December 1, 2023

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

BetterPlace acquires OkayGo, aims to reduce hiring costs by 20 percent

BetterPlace, a technology platform for blue-collar workforce management has acquired OkayGo, an on-demand blue-collared gig workforce management platform for enterprises, for an undisclosed amount.

This acquisition aims to reduce the cost of hiring for enterprises by 15-20 percent by providing them a pool of pre-skilled and pre verified workers ready to be deployed for short-term tasks, a statement said.

Through a marketplace model, OkayGo and BetterPlace will collaboratively narrow the demand and supply gap for gig-workforce in India and solve the inefficiencies of idle time and attrition. This integration will enable frontline workers to increase their daily and hourly earnings an average of 25-30 percent, it added.

This is BetterPlace’s fourth acquisition. It had acquired Oust Labs, Aasaanjobs and Waah Jobs in October last year.

The House of Things acquires Moavi Design to expand its luxury textile range

The House of Things (THOT), a digital-first platform, has acquired Moavi Design, a handmade-textile startup for an undisclosed sum.

This acquisition strengthens offerings of THOT to its discerning customers in the form of luxury textiles, enhancing its current lifestyle product portfolio.

Through this acquisition both the firms aim to enable an effective growth in the internationally renowned artisan made products, promote sustainability by providing more employment opportunities to the artisan communities of India and meet the growing demand from design connoisseurs all over the world.


SUGAR Cosmetics raises $50M led by L Catterton: Report

D2C beauty brand SUGAR Cosmetics has raised $50 million in Series D fundraise led by the Asia fund of L Catterton. A91 Partners, Elevation Capital and India Quotient also participated in the round.

The fundraise was valued close to $500 million, according to a report by Moneycontrol.

The firm currently has an annualised revenue of about Rs 320-350 crore, or about Rs 27-30 crore of net revenue a month. The brand has also been growing its offline presence and now has over 100 owned stores across the country.

StrideOne raises Rs 250 Cr from Elevar Equity

StrideOne, a tech-led financial services platform for startups, has raised Rs 250 crores via a mix of equity led by Elevar Equity and debt led by banks.

The company aims to empower growth and scale in the Indian startup ecosystem and it plans to create more products that impact both credit and non-credit need gaps for startups and MSMEs alike.

StrideOne said it has turned profitable within just 6 months of operations and accumulated an AUM of Rs 200 Cr across more than 20 anchor companies. The company has also acquired EzCred platform – a tech firm to bolster its tech interface and plans to make more tech-focused acquisitions in 2022.

“It has been a supremely gratifying journey for us already and with Elevar’s deep expertise in democratizing access to capital for underserved customer segments, we look forward to doubling down on our milestones in FY’23 and beyond,” said Ishpreet Singh Gandhi, Founder, StrideOn.

Synaptic bags $20M in Series B round from Valor Equity Partners

Synaptic, an alternative data insights startup, has closed a $20 million Series B funding round led by Valor Equity Partners.  The firm combines the best of technology, machine learning, and finance to bring alternative data insights to decision-makers.  

With the funding, Synaptic will continue to invest in product innovations, double down on its data science capabilities, partnerships with data vendors, and expand its go-to-market teams in key global financial hubs, it said.

“With the Series B funding, we will massively increase our reach and bring our capabilities to more markets and geographies. We are highly enthusiastic about the investment from Valor and look forward to working together with their incredibly experienced team to elevate Synaptic to the next level.”, said Anurag Abbott, Co-Founder, Synaptic.

Privyr bags $6M in Series A round to enable personalised client engagement via WhatsApp

Privyr, a Singapore-based startup that helps consumer-facing salespeople and businesses convert leads right from their phones, has raised $6 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by MassMutual Ventures and Vulcan Capital, with participation from Wavemaker Partners, author Nir Eyal, and former Facebook executive Gwendolyn Regina. The start-up previously raised $900,000 from Wavemaker Partners, Entrepreneur First, and several angel investors.

The fresh capital will be used to expand Privyr’s product capabilities, increase market penetration, and scale its team from less than 10 employees to over 40 within a year, the firm said.

