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Startup Digest: IIFL to invest Rs 300 crore in early-stage fintech startups, Jupitice bags $4 million & India 3rd top country hosting unicorns, says report

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Startup Digest: IIFL to invest Rs 300 crore in early-stage fintech startups, Jupitice bags $4 million & India 3rd top country hosting unicorns, says report
IIFL Fintech Fund to invest Rs 300 crore in early-stage fintech startups
IIFL Fintech Fund is planning to invest Rs 300 crore in early-stage Indian fintech startups in the next two years to facilitate the creation of affordable products and technologies that aid financial inclusion.
The fund was set up in August 2021 with Rs 140 crore sponsorship from two IIFL Group firms—IIFL Finance and IIFL Securities. It has invested in four fintech startups—Leegality, FinBox, Trendlyne and DataSutram—in the first three months of its existence and is in advanced stages of discussion to invest in 10 more by the end of the current fiscal.
There is always a need for early-stage funding to nurture the fintech startup ecosystem, said R Venkataraman, co-promoter of IIFL Group and chairman of IIFL Securities. "Fintechs play a big role in creating cost-effective delivery of various financial products to the underserved and unbanked customers and help in accelerating the financial inclusion process," Venkataraman said.
Digital justice startup Jupitice bags $4 million from Dubai-based Almas Capital
Justech startup Jupitice has secured $4 million in a Pre-Series A round led by Almas Capital Ltd. The company has raised the fund in just a few months of its launch and the fresh capital will be utilised in product development and global marketing, it said.
"It was not easy to develop a workflow, especially for the justice sector, which is quite dynamic. It does not merely digitise paper-based processes but transforms processes for a digital environment that creates new capabilities, which were earlier, not conceivable in the traditional justice system,” said Raman Aggarwal, founder, and CEO of Jupitice.
Almas Capital, also known as Almascaps, manages its fund management company--Almas Global Opportunity Fund--in the Cayman Islands. Jupitice recently created a digital MSME court to help small businesses resolve disputes amicably without going to court. The firm has designed and developed the next-generation justice technology platform powered by AI/ ML and blockchain with an aim to reboot the global dispute resolution ecosystem and provide equal access to justice worldwide.
Neobank Open expected to enter unicorn club: Report
Neo-bank Open is in the advanced stages of talks to close a fresh funding round of $100-150 million after which it will be valued at $1.1-1.3 billion, Economic Times reported. Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority, is among the investors who have held talks with Open, sources said. The firm has also received a term sheet from existing backers like Tiger Global and Temasek to co-lead the new round, ET said.
If the deal goes through, Open’s valuation will more than double in two months, the report added. The company has closed its previous $100 million fundraise from Temasek Holdings, Google, Visa, and others in October and was valued at $500 million.
Edtech startup Dhurina raises $1.2 million from RVCF, LetsVenture and others
E-learning platform Dhurina has raised $1.2 million led by RVCF and other investors like LetsVenture, RBD Publication, India Accelerator, Precision Startup Advisory, and Pai Ventures. The freshly infused funds will be deployed towards technological enhancements, aggressive business growth, expansion and to improve the product’s functionality for students, the firm said in a statement.
It has previously raised $135K funding from prominent investors like Chandigarh Angels Network and Modulor Capital, and with the current round, the total investment raised stands at $1.3 million. Within two years of the launch, the company said it has been able to reach the milestone of 2.5 million downloads and is eyeing a $10 million in revenue run-rate by FY-23.
Mumbai Angels Network leads Rs 3.11 crore Seed round in Barneys Hard Seltzer
Mumbai Angels Network, a platform for early-stage investments has participated in Rs 3.11 crore seed round in Barneys Hard Seltzer along with Ah! Ventures, Chandigarh Angels, and others. The funds raised will be utilised in marketing, production and team expansion, the firm said in a statement.
Barneys is a zero sugar, low calorie, no-carb hard seltzer with 6 percent alcohol for those who enjoy their beer and wine but also want something easier and not too serious. Launched in Goa, where it is headquartered, the firm will be expanding to Karnataka and New Delhi in the next financial quarter.
Swiggy in talks to invest large sum in Rapido; might push bike-taxi startup closer to achieving unicorn status: Reports
Food-delivery company Swiggy is in the final stages of discussions to invest in Bengaluru-based bike-taxi startup Rapido, as per reports. The terms of the deal have been finalised wherein Swiggy would lead a $200 million round in Rapido. It’s likely to invest around $100 million whereas the remaining $100 million would come from new and existing investors, the reports added.
