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Startup Digest: Top stories of the day

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Here is wrap of all that made news today (April 22).

Startup Digest: Top stories of the day
Here is wrap of all that made news today (April 22).
Ola Electric to set up 1 lakh charging points in 5 years, electric scooter to have range up to 150 KM
Ola Electric's scooter, which is expected to hit the road this year, will have an industry leading range of up to 150 km in some of its variants, CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said. The company has also announced plans of setting up 1 lakh charging points across 400 cities in the next five years, with 5000 to be set up in the first year.
Ola Electric announced the Ola Hypercharger Network on Thursday, with Ola Group CEO Bhavish Aggarwal adding that an investment of $2 billion will be made by the company along with ecosystem partners such as oil marketing companies, malls and residential and corporate complexes to set up the charging infrastructure over the next five years.
While Ola Hyperchargers will be widely deployed across cities in city centers and business districts as stand-alone towers as well as in busy locations such as malls, IT parks, office complexes, cafes, Aggarwal said that he expects 50% of the user's charging to be fulfilled by home chargers that will be bundled with the Ola Scooter.
Earlier in March, the company had said the phase 1 of the Ola Electric factory on the 500 acre site in Tamil Nadu will be ready by June and that it will have a capacity to manufacture 2 million vehicles annually. Aggarwal said while there have been some supply-side issues due to the second wave of the COVID pandemic, he does not foresee any delays to the company's EV rollout plans.
By digitising over 50 lakh businesses in 6 months, myBillBook fuels the growth of SMBs in India
Bengaluru-based FloBiz, a SMB technology company launches myBillBook - a simple to use billing and accounting app for small & medium businesses. It is available on both mobile and desktop. myBillBook provides an easy-to-use and secure experience to business owners with a seamless sign-up process – enabling digitization of their business operations in a matter of minutes.
myBillBook offers a complete billing and accounting solution on a mobile phone enabling businesses to digitise their entire business operations. It is currently available in English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil.
myBillBook helps both GST and non-GST businesses in creating bills, recording purchases & expenses, maintaining stock and managing payables/ receivables directly from their mobile phones or computers. This app also generates important business reports like profit & loss statements, sales summary, party ledger reports, GSTR reports, etc. that help business owners take effective decisions on the go. myBillBook has helped over 50 lakh businesses in the country to go digital in the past six months.
Instamojo acquihires entertainment startup Showman
Instamojo, a full-stack solutions provider for MSMEs, has announced its first ever acquihire of Bengaluru-based virtual theatre and vernacular content platform, Showman. The acquihire will see the on-boarding of the founding member team of Showman. Kshitij Bhatawdekar, co-founder and CEO of Showman joins Instamojo as Product Manager, while Rutveez Roopam Rout, co-founder and COO of Showman joins as User Research Manager.
Focused on empowering the Indian MSME sector, the Instamojo platform offers products and solutions which enable small businesses to achieve digital independency. Through the pandemic, the company introduced several products to address the timely need of small businesses that were grappling to survive, and consequently recorded a 25 percent growth in merchant base. Early last year, the company acquired GetMeAShop (GMAS), an e-commerce enablement firm backed by Times Internet, and closed its Pre-Series C round of funding later in 2020.
Acies launches Funding + Technology Development Program for start-ups and entrepreneurs
Acies, a leading multi-national firm in the technology and advisory space, today announced the launch of a special initiative aimed at supporting budding entrepreneurs and start-ups that face technological, management or capital constraints. Through this initiative, Acies, led by its ventures business will provide access to capital for funding business growth, professional guidance, and support from the Acies leadership and usage rights to their no-code platform Revolutio for building their technology product or service. This initiative will be called the Acies Ventures-Revolutio program.
Developed by Acies Techworks, Revolutio is a unique and unified no-code application that enables any individual, group, or even existing start-up to build or enhance their applications without the hassle of coding. Revolutio is architected to develop applications for the enterprise and for enabling complex computer operations. The platform allows anyone with or without coding experience to build their enterprise-ready applications - covering architecting, data management, process automation, modelling, reporting, visualisation and project management capabilities.
Preschool market leader Flintoclass hits Rs 150 crore run rate in just 6 months
Early education leader Flintoclass has designed a model to deliver high-quality early experiences to children at home during the crisis. The preschool-at-home model has hit Rs 150 crore annual run rate in just six months of its launch. Flintoclass is currently available in India, Canada, the USA, and UAE.
Flintoclass, a subsidiary of Flinto Learning Solutions - the market leader in early childhood education, is a hybrid learning program that offers the best of hands-on experiences and virtual guidance sessions to younger kids.
It delivers its promise packed in an all-inclusive learning kit, designed to work on flexible schedules to meet the needs of its audience. The kit has an award-winning and research-backed curriculum, with every single material needed for early education -- practically delivering a complete preschool in a box.
Flintoclass has also tied up with a network of schools across India to provide priority admissions to Grade 1, for children graduating from the Flintoclass preschool program.
