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STARTUP DIGEST: Top stories of the week

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There were several important developments in the startup space during the week, which include PharmEasy to acquire 66.1 percent stake in Thyrocare; Policybazaar commences insurance brokerage along with retail shops; Zomato to increase women delivery partners; and  India’s new e-commerce Rules considered ‘Cause for Concern’ by US Lobby Group. Here are the startup stories that hit headlines this week.

STARTUP DIGEST: Top stories of the week
There were several important developments in the startup space during the week, which include PharmEasy to acquire 66.1 percent stake in Thyrocare; Policybazaar commences insurance brokerage along with retail shops; Zomato to increase women delivery partners; and  India’s new e-commerce Rules considered ‘Cause for Concern’ by US Lobby Group. Here are the startup stories that hit headlines this week.
PharmEasy to acquire 66.1% stake in Thyrocare
Online medical store PharmEasy has announced that it would be acquiring 66.1 percent stake in diagnostics services chain Thyrocare Rs 4,546 crore.
API Holdings Ltd, the parent company of PharmEasy, announced the signing of definitive documents to acquire 66.1 percent stake in Thyrocare from Dr A Velumani and affiliates at a price of Rs 1,300 per share aggregating to Rs 4,546 crore, the company said in an official statement.
The transaction is subject to regulatory and other applicable customary approvals. Docon Technologies Pvt Ltd, a 100 percent subsidiary of API, will be the acquirer and shall make an open offer for an additional 26 percent stake.
Dr. A Velumani will be separately acquiring a minority non-controlling stake, of less than 5 percent in API as part of a series of equity investments by existing and new investors of API, the company added.
The collaboration between PharmEasy and Thyrocare is aimed at providing diagnostics and pharmacy services to 100 million+ Indians within 24 hours.
Policybazaar.com forays into insurance brokerage, opens 15 retail stores
Leading web aggregator Policybazaar has said it has embarked its insurance broking journey with 15 outlets and aims to expand it to 100 locations.
Recently, insurance regulator IRDAI approved insurance broking licence proposal of the company and will undertake business including insurance aggregation under the broking umbrella.
The company is rolling out comprehensive plans for various segment including fast-growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to serve customers better by having an offline presence, Policybazaar.com said in a statement.
As a first step, the company is launching offline retail stores across India, it said, adding, the brand has set up 15 stores and will eventually expand to 100 locations. The brick-and-mortar stores will serve as experience centres for customers and provide them with the comfort of a local physical presence to help resolve any queries or service requests, it said.
Through the stores, customers will have access to Policybazaar's proprietary comparison engines that will help them choose the right insurance product, enhance their ability to compare multiple products, all underpinned by a seamless end-to-end technology in the insurance journey, it added.
To drive the business, the company has roped in former executive director of SBI Life Insurance Rajiv Gupta to lead its expansion plans in the offline space.
IPO-bound Paytm extends deadline for shareholders to submit documents
Fintech major Paytm has extended deadlines for for shareholders, employees and former employees to submit their documents by June 30, if they wish to sell their shares in the planned Paytm IPO.
In a notice to its shareholders, Paytm said "In the interest of providing additional time to our shareholders—due to the ongoing situation—to process all the documentation shared and dispatch them to us, we are extending the last date to submit documents for participation in the offer from June 22, 2021, to June 30, 2021.”
The equity shareholders had previously expressed concern about inability to meet the deadline, as per the report.
CNBC-TV18 had earlier reported that One 97, which operates a slew of financial services under the Paytm brand, is planning an IPO during Diwali this year.
‘Nothing’ announces India foray with Flipkart
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei's consumer technology startup Nothing has struck a partnership with Walmart’s Flipkart for its India foray. Flipkart will play an integral role in building Nothing’s presence in India and launching its highly anticipated true wireless earbuds ear (1), the company said in a statement.
