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    STARTUP DIGEST: Top stories of the day

    STARTUP DIGEST: Top stories of the day

    STARTUP DIGEST: Top stories of the day
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    By Shruti Malhotra   IST (Updated)

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    It’s raining unicorns on Startup Street - after Cred and Meesho this week – PharmEasy and Groww have turned unicorns. So far, in 2021, the Indian startup ecosystem has added seven new firms to the $1 billion valuation club.

    It’s raining unicorns on Startup Street - after Cred and Meesho this week – PharmEasy and Groww have turned unicorns. So far, in 2021, the Indian startup ecosystem has added seven new firms to the $1 billion valuation club.
    In global news, one of the most popular apps in the world currently Clubhouse is looking to raise funds at a valuation of $4 billion as per Bloomberg News. Here’s a wrap of all top stories today:
    Oyo 'subsidiary' faces insolvency proceedings by NCLT over payment default, to challenge order
    The Ahmedabad branch of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has ordered a corporate insolvency resolution process of Oyo Hotels and Homes Pvt. Ltd, over a payment default of Rs 16 lakh to a Gurgaon-based hotel owner.
    The hotel owner had approached the NCLT stating that he had entered into a contract with Oyo Hotels and Homes in 2018 which granted the latter an exclusive license to operate the hotel under the 'Oyo Rooms' brand. The complainant said that Oyo had defaulted on payments of Rs 16 lakh between July and November 2019, and issued a demand notice under the insolvency and bankruptcy code in November 2019.
    As per the filings, Oyo had informed the NCLT that the business had been transferred from Oyo Hotels and Homes to another entity Mypreferred Transformation and Hospitality Pvt Ltd. However, the NCLT in its order has said that Oyo Hotels and Homes had the liability to make payment of dues to the hotel owner, which was the operational creditor.
    The tribunal ruled that operational debt is due to the applicant and called for a public announcement of the initiation of corporate insolvency resolution. Oyo in a statement on Wednesday said it is challenging the order, with founder Ritesh Agarwal tweeting that the company has appealed to the NCLAT about the matter.
    "We are surprised to hear that the Hon’ble NCLT has admitted a petition against OHHPL a subsidiary of OYO for INR 16 Lakhs in a contractual dispute, which dispute is not even with this subsidiary. We have filed an appeal. The matter is sub-judice and we would refrain from commenting further on the merits of the matter at this stage. We have strong faith and belief in our judicial system," the company statement said.
    Agarwal added that the company has already paid Rs 16 lakh to the hotel owner 'under protest'.
    PharmEasy parent API Holdings raises $350 mn led by Prosus Ventures and TPG Growth
    API Holdings, parent of consumer digital healthcare platform Pharmeasy has raised about $350 million in primary and secondary funding led by Naspers owned Prosus Ventures & TPG Growth.
    Existing investors including Temasek, CDPQ, LGT Lightrock, Eight Roads & Think Investments also participated in the Series E round.
    API Holdings’ digital healthcare platforms connect over 60,000 brick & mortar pharmacies and 4,000 doctors in 16,000 zip codes across India, the company said in a statement. The platforms also provide SaaS solutions for pharmacies to use in procurement combined with delivery and logistics support, and credit solutions to buy over 200,000 medicines from over 3,000 pharmaceutical manufacturers, it added.
    The new funds will be used to deepen its penetration across India to reach over 100,000 pharmacies in the next 12 months.
    Groww becomes the newest unicorn; raises $83 million in Series D from Tiger Global
    Homegrown investment platform Groww has raised $83m in Series D round at a valuation of more than $1 billion. With this, Groww becomes the forth unicorn to be born this week after health-tech startup PharmEasy, social e-commerce startup Meesho and credit card payment platform CRED made their funding announcements. Tiger Global led the fundraising with the participation of Groww's existing investors — Sequoia India, Ribbit Capital, YC Continuity and Propel Venture Partners.
    In June 2020, Groww launched stocks with an easy-to-use interface for do-it-yourself (DIY) investors. Groww witnessed rapid growth and opened about 20 lac demat accounts.
    Groww plans to expand its product suite with the new fundraise, hire top-quality talent, and invest heavily in financial education and awareness. Financial education content has been a critical focus for Groww from its inception. In the next two years, the company plans to launch a slew of financial education initiatives aimed at millennials and expand the market for financial services.
    Avanti Finance raises $26 million in Series A and Debt funding round led by Oikocredit and Nomura
    Tech led NBFC Avanti Finance raises $ 26 million in debt and equity from Oikocredit, Nomura and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Technopreneur cum philanthropist Pratul Shroff & existing investor NRJN Trust also participated in the round. Avanti will use the funds to strengthen its platform and expand its presence to accelerate livelihoods purpose credit and other financial products to the next 100 million unserved and underserved households in India.
    Avanti has built a digital platform that facilitates a paperless, presence-less, and cashless approach to lending that will reduce costs and friction for unserved and underserved segments, especially in rural India. Avanti partners with a diverse set of organizations with strong roots in local communities to offer loan products that are hyperlocal and focused on livelihood sustainability. It has built a strong proof of concept in 15 states covering 110 districts and further expanding its footprint.
