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This article is more than 11 month old.

Startup digest: Top stories of the day

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Here's a wrap of the top startup stories today (February 24).

Startup digest: Top stories of the day
Here's a wrap of the top startup stories today (February 24).
Flipkart to deploy over 25,000 EVs in supply chain
Walmart-owned Flipkart plans to deploy more than 25,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in its supply chain to completely transition to electric mobility by 2030. The company has partnered with key players including Hero Electric, Mahindra Electric and Piaggio to procure electric vehicles(EVs) through logistics partners for specific vehicles to be deployed for its first and last-mile delivery fleet across the country.
This is in line with Flipkart’s public commitment to transition to EVs across its city logistics fleet and help set up charging infrastructure around delivery hubs and offices to fast-track the adoption of such vehicles in India, a statement said. In August last year, Flipkart had said it will transition completely to the usage of EVs by 2030 as part of its sustainability efforts and had announced joining the Climate Group’s global electric mobility initiative, EV100.
Flipkart has already started piloting and deploying 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler EVs in multiple locations for delivery across the country, including in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Guwahati and Pune, among others. Flipkart’s electric fleet will include 2-wheeler, 3-wheeler, and 4-wheeler vehicles designed and assembled in India, helping boost local innovation and the economy, the statement said. The company said it will also place requirements in service contracts, install charging infrastructure close to its 1,400 supply chain facilities, conduct awareness programmes, and encourage delivery executives to use EVs.
Retail tech startup Arzooo raises $6 million from Trifecta Capital
Retail-tech startup, Arzooo has secured $6 million from Trifecta Capital. The startup will leverage funds for market expansion and scaling its logistics and operational capabilities. The venture claims its B2B business witnessed strong growth through the pandemic and the company is aiming to hit $500 million sales run rate this year. Arzooo currently operates across South, North and Eastern India will now be scaling its operations in Mumbai, rest of Maharashtra and Gujarat soon.
The startup will also channelise funds to ramp up its supply chain infrastructure with technology and operational capabilities to increase its reach across the country to serve over 50,000 retail stores that it plans to work with and improve the speed of delivery, service experience and operational efficiency.
Early learning platform Kutuki raises a seed round of Rs 16 crore
Early learning platform Kutuki has raised Rs 16 crore ($2.2million) in a Seed round which was led by Omidyar Network India. AET and existing angel investors Better Capital, First Cheque and Abhishek Nag also participated. Kutuki will use the funds for expanding the content library to cover all major Indian languages, create a more immersive learning experience for children and to expand their reach, especially in tier-2 cities and beyond.
Kutuki, founded by Bharath Bevinahally and Sneha Sundaram was launched in 2019. Their interactive learning app is built on a proprietary story and rhyme based curriculum focusing on language (including phonics and foundational literacy), numeracy, life skills, STEM, and general knowledge. The platform currently offers content in four Indian languages, besides English - Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Marathi and is widely used across India and overseas. In October 2020, Kutuki launched live classes for Phonics and Maths to strong positive feedback from parents across the country.
Space startup Pixxel delays launch of satellite on PSLV C51 mission due to software issues
Satellite imagery firm Pixxel announced a delay in the launch of its satellite on the PSLV C51 mission, scheduled for February 28, as it re-evaluates software and “tests it rigorously." The PSLV-C51 is the 53rd mission of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle program. Having Pixxel's satellite aboard the mission would have marked India's first commercial satellite launch into orbit.
In a statement posted on Twitter on February 23, Pixxel said, “Due to certain software issues that surfaced during the final satellite testing, we have decided not to proceed with our launch on the PSLV C51 mission scheduled for the 28th of this month."
The company noted that rushing the launch did not make sense “given the time and effort that has gone into making the satellite” and while they do not have “complete confidence at this time." "We have thus decided to push our launch by a few weeks, re-evaluate the satellite software, and test it rigorously over the next few weeks as we look for the next closest launch opportunity,” the statement said.
The company thanked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), and public sector company NewSpace India (NSIL) for their “immense support” of their project. "From making testing facilities available to our satellite to providing support over the entire launch campaign, the help has been very encouraging to see. We wish the PSLV C51 mission the absolute best as it takes off on February 28, 2021, albeit without us,”" the company added. "We'll keep you posted as we gear up for the launch,” the statement said.
Agritech startup DeHaat acquires Farm Guide
Agritech startup DeHaat has acquired FarmGuide, a business-to-business (B2B) Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, according to the Mint. While the size of the deal was not disclosed, co-founder and CEO Shashank Kumar said Farm Guide’s spatial technology and data science platform would be integrated with DeHaat’s existing digital tech and physical platform to build a full stack platform for farmers and agri-businesses in India.
Post this acquisition, DeHaat will be able to provide more customized crop advisory services to farmers based on the tagged land parcels. This is aligned with larger goal of DeHaat to maximize profit of Indian farmers through technology and end-to-end agriservices