The e-commerce giant will offer no-cost EMI options and free delivery to customers across India. “At Nothing, we aim to create easy to use consumer tech products with iconic designs that will bring differentiated value to our users in India and around the world,” Manu Sharma, Vice President and General Manager, Nothing India, said.
Zomato to increase women delivery partners
Zomato is planning to increase women delivery partner participation to their fleet. The company has set a goal of reaching 10 percent participation by the end of 2021 starting with Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Pune, it said in a blog post.
The company said to achieve this goal they are working of four initiatives including: access to safety-related education and tools, contactless deliveries by default, extended support from restaurant partners and a 24×7 helpline for their women partners.
Lenskart launches fund to back startups
Lenskart, the omni-channel D2C eyewear brand and a unicorn startup, has announced the launch of Lenskart Vision Fund to invest in other startups.
It plans to invest up to $2 million in each of the startups that are selected based on the expertise it has in areas such eyewear, eyecare and omnichannel retail sectors. These will be synergistic to the business of Lenskart.
In addition to the infusion of capital, the selected startups will also get market access to Lenskart’s over 700 retail stores and online channels across India, Singapore, Middle-East and the US, the company said.
ZASH Global Media & Entertainment to acquire the remaining 20% of TikTok & Lomotif
ZASH Global Media and Entertainment, today announced it has agreed to acquire the remaining shares of approximately 20 percent of TikTok and Kuaishou rival, Lomotif.  In February ZASH entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority controlling interest in Lomotif.
Lomotif is one of the fastest growing video-sharing social networking platforms in its category over the last three years, with 225+ million installations of the Lomotif app globally in over 200 countries in 300+ languages, the company said.
The addition of Lomotif enhances ZASH's offering by adding a short-form video component to its overall ecosystem as the company continues to grow a global content-centric technology company, added the company.
IN FUNDING NEWS
  E-commerce enablement platform Classplus has raised $65 million in a Series C round led by Tiger Global. Edtech focused fund, GSV Ventures along with existing investors Alpha Wave Incubation (backed by DisruptAD and managed by Falcon Edge), Blume Ventures and RTP Global also participated in the round. This is the fourth round of funding raised by the B2B edtech startup in the last 15 months.
  India Quotient, a homegrown early stage venture capital fund has raised $64 million for its fourth fund. The fourth fund was launched in February 2021 to build a corpus of $80 million from domestic and global allocations. The current funds have been raised from top family offices and other institutional investors in India. The domestic leg was hugely oversubscribed, the firm said. It is in discussions with global investors for the rest of the money.
  Ecommerce management startup CommerceIQ, has raised $60 million in Series C funding round led by Insight Partners, the venture capital and private equity firm behind market-changing brands Shopify, Twitter, Hello Fresh, and Wix, among others. Existing investors Trinity Ventures, Shasta Ventures, and Madrona Venture Group also participated in the round. The company is expecting to hit $1.2 trillion by 2024.
  Car servicing startup GoMechanic has raised $42 million in a funding round led by Tiger Global Management. The Series C funding round also saw participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital India, Orios Venture Partners and Chiratae Ventures. It is the fourth round of institutional funding for the company. GoMechanic plans to use the funds to accelerate its growth in tier II and III towns, ramping up the technology team and launching operations in international markets.
  Investment firm Orios Venture Partners has raised $30 million Select Fund I in additional capital to exclusively back its high-growth, standout portfolio companies. The fund was raised from several family offices and institutions. This is the third fund raised by the venture capital firm; they had earlier launched and closed two early stage Funds in 2015 and 2018. Select Fund I has already made five bets in IPO-led PharmEasy, GoMechanic, Country Delight, Mobikwik, and Nazara, the company said.
  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.
  CityMall, an India-based community e-commerce venture, has raised $22.5 million as part of its Series B funding round. The investment is led by General Catalyst and Jungle Ventures with participation from existing investors Accel, Elevation Capital and WaterBridge Ventures. CityMall will use the fresh funds towards hiring, technology and building their own logistics network, including warehouses and hubs. Further, the company intends to strengthen its presence in the existing 40 towns in its network, and aims to expand its reach to 100 new towns in the coming months.