Fitelo raises $1.5M in Pre-Series A round from Guild Capital

Fitelo, a weight management app, has raised $1.5 million in its Pre-Series A round of funding led by Guild Capital. The round also saw participation from a few senior executives from Pareto Capital, Chaayos, and Country Delight also participated in the round.

Currently, the healthcare startup has a strong customer base of 20,000+ people across 15 countries.

“The funds will accelerate our efforts to develop a global platform that focusses on a holistic and natural way of staying healthy, physically and mentally,” said Sahil Bansal, Co-founder and CEO, Fitelo.

Vendekin Technologies secures Rs 8.5 Cr from Better Capital and others

Vendekin Technologies, a vending machine digitisation and unmanned retail solutions startup, has raised Rs 8.5 crores in a pre-Series A funding round led by Better Capital with participation from existing investors CP Gurnani’s Family Office and Vineet Nayyar’s Family Office.

The capital will primarily be used to strengthen R&D and technology teams to drive superior consumer buying experience at vending machines and micro markets.

The company further plans to expand into global markets such as USA and Europe, explore new avenues of unattended commerce such as EV chargers, amusement parks and laundromats as well as create a new channel of unattended retail in India through its one-of-a-kind V-commerce platform.  It aims to power $100 million (GTV) gross transaction value globally in unattended retail transactions by 2025.


Edtech firm Scaler to invest $50M in M&A deals: Report

Edtech soonicorn Scaler will invest $50 million in mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in 2022-23 (FY23) as the company sees a consolidation opportunity amid a slowdown in funding and a drop in valuations of edtech companies.

“The funding slowdown and the correction in valuation of edtech companies has provided a very good opportunity to companies like ours to try and look at acquisitions,” said Abhimanyu Saxena, co-founder, Scaler, in interaction with Moneycontrol.

Saxena said that Scaler’s strategy behind its potential acquisitions will be largely revolving around acquiring and distribution of its courses. He said Scaler will not acquire companies just to shore up its revenue or to enter newer segments.

Scaler said it is also looking to launch upskilling programs that cater to underrepresented communities like LGBTQ+ and persons with disabilities.

Indiabulls-run social commerce platform Yaari lays off 150 workers: Report

In the latest string of layoffs in the funding winter, conglomerate Indiabulls social commerce platform Yaari has reportedly laid off nearly 150 employees – that makes 60 percent of its workforce.

According to a report in the leading startup news coverage portal Inc42, Yaari is likely to be merged with another Indiabulls-backed entity called ‘Dhani’, which is an ecommerce platform.

The layoffs reportedly occurred in the last week of April across supply support, customer support, business development, and marketing verticals, and the company allegedly did not extend any severance package or health benefits to those impacted by the round of layoff.

Ashneer Grover tells VC firms to ‘right size’ themselves before advising startups

Ashneer Grover, cofounder and former managing director (MD) of fintech platform BharatPe, has advised venture capital (VC) and investment firms to first think about “right-sizing” themselves in the wake of the current economic slowdown before telling their portfolio companies and startups to do so.

Grover’s hard take on VC firms came as several large investment firms like Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Craft Ventures, and Y Combinator, etc have sent memos and footnotes to their portfolio companies and startups on how to endure the ongoing crisis.

“It’s ironic that VCs are singing aright sizing’ of portfolio companies in chorus. The fact is VCs firms need to right-size their own teams by 80 percent. I still haven’t figured out why you need more than 5 people in a VC firm. If they were tight themselves – portfolio cos won’t be so far off,” tweeted Grover.

E-recycler Attero to spend $1Bn to expand as EVs take off

Electronics recycling firm Attero Recycling will spend $1 billion in the next five years and add plants in Poland, Ohio and Indonesia starting this year, aiming to tap into a global boom for electric vehicles.

Attero’s goal is to raise its annual lithium-ion battery waste processing capacity to 300,000 tonnes by 2027 from 11,000 tonnes now, he said, meeting 15 percent of the world’s demand for lithium, cobalt and graphite, from less than 0.1 percent today.

Attero employs about 150 people and plans to add 100 more this year, including in Europe and the United States. Gupta said sales were set to double this financial year to about $55 million, but declined to share profit projections.

PAYBACK India partners with Apollo Pharmacy

PAYBACK India, a BharatPe company and multi-brand loyalty program, has announced a strategic alliance with Apollo Pharmacy to further augment customer engagement across its 100-million-member base.

