-time visualisation and recording of heart sounds on smart phones for remote monitoring of heart/lung sounds for “at high-risk groups” with co-morbidity (chronic heart and respiratory conditions).

KalaGato raises undisclosed amount in seed round led by 9Unicorns

Mobile app buy-outs company KalaGato has raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding led by accelerator VC 9Unicorns.

The company will use this capital for the acquisition of high-growth mobile apps, it said in a statement. KalaGato aims to reach a billion users over the next 5 years by identifying and acquiring undervalued mobile apps, it added.

“There are approximately 10 million apps globally, with the market touching $700 billion annually. This is expected to cross $1.2 trillion in the near future, but functions in a disaggregated ecosystem. There are no clear exit opportunities for independent developers. Through our data platform, we have identified an exceptional opportunity,” said KalaGato CEO Aman Kumar.

The company optimises revenues and expenditures by consolidating costs centrally, optimising inventory and passing on the benefits through enhanced revenue for the apps.

We Founder Circle backs US-based content community start-up Commaful

US-based content community platform, Commaful, has raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round led by early-stage startup investor We Founder Circle.

N K Securities and angel investors, including Hitesh Dhawan, Founder, Neuronimbus, Gaurav Juneja, Chief Executive Officer, Ruchi Twisters and Siddharth Shah, Managing Director Rajesh Motors, also participated in the funding round.

The company will use the funds to build, maintain and scale the technology infrastructure that enhances the experiences of the community, it said in a statement. Commaful will also focus on activities related to scaling operations, building the brand and creating a community with creative campaigns.

Commaful counts content creation and consumption platforms like Episodes, Wattpad and Substack, among others, as its competitors.

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