There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Tuesday. Here's a wrap of important stories from the startup universe:
Urban Company turns unicorn with new funding
Home services platform Urban Company has become a unicorn, with its valuation touching nearly $2 billion, sources said. The company has raised Rs 1,410 crore in its latest funding, according to filings sourced from Tofler.
Entrackr was the first to report on Urban Company's latest funding and valuation.
According to the filings, the round saw participation from Prosus Ventures (earlier Naspers), Tiger Global via its funds Internet Fund V, along with Wellington management and DF Capital.
With this, Urban Company has become the 12th unicorn in 2021. The company did not offer any comments on the latest funding and the valuation.
Founded in 2014, the startup offers services such as beauty and spa at home, cleaning, plumbing, carpentry, appliance repair, painting, etc. through its mobile app and website. It operates in 18 cities in India and in four international markets (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sydney & Singapore). The company has a partner network of over 30,000 service professionals.
The Indian startup ecosystem has now already added more unicorns in the first four months of 2021 compared to the whole of 2020, when there were nine new unicorns, as per data from Venture Intelligence Unicorn Tracker. As of April 23, the total funding so far in 2021 stands at $7702 million, with 231 deals so far, according to data from venture Intelligence.
pi Ventures to raise Rs 565 crore via Fund II; to invest in disruptive tech startups
Early-stage venture fund pi Ventures, which invests in disruptive Artificial Intelligence and DeepTech startups, has launched its second fund with a target corpus of Rs 565 crore and a greenshoe option of Rs 185 crore.
The VC is looking to back around 25 global disruptors from India with this fund and has received approvals from Sebi.
With Fund II, pi will continue to focus on early-stage (seed/ pre-Series A/Series A) investments in startups focused on disruptive AI as well as ventures going beyond digital deep tech into - space technologies, material science, Biotech and life sciences, the firm said. With Fund 1, so far pi has invested in 13 category-defining deep tech startups like Niramai, Locus, Wysa, Agnikul and Pyxis.
pi Ventures closed its Fund I of Rs 225 cr in 2017-18. Its investors include CDC UK, IFC World Bank, SIDBI, Hero Enterprise’s Sunil Kant Munjal, Electronic Development Fund (managed by Canbank Ventures), Canada’s In Colour Capital, Accel Partners and family offices and entrepreneur investors Binny Bansal, Bhupen Shah, Raghuveer Tarra, Ullas Kamath among others.
Manish Singhal, co-founder and Managing Partner at pi Ventures said, “We are very excited to launch our second fund and continue our mission to back startups which are creating global solutions from India. With AI and other technologies steadily maturing, we can expect some interesting applications in the coming days. With this fund, we aim to support talented entrepreneurs who are creating disruptive products that are solving big fundamental problems, with unique solutions on the back of technology innovations. So far our investment strategy has worked extremely well and we have a healthy portfolio of companies that have scaled massively despite the current pandemic situation. Over the last two years, we have built a strong team that has delivered outstanding performance thereby strengthening our vision of helping make India a ‘DeepTech’ nation.”
With the pandemic giving massive acceleration to AI adoption, AI is shifting gears and will disrupt existing business models. pi Ventures’s latest fund aims to continue to back such disruptive tech ventures that are set out to create 10x differentiated businesses, the firm said.
CareStack raises $22.5 million
Home-grown cloud dental software startup CareStack has raised $22.5 million from SteadView Capital, Delta Dental of California, Accel Partners, Eight Roads and F-Prime Capital. The firm raised $28 million raised in 2019 from the same investors which takes its total funding to more than $60 million.
CareStack will use the fresh capital to expand its operations and to double its workforce and grow the annual revenue four times, it said.
Simple Energy plans to raise $15 million
Bengaluru-based electric vehicle startup Simple Energy plans to raise $15 million (over Rs 112 crore) in funding from domestic and foreign venture capital funds ahead of the launch of its flagship e-scooter Mark 2 mid this year.
The Series A funding is expected to be closed by the third quarter of this year, and the capital raised will be utilised in setting up a manufacturing facility, among others, Simple Energy said.
"Simple Energy plans to raise USD 15-million in Series A. This round of Series A is expected to be closed by the third quarter of this year and might be backed by VCs based in India and New York," the EV maker said.
The company said it plans to deploy 60 percent of the funds to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with a capacity to produce 50,000 vehicles annually, the rest of the funds will go into setting up experience centers, and scaling up the workforce. The company is looking to produce and sell 50,000 units in the first 12 months of its launch, it said.
Simple Energy had also recently released the testing images of the prototype version of the production vehicle earlier this month, post-raising pre-series funding of an undisclosed amount.
The flagship e-scooter which will have a 4.8 kWh lithium-ion battery with a claimed range of 240 km in eco mode and top speed of 100kmph, is set to be rolled out mid this year with pre-bookings beginning from the launch day itself, followed by the deliveries soon, it said.
The e-scooter will be priced at Rs 1.10 lakh- Rs 1.20 lakh, the company said.
The other key features include a mid-drive motor along with a removable battery and futuristic design. It also comes with smart features like a touch screen, on-board navigation, bluetooth, among others, Simple Energy said.
Clocr raises $500K 000 in seed funding round
Digital vault service startup Clocr has raised more than $500,000 as a part of its seed funding round, as the company looks to expand its footprint in the country.
Clocr is also looking to expand its global footprint and hire teams in different geographies and provide B2B integrations across various verticals, the firm said. Substantial funds from the new infusion will be spent on sales and marketing.