The partnership will also help PAYBACK India acquire new customers across 4500 Apollo Pharmacy outlets. Eligible PAYBACK members will be able to earn points on their purchases at Apollo Pharmacy outlets.

All members will be able to redeem their accumulated loyalty points at Apollo Pharmacy outlets to enjoy discounted billing, a statement said.

Zyngo to deploy over 18,000 EVs for last-mile delivery by this fiscal-end

Tech-enabled third-party logistics service provider Zyngo said it will deploy over 18,000 electric vehicles for last-mile delivery in the country as part of its fleet augmentation plans.

These delivery vehicles, which are to be deployed pan-India by this fiscal-end, are being leased/sourced by the company from various domestic original equipment makers (OEMs), Zyngo EV Mobility said in a statement.

Zyngo has been catering to several major e-grocery and e-commerce platforms with its fleet spread across Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Chandigarh. The company said it plans to venture into other markets such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Indore, Chennai, Lucknow and Bhopal, among others, this fiscal, while expanding its EV fleets into existing and new locations.

“We are currently on track to increase our fleet size by up to 18,000 EVs by FY 23-end. As a part of this, we are targeting deployment of 10,000 EVs across various locations by November 2022, and then the rest by March 2023, in order to fulfil the growing market requirements and to increase our business propositions by 10 times or more, said Prateek Rao, Founder-CEO, Zyngo EV Mobility.

Shadowfax registers 4X growth in two years

Shadowfax, a crowdsourced third-party logistics platform, has registered 4X growth in revenue in just two years.

Delivering across 900+ cities with more than 120,000 monthly transacting delivery partners, Shadowfax said its focus on customer experience has contributed significantly to its exponential growth.

47 percent of Shadowfax delivery partners earn between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month, while 30 percent take home more than Rs 30,000, it added.

“We ran 42 rider contact programmes across cities to develop an in-depth understanding of the crowdsourced workforce. Some of our leaders delivered orders as riders, which helped us identify and solve key rider issues through product and technology,” said Vaibhav Khandelwal, Co-Founder and CTO of Shadowfax.

Zoomcar expects to achieve profitability in India by this year-end

Car sharing platform Zoomcar said it expects to achieve profitability in India by this calendar year-end, on the back of strong organic growth. The company claims it has 20,000 cars on its platform.

On an average, Zoomcar hosts earn more than Rs 50,000 in a month, while several others have earned more than Rs 3-lakh in the last six months, the platform said in a statement. On the back of this strong organic growth, the company expects to achieve profitability in India by the end of 2022, Zoomcar said.

“Now, we’re doubling down on building more efficiencies into our marketplace, and expect to be cash-flow positive in India by the end of the year,” said Greg Moran, Co-founder-CEO, Zoomcar.

TechEagle drone delivers mail in Gujarat under pilot project

Gurugram-based startup TechEagle said its drone has successfully delivered a mail in Gujarat under a pilot project in collaboration with India Post, which could pave the way for postal deliveries by drones in the future.

The first such drone flight delivered the parcel in the Kutch region of Gujarat in less than half an hour, travelling a distance of 46 km, with a five-times faster speed than surface transportation, the deep-tech drone technology startup said.

TechEagle had launched the country’s fastest hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) 100-km range drone ‘VertiplaneX3,’ with a payload capacity of 3-kg and a top speed of 120 km per hour, last month. It has the capability to take off and land vertically like a helicopter from a small area of 5mX5m.

Debt-resolution fintech startup Credgenics expands leadership team

Credgenics, a SaaS based collections and debt-recovery technology platform has announced the expansion of its core leadership team as part of its next phase growth plan for existing markets and entry into global markets.

New additions to the Credgenics leadership team include Vibhor Singhal as Head of Engineering, Nitin Garg as Head of Marketing, Asvini Krishnan as Head of Finance, Manjari Lakshmanan as Head of Product, Aakash Agarwal as Head of Data Science, Sukhpreet Singh as Head of HR, and Abhishek Sharma as Director of Sales. 

“The business value that we are delivering to our existing customers combined with our continued focus on innovation is helping us grow at a past