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    Starup Digest: Kalaari Capital invests $25 million in PhableCare, Medfin gets $15 million in Series B round, Ola board approves buyout of Avail Finance: Report

    Starup Digest: Kalaari Capital invests $25 million in PhableCare, Medfin gets $15 million in Series B round, Ola board approves buyout of Avail Finance: Report

    Starup Digest: Kalaari Capital invests $25 million in PhableCare, Medfin gets $15 million in Series B round, Ola board approves buyout of Avail Finance: Report
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    By Aishwarya Anand   IST (Published)

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    Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

    Kalaari Capital invests $25 million in healthtech startup PhableCare
    Healthtech startup PhableCare has raised $25 million (Rs 187 crores) in its Series B funding round led by Kalaari Capital. The round also saw participation from Aflac Ventures, Digital Horizon, Strides Ventures. Existing investors, Omron Ventures, SOSV, Social Starts, and Fresco Capital.
    The new investment comes within one of the firms raising its Series A round. The startup plans to acquire other players through strategic investments, which will consolidate PhableCare’s position in the category.
    The company said it has allocated capital and secured additional venture debt to invest in other healthtech startups that can potentially create a thriving healthcare eco-system through capacity and capability expansion. The startup claims that over 3 Million patients and 10,000+ doctors and over 1000+ pharmacists use PhableCare’s technology.
    The new investment marks a 6x jump in PhableCare’s valuation and the company will use this investment to further strengthen its full-stack and value-driven chronic care ecosystem and accelerate its market expansion, customer acquisition (doctors and patients), and brand building, and building new revenue streams.
    "Our focus over the next 2 years would be to take the technology to 30 Million+ Indian households and 100,000+ super-specialist doctors in India and capture 25 percent of the market. In addition, we will continue to build technology to integrate the healthcare system and players even further,” said Sumit Sinha, co-founder, PhableCare.
    Affordable surgical care provider Medfin gets $15 million in Series B round
    Healthcare startup Medfin has secured $15 million in a Series B funding round from a group of investors including Arka Nxt, HealthXCapital (Singapore), Blume Ventures, Axilor Ventures, Sony and Kotak Investments.
    The startup plans to utilise these funds to expand to over 25 cities across India. It would invest in R&D, Technology, Process and People, enabling it to offer patients a one-stop comprehensive service platform for over 250 types of daycare surgeries.
    Medfin offers patients access to the latest surgical treatment procedures. It offers surgeries across departments from ophthalmology to orthopedics. The company has previously raised $4 million in funding.
    "A large part of the population in India falls in the low to medium income bracket and daycare surgeries can really benefit them. At Medfin we combine value-based care, advanced technology, and superior patient experience to deliver better health outcomes while containing costs," said Arjun Kumar, founder and CEO at Medfin. It has completed over 5,000 surgeries and said it on track to surpass 100,000 surgeries by 2024.
    Agritech startup GROWiT bags Rs 3 crore in seed round
    Agritech startup GROWiT has raised Rs 3 crore in its seed round led by Mehul Shah from IVY Growth. Coppermint LLP, Gaurav Singhvi (Co-founder, WFC), Rajeev Goel (Sagar Life Sciences), Sunay Shah (Mahati Electrics), Rohan Desai (CEO, Triumph Capital), and Mukul Goyal (Tapi Capital LLP) also participated in the funding round.
    The fresh capital will be used to invest in its research and marketing processes that will ultimately enable GROWiT in expanding its customer base and producing standard quality cost-effective protective farming materials and products, the firm said in a statement.
    Currently, GrowiT is serving over 15,000 farmers through around 117 franchise stores. It plans to expand its franchise network to almost 300 franchise stores by the end of this fiscal year and serve around 2.5 lakh farmers.
    OTHER STARTUP NEWS
    Ola board approves buyout of Avail Finance: Report
    IPO-bound Ola's board has approved the acquisition of Avail Finance, a company promoted by founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal's brother, for $50 million in a share swap deal, sources told Moneycontrol. The report added that his sibling Ankush Aggarwal is likely to lead Ola Financial post the merger.
    "A few investors raised concerns but the board ultimately approved it. It was always clear that Bhavish only needed a simple majority to see the deal through," one of the sources said.