The SaaS platform allows users to organise their digital assets including all accounts (social media and others) and files, identify heirs, and provide these access to the digital legacies of their loved ones, a company statement said.
Through its solution, Clockr allows people to set up, manage, efficiently organise their digital assets, files, and pass on all digital assets in a safe and legal way, in case of an emergency or death.
Flipkart partners with Give India to supply life-saving equipment to charitable hospitals, COVID-19 centres
Ecommerce firm Flipkart to collaborate with Give India Foundation to provide life-saving equipment to charitable hospitals, COVID-19 centres, and healthcare workers fighting against the second wave.
It will supply oxygen, N-95 masks, PPE kits, hand sanitisers, vaccinations and essential care at COVID-19 centres, charitable hospitals and for healthcare workers in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.
OYO Rooms launches initiative for self-isolation
Hospitality company OYO Rooms has announced the OYO Care Initiative for self-isolation of Covid-19 patients in a bid to reduce the burden on healthcare workers, patients’ families & contain the spread of the virus, the company said.
Currently available in Delhi-NCR, it plans to expand the service across India, founder Ritesh Agarwal said in a tweet.
Apple joins Google and Microsoft to support India’s fight against COVID-19
Apple has become the latest multinational company after Google and Microsoft to have extended its support to India in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apple CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter to announce his support. "Amid a devastating rise of COVID cases in India, our thoughts are with the medical workers, our Apple family and everyone there who is fighting through this awful stage of the pandemic. Apple will be donating to support and relief efforts on the ground," he said.
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, has also pledged Rs 135 crore to support high-risk communities and grants to help spread critical information about the deadly virus.
Similarly, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella offered his support, saying his company would “continue to use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices.” Microsoft India had earlier funded two Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi-led project on COVID-19 detection last year in May.
Meanwhile, CEOs of about 40 top American companies have come together for a first-of-its-kind country-specific global task force to gather resources and coordinate efforts to help India fight the battle against COVID-19, according to reports.
Many more business tycoons and organizations, including Nischal Shetty, Founder and CEO of WazirXIndia, Open-source blockchain software Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, and cryptocurrency legend Balaji Srinivasa have also pledged their support to India as it fights a ravaging virus.
Former Coinbase CTO Srinivasan has donated $50,000 in cryptocurrency and Buterin has also transferred cryptocurrency worth more than $600,000 for India’s fight against COVID-19.
Tesla posts $438 million Q1 profit on strong electric vehicle sales
Charged up by strong sales of its electric cars and SUVs, Tesla posted its seventh-straight profitable quarter. The company made $ 438 million in the three-month period that ended March 31, as sales more than doubled the same period last year to nearly 185,000 vehicles. All but 2,000 of the sales were lower-priced Model 3 sedans and Model Y SUVs.
Tesla said it didn't produce any of its higher-priced Model S sedans and Model X SUVs as it switched to new versions during the quarter.
The Palo Alto, California, company faces challenges as it tries to reach its second-straight annual profit this year. There's a global shortage of semiconductors that is forcing automakers to idle factories, and Tesla is facing renewed scrutiny of its Autopilot partially automated driving system after two men died in a crash earlier this month near Houston.
Excluding stock-based compensation and non-recurring items, Tesla made 93 cents per share. That beat Wall Street estimates of 75 cents per share, according to analysts polled by data provider FactSet.
First-quarter revenue of $10.39 billion fell just shy of the $10.48 billion expected by analysts. Once again the company needed regulatory credits purchased by other automakers in order to make a profit. Without $ 518 million in credits for the quarter, Tesla would have lost money. Other automakers buy the credits when they can't meet emissions and fuel economy standards.
Tesla said adjusted net income, excluding stock-based compensation, passed $1 billion for the first time in company history.
Tesla sold Bitcoin to prove cryptocurrency’s liquidity as an alternative to cash, says Elon Musk
Elon Musk said his company Tesla sold Bitcoin to "prove liquidity of Bitcoin as an alternative to holding cash on the balance sheet."
Tesla's recently earnings reports showed that it sold some of its Bitcoin tokens after purchasing them for over $1 billion earlier in the year. The sale of BTC tokens netted Tesla $101 million.
Musk also added that he had not sold any of his personal Bitcoin holdings. The explanation came as a Twitter user implied that Musk might have been engaged in a soft "pump and dump" scheme with Bitcoin.
Replying to the user, Musk explained that Tesla sold 10 percent of its Bitcoin to demonstrate the cryptocurrency’s liquidity.
Tesla had earlier this year announced that the company would be buying over $1 billion worth of Bitcoin and that it would also soon start accepting payment for Tesla cars in Bitcoin. The announcement had sent the price of Bitcoin rallying higher.
Even though Bitcoins price has fallen down from its peak in mid-April of $64,870, Tesla’s Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said on an earnings call that the company believed in Bitcoin’s long-term value.
Other cryptocurrencies like Dogecoin and Ethereum have also seen an increase in price, but nothing like Bitcoin’s 7-fold price hike over last year.
On Tuesday, Bitcoin was little changed at $53,851. The world's most popular cryptocurrency soared nearly 10 percent on Monday, after five straight days of losses, on reports that JPMorgan Chase is planning to offer a managed Bitcoin fund.
Bitcoin had slumped almost a fifth from its all-time high hit earlier this month.
First Published: IST