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Startup Digest: Mamaearth parent buys majority stake in Dr. Sheth, FirstCry halts IPO plans: Report, Lenskart's subsidiary Neso Brands raises $100 million

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Startup Digest: Mamaearth parent buys majority stake in Dr. Sheth, FirstCry halts IPO plans: Report, Lenskart's subsidiary Neso Brands raises $100 million

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Startup Digest: Mamaearth parent buys majority stake in Dr. Sheth, FirstCry halts IPO plans: Report, Lenskart's subsidiary Neso Brands raises $100 million
ACQUISITION & IPO NEWS
Mamaearth parent Honasa Consumer buys majority stake in Dr. Sheth's for Rs 28 crore
Honasa Consumer, the parent company of Mamaearth and The Derma Co., has acquired a majority stake in skincare brand Dr. Sheth’s. Through this acquisition, the company has received control of the majority stake in Dr. Sheth’s at a valuation of Rs 28 crore.
The primary round of funds will be directed to accelerate the future growth of the brand. While Honasa Consumer has control of the majority stake in Dr. Sheth’s, founder Aneesh Sheth, will continue to lead the business and product innovation for the brand, the firm said in a statement.
"Dr. Sheth’s is a brand that is synonymous with heritage and legacy, and we are excited about this partnership as it will help us widen our portfolio offerings under the HCPL umbrella,” said Varun Alagh, co-founder and CEO of Honasa Consumer.
The expertise of Dr. Sheth’s in creating specialised skincare for Indian consumers, coupled with the digital expertise of Honasa Consumer, will help scale the business of Dr. Sheth’s and further strengthen the leadership of Honasa Consumer as a digital-first brand, a statement said.
Singapore’s GIC may buy a stake in Wow Skin Science for $75 million: Report
Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC is in talks to pick up a significant minority stake in D2C beauty and personal care brand Wow Skin Science for $75 million, the Economic Times reported, citing sources.
The deal would give the ChrysCapital-backed company a post-money valuation of $400–$420 million. The company’s existing investors will also top-up capital to maintain stake, the report added. The company will look to expand its offline presence and will also push its online efforts by investing in technology, it added.
FirstCry halts IPO plans amid market volatility: Report
Ecommerce firm FirstCry will delay its planned $1 billion initial public offering (IPO) by a few months, according to Economic Times. Citing sources, ET reported that the cautious approach by the SoftBank-backed etailer follows the muted response last week to new economy issues, like that of logistics player Delhivery, as well as the broader headwinds in global markets.
The Pune-based etailer had finalised plans to file its draft IPO papers this month but is pulling back on the advice of its investors and bankers, the report said. FirstCry is also thinking of ‘recalibrating’ its overall issue size and the valuation it would seek compared to its initial plans earlier this year, it added.
FUNDING NEWS
Lenskart's subsidiary Neso Brands raises $100 million from KKR, Softbank, Alpha Wave Global and Temasek
Neso Brands, a roll-up subsidiary of unicorn eyewear retailer Lenskart, has raised $100 million from KKR, Softbank, Alpha Wave Global and Temasek in its seed funding round. Further, the company has also roped in Bjorn Bergstrom, who has joined the founding team as chief executive officer (CEO).
The Singapore-based company said that it will partner and invest in consumer eyewear brands and grow those by leveraging synergies across the Lenskart Group. Neso Brands will house eyewear brands and enable a quicker global roll-out by giving the brands access to shared resources particularly technology, supply chain, distribution, capital and best practices.
"With this investment in Neso Brands, we want to accelerate our mission of transforming the way people see and experience the world. Consumers want better and better every day and while people's quality of life has been uplifted through all other lifestyle products such as shoes, apparel and wearables, eyewear products are the same old with no innovation, just more expensive.
It is our firm belief that the eyewear brands of today will not be brands of the future. And Neso is our initiative to partner with founders globally to help create eyewear brands of the future,” said Peyush Bansal, CEO of Lenskart.
Adventum Student Living secures $5 million from angel investors
Adventum Student Living (ASL), an integrated destination for students pursuing overseas higher education, has raised $5 million (over Rs 38 crore) from investors.
The funding was led by Suresh Pareek, founder of Ideal cures, Vipul Jain through his investment vehicle Baaya International, Vikas Phadnis, co-founder of EuroKids through his vehicle Auctus Capital, Shreeji Brothers and few others.
Within two years of its inception, ASL has introduced and unified three brands - UniAcco, UniCreds, and UniScholarz - that offer a one-stop solution for challenges in overseas education.