  Synapsica Healthcare has recently raised funding of $4.2 million in Series A round backed by VC funds IvyCap Ventures and Endiya Partners. The funding round also saw participation from Silicon Valley-based incubator Y Combinator, and other angel investors. The company said the new funding would be used for overseas growth and to further expand the suite of AI features that help radiologists and spine specialists create patient reports quickly, or even in real-time at the table side.
  Technology platform, has raised funding from former Blackstone Partner and co-head of India PE, Mathew Cyriac, in his personal capacity. With this final tranche, WealthDesk has closed its Pre Series A round at $3.2 million. The company plans to use the fresh funds to hire great talent, invest in R&D and further build out the technology to expand business.
  Y Combinator-backed fintech startup Bueno Finance has raised $3 million in its seed round from a slew of investors such as Goat Capital, JAM Fund, Olive Tree Capital, Good Water Capital, and others from Silicon Valley. Marquee Indian Angel investors Kunal Shah, Anupam Mittal have also participated in the round. The startup will use the funds to expand the product offerings and strengthen its team across engineering, product, sales, credit and operations, to support its accelerated growth plans.
  Insurtech startup Bimaplan has raised $2.5 million as part of its pre-Series A round from global venture capital firms Amino Capital, Goodwater Capital, Acequia Capital, and EMVC. The round saw participation from angel investors Gokul Rajaram of Doordash, Arjun Sethi of Tribe Capital, Ashish Dave of Mirae Asset Venture Investments, and others. The startup has raised $3 million funding since inception.
  Wellbeing Nutrition, an organic plant-based nutrition startup, has raised $2.2 million in a Series A round led by venture capital firm Fireside Ventures. ACG an integrated pharmaceutical supplier also participated in the round. Kannan Sitaram, Venture Partner at Fireside Ventures will join the Wellbeing Nutrition’s board. The startup will use the funds to strengthen R&D and technology, launch new products, acquire talent, and create better awareness and reach.
  Internet-of-Things based startup, Kazam has raised ₹7 crore as part of its seed round of funding led by Inflection Point Ventures. According to the company, the funds raised will be used for product development, ramping up sales, operations and marketing.
  Singapore-based AI-based 1:1 professional networking platform CoffeeMug.ai on Wednesday announced that it has raised $ 625K in a pre-seed round led by Paradigm Shift Capital and AngelList India. The round also saw participation from marquee angel investors, including Archana Priyadarshni, General Partner, Point One Capital, IIM Indore Alumni Angel fund, Yagnesh Sanghrajka, Co-Founder and CFO, 100X.VC, and Aloke Bajpai, Co-Founder and CEO, ixigo.com.
  Social commerce startup WINDO has raised $500K in a seed round led by Unicorn India Ventures. The round also saw participation from prominent angels like Meena Ganesh, CEO of Portea, Aravind Sanka, CEO of Rapido, Srinivas Anumolu of GrowthStory and Vivek Bhargava, a digital media expert and Co-founder of ProfitWheel. The company plans to use the funds for product development, enhancing customer experience while growing and for achieving product market fit, apart from venturing into regions outside India.
Sequoia India makes $200 mn cash exit from Vini Cosmetics: Report
Sequoia Capital India made a return of $200 million when private equity giant KKR acquired its stake in Vini Cosmetics- maker of Fogg deodorant at a valuation of $1.2 billion, said Moneycontrol.
KKR said it has invested $625 million in Vini for a controlling stake. $200 million of this was to buy Sequoia’s stake in the company while the rest was to buy primary shares from the company and its founders, the report added.
The deal marks Sequoia’s exit from one of its best companies from a cash exit standpoint in its 15-year history in India, Moneycontrol added.
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.