In Funding News
Hero Electronix’s portfolio company Tessolve raises $40 million from Singapore-based Novo Tellus
Tessolve, a Hero Electronix venture and a global provider of engineering and R&D services to semiconductor companies, has raised $40 million from Novo Tellus Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm based out of Singapore at a $100 million valuation. The funding will be used by Tessolve to drive further growth through acquisitions and organic investments.
Since a majority investment by Hero Electronix in 2016, Tessolve has witnessed a year-on-year growth rate of over 30 percent achieving $75 million in 2020 revenues. It has transitioned from a semiconductor test services provider to a provider of complete engineering solutions to semiconductor companies. Offerings range from designing chips, testing chips, product engineering to designing electronic products.
It has grown into an over 2,000 employee organisation and has significantly expanded its global presence with 15 offices across US, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, UK, and Taiwan. Its client base includes leading marquee names from the technology industry including 8 of the top 10 semiconductor companies.
We Founder Circle leads $75K seed round in Avni- menstrual care startup
We Founder Circle, a start-up investment platform, has invested in Avni, a startup focussed on conscious and holistic menstrual care. The brand offers a wide range of menstrual care products including - Avni reusable cloth pads, Avni organic cotton pads and Avni menstrual cups.
Due to lack of organic and natural products, a lot of women are left with no choice but to use chemical based sanitary products that cause skin challenges. To address the same, Avni started working on alternatives and introduced tested, innovative products, made with carefully selected ingredients. The startup further identified that there is a lack of awareness among women users towards reusable menstrual products and to help them with the queries it also launched a 24X7 support period helpline.
The seed round worth $75K witnessed participation from key investors including Amit Tyagi, entrepreneur turned investor, Srikanth Iyengar, a senior executive in the technology services industry and an investor in edtech, healthcare and consumer startups. Avni plans to utilise funds in product development and expanding the product line. It also plans to exhaust a part of the fundraise in creating more awareness through various on-ground initiatives.
ORAI raises Rs 3.6 crore pre-series A from Inflection Point Ventures
Enterprise conversational AI platform, ORAI has raised Rs 3.6 crore in a pre-series A from Inflection Point Ventures, marking ORAI as its 13th deal in 2021. The funds raised would be used for international expansion and collaborations, sales and marketing along with product development and enhancements.
ORAI is an enterprise conversational AI platform incorporating text, voice, AR/VR and humanoids in one single platform for Enterprises and SMBs.
It also acts as a strong enterprise solution for variety of use cases like increasing qualified leads and accelerating business revenue, along with improving the customer support teams efficiency and reduced the incoming calls/emails load by up to 90 percent. The tools also provide predictive intelligence dashboard with a score to each lead with its probability to close. The platform seamlessly integrates with more than 20 digital channels and a variety of CRMs. ORAI is expanding in ME, Europe, USA and Asia Pacific, ORAI is on its way to achieve its goal of being the leader in Conversational AI Space with constant innovations helping business connect better with customers.
In Global News
Facebook to incorporate user feedback on News Feed arrangement
According to Reuters, Facebook said on Thursday it was taking steps to incorporate direct feedback from users to arrange their News Feed as per their preference. Facebook's News Feed, which comprises posts from friends and businesses, is the first thing users see when they open their account on the mobile app or go to the website. The company is running tests globally to get more specific feedback from users on what they want to see, wrote Facebook in a blogpost.
Amazon-backed home tech startup SmartRent to go public in over $2 billion SPAC deal
Amazon-backed home technology solutions provider SmartRent.com Inc said on Thursday it had agreed to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm backed by venture capital firm Fifth Wall, valuing the equity of the combined company at around $2.2 billion according to a Reuters report. The deal with Fifth Wall Acquisition Corp I is expected to provide the merged entity with $513 million in gross proceeds, comprising about $155 million from investors including Koch Real Estate Investments, Baron Capital Group, Lennar Corp and Invitation Homes.
SmartRent develops tech products for property owners and homebuilders that automate daily operational processes such as parking management, locks and thermostat operation. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based firm's customers include Lennar, Invitation Homes and Essex Property Trust Inc.
FWAA, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) raised $345 million through an initial public offering in February.
Facebook begins testing ads in Instagram Reels
Facebook on Thursday said it will begin testing ads on its TikTok clone Instagram Reels in India, Brazil, Germany and Australia, as the social media giant aims to make money from its short-form video feature, says a Reuters report. The company is seeking to capitalize on its popularity in India, a fast-growing social media market, while rival TikTok has been banned from the country since last year. Facebook has said it plans to test other features in India, such as letting content creators share Reels videos on their Facebook accounts.
Facebook also announced it will let advertisers select categories of video content they want to place ads on, such as videos about children and parenting, animals and pets or fitness and workouts. The effort is Facebook's biggest move yet to let brands advertise alongside content subjects. Advertisers typically use Facebook to target certain users by their interests. "This is a big deal for marketers," Everson said.
Facebook added it will roll out sticker ads for Facebook Stories in the coming weeks. Brands can create stickers that creators will place in their Stories, and influencers will earn a cut of any sales made through the sticker ads. The feature is part of Facebook's push to court content creators who are increasingly making money directly from fans and followers through platforms such as audio chat app Clubhouse and membership site Patreon.
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