If the deal goes through it will help Swiggy enhance its last-mile delivery capabilities and bolster its quick commerce ambitions. The funding will also be Swiggy’s first bet in the mobility sector. Rapido had also held conversations with Zomato but the talks did not materialise. Meanwhile, Ola also held talks to acquire Rapido in a $500 million worth deal but the talks didn’t progress, the reports added. This investment from Swiggy will likely push Rapido closer to unicorn valuation. Rapido was valued at $235 million.
Shark Tank India invests Rs 5 million in skincare startup CosIQ
Skincare brand CosIQ has bagged Rs 5 million in its seed round from Shark Tank India. Judges of Shark Tank India Vineeta Singh, CEO, SUGAR Cosmetics, and Anupam Mittal, founder, and CEO, Shaadi.com – Peoples Group have invested in the skincare brand against 25 percent share of the company.
The company is a budding molecular skincare brand that offers a range of scientifically-backed products. "We plan to invest this amount to drive more innovation and bring cutting edge ingredients with safe formulations to the Indian market, said Angad Talwar, co-founder, CosIQ.
EV startup Altigreen bags order of 1500+ commercial EVs worth Rs 75 crore from MoEVing
EV manufacturer Altigreen is all set to deliver over 1500 road-ready EVs to -mobility technology platform MoEVing in 2022. Altigreen has bagged an order worth Rs 75 crore and is ramping up its manufacturing capabilities to begin deliveries from Q1 of FY23 itself, the firm said in a statement.
"To bring the best for our customers with innovation and indigenous technology, our team is constantly working to upgrade our manufacturing capabilities and we are confident of higher volume deliveries from the first quarter of FY23. Altigreen is ramping up its capacity from the current 6,000 per annum to 36,000 per annum in the next 12 months,” said Dr. Amitabh Saran, CEO, Altigreen.
Along with deploying a large number of vehicles nationally, MoEVing and Altigreen will be kicking off an initiative aimed at solving vehicle servicing.
Going forward MoEVing charging hubs across the country will be authorised service centre locations for Altigreen vehicles. The pilot for the same will kick off in Delhi and Bangalore charging hubs, the firm added.
Teen app Uable appoints Vasavi Kandula as co-founder
Uable, a life skill development online platform for children, has announced the appointment of Vasavi Kandula as its co-founder. Vasavi in her new role as a co-founder will lead the growth and product strategy at the firm. Uable came out of its beta stage in September 2021 and Vasavi was instrumental in accelerating the firm’s growth in the last three months, it said in a statement.
The teen-only app claims to have amassed a quarter million users and under Vasavi’s leadership, aims to onboard 10 million teenagers by the end of 2023.
Uable allows only users between the age group of 13-19 years to sign up and become independent content creators.
WE HUB along with WiDS, Stanford University & Mathworks to train 100 girls in Data Science
WE HUB, a state-led incubator by the Telangana government to foster and promote women entrepreneurship today in collaboration with WiDS (Women in Data Science), Stanford University and Mathworks on-boarded eight schools aiming to upskill girl students.
This seven-week programme will offer 100 girl students from the selected schools an opportunity to gain skills in the data science field, the incubator said in a statement. This initiative by WE HUB aims at encouraging more girls to pursue STEM courses as well as understand the impact of data science in their career choice, it added.
The schools will conduct aptitude tests using WE HUB's test format, and 12-13 girls will be selected from each school for rigorous training from WE HUB and Stanford's WiDS over the next seven weeks. The program is designed to enhance the learning capabilities of the shortlisted 100 students regardless of their academic background.
India displaces UK to be 3rd top country hosting unicorns: Hurun Research Institute Report
Adding 33 'unicorns' in a single year has helped India displace the United Kingdom to be third in the list of countries that are home to such enterprises valued at over $1 billion each, according to a report by Hurun Research Institute. India was placed fourth when it comes to the number of unicorns last year. However, the US and northern neighbour China, who occupy the first two ranks, are way ahead, the data showed.
The US added 254 unicorns and now totals 487 companies in the coveted list, while China added 74 to take its tally to 301 start-ups having a valuation of over $1 billion, it said. The top-two occupants are home to 74% of the unicorn universe and the overall list saw 673 'new faces' and 201 drop-offs, the report revealed.
Of the drop-offs, 28 percent or 162 companies were 'promoted' out of the unicorn list, after going public or being acquired, while seven percent or 39 companies were 'demoted' after their valuations dropped below $1 billion. The UK added only 15 unicorns to take its total to 39, and hence got displaced by India, it said.
