homestartup NewsStartup Digest: LEAD completes buyout of Pearson’s K12 India learning biz, Urban Ladder plans to double retail stores and more

Startup Digest: LEAD completes buyout of Pearson’s K12 India learning biz, Urban Ladder plans to double retail stores and more

Startup Digest: LEAD completes buyout of Pearson’s K12 India learning biz, Urban Ladder plans to double retail stores and more
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By Aishwarya Anand  Mar 15, 2023 10:09:48 PM IST (Published)

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

LEAD completes acquisition of Pearson’s local K-12 learning biz

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Edtech unicorn LEAD announced the completion of the acquisition of UK-based learning firm Pearson’s local K-12 learning business in India.
With this investment, the company claims to have expanded its reach to over 9,000 schools across India and more than five million students. The acquisition will also help LEAD reach 60,000 schools across India by 2026, the company said in a statement.
“With this acquisition, LEAD aims to serve as a single point solution provider for all the learning needs of both affordable private schools in India’s small towns, as well as private high-fee schools in its metros and large cities.  We will build on the combined knowledge, experience and team strengths of both companies to create opportunities for growth and innovation, and to further deepen relationships with our school partners,” said Sumeet Mehta, Co-Founder and CEO, LEAD.
Urban Ladder plans to double retail stores by March 2024
Furniture and home decor brand Urban Ladder, has opened its 50th store in Kolkata and now plans to double this store count by March 2024.
The firm has rapidly scaled up its offline presence in the last nine months as it was operating only 13 stores until June 2022. “The company plans to expand its retail stores in 32 cities by 2023 and aims to double this number by March 2024," Urban Ladder said in a statement.
"The world of e-commerce is rapidly expanding, and Urban Ladder also aims to strengthen its online presence through and Jiomart," it added.
Urban Ladder Chief Business Officer Nishant Gupta told PTI that the company has a robust expansion plan to cater to consumers across various metro and non-metro markets.
Govt recognises 92,683 entities as startups as on Feb 28
As many as 92,683 entities have been recognised as startups by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as on February 28 this year, Parliament was informed. These startups are eligible for availing tax and non-tax benefits under the Startup India initiative.
The government, with an intent to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and startups in the country, launched Startup India initiative on January 16, 2016, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
Over 7,000 recognised startups are in sectors like construction, house-hold services, logistics, real estate and transportation. Highest number of recognised startups are from IT sector (11,099). It was followed by healthcare and lifesciences (8,691), education (5,962), agri (4,653), and food and beverages (4,523).
Krafton backs One Impression in a $10M Series A round
One Impression, an influencer marketing platform, has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by South Korean gaming major Krafton.
The firm intends to use the fresh capital to expand its offerings, accelerate product development, and grow its presence in international markets, starting with Southeast Asia and the UAE. The firm is even looking at making creators in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities more accessible to brands
With this investment, this company said its goal is to reach $40 million in ARR by 2024. The platform claims to be transacting with tens of thousands of creators ranging from top celebrities to nano influencers, generating over 100,000+ content pieces for 500+ brands in over 10 languages.
BuyStars raises $5 million led by Lumikai and others
Online gaming platform BuyStars has raised $5 million in a Pre-Series A round led by venture capital fund Lumikai as it looked to hire more employees and launch new games.
Existing investors Leo Capital and Chiratae, tech-focused VC funds, also participated in the round, which came on the back of a $4 million seed round in December 2021.
The funding will be allocated towards product development and growth, the company said in a statement. BuyStars claims to have amassed 1.5 million registered users and a monthly GMV north of $1 million.
Gold loan startup Yellow Metal gets $3M in seed round
Gold loan startup Yellow Metal has secured $3 million in its seed funding round led by MSA Novo, along with participation from Spiral Ventures and existing investors WaterBridge Ventures and Java Capital.
The fresh funds will help the firm expand its technology team operations across 25 new markets in and outside of Karnataka and also add new forms of asset-backed lending that are required for consumers in Rural India, a statement said. It further plans to invest in strengthening their proprietary loan management system built for mobile phones.
“This seed fund will help us to invest more in technology that will, in turn, help build a better customer experience and a transparent product. If the company has a strong financial position, we will also be able to negotiate favourable terms from the partnerships,” said Nikhil Boggaram and Rahul Boggaram, Co-Founders, Yellow Metal.
Yellow bags seed funding from Gruhas
Digital will and estate planning app Yellow has bagged an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round led by proptech investment firm Gruhas.
“Yellow is the first Indian-made digital Will-making and Estate planning app that empowers all Indians to plan for their family's future.” said Niranjan Vemulkar, Co-Founder and CEO, Yellow.
With Yellow, a consumer can generate a legally binding will with plans costing as low as Rs 5 per day.
Optimized Electrotech raises Rs 20 Cr in a Pre-Series B round