ASL will use a fresh corpus of funds to grow and expand operations globally and boost the market footprint and build brand awareness through marketing. The funds will help the company deepen its focus on building best-in-class technology and a data science team, the firm said.
Hocomoco rebrands to Wehouse, raises $1 million from Anthill Ventures
Tech-powered construction aggregator, Hocomoco, has rebranded itself to Wehouse and raised $1 million from Anthill Ventures and a group of angel investors in a pre-series A funding round.
The fresh capital will be used to upgrade the technology platform and hire for key roles in its expansion to cities Pan-India, the company said in a statement.
"The funding will be used to bolster our tech and prime us for scalability.
Currently, more than 2000 workers are indirectly employed on different projects across Wehouse’s projects. We want to keep increasing this number and give these workers more jobs as we grow,” said Sripad Nandiraj, co-founder and CEO, Wehouse.
As per the firm, the construction industry is expected to grow from $250 billion in 2022 to $530 billion in 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent and Wehouse aims to capture a fair share of this growing market. The new funding comes on the heels of Wehouse completing 1 million square feet of built-up area. They are aiming to touch Rs 100 crore of booked revenue in the next few months.
Spiritualtech startup Rgyan raises $200K in seed funding from angels
Rgyan, an online spiritual community platform has bagged $200,000 in a seed funding round from angel investors. The Funds will be primarily used for product development and team expansion across engineering, product, content and media.
The company also plans to build a range of products with advanced features to provide a better online experience to the digital spiritual community, it said in a statement. The platform currently has over 3000+ articles listed through its website with 3-4 million annual active users.
OTHER STARTUP NEWS
Paytm Mall pivots to ONDC as its primary focus
Paytm E-commerce Private Ltd (PEPL), the parent entity of Paytm Mall, has announced that it will pivot to Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) as its primary focus and will explore opportunities in exports business in place of traditional physical goods e-commerce.
This move enables the company to create a long-term sustainable business in partnership with ONDC, which aims to democratize the purchase and sale of goods in the Indian market, driving transparency and digital independence for small businesses in the country.
"We are set to build on the revolutionary ONDC programme by the Government of India to drive online commerce in India. We also plan to explore opportunities in the export market. We are grateful for the support of our investors and look forward to driving sustainable growth,” a Paytm spokesperson told PTI.
As part of the shift in the business direction of the company, PEPL also sees the exit of early investors Alibaba and Ant Group. Paytm Mall is confident of its new strategy and roadmap with the continuing support of other existing shareholders.
Rebel Foods to deploy TagBox's real-time cold chain monitoring system
TagBox has announced that it is providing its AssetLens solution to Rebel Foods, the world's largest internet restaurant company, for real-time temperature, door-open and power consumption monitoring.
The solution comprising of IoT devices like Tag360 sensors to monitor temperature, door-open and energy consumption, TagHub gateways and the AssetLens software platform, will help Rebel Foods get complete visibility of the quality of cold chain storage conditions, temperature compliance, and kitchen operational efficiency.
"At Rebel Foods, we are committed to providing our customers with a safe, consistent and high-quality experience. A critical element of this is maintaining all our SKUs at the correct temperature. This is also mandated by FSSAI, which requires us to monitor and log the temperature of our cold storage equipment once per day.
With TagBox, we are able to eliminate this manual process and achieve real-time accurate temperature monitoring of our equipment, with automated alerts sent to the kitchen staff and maintenance personnel in the event of any deviations," said Uday Mahajan, SVP Engineering at Rebel Foods.
$3.5 billion worth Bitcoin in Terra reserve evaporated
The global crypto mayhem last week wiped out Bitcoin worth $3.5 billion -- created to defend and support the TerraUSD (UST) stable coin which saw a total crash -- and no one has any idea how such a large sum of funds disappeared.
Nearly 80,394 Bitcoin worth $3.5 billion were purchased by the Luna Foundation Guard, the non-profit organisation set up to promote the growth of the Terra ecosystem this year, according to Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.
CoinDesk reported that while untold billions in value and wealth were lost when those reserves proved inadequate to prevent a "depegging" last week, what no one knows is what happened to those reserves and where they are now.
RateGain achieves Pre-COVID volumes with 46% YoY revenue growth
SaaS player RateGain Technologies has registered a 46 percent YoY growth in revenue at Rs 3665.9 million in FY22 as compared to Rs 2507.9 million in FY21. The company also reported PAT adjusted for amortization on acquisition at Rs 317.9 Million and EBITDA adjusted for ESOP and FX costs at Rs 376.8 million for FY22.
