There were several developments in the startup space during the day on Monday, which include KKR invests $625 million in Vini Cosmetics; Progcap raises $25 mn in Series B funding round from Tiger Global & Sequoia; Investment startup Upside AI raises $1.2 mn in seed round; home fitness startup Portl raises undisclosed amount from Kalaari Capital; home fitness startup Portl raises undisclosed amount from Kalaari Capital; Centre to issue SOP for new IT rules and big US retailers line up deals to take on Amazon Prime Day frenzy. Here are the startup stories that made headlines today.
KKR invests $625 mn in Vini Cosmetics
US private equity firm KKR has invested $625 million for a controlling stake in Vini Cosmetics, maker of Fogg deodorants. Existing investor WestBridge Capital will acquire a further stake from the founder group to increase its shareholding in Vini.
The founders will continue to hold a significant stake in Vini and collaborate with KKR in the next phase of the company’s growth, a joint statement from the company and the fund said.
Vini manufactures, markets and distributes branded deodorants, cosmetics and toiletries through its flagship brand Fogg. Vini’s products are also sold internationally with a presence in South Asia and the Middle East, the company said in a statement.
Progcap raises $25 mn in Series B funding round from Tiger Global & Sequoia
Progcap, a fintech startup focused on retail financing, has raised $25 million in a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global and existing investor Sequoia Capital India.
In February, the company had raised $1.4 million in debt from Stride Ventures and others. The newly infused equity capital will be used by the startup to expand its team and diversify its product offerings, as per the company statement.
“We are excited to have Sequoia Capital India double down on Progcap and thrilled to have Tiger Global join us in our journey. The continued faith that our customers, partners and investors have put in us is a testament to our teams’ unrelenting efforts,” Progcap founders Shrivastava and Chandra said in the statement.
Progcap offers collateral-free loans to retailers across the country. The company claims that it has a user base of 3 lakh retailers across 50 corporates and Rs 1,500 crore in loan disbursals till date. The fintech startup aims to reach more than 5 million enterprises by the end of 2023.
Investment startup Upside AI raises $1.2 mn in seed round
Tech-based investment management startup Upside AI, has raised a seed round of $ 1.2 million, led by venture capital fund, Endiya Partners.
Other investors in the round include Vijay Kedia – veteran stock market investor; Ajay Nanavati – Chairman of Quantum Advisors, previously Chairman of Syndicate Bank, MD of 3M; and Gopichand Katragadda – CEO of Myelin Foundry, ex-CTO of Tata Group.
The startup will use the funds raised to scale up its distribution, product, and tech teams that will focus on growing assets under management (AUM) from high net-worth individuals, family offices, and institutional investors.
According to the company’s statement, Upside AI ranks among the top-performing Portfolio Management Services in the country, delivering 71 percent cumulative returns since July 2019.
Home fitness startup Portl raises undisclosed amount from Kalaari Capital
Home fitness and wellness startup Portl on Monday said it has raised a seed round of funding from Kalaari Capital but didn’t disclose further details.
The funds raised will be utilised to grow the team across hardware, engineering and artificial intelligence domains and expand sales and marketing efforts for the Portl range of products in India.
Portl, which works on home fitness and wellness, said it has built two products using its proprietary Portl Smart Mirror platform that provides personalised workouts, nutrition advice and mental wellness programmes, the company said.
Superplum raises pre-Series A funding from marquee investors
Agritech startup Superplum has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-series A investment round from Silicon Valley’s most notable investors. Superplum has raised $6.8 million since its inception in 2019.
The fresh capital is being used to build out farm infrastructure, augment the management team and to expand the company distribution capabilities.
PazCare raises undisclosed capital from BookMyShow co-founders, others
Employee benefits and insurtech platform PazCare has raised an undisclosed amount from marquee angel investors and entrepreneurs. These include Ashish Hemrajani, founder and CEO of BookMyShow, and Parikshit Dar, co-founder and director, BookMyShow; Haresh Chawla, founding CEO, Network18 and Partner, TrueNorth; Mohit Garg, co-founder, Oloid and Mindtickle, and Deepak Diwakar, co-founder and CTO, Mindtickle, among several others.
The amount raised by the firm is a part of its seed round, marking its first external fundraise. The company will use the funds raised to strengthen its insurance and technology infrastructure in a bid to build a stronger business and employee foundation while expanding its client base and partnership network.
