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Startup Digest: Razorpay acquires PoshVine, Ryan Reynolds invests in Bending Spoons & FTX to acquire bankrupt Voyager's assets

Startup Digest: Razorpay acquires PoshVine, Ryan Reynolds invests in Bending Spoons & FTX to acquire bankrupt Voyager's assets

Startup Digest: Razorpay acquires PoshVine, Ryan Reynolds invests in Bending Spoons & FTX to acquire bankrupt Voyager's assets
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By Aishwarya Anand  Sept 27, 2022 8:28:28 PM IST (Published)

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Razorpay acquires PoshVine to foray into loyalty, rewards management market

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Razorpay has acquired fintech startup PoshVine to foray into the loyalty and rewards management sector. The company, however, did not disclose the acquisition amount.
The firm which witnessed a three times growth in FY2022, offers payments-linked loyalty and engagement solutions to banks, payment networks and businesses.
"With an increasing percentage of customer spends moving online, there is a massive opportunity to help banks and merchants engage with their customers across the lifecycle using payment-linked loyalty including rewards, offers, and redemption of loyalty points," said Shashank Kumar, MD and Co-founder, Razorpay.
This marks Razorpay's seventh acquisition to date. The entire PoshVine team will join Razorpay. Last month, Razorpay bought a majority stake in Ezetap, a Point of Sales (PoS) Payments Solution Provider Ezetap.
VeriSmart acquires conversational AI platform DolphinChat
Blockchain-based data exchange platform, VeriSmart has acquired Delhi-based conversational AI platform, DolphinChat for an undisclosed capital. Post-acquisition, DolphinChat’s core team will join VeriSmart.
As per a statement, VeriSmart will be investing $4 million in the conversational AI platform over the next 24 months.
“DolphinChat platform will get access to millions of consumers that are part of VeriSmart’s industry consortiums. VeriSmart is rapidly growing and DolphinChat will only strengthen their overall proposition to enterprises” said Ashish Sharma, Founder and CEO, DolphinChat.
VeriSmart claims to have seen a growth of 450 percent in the monthly net revenue over the last 3 quarters. The firm is now planning expansion to two more geographies.
Zomato piloting Rs 3 lakh health cover delivery workers’ families in Delhi, Hyderabad & Ahmedabad
Foodtech giant Zomato said it is piloting a health cover worth Rs 3 lakh for the families of delivery workers who have been with the organisation for two-three years as a loyalty benefit.
According to the company, the programme is being piloted in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad. The firm said it would allocate Rs 10,00,000 as life cover along with a dedicated amount for funeral expenses in case of the death of a delivery partner.
Zomato also said for any injury causing temporary disability, it offers a loss of pay of Rs 525 per day which can go up to Rs 50,000.
“This is our attempt to ensure delivery partners prioritise their health and are able to fulfill their household responsibilities as they recover before returning to their gig,” the company said in a blog post.
The company claims to have facilitated medical cover worth Rs 1 lakh for all delivery workers. In FY22, Zomato said it disbursed Rs 15.94 crore to 9,210 workers as part of this cover. In addition, Zoamto said it offers Out Patient Department (OPD) support worth Rs 5,000. In FY22, the company said it disbursed claim amounting to Rs 2.3 crore for OPD support for delivery workers and their families.
Funding news 
Elucidata raises $16M in Series A round from Eight Roads Ventures and others
Biomedical molecular data company Elucidata has raised $16 million in a Series A funding round led by Eight Roads Ventures. The round also saw participation from F-Prime Capital, IvyCap Ventures, and Hyperplane Venture Capital.
As per the firm, the fresh capital will be used to deepen product capabilities in translational drug research and allied markets, scale go-to-market initiatives and accelerate global expansion.
Elucidata’s platform Polly enables pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to adopt a data-centric approach for successful AI/ML initiatives. This technology has been used by leading life sciences companies on over 2.5 million biomolecular datasets, a statement added.
“Organisations often underestimate the importance of data quality, and as a result, a lot of AI/ML initiatives are compromised. We’re on a mission to derisk such initiatives in life sciences R&D by empowering them with high-quality biomedical data at every stage of the R&D process,” said Dr. Abhishek Jha, CEO, and Co-Founder, Elucidata.
Cheelizza raises over Rs 4 crore in seed round from IAN
Pizza chain Cheelizza has raised Rs 4.11 crore in seed funding round led by Indian Angel Network (IAN) investors Hari Balasubramanian, Uday Chatterjee, Deval Tibrewal, and Rajeev Sarda.
Co-investors Sagar Daryani, Founder of Wow! Momo, Karan Tanna, founder of Ghost Kitchens, and Rahul Surana who is principal at an international fund also participated in the round.