"India is in the midst of a start-up boom, more than doubling its unicorns to take the country's official tally of unicorns to 54, and overtake the UK to third place in the world," Hurun Report India's managing director and chief researcher Anas Rahman Junaid said.
He said in addition to the domestic companies, there are 65 unicorns founded by Indians abroad, mainly in Silicon Valley. The Indian unicorns list is led by edtech start-up Byju's with a valuation of $21 billion and followed by Inmobi ($12 billion), Oyo ($9.5 billion) and Razorpay ($7.5 billion), it said.
IPOs break records in 2021, leads to a 20-year high in global markets: EY Report
Global initial public offering (IPO) issuances and proceeds set a new record in 2021, rising 64 percent and 67 percent respectively compared with 2020, as per EY’s latest Global IPO Trends report. The fourth quarter of the year was particularly active, with deal numbers reaching their highest since the same period in 2007. However, growth in IPO activity in the Asia Pacific was relatively weak, the report revealed.
Overall, 2021 saw a total of 2,388 deals raising $453.3 billion in proceeds, a 64 percent and 67 percent respective increase YOY, the findings showed. Q4 2021 was the most active fourth quarter by deal numbers since Q4 2007, seeing a 16 percent (621) and 9 percent ($112.2 billion) increase by both total IPOs and by proceeds respectively, compared to Q4 2020, it added.
The report highlighted that all global markets experienced overall increases by both IPO volume and proceeds, but Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa (EMEIA) exchanges produced the highest growth, seeing a 158 percent increase by the number of IPOs (724) and a 214 percent increase by proceeds ($109.4 billion).
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Tencent hands shareholders $16.4 billion windfall in the form of JD.com stake
Chinese gaming and social media company Tencent will pay out a $16.4 billion dividend by distributing most of its JD.com stake, weakening its ties to the e-commerce firm and raising questions about its plans for other holdings, Reuters reported. The move comes as Beijing leads a broad regulatory crackdown on technology firms, taking aim at their overseas growth ambitions and domestic concentration of market power.
Tencent said on Thursday it will transfer HK$127.69 billion ($16.37 billion) worth of its JD.com stake to shareholders, slashing its holding in China's second-biggest e-commerce company to 2.3 percent from around 17 percent now and losing its spot as JD.com's biggest shareholder to Walmart.
The owner of WeChat, which first invested in JD.com in 2014, said it was the right time for the divestment, given the e-commerce firm had reached a stage where it can self-finance its growth. Chinese regulators have this year blocked Tencent's proposed $5.3 billion merger of the country's top two videogame streaming sites, ordered it to end exclusive music copyright agreements, and found WeChat illegally transferred user data.
Russia fines Twitter for not deleting banned content, says court
A Moscow court on Thursday said it had fined Twitter 3 million roubles ($40,920) for failing to delete content Russia deems illegal, the latest in a string of penalties against foreign technology firms, as per Reuters. Moscow has increased pressure on Big Tech this year in a campaign that critics characterise as an attempt by the Russian authorities to exert tighter control over the internet, something they say threatens to stifle individual and corporate freedom.
Moscow's Tagansky District Court said Twitter had been fined 3 million roubles for failing to delete banned content. Twitter, however, has denied allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behaviour. The court later said software development website GitHub, which Microsoft purchased, had been fined 1 million roubles for the same offence.
US opens investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles over game feature
US auto safety regulators have opened a formal safety investigation into 580,000 Tesla vehicles sold since 2017 over the automaker's decision to allow games to be played on the front center touchscreen, according to a Reuters report. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said its preliminary evaluation covers various 2017-2022 Tesla Model 3, S, X, and Y vehicles. This functionality, referred to as “Passenger Play,” "may distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash," the agency said.
NHTSA said it has "confirmed that this capability has been available since December 2020 in Tesla 'Passenger Play'-equipped vehicles." Before then, the game feature "was enabled only when the vehicle was in Park." NHTSA said in a statement it was "committed to ensuring the highest safety standards on the nation’s roadways."
The agency said the decision to open the investigation was based on reports "Tesla’s gameplay functionality is visible from the driver's seat and can be enabled while driving the vehicle." The Governors Highway Safety Association said it was pleased with NHTSA's Tesla safety investigation "and want to remind all drivers to be alert and focused on the road when you're behind the wheel."
Tesla CEO Musk says he is 'almost done' with stock sales; shares rally
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said he was "almost done" with his stock sales after selling over $15 billion worth for more than one month.