    Ola's parent ANI Technologies' board of directors includes Bhavish Aggarwal, Matrix' Avnish Bajaj, Tencent's Brent Richard Irvin, SoftBank's Sumer Juneja, co-founder Ankit Bhati, Krishnamurthy Venugopala Tenneti, who Aggarwal counts as an advisor and former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin, who is also a board member and investor in Aggarwal's other venture Ola Electric.
    The merger comes as the SoftBank-backed firm, which was planning to list on the public markets this year, now plans to raise a new round of funding at a lower valuation, the report added.
    Elon Musk drops plans to join Twitter board, rival Koo urges Tesla CEO to work the startup
    Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has announced that Elon Musk will not be joining the board of the microblogging site. The announcement comes a week after Agrawal said that the Tesla CEO was joining the board of directors of Twitter.
    "Elon has decided not to join our board. I sent a brief note to the company, sharing with you all here," tweeted Agrawal on Monday.
    Neither Twitter chief nor Musk disclosed the reason for the rejection, although the Tesla boss later deleted those tweets, which also included plans such as an authentication checkmark for Twitter subscribers who pay $3 a month. The board held many discussions with Musk, Agrawal said in a note posted to the site on Sunday, while warning of "distractions ahead."
    Hours after Twitter’s CEO Elon Musk’s decision to not join the company’s board, the CEO of rival microblogging website Koo took to Twitter to grab the tech mogul’s attention. Aprameya Radhakrishna, tweeted out to Musk, asking him to give Koo a shot. “@elonmusk let's talk sometime! We're young, agile and dreaming big! Koo being built as the future of social media,” the tweet read.
    Unacademy along with Delhi Police to prepare aspirants for competitive exams
    Edtech major Unacademy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to prepare in-service personnel of the Delhi Police and their children for competitive exams.
    As a part of the agreement, in the next four years, Unacademy will conduct a series of aptitude tests to identify the meritorious children of Delhi Police employees and offer them free of cost study scholarships to prepare and crack the competitive exams, it said in a statement.
    Under the initiative, the children of Delhi Police personnel can avail 50 percent discount on the annual price of select courses at Unacademy. Students from class 10 till graduation can apply for the test. In addition,750 girl children of Delhi Police personnel will receive free scholarships under Unacademy’s national program ‘Shikshodaya’.
    Unacademy will also conduct a series of career guidance sessions at Delhi Police Public Schools to empower students on emerging career opportunities, the firm added.
    Byju's names Amazon tech veteran Ganeshkumar as VP technology
    India’s most valued startup Byjus has appointed Amazon tech veteran Vedhanarayanan Ganeshkumar as vice-president of technology. Vedhanarayanan will play a key role in accelerating critical technologies to scale Byjus tech and innovation prowess, the company said in a statement.
    This new appointment is in line with Byju's concerted strategy to further enhance its world-class learning products, and accelerate innovative and impactful learning experiences for students globally, the statement added.
    In his new role, Vedhanarayanan will be responsible for accelerating critical technologies to scale Byjus tech and innovation prowess.
    In his stint over 15 years, Vedhanarayanan held multiple senior engineering leadership roles at Amazon Global Technology organisation supporting last-mile delivery, supply chain, and customer shipment tracking experience, among others and also played a key role in the growth of Amazon Global Development Center in India.
    Euler ties up with Magenta to deploy 1,000 HiLoad EVs
    Electric vehicle startup Euler Motors has partnered Magenta, integrated clean energy and electric mobility solutions provider, to deploy 1,000 HiLoad electric three-wheeler cargo vehicles.
    Under the partnership, Magenta will deploy these EVs in Bangalore followed by other regions over the next 12 months. The vehicles will be deployed for multiple segments and customer applications including e-commerce, food delivery, pharma, and other last-mile logistics clients, the firm said in a statement.
    Under EVET, Magenta is already operating over 400 electric cargo transport services using the electric mobility platform. While Euler Motors will cater to vehicle deliveries and service support via its full-stack ecosystem, Magenta will oversee customer deployments and also support credit access for EV financing for drivers.
    The key cities targeted for the deployments include Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru amongst others, the statement added. Euler Motors has already commenced deliveries for Magenta, with the first batch of 20 HiLoad EVs to be delivered this week.