The chain has been running ten stores across Mumbai and Gujarat. With the new funds, it will focus on expanding its presence in Mumbai by opening 20 new stores in the next 12 months. It is also expanding its team and hiring talent across senior leadership roles in Business, Operations, HR, Marketing, along with 100+ team members for their frontline Store operations, a statement said.
“We have been operating in stealth mode over the last 10 years focused on building the business on strong fundamentals. We have had a 10x revenue growth and have clocked 20%+ store level ebitda. We currently sell over 30k+ Pizzas per month with an over 50% repeat order rate,” said Animesh Lodha, Founder, Cheelizza.
Chumbak raises Rs 3 Cr from Klub
Design focused retail brand, Chumbak has raised Rs 3 crore through revenue based financing platform Klub. The company will use the fresh funds to place orders of merchandise and push discovery of its online platforms, a statement said.
“The infusion of funds from Klub energises us to be able to introduce new collections of our much-loved products. We’re optimistic about the festive season and are geared up to ensure a fantastic store experience, both online & in-store, to our customers,” said Vasant Nangia, CEO, Chumbak.
The brand has diversified its range to include personal care products, furniture, and decor items. Chumbak aims to double its turnover by the end of FY22.
We Founder Circle back Uma Robotics in Pre-Seed round
Uma Robotics, a startup offering customized robots for small and mid-sized factories, has received an undisclosed amount in a pre-seed funding round led by We Founder Circle.
The startup intends to use the fresh capital to increase the size of the engineering team, business development, building infrastructure, and hardware/ software for R&D.
“Our solutions have already been very well received by our clients and within the first year of our incorporation, we have delivered our robot to a Fortune 500 company. This fundraise not only brings us the resources but also the fine mentorship of an array of reputed investors. Their support will help us achieve more milestones,” said Suchit Sharma, Founder and CEO, Uma Robotics.
Other startup news 
Vivo launches initiative to drive innovation for 8 - 12 class students
Global smartphone brand Vivo has launched a country wide initiative - Vivo Ignite to empower students across India with a problem-solving approach and developing appropriate technologies, integrating, and applying scientific ideas best suited and required for addressing issues of the country.
The application is open to all Indian students of grades 8 to 12 and will be conducted in three stages from September 2022 to February 2023. In the final leg of the contest, Vivo will organize Science and Innovation Awards which will recognize innovative thinkers and the top 10 winners with cash prizes worth 25+ lakhs, a statement said.
“With Vivo ignite our goal is to encourage problem solving approach of our aspiring young minds by providing them with a platform to present their technological and creative ideas that can address issues in countries like India,” said Paigham Danish, Head, Business Strategy, Vivo India.
Bolt launches new EV charging socket for homes
Electric Vehicle (EV) charging solutions provider Bolt has launched its EV charging socket BOLT LITE. As per the firm, the indigenously made socket is compatible with all portable chargers that come with any EV and works with the existing AC power supply at home.
The socket has been launched at an introductory price of Rs 2599. Bolt Lite charging socket is compatible with two, three and four wheel EVs and requires no additional infrastructure and can be installed in under 30 minutes with little to no maintenance, the firm added.
“A robust and pervasive charging infrastructure, both at home and in public spaces is key for rapid adoption of EVs in India. At BOLT, we first solved the issue of public charging of EVs by installing 15,000+ BOLT charging points in 300+ cities. The current usage of a standard 15A socket to charge EVs at home can damage the vehicle, battery and the charger due to uncontrolled charging, exposure to extreme temperatures or unexpected power surges. Now with BOLT LITE, we are addressing the various challenges faced by a user while charging EV at home and have designed an affordable solution which enables safe and smart charging at home,” said Mohit Yadav, Co-founder, BOLT.
GitHub for Startups developer platform launched in India
Open-source software development platform GitHub said it has made its developer platform available in India to help boost the startup ecosystem.
Eligible startups in India, and globally, will receive up to 20 seats of GitHub Enterprise free for one year, including the support and guidance from GitHub technical experts.
"As the home for the world's developers, it is our responsibility to provide entrepreneurs access to our complete developer platform, so anyone can rapidly and securely turn their aspirations into the next great startup of tomorrow," said Thomas Dohmke, CEO of GitHub.
Microsoft-owned GitHub has over 7.2 million developers in India, and more than 83 million globally.
Solethread eyes presence in 5000+ stores by the end of FY24
Solethreads, a casual footwear brand has announced that it will increase its retail footprint by 5X in 2022. After establishing its presence in more than 400 multi-brand outlets early this year, the D2C brand is now aiming to close this financial year with a presence in more than 2000 stores.
Solethreads recently won Amazon Global Seller Accelerator 2022 and claims to be clocking more than 150% YOY growth in its online customer base. With the recent expansion, the company said it is eyeing to be present across top 100 cities of India.