India Accelerator and Lyxel&Flamingo invest in Answer Genomics
Machine Learning and Genomics startup Answer Genomics has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from India Accelerator – one of the fastest-growing Accelerators in Asia, and Lyxel&Flamingo, an independent digital media company.
The startup was a part of IA's seed-stage accelerator program – the only GAN partnered, a mentorship-driven program in India. According to a statement by the company, Answer Genomics combines genomic, physiological, and physical parameters to provide the most comprehensive picture of the present and future health.
The company is currently tying up with organisations to offer its services to employees as well as to individuals who can register on the platform and get personalised nutrition and superfoods recommendations after detailed genetic diagnostics, the company added.
Oyo Vs creditors: Only Rs 13 lakh of Rs 225 cr claims valid, co tells NCLAT; judge says separate IBC provision needed for startups
As several operational creditors are fighting an insolvency case against hospitality unicorn Oyo over alleged unpaid dues, advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the Softbank-backed company, told the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal on Monday that most of the claims against the company are not credible.
Interestingly, while hearing the arguments of some of the creditors, NCLAT judge Justice Anant Bijay Singh remarked that the IBC needs a separate provision for startups, which have no assets.
"I am informed that of the alleged Rs 225 crore claims against Oyo by alleged operational creditors, the Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) has found prima facie only Rs 13 lakh," Rohatgi said.
However, the IRP is still to put the details of the total amount claimed by creditors on record. The IRP in the matter did not give a comment to CNBC TV 18 on the statements made by the Oyo counsel.
While Oyo has settled a matter with a Gurgaon-based hotel owner which had initially dragged the company to NCLT over non-payment of dues of Rs 16 lakh, several other creditors have now intervened in the matter, including the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), which represents several hotels across the country.
The NCLAT now has to decide on whether these intervening creditors and their complaints should be admitted, given that the original party has sought to withdraw the case. The NCLAT judge also remarked how an insolvency case can proceed against a company which has no brick-and-mortar assets.
The Ahmedabad branch of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had in April ordered a corporate insolvency resolution process of Oyo Hotels and Homes Pvt Ltd, over a payment default of Rs 16 lakh to the Gurgaon-based hotel owner.
However, Oyo had appealed in the NCLAT and received a stay on the formation of a Committee of Creditors. The company has also made an off-court settlement with the hotel owner.
The matter has been posted for hearing by the NCLAT next on June 23.
Centre to issue SOP for new IT rules
The government is likely to soon bring out a standard operating procedure (SOP) on the new Information Technology Rules. The Centre will consult with the industry and stakeholders, as well as address their concerns about the new rules.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will also release a set of "frequently asked questions" (FAQs) to simplify the requirements in the rules, as mentioned in a report by Business Standard.
The FAQs will be in a very simple format, explaining the IT rules, but the SOPs might take longer due to the consultations with various stakeholders, an official told Business Standard.
The industry has been seeking clarity on issues including appointing officers under the new IT rules which came to effect from May 25.
FlexiLoans.com partners with Retailio to offer working capital loans
Fintech platform FlexiLoans.com has partnered with a B2B healthcare marketplace Retailio, to provide working capital loans to its more than 1,00,000 retailers and distributors across the country.
The partnership aims to fund over 15,000 pharma retailers in the next 18 months. It will also enable the pharmacies to cater to the increased demand for healthcare products and stock holding period by ensuring that funding for their working capital needs are taken care of digitally within 24- 48 hours of them applying for a loan, the company said.
Ikea and Rockefeller foundations in $10 bn clean energy push
The Ikea Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation have joined forces to set up a $ 1 billion global platform to fight climate change and energy poverty.
Each foundation will provide $500m of risk capital and they hope to attract $10bn of additional funds this year from international development agencies, before opening up to institutional investors in a bid to expand renewables investment in countries such as India, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
Ikea Foundation said the new global platform will oversee the organisations' combined matching funds.
Zupee steps up to improve employability skills
Amid the job crisis due to the pandemic, skill-based gaming platform Zupee has stepped up to help improve employability skills and boost equal opportunities. Zupee has announced the launch of 'Zupee Skilling Academy' (ZSA) with an aim of skilling, upskilling and educating young, disadvantaged citizens.
"The idea is to prepare them for the future by getting them ready through skill training and ensuring that everyone in the program has equal opportunities for employment," said a company statement.