The founding team of FarmGuide has already joined DeHaat and the core database and tech platform will be integrated with DeHaat’s full-stack technology, Kumar said. FarmGuide was started four years ago by IIT Delhi alumni Nikhil Toshniwal and Ankit Gupta. It has developed a SaaS-based platform using satellite data to detect farm boundaries and data-driven customized crop advisory services.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella bats for global regulation on privacy
Describing privacy as a human right, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday said he is hoping for a global regulation on safety and privacy of data that would make sure that tech products and services are safe to use. In a virtual interactive session with Telangana IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao in BioAsia 2021, Nadella said the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe accelerated digital transformation.
"So I look forward to a world where we do have, just after all we have food safety laws we have drug safety laws, there will be similarly I think rules and regulations (on data). Hopefully there is a global norm around," he said replying to query on whether the security and privacy concerns can be regulated. "One thing that I would hope for is that we don't fragment. We are able to whether on privacy or safety, bring together a set of global rules that will allow all of us to both comply and make sure that we know what we build is safe to use," Nadella said.
He said regulations are in place and initiatives such as General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are spreading worldwide. He suggested that companies should design and build products keeping in mind the privacy of the user and no lackadaisical attitude in this regard should be tolerated.
Citing data pertaining to patients healthcare data, he said it should ultimately benefit the infirm. On the post-pandemic working conditions, he said the situation has pushed for more flexibility in terms of work sites and collaboration. "I think collaboration, learning and well-being are fundamentally the things that are going to transform how we think about work while giving people lot more flexibility," he said.
The startup category has already shown tremendous potential in bringing in digital enablement in the medical industry and it is not just benefiting any specific segment but every possible individual in the country across cities and villages, he added.
MobiKwik hires investment banks, law firms to kickstart IPO process: Report
Fintech company MobiKwik has appointed investment banks ICICI Securities and IIFL and a few law firms to begin working on its draft red herring prospectus, according to a Mint report citing two anonymous sources.
The company is also in talks with a few more investment banks to rope them in for the domestic Initial Public Offering (IPO), one of the two people cited above said.
Other than MobiKwik, several other fintech companies including Paytm, PhonePe are planning to go public. "The IPO will help the company raise fresh funds to continue its growth trajectory, but also provide an exit for its earlier investors. A large part of the IPO is expected to be a sale of shares by existing investors," said the second person cited above.
The IPO is expected to come out in 2022. To prepare for the upcoming IPO, the company had appointed its senior vice president Chandan Joshi as one of the co-founders, besides Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana (Taku) in September. Chandan was also handed the position of CEO for its core payment business.
Airtel enters advertising business, launches adtech platform Airtel Ads
Bharti Airtel has launched Airtel Ads, an advertising platform, the telecom operator said in a statement. Airtel Ads allows brands of all sizes to curate consent-based and privacy safe campaigns, the telco said. Airtel has over 320 million customers across its businesses – Mobile, DTH and Homes.
Airtel Ads has already delivered successful campaigns for over 100 brands across multiple categories – FMCG, BFSI, Digital Startups, et al. Early advertisers include PepsiCo, Zomato, CRED, Tata AIG, Lenskart, Apollo 247, Cars24, Gameskraft, Vahan, Harley Davidson.
Telegram launches new features with higher privacy and better security
Telegram has launched a slew of new features to enhance user chat experience with higher level of privacy and security, as per the company statement. The messenger introduces an Auto-delete messages feature for Telegram individual chats, groups and channels.
A new form of Telegram Group has also been introduced called Broadcast Groups where the participants can connect with a live voice chat. Upgrading the security level on the platform, Telegram makes it quicker and easier for users to report any spam content or fake accounts. The messenger enhances the user privacy by launching Expiring links where admins has the right to edit the duration and number of uses.
SoftBank-backed Berkshire Grey to go public via $2.7 billion SPAC deal
SoftBank-backed robotics firm Berkshire Grey has agreed to go public through a merger with blank-check firm Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp in a deal valuing the equity of the combined company at $2.7 billion, Reuters reported.
Zash acquires TikTok rival Lomotif
ZASH Global Media to acquire an 80 percent stake in Singapore-based top video-sharing social networking platform Lomotif. Upon completion of the merger between ZASH and Vinco, ZASH will become a public company and controlling shareholder of Vinco, making Lomotif one of the top global, pure play video-sharing social networking platforms to be owned by a US publicly traded company, competing with TikTok and Kuaishou in the space, the company said in a statement.
ZASH believes that Lomotif is one of the fastest growing video-sharing social networking platforms in its category over the last three years and in Latin America, Asia, Europe and West Africa, Lomotif has increased its average monthly community by over 400 percent in this time span, the statement added. Historically, over 10 billion times atomic clips (User Generated Content (UGC)) have been used to create more than 740+ million videos on the platform since launch.
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