For the quarter ending March 31, 2022, the company registered a 50.6 percent YoY growth in revenue at Rs 1078.8 million and strong growth in adjusted PAT at Rs 177.8 million, and adjusted EBITDA at Rs 126.2 million.
The growth was driven on the back of new contract wins growing by 141 percent YoY to Rs 1044 million, and Annual Recurring Revenue going higher than Pre-COVID levels at Rs 4315 million, a statement said.
Greta Electric Scooters to set up new manufacturing unit in Faridabad
Electric Vehicle manufacturer has announced the setting up of a manufacturing unit at Faridabad. This move aims to expand its footprint in the Northern Indian market and is in response to cater to the growing demand for electric vehicles, the firm said in a statement.
The manufacturing facility with a capacity of producing 30,000 units annually will manufacture all models of Greta Electric Scooters. It will enable the firm to reach its dealerships in 15-20 days across the region.
"We plan to initiate an education drive to get more and more people to go the EV route, our small contribution to the GOI's pledge to be zero-emission by 2030. We intend to look at local talent to fill vacancies that our expansion drive opens up," said Raj Mehta, founder of Greta Electric Scooters.
Fitspire plans expansion in tier 2 and 3 cities
Vegan health supplement brand Fitspire plans to expand its business to tier 2 and 3 cities on the back of burgeoning demand for plant-based and vegan health supplements in the country.
The Delhi-based startup also plans to enter international markets this year. The firm, which reported a sales growth of 50 percent in 2020, is now planning to take its success and products across the country and grow at a 35 percent CAGR for the next five years.
"We plan to continue with our Omni-channel approach and grow through e-commerce channels and our own website. We also want to have a presence in international markets where Vegan product demand is high,” said Vipen, co-founder, Fitspire.
SuperBot clocks 85% Year-on-Year growth
SuperBot, an AI-powered voice agent and a SaaS-based product by PinnacleWorks has announced reaching 250 clients and clocking a year-on-year growth figure of 85 percent in terms of revenue.
The brand has been providing the finest AI-based voice agent across major industries including education, healthcare, among others. Currently, the brand attracts maximum traction from the education sector with a 70 percent contribution, followed by healthcare with 30 percent.
The technology first company plans to expand its wings deeper in the healthcare sector this financial year, and easily eyes adding 50+ clients in the first quarter of fiscal 2022-23, it said in a statement.
Tide introduces mental well-being platform in partnership with Plumm
Tide, a UK-based fintech platform has partnered with mental health services provider Plumm to launch a global mental well-being platform for its employees and their family members.
The move comes on the heels of Tide's endeavor to empower Tide employees to take control of their mental well-being and ensure they can strike a healthy work-life balance. The on-demand support not just helps combat burnout and boost team morale but focuses on the overall growth and well-being of employees and their families, the firm said.
Sales and Business Development accounted for 26.9% of employment: Hirect Report
As we get back to normal times, not only have the economy and job markets experienced massive shifts but also there have been changes in people’s habits and preferences. After a sharp decline in April and a flattening out in May, India's hiring trends hit a high in June, progressing across various industries, as per chat-based direct hiring platform Hirect's insight report.
As per Hirect's Data, there had been a substantial increase in hiring activities in hotels/restaurants/airlines/ travels and retail sectors in June from May. Sectors such as Insurance, Banking/Financial Services, Pharma/Biotech, FMCG, Education/Training, and BPO/ITES showed a positive sequential upswing in June 2021 from their recent slump.
Sales and Business Development has accounted for 26.9 percent of employment. IT/ITES has created the second-highest employment with 20.6 percent of employment for the year while Procurement/Trade with 0.3 percent was one of the least job-creating sectors for the year, the report added.
Bangalore remains in the top position with the highest number of jobs and employment created with a 17.6 percent proportion. Delhi grabs the second spot with an 11.5 percent proportion, followed by Mumbai at 10.4 percent and Noida at the tail with a 6.0 percent employment proportion.
Consumers between 35 and 40 years Most Credit Healthy: Paisabazaar's Insights Report
Consumers between 35 and 40 years of age are the most credit healthy, while those below 25 years are the least credit healthy, as per an insights report by Paisabazaar, a digital marketplace for consumer credit. In the last 6+ years, over 2.7 crore consumers have accessed their free credit score and report from the Paisabazaar platform.
According to the report, only 28 percent of consumers under 25 have a credit score of over 750, usually considered the benchmark for a strong credit score. On the other hand, 42 percent of consumers in the age group of 35 to 40 are maintaining credit scores above 750.