Oyo not startup, has assets worth crores : FHRAI tells NCLAT
The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), which has intervened in the insolvency case against hospitality company Oyo by several operational creditors, told the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) that Oyo has assets in excess of Rs 300 crore as of FY2019, and said it was no longer a startup.
The company is currently fighting alleged claims over Rs 200 crore by multiple hotel owners who say they are operational creditors.
The association's comments on Wednesday came after NCLAT judge Justice Anant Bijay Singh on Monday remarked that the IBC needs a separate provision for startups, which have no assets.
As per filings sourced from Tofler, Oyo's parent company Oravel Stays Pvt Ltd had seen consolidated operating revenues of Rs 6430 crore in Fy19, and had reported total assets of nearly Rs 1000, which included physical plant and equipment of Rs 293 crore.
Oyo did not give any comments on FHRAI's statement in the NCLAT.
Amazon India announces ‘Small Business Days’ for revival of MSMEs
To help sellers bounce back from the economic disruptions caused by the 2nd wave of COVID-19, Amazon India has announced that the company will host Amazon Small Business Days (SBD) starting from midnight on July 2, 2021, until 11:59 pm on July 4, 2021.
As per company’s statement, the three-day online sale event helps generate customer demand for the unique and differentiated selection of products offered by lakhs of sellers, manufacturers, start-ups and brands, women entrepreneurs, artisans & weavers, and local shops.
Eka acqui-hires Trixea to transform corporate treasury operations
Eka Software Solutions, a provider of cloud-based enterprise solutions is assembling a team of industry experts to develop a new solution for transforming corporate treasury operations.
The company said that this new corporate treasury initiative will be spearheaded by Devanshu Bhatt, the former India Head of ION’s Corporate Treasury Group, who recently joined Eka.
In a bid to accelerate the treasury solution’s time-to-market, EKA has also acqui-hired banking and finance start-up Trxiea Platforms and Solutions. In a statement, the company said these strategic hires are part of Eka’s ongoing effort to expand its state-of-the-art cloud platform into a comprehensive multi-solution platform for global enterprises.
Twitter adds RazorPay to Tip Jar
Twitter is adding RazorPay, an Indian payment gateway, to its service Tip Jar that lets users send and receive money through the platform.
The microblogging site had last month announced the option to add Tip Jar to one’s profile, a new way for people to send and receive support with cash gifts.
Currently, only a limited amount of users on the platform can turn on Tip Jar to receive tips. They will see the option to add Tip Jar to their profile. This group includes creators, journalists, public figures, experts, and community leaders.
healthi partners with WeWork to offer vaccination drives
Digital healthcare startup healthi has announced a partnership with global workspace provider WeWork in India to enable and support COVID-19 vaccination drives for the Indian workforce and their families.
As part of this initiative, vaccination drive for all employees and their dependents has now been extended to our 25,000+ members, their families and friends. This drive will cater to businesses of all nature and size – from large enterprises to small and medium businesses, as well as the huge startup community of India, the company added.
IN GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Didi’s IPO to raise up to $4 Bn in the US
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi’s initial public offering to raise up to $4 billion in the United States, one of the largest this year, Reuters reported.
The filing has also revealed that Didi anticipates listing shares between $13 and $14 a piece, which values the company at more than $60 billion.
This comes as China's market regulator had begun an antitrust investigation of Didi.
Zoomcar mulling US listing via SPAC
As the pandemic has bolstered demand for car rental, Zoomcar is considering a listing in the U.S. within 12 months to tap markets beyond its home base of India, Bloomberg reports.
Zoomcar co-founder and CEO Greg Moran said that a listing via a blank-cheque firm, or special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), was also a possibility.
The company expects to generate over $100 million in revenue this fiscal year through March, a figure that will more than double next year to about $203 million, Moran said, declining to elaborate further on the company’s finances.
SoftBank-backed Dingdong targets over $6 bn valuation in US IPO
Chinese unicorn Dingdong, backed by SoftBank Vision Fund II, is aiming for a more than $6 billion valuation in its New York debut as the grocery app joins Asian tech startups seeking to tap into the IPO boom in the United States.