    Avanti uses its own balance sheet and will also establish partnerships for livelihoods-focused lending with other capital providers who share the mission of enabling financial inclusion for the most needy. Avanti understands that sustained impact in low-income households can be achieved through the economic empowerment of women and currently, more than 75 percent of Avanti borrowers are women. Avanti is building a scalable partner ecosystem that includes social enterprises, financial institutions, business correspondents, and agri-tech innovators across the country.
    DusMinute raises $1.1 mn in pre-series A funding
    Hyperlocal D2C platform for gated communities DusMinute has raised $1.1 million in pre-series A funding led by Indian Angel Network, along with a clutch of HNI investors.
    DusMinute offers amenities like supermarket, pharmacy, home services, café, and more, through in-society store and an exclusive app, for residents of gated communities, a statement said. The startup has ensured safe and convenient shopping experience for its users, especially during the lockdown period, by delivering all necessities within minutes from their own community store, the company said.
    Bangalore-based DusMinute has been servicing prominent properties of Brigade, Prestige, Sobha, Provident, SNN, Shriram, and Godrej among others in the city.
    Rage Coffee raises capital from Refex Capital, 9Unicorns
    D2C coffee startup Rage Coffee has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A funding led by Refex Capital with participation from 9 Unicorns Venture Capital Fund, Emarson Computers, CC One Venture Labs, Spotlight Capital and others The company has also raised revenue-based financing from Getvantage in this round, a statement said.
    The freshly infused capital will be utilized for marketing and distribution purposes as Rage Coffee is planning to expand its online presence and offline footprint, the company added. The company will also use the funds to scale up its production and launch innovative new products.
    Practo launches online consultations in 15 vernacular languages
    Online healthcare platform Practo has introduced vernacular language options for its teleconsultation service.
    This initiative will allow online consultation users to choose a doctor who can speak in their preferred language, the company said. Currently, this service covers 15 languages – including Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali and more will be added soon, the company said. The options are meant to help break down the language barrier in patient-doctor communications on the platform for its 200 million unique users in the future, it added.
    The initiative was launched as a pilot project earlier this year after a significant amount of user requests for the same, with Hindi as the alternate option for users to choose from. During this time, 25 per cent of all online consultations on Practo were conducted in vernacular languages, with Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, and Kannada emerging as the preferred language(s) for consultation for users.
    Nearly 67 per cent of all vernacular consultations were from users living in non-metro cities. Furthermore, 65 per cent of all vernacular consults were from users aged 60 and above, Practo added.
    In global news:
    Audio app Clubhouse in talks to raise funds at $4 billion valuation: Bloomberg News
    Audio app Clubhouse is in discussions to raise funds at a valuation of about $4 billion, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. (bloom.bg/3uveWJk)
    Clubhouse did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
    The San Francisco-based company, whose app allows people to discuss varied topics in audio chatrooms, has seen its popularity surge after appearances by billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
    The success of the invite-only, year-old platform, which recently reported 10 million weekly active users, has demonstrated the potential of audio chat services, particularly as people stay inside homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Prosus to sell 2% Tencent stake worth $15 billion
    Dutch-based technology investment company Prosus NV plans to sell a 2% stake in software giant Tencent, worth about $15 billion at current prices, in an accelerated offering to institutional investors.
    Prosus, majority owned by Naspers of South Africa, said the sale would lower its stake in Tencent to 28.9% from 30.9%.
    The move underlines the size of Prosus’s Tencent stake, which it said it had committed not reduce further in the next three years.
    “The proceeds of the sale will increase our financial flexibility, enabling us to invest in the significant growth potential we see across the group, as well as in our own stock,” CEO Bob van Dijk said in a statement.
    Prosus shares fell 4% to 94.52 euros shortly after the news, Reuters reported.
    The company said it had informed Tencent of its intention before Wednesday’s announcement.
    In addition to its Tencent stake, Prosus owns or invests in online food delivery platforms, classified marketplaces and digital payments businesses.
    Creators' platform Patreon valued $4 billion in latest funding round
    Patreon, a platform that lets artists seek financial patronage from their fans, said it was valued at $4 billion in its latest funding round, more than tripling from September last year, Reuters reported.
    The San Francisco, California-based company raised $155 million in the fresh round led by new investor Tiger Global Management, with participation from Woodline Partners and previous investors Wellington Management, Lone Pine Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Glade BrookCapital, and DFJ Growth.
    In the previous funding round, Patreon had raised $90 million, which reportedly valued it at $1.2 billion then.
    The company, which connects creators including musicians, writers, journalists, and podcasters with fans while monetizing their work for a monthly fee, plans to use the fund for developing new tools for creators, potential acquisitions, and expanding its international footprint.
    Patreon, founded in 2013 by two YouTube creators, grew in popularity over the last year as more creators churned content to engage audiences stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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