The primary reason, behind this, according to Paisabazaar, could be that they need to access credit for life goals like buying a house is most common at this life stage.
75 percent of new credit score consumers come from Tier 2 and 3 cities. Displaying a clear trend of rising credit awareness in the country, the report also showed a sharp rise in the number of consumers from Tier 2 and 3 cities who check their free credit score from the Paisabazaar platform.
According to the insights report, in 2016, only 34 percent of consumers who checked their free credit score from the Paisabazaar platform were from outside the top metros. Currently, over 75 percent of Paisabazaar's new consumers who check their credit score come from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Trump’s free to use Twitter if Musk lifts his ban, but he has to post on Truth Social first: Report
Former President Donald Trump will partially restrict himself on social media, even if Elon Musk lifts Trump’s ban on Twitter, according to an SEC filing from Digital World Acquisition Corp.
Trump is obligated to first post to Truth Social, a new social network he’s backing, and can’t publish the same content on another social media site for six hours. After that, he can post to “any site to which he has access," according to the filing. The six-hour policy would mostly affect Trump’s Twitter use if he’s allowed back on the platform under potential owner Musk.
Trump is still free to post from a personal account about political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the-vote efforts on any platform at any time, the filing added, which could give him leeway in case he runs for office in 2024. Digital World Acquisition has a deal to take Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, public.
Elon Musk says Twitter legal team told him he violated an NDA
Elon Musk has tweeted that Twitter’s legal team accused him of violating a nondisclosure agreement by revealing that the sample size for the social media platform's checks on automated users was 100. "Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100!" tweeted Musk, chief executive of electric car maker Tesla.
Musk on Friday tweeted that his $44-billion cash deal to take the company private was "temporarily on hold" while he awaited data on the proportion of its fake accounts. He said his team would test "a random sample of 100 followers" on Twitter to identify the bots. His response to a question prompted Twitter's accusation.
Bezos again blasts Biden administration on inflation
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos tweeted that inflation is most hurtful to the least affluent in the United States, and criticized President Joe Biden for the second time in a week for his comments on inflation.
"In fact, the administration tried hard to inject even more stimulus into an already over-heated, inflationary economy and only Manchin saved them from themselves,” Bezos wrote on Twitter. “Inflation is a regressive tax that most hurts the least affluent. Misdirection doesn’t help the country."
The comments from Bezos were in response to a thread in which President Joe Biden claimed the US was on track to see its largest yearly deficit decline ever, totaling $1.5 trillion.
Biden also took aim at former President Donald Trump, who saw the deficit “increase every single year” in office, he wrote. On Friday, Bezos called out President Biden over a tweet that said taxing wealthy corporations can help lower inflation. Bezos urged the Disinformation Board to review the tweet.
DeepMind & LinkedIn co-founders raised $225 million for AI lab: Report
Inflection AI, the new artificial intelligence start-up from DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, has secured $225 million in funding, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week.
The funding, first reported by TechCrunch, has been raised at an undisclosed valuation and it’s not clear who the investors are at this stage. It’s likely that a large chunk of the funding will be used to hire AI experts that can command high salaries. Inflection did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.
Tech firms ask US Supreme Court to block Texas social media law
Lobbying groups representing Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other tech companies filed an emergency request with the US Supreme Court on Friday, seeking to block a Texas law that prohibits large social media platforms from banning users based on their political views.
As per Reuters, the Texas law went into effect on Wednesday when the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state's request for a stay of a district judge's injunction blocking the law. The law forbids social media companies with more than 50 million active users per month from banning members based on their political views and requires them to publicly disclose how they moderate the content.
The tech groups, in their emergency request, asked the Supreme Court to "allow the District Court's careful reasoning to remain in effect while an orderly appellate process plays out.
FTX's billionaire chief says bitcoin has no future as a payments network: FT
Cryptocurrency exchange FTX's founder has said that bitcoin has no future as a payments network and criticized the digital currency for its inefficiency and high environmental costs, the Financial Times reported.
An alternative to the system is called the "proof of stake" network, where participants can buy tokens that allow them to join the network. The more tokens they own, the more they can mine.
FTX founder and chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried told FT that "proof of stake" networks would be required to evolve crypto as a payments network as they are cheaper and less power-hungry. Bankman-Fried also said he didn't believe bitcoin had to go as a cryptocurrency, and it may still have a future as "an asset, a commodity and a store of value" like gold, the report said.
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