The valuation represents a jump of over 20 percent from the $5.1 billion the company was worth after the Japanese conglomerate invested in it last month.
UK fintech Wise set to list in London on July 7
British financial technology company Wise confirmed on Thursday that it plans to list in early July, in a test for London's main market as investor appetite for company floats starts to wane, reports Reuters.
The company, formerly known as TransferWise, plans to do a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange rather than sell shares at a set price in advance, with the opening price to be determined in an open auction on the date of admission to the exchange. Bookrunners said trading was expected to start on July 7 after a management roadshow that begins on July 1.
Visa to buy Swedish fintech Tink for $2.2 bn
Visa has finalised a 2.2 billion takeover of European open banking platform Tink, months after it ditched a planned acquisition of the startup's US rival Plaid, Reuters reported.
Founded in 2012, Sweden-based Tink enables banks and other financial firms to access consumer financial data more easily. It is used by more than 3,400 banks and other institutions, as well as over 250 million customers across Europe.
US lobby group views India's e-commerce plan as worrying, email shows
A top lobby group that is part of the US Chamber of Commerce believes India's proposed new e-commerce rules are a cause for concern and will lead to a stringent operating environment for companies, according to an email reviewed by Reuters.
India this week spooked online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart by outlining plans to limit "flash sales", reining in a private label push and mandating them to have a system to address grievances.
The Washington-headquartered U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), of which Amazon and Walmart are members, described the rules as concerning in an internal email, saying some provisions were in line with India’s stance on other big digital companies.
India's draft plan "includes several concerning policies, including significant limits on platforms' ability to organise sales and handle grievances," USIBC said in an email to its members.
USIBC has in the past urged India not to tighten a separate set of rules governing foreign investment in companies like Amazon and Flipkart, an issue that has often soured trade relations between India and United States.
Amazon, Google face formal fake review inquiry in Britain
Britain's competition regulator started a formal investigation on Friday into whether Amazon and Google may not have done enough to prevent or remove fake reviews.
Along with regulators in the United Sates and the European Union, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has stepped up its scrutiny of big tech firms in recent years.
The British regulator said it will gather more information to decide if the firms may have broken consumer law by taking insufficient action to protect shoppers. Both Google and Amazon said they were continuing to assist the CMA.
Google likely to soon face antitrust claims from US states
A group of state attorneys general may file a lawsuit against Google as early as next week, accusing the search and advertising giant of violating antitrust law in running its mobile app store, Reuters report.
The anticipated lawsuit follows complaints from app developers about Google's management of its Play Store for Android devices, according to one source. The lawsuit has been in the works since last year and has already been delayed, but seems close again, the sources told Reuters.
The investigation by the state attorneys general is being led by Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina and New York. It is unclear how many states will participate.
US Commerce Department rescinds TikTok, WeChat prohibited transactions list
The U.S Commerce Department said it was rescinding a list of prohibited transactions with TikTok and WeChat that were issued in September as the Trump administration sought to block new U.S. downloads of both Chinese-owned apps, as per Reuters.
The withdrawals came after President Joe Biden this month withdrew a series of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of Tencent-owned WeChat and TikTok, and ordered a Commerce Department review of security concerns posed by those apps and others.
During Donald Trump's presidency, the Commerce Department had also sought to ban other transactions that would have effectively banned WeChat's use in the United States and later sought similar restrictions that would have barred TikTok's use.
China's foreign ministry described the move as "a positive step."
Facebook expands Shops to WhatsApp, Marketplace
 
Facebook is expanding its "Shops" feature to messaging app WhatsApp and to Facebook Marketplace, Reuters said.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said it would also introduce personalized ads in this shopping service.
The social media giant, which launched Shops last year as a way for people to find and buy products on Facebook and Instagram as part of its push into ecommerce, said it has more than 300 million monthly Shops visitors and about 1.2 million monthly active Shops.
 
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