    With increasing customer tie-ups and a bullish demand outlook, the company recently announced an outlay of Rs 200 crore towards capex and increased production to 35,000 units per annum.
    Pine Labs partners with Home Credit India to strengthen Digital EMI Lending option for customers
    IPO-bound merchant commerce platform, Pine Labs has partnered with Home Credit India, a local arm of the international consumer finance provider to focus on 'Digital-first' approach to the retail loans business.
    This partnership will further strengthen Home Credit India's retail network and enhance access to its Ujjwal card's digital EMI-financing options to millions of Home Credit customers at Pine Labs PoS terminals across India, a statement said.
    Even for shoppers who are new to Home Credit, merchants will facilitate a quick digital onboarding journey of less than five minutes. Initially, the digital Ujjwal EMI card offering will be launched across 18,000 stores across India and for the purchase of electronics, home appliances and mobile phones. More stores and newer categories will be added subsequently.
    Partnership with Pine Labs will provide a boost to our customer loyalty, as Home Credit India Finance Private Limited customers will get a new avenue or large PoS network to avail of Home Credit's paperless EMI financing, powered by Ujjwal EMI card. This partnership will also help in expanding Home Credit's customer base with new customer acquisitions through Ujjwal card membership.
    GoKwik onboards Amazon's Pranav Merchant as Head of Operations
    Ecommerce enablement company GoKwik has onboarded amazon’s Pranav Merchant as Head of Operations. In his new role, Merchant will be the key visionary for strategising the organisation's overall operational intricacies, stakeholder management, and further drive the brand’s aim to be a preferred partner of D2C ecommerce merchants for all their problems relating to conversions, cart abandonment, return to origin and customer acquisition costs, the firm said in a statement.
    Before joining GoKwik, Merchant worked at organisations like Amazon, ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund, and Aditya Birla Group in leadership roles and has led the operational setup and process stabilisation for them.
    "As e-commerce is showing good velocity in India, we must solve problems this industry faces and support the growth manifold. GoKwik is driven by that goal and that passion. I am excited to scale this business, set up operations and strategies in place that will make the journey from 1 to 100 and change the face of how people see D2C and e-commerce. I am excitedly looking forward to this,” said Merchant.
    BrightCHAMPS-backed financial literacy platform for kids Education10X launches in India
    Education10X, a financial literacy platform for kids, has formally launched in India under the aegis of BrightCHAMPS. Founded by IIM Calcutta graduates Bhavishya Chaurasia, Gyan Tiwari, and Prasanna N Muley, the startup is focused on delivering financial education to kids from 8 to 16 years of age.
    Education10X ensures hands-on practice for its students with the help of simulators on equities and cryptocurrencies so kids can have real-world and practical experience of these financial instruments. It will also be taught by thoroughly trained instructors who are CAs and MBAs, with an acceptance rate of under 3%, the firm said in a statement.
    According to the team’s research on the topic, the launch of an India-specific program was motivated by the finding that less than 3% of Indian kids are financially literate due to the absence of the subject in the country’s education system.
    Crypto investment startup Giottus onboards 1M users
    Crypto investment platform Giottus has onboarded over one million users ahead of its fourth anniversary. The platform claims that it is the only bootstrapped crypto exchange in India to have achieved this feat.
    Founded in November 2017, Giottus opened up for trade-in April 2018. On Giottus, users can buy, sell, and grow their crypto portfolio in eight Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
    As per the platform, this regional focus has helped Giottus gain a strong foothold in the southern markets with more than 70% of its customer base coming from this region while a majority of participation coming from the tier-2 and 3 cities. The firm is aiming to offer fixed deposits on crypto assets as well as staking features soon.
    GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
    TikTok's ad revenue to surpass Twitter and Snapchat combined in 2022: Report
    Video-sharing app TikTok's advertisement revenue is likely to triple in 2022 to more than $11 billion, exceeding the combined sales of its rivals Twitter and Snap, according to research firm Insider Intelligence.
    TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is one of the world's most popular social media apps, with more than 1 billion active users. "TikTok's user base has exploded in the past couple of years, and the amount of time users spend on the app is extraordinary," said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at Insider Intelligence.