"This year our revenue grew more than 4X in multi brand outlets, by adopting agile supply chain methodologies and consistent design innovations, which makes for a high growth retail partnership. The brand has also forayed into large format retail with Metro shoes, and it has been a very successful partnership with our products already available in over 200 of their stores pan India ", said Sumant Kakaria, Founder and CEO, Solethreads.
Hesa ties up with Oxecart to help farmers with market linkages
Agri-fintech startup Hesa has partnered with virtual auctioning platform Oxecart, which enables stock-like trading for agri produce, to provide the right market linkages for local farmers.
With this partnership, Oxecart also aims to be the fastest farm-to-business platform by 2025. The agri-fintech startup has connected over 30 lakh rural consumers in 27000 villages in 28 districts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and over 35000 ‘Hesaathis’, a statement said.
“This partnership also allows our partners to excel and grow in their chosen industry/field, having a user-friendly product and geographical strength will only help in any kind of alliances we forge going forward,” said Vamsi Udayagiri, Co-Founder and CEO, Hesa.
PhonePe opens 50,000 sq ft office in Pune to accommodate 400 people
Fintech platform PhonePe has announced the opening of its new office in Pune that will be able to accommodate close to 400 employees and will be fully functional from this week.
The new office, spread across an area of 50,000 square feet, has been designed with plenty of open spaces allowing for effective collaboration and interaction among teams, the company said in a statement.
In addition to the dynamic work spaces, the new office has a 3,000 square feet cafeteria that will serve local and multi-cuisine food for the company's diverse employee base.
In line with the company's gender diversity and inclusion mission, the new space offers inclusive and gender neutral spaces, fostering a safe and friendly workspace, the company added.
Global technology & startup news 
Ryan Reynolds invests in Italian startup Bending Spoons
Italian app developer Bending Spoons has raised more than $340 million from investors including Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds and Kerry Trainor, the former CEO of video streaming platform Vimeo.
Bending Spoons, whose apps include popular video editing tool Splice and Remini, an image editor based on artificial intelligence technology, said the money could be used for acquisitions.
A source close to the company told Reuters that former Google Executive Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt was among the investors. Other backers included Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Banco BPM.
Crypto exchange FTX to acquire bankrupt Voyager's assets
Voyager Digital said that crypto exchange FTX, whose bailout proposal the bankrupt lender had rejected earlier this year, has won its assets in a $1.42-billion bid at an auction, as per a Reuters report.
The FTX bid comprises a fair market value of all Voyager cryptocurrency, at a to-be-determined date, which is pegged at about $1.31 billion at current market prices and an additional $111 million in incremental value, Voyager said in a statement.
The company added that its claims against hedge fund Three Arrows Capital will remain with the bankruptcy estate, which will distribute any available recovery on such claims to the estate's creditors.
Voyager issued a notice of default to the Singapore-based hedge fund in June, for its failure to make required payments on a loan of 15,250 bitcoin.
Meta says removes China-based propaganda operation targeting US midterms
Meta said it has disrupted the first known China-based influence operation focused on targeting users in the United States with political content ahead of the midterm elections in November, Reuters reported.
The network maintained fake accounts across Meta's social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, as well as competitor service Twitter, but was small and did not attract much of a following, Meta said in a report summarizing its findings.
Still, the report noted, the discovery was significant because it suggested a shift toward more direct interference in US domestic politics compared to previous known Chinese propaganda efforts.
"The Chinese operations we've taken down before talked primarily about America to the world, primarily in South Asia, not to Americans about themselves," Meta global threat intelligence lead Ben Nimmo told a press briefing.
Stellantis and Uber join forces on electric vehicles market in France
Carmaker Stellantis and Uber have announced a partnership along with the company Free2Move to focus on the French electric vehicles market.
As per a Reuters report, the companies said in a joint presentation that Free2Move would help Uber in Uber's plans to convert 50% of its fleet of vehicles in France over to electric models.
The production and sale of more electric and hybrid vehicles is also a key part of the plans set out in March by Stellantis Chief Executive Carlos Tavares to double Stellantis' overall revenues to 300 billion euros ($288.8 billion) a year by 2030.
Grab expects to break even by the second half of 2024
Grab, Southeast Asia's biggest ride-hailing and food delivery firm, expects to break even on its adjusted EBITDA by the second half of 2024 as it accelerates toward profitability, company officials said.
Its group adjusted EBITDA loss is expected to be $380 million for the second half of 2022, a 27 percent improvement compared with the first half of the year.
"Our cash position is not something that we take for granted. We will maintain a prudent stance in how we allocate and deploy our capital with this cash preservation on top of mind," Chief Financial Officer Peter Oey told analysts on Grab's first investor day.
Grab also announced that it expects group revenue to grow by 45% to 55% year-on-year in 2023 on a constant currency basis. It also expects to break even in its digibank operations by 2026.
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