To kick off the mission, Zupee has joined hands with NIIT Foundation, to launch a unique CSR vocational skill program for the underprivileged youth of Mumbai, enabling them to get entry-level jobs.
The Zupee-NIIT Foundation programme will include certification training in digital marketing. The participants will be trained in important concepts like search engine optimization, running search ads, social media marketing and analytics, all highly desirable skill sets that prepare them for jobs of the future, the company added.
Sarva writes to Ayush ministry; urges to focus on Yoga-based wellness for Covid recovery
Yoga-based wellness company Sarva has reached out to the Ayush ministry to offer its services digitally completely free of cost.
In a letter sent to the ministry, the company said it has highlighted the importance of making yoga an integral part of the Covid-19 recovery process.
The company said in statement that they are equipped to offer its resource pool, operational technical platform and regional language content to conduct interactive as well as on demand sessions to support Ayush Ministry in execution.
Melorra opens 2 more experience centres in Delhi, Bhopal
Online jewellery startup Melorra on Monday said it has launched two new-age digital experience centers, one each in Delhi and Bhopal. With this, there are six centers in Bengaluru, Delhi/NCR, and Bhopal at present.
The company aims to open 350 more across the country. Melorra, in a statement, said it aims to enhance customer's sense of touch, feel, and trial of the jewellery through these experience centers.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Bitcoin tumbles 10% in wake of deepening China crackdown
Bitcoin tumbled nearly 10 percent on Monday as recent volatility in the cryptocurrency market showed no signs of dampening down, with market players citing jitters over China's expanding crackdown on bitcoin mining in thin liquidity for the losses.
Bitcoin fell as low as $32,094 to its lowest in 12 days, dragging smaller coins down. It was last down 8.3 percent, on course for its biggest daily drop in a month, Reuters reported.
The world's biggest cryptocurrency, long plagued by volatility, has lost over 20 percent in the last six days alone and is down by half from its April peak of almost $65,000. Still, it has still gained over 10 percent this year.
The drop comes amid a growing crackdown on cryptocurrencies in China, where authorities in the southwest province of Sichuan on Friday ordered bitcoin mining projects to close. The State Council, China's cabinet, last month vowed to clamp down on mining and trading as part of a series of measures to control financial risks.
Big US retailers line up deals to take on Amazon Prime Day frenzy
Amazon will face challenges from big retailers during its annual Prime Day promotion, as more merchants piggyback on the multibillion-dollar online sales event, Reuters reported.
Target, Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macy's and Kohl's are some top American retail chains offering big discounts and promotions to coincide with Prime day, which takes place on Monday and Tuesday this year.
The two-day sales event, which generated $10.4 billion in gross merchandise sales for Amazon last year, is taking place earlier than its traditional July run date, as the e-commerce giant looks to boost spending in what are historically slow sales days in the quarter.
And retailers are not missing the opportunity to get a slice of that pie.
Amazon, Apple most valuable brands but China’s rising: Kantar survey
Amazon and Apple are the world’s most valuable brands but Chinese brands are rising up the leaders' list and are more valuable than Europe’s top brands, according to a global ranking by Kantar’s BrandZ.
Amazon remained the world's most valuable brand with an estimated value of $684 billion, followed by Apple at $612 billion and Google at $458 billion, Kantar said.
Tencent, China's biggest social media and video games company, was the People's Republic's top brand, in fifth place, while Alibaba was in seventh place.
Five brands more than doubled their value, led by Chinese e-commerce giants Pinduoduo and Meituan, China's top liquor maker Moutai, China's TikTok and America's Tesla.
Google’s adtech business set to face formal EU probe by year-end
Google could face its biggest regulatory threat, with EU antitrust regulators set to open a formal investigation into its lucrative digital advertising business before the end of the year, said people familiar with the matter, Reuters reported.
It would mark a new front by the EU competition enforcer against Google. It has in the last decade fined the company more than 8 billion euros for blocking rivals in online shopping, Android smartphones and online advertising.
An EU probe would focus on Google's position vis-a-vis advertisers, publishers, intermediaries and rivals, one of the people said, indicating deeper scrutiny than the French antitrust agency's case concluded last week.
A new EU inquiry could end up targeting all of Google's ad empire. Market researcher eMarketer expects Google to control 27 percent of global online ad spending this year, including 57 percent for search ads and 10 percent of display.
First Published: IST