    Twitter and Snapchat are expected to generate $5.58 billion and $4.86 billion, respectively, in advertising revenue for 2022, with the combined value still less than the $11 billion projected for TikTok.
    Nearly $6 billion, or more than half, of this year's ad revenue, is expected to come from the United States, despite regulatory concerns over user data from the US being passed on to China.
    Epic Games valued at about $32Bn in funding from Sony, Lego firm
    Epic Games has raised $2 billion from Sony and the family-owned holding company behind the Lego Group, valuing the "Fortnite" creator at $31.5 billion.
    As per Reuters, Sony, an existing investor, and the Kirkbi investment company each invested $1 billion, with the fundraising to help advance a metaverse partnership the company had entered into with the Lego Group earlier this month.
    "Fortnite" is already considered to be part of the metaverse, and the investment in Epic will give Sony a chance to delve deeper and capitalize on that business.
    Epic Games has largely lost a trial last year over whether Apple's payment rules for apps were anticompetitive. That decision found Apple had suitable reasons to force some app makers such as Epic to use its payment system and take commissions of 15 to 30 percent on their sales.
    Apple faces extra EU antitrust charge in music streaming probe, sources tell Reuters
    Apple faces an additional EU antitrust charge in the coming weeks in an investigation triggered by a complaint from Spotify, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, a sign that EU enforcers are strengthening their case against the US company.
    The European Commission last year accused the iPhone maker of distorting competition in the music streaming market via restrictive rules for its App Store that force developers to use its own in-app payment system and prevent them from informing users of other purchasing options. Such requirements have also come under scrutiny in countries including the United States and Britain.
    Extra charges set out in a so-called supplementary statement of objections are usually issued to companies when the EU competition enforcer has gathered new evidence or has modified some elements to boost its case.
    Under new EU tech rules called the Digital Markets Act (DMA) agreed last month, such practices are illegal.
    However, Apple and other US tech giants targeted by the rules will have a couple of years before the crackdown starts. "The DMA is still two years away. The rules will probably apply to Apple at the beginning of 2024. This is why antitrust cases remain important," said lawyer Damien Geradin at Geradin Partners, who is advising several app developers in other cases against Apple.
    In addition to the music streaming investigation, Apple's practices in e-books and its Apple Pay are also in the EU antitrust crosshairs. Sweden's Spotify, the largest music subscription service in the world, is one of Europe's big global success stories in consumer technology.
    Russia scolds Google after alleged 'dead Russians' translation option
    Russia has demanded Google take immediate steps to remove "threats" against Russians after it said Google Translate had offered some users the option to translate the phrase "dead Russians" instead of "dear Russians".
    Russia's communications regulator said it had demanded Google "immediately take measures to exclude statements of threats against Russian users", Reuters reported. The regulator said that when "dear Russians" was typed into Google's translator, it had also offered the variant "dead Russians" under the "Did you mean" section.
    The regulator, known as Roskomnadzor, said it did not offer such variants for the phrase with other nationalities. Google Translate did not appear to be suggesting such a variant when Reuters tried out the translator.
    Russia's regulator "demanded that the American company take comprehensive measures to prevent such situations against Russian users, as well as to inform the agency about the reasons for the appearance of such messages."
    Shopify announces 10-for-1 stock split, proposes founder share for CEO
    Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify has announced a 10-for-1 split of its class A and class B stock, joining a growing list of companies that have split their shares to make them more attractive for investors, as per a Reuters report.
    Shopify would also seek shareholder approval to authorize and issue a new class of shares, called the Founder share, to Tobi Lutke, its chief executive officer and founder.
    The proposal seeks to preserve the voting power of Lutke, as the Founder share will provide him with a variable number of votes and that combined with his previously owned shares from other classes would represent 40% of the total voting power attached to all of Shopify's outstanding shares.
    The proposal, however, said that Lutke will hold the Founder shares only until he is an executive at Shopify or a board member.
    China grants licences to 45 internet games in April
    China has granted licences to 45 internet games in April, the first time since July, according to a list published by the National Press and Publication Administration.
    As per a Reuters report, Baidu and 37 Interactive Entertainment Network Group Co are among firms whose games received licences, the list shows.
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