The billionaire had made confusing statements as to whether he might or might not be done with his stated goal of selling 10 percent of his Tesla shares.
"I sold enough stock to get to around 10% plus the option exercise stuff and I tried to be extremely literal here," he said in an interview on Tuesday with conservative satirical website Babylon Bee. But on Wednesday he suggested he might not be done. "This assumes completion of the 10b sale," he tweeted, referring to his prearranged sales plan related to his options.
"There are still a few tranches left, but almost done," he tweeted later.
Under the Rule 10b5-1 trading plan set up in September, he has exercised stock options that expire next year and sold a portion of the stocks to pay taxes, according to Reuters. Following a flurry of sales, Musk still has about 1.5 million stock options that expire in August next year. Tesla shares ended 7.5% higher at $1,008.87, valuing the company at just over $1 trillion.
SenseTime to price shares at HK$3.85 in Hong Kong IPO, sources tell Reuters
Chinese artificial intelligence startup SenseTime Group plans to price its shares at HK$3.85 ($0.4936) each to raise $740 million in its revised Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO), sources told Reuters. The company sold 1.5 billion shares in the deal, its second attempt to list in Hong Kong in a matter of weeks. It had flagged a HK$3.85 to $HK3.99 per share price range when the deal was relaunched on Monday.
Its initial attempt was shelved after SenseTime was placed on a US investment blacklist as the institutional bookbuild was being finalised. The decision by the US Treasury meant US investors could not buy into the offering which was withdrawn while SenseTime revised its prospectus. SenseTime increased the value of the cornerstone investors from $450 million to about $511 million in a bid to have the IPO carried out successfully.
US SEC rejects Apple bid to block shareholder proposal on forced labour
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has declined an effort by Apple to skip a shareholder proposal asking the iPhone maker to provide greater transparency in its efforts to keep forced labour out of its supply chain.
A group of shareholders earlier this year asked Apple's board to prepare a report on how the company protects workers in its supply chain from forced labour. The request for information covered the extent to which Apple has identified suppliers and sub-suppliers that are a risk for forced labour, and how many suppliers Apple has taken action against.
In a letter from the SEC reviewed by Reuters, regulators denied Apple's move to block the proposal, saying that "it does not appear that the essential objectives of the proposal have been implemented" so far. The letter means that Apple will have to face a vote on the proposal at its annual shareholder meeting next year, barring a deal with the shareholders who made it.
US antitrust enforcer advancing probe into Amazon's cloud unit: Report
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is advancing an antitrust probe into Amazon’s cloud computing business, Bloomberg News reported. FTC officials have contacted companies in the past few months to gather information about competition issues related to Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to the report.
The probe was undertaken as part of an investigation begun during the Trump administration, which kicked off investigations into the four tech giants. "The FTC doesn’t confirm the existence of or comment on investigations," said agency spokeswoman Betsy Lordan.
European Commission grants approval for Discovery acquisition of WarnerMedia
Discovery said that the European Commission has granted unconditional antitrust approval to its proposed acquisition of WarnerMedia assets from AT&T. As per Reuters, the regulatory approval moves the deal one step closer to being finalized. Discovery has said it expects to complete its WarnerMedia transaction by mid-2022, subject to other regulatory approvals.
AT&T announced in May that it would spin off its WarnerMedia division and merge it with Discovery, effectively unwinding its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner that closed in 2018.
Crypto pioneer Justin Sun plans space trip with Blue Origin
Cryptocurrency pioneer Justin Sun will fly to space on billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin's flight next year and invite five other crewmates, joining a small list of wealthy entrepreneurs indulging in space travel. Sun, who founded blockchain platform TRON, also revealed himself to be the anonymous bidder who paid $28 million in an auction for a seat to join Bezos aboard Blue Origin's first crewed mission in July.
"I won the auction six months ago but missed the launch. However, this did not stop my love for space," Sun said in a tweet. "So I'm very excited to announce this news and turn this opportunity into a voyage with five other warriors to space with me because I believe that space belongs to everyone!" Sun also said the five people he will nominate over the coming months may include a member of the TRON DAO community, long-term holders of certain cryptocurrencies and other leaders from fashion, technology and entrepreneurship.
Originally from China, Sun said last week he was appointed Grenada's representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He would be bringing the flag of the Caribbean nation with him on the space trip.
Recently, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa returned to Earth after a 12-day journey into space — making him the latest to have traveled to space via commercial space travel ventures founded by billionaires like Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk.
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