Defence-tech startup Optimized Electrotech, has raised Rs 20 crores in a Pre-Series B round led by the Rajiv Dadlani Group which also saw participation from Equanimity Investments, Family Offices and HNIs.
Venture Catalysts also pitched in the round along with existing investors GVFL and Dholakia Ventures.
The startup will use the funds to design state-of-the-art Intelligent Long Range Surveillance systems and product innovations, a statement said.  The capital will also help the deep tech startup further its business development in Aerospace and Defence sectors with a market potential of over $7.3 dillion.
Heritas Capital marks first close of Asian Impact Fund at $20M
Singapore-based private investment firm Heritas Capital, which has backed 20 startups including digital health firm Mfine, has announced the first close of its impact-focussed fund at $20 million.
Financial services firm DBS has committed $10 million to the Asia Impact First Fund (AIFF) to become its anchor investor. The fund also saw participation from Tsao Family Office, IMC Group, Ishk Tolaram Foundation, ANF Family Office, Pang Sze Khai (chairman of Octava Foundation and Octava).
AIFF, with a target size of about $50 million will be investing across 10-15 social enterprises in Asia. According to a statement, it is looking to invest in businesses that tackle challenges surrounding urban and rural livelihoods, or the environment, with an appropriate market for financial returns for investors.
Rockstud Capital launches Rs 300 Cr fund to invest in startups
Asset management firm Rockstud Capital has launched a Rs 300 crore fund, Rockstud Capital Investment Fund II, to invest in startups in the Pre-Series A to Series A stage.
The Category I AIF (Angel Fund), received a license from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) last month and has a ticket size ranging from Rs 1 crore to Rs 10 crore. It will invest in 25 start-ups focused on digitalisation, sustainability, financial inclusion, consumption, and health and safety, said a statement.
“The Fund will focus on partnering and identifying early-stage growth companies through a well-defined process and deep network to foster partnerships with founders building scalable businesses with a clear focus on profitability,” said Abhishek Agarwal, Founder and Managing Partner of Rockstud Capital.
LifeSigns raises undisclosed sum to expand operations
Health-tech startup LifeSigns has raised an undisclosed amount in a Pre-Series A funding round led by several investors.
The funds raised will be used to accelerate the firm’s iMS platform and for pan India expansion. The company is developing a digital wireless patient monitoring solution platform for ambulatory, inpatient, and home care settings.
“The new fund entering the system will allow us to work more on technology and Human Resource to enhance the user experience, bring more efficiency in clinical data delivery, lower infrastructure spend, bring down cost of healthcare benefitting the patient and providers,” said Hari Subramaniam, Founder and Director, LS Devices.
Riverwalk Holdings invests in in Pre-Seed round, a tech recruiting platform has raised a Pre-Seed round of funding from Riverwalk Holding. The financial details of the deal remains undisclosed.
The startup will use the fresh funds to expand its international footprint, starting with the U.S. market this year.
"With this expansion, we seek to enter the $17 billion cross-border remote developer hiring market which is growing rapidly, with the US ranking highest in terms of demand,” said Amit Veer, CEO and Founder of Coffeee.
Capgemini India and NSRCEL announce 2nd Cohort of Social Entrepreneurship Incubation program
Capgemini India and IIM Bangalore’s NSRCEL have tied up to launch second cohort to support startups with tech-driven social innovations.
Capgemini will support NSRCEL to launch 9 subsequent cohorts of Social Entrepreneurship Incubation programs for 3 years starting from 2023 till 2025.
The incubation program aims to solve the problem of validating solutions for product-market fit and evolving business models in Social Entrepreneurship that can scale, a statement said. Each cohort will consist of 15-20 early-stage innovations with some market traction and is open for both for-profits & non-profits across sectors.  Through this initiative, NSRCEL’s “Impact Orbit” aims to incubate 120 social enterprises in the next 3 years.
TSAW Drones to hire 350+ new employees by 2023 end
Homegrown drone tech startup TSAW Drones said it is looking to increase its talent pool by hiring over 350 new employees by the end of the calendar year 2023.
Currently, the company has around 50 employees, and with the scheduled recruitment dive, the startup will cross the mark of more than 400 employees, a statement said. The firm is looking to hire across roles like drone pilots, designers & technicians, operation heads and others.
“Startups and companies in India have been hit hard by the funding winter and thousands of employees have been laid off recently. However, the addressable market for what we do at TSAW Drones is unprecedented, particularly in these times of economic turmoil and transition. The new staff of professionals will not only position us to dominate the industry but will also have a deep impact on the advancement of this new sector,” said Sudhanshu Mishra, Head of people, TSAW Drones.
GyanAI launches explainable language model and research engine
GyanAI, a human-analogous natural language processing platform, has launched an explainable language model and natural language understanding engine.
GyanAI acquires its knowledge near real-time from the documents it processes and optionally, one or more Gyan Knowledge Stores. Since the Gyan language model is independent of content, it cannot be used to generate misinformation or be manipulated with biased training data, a statement said.
“GyanAI can be used in conjunction with LLMs where beneficial. While GyanAI is ready for purpose-specific enterprise deployment and is in production use, we anticipate announcing API for application developers in the near future,” said Venkat Srinivasan, Founder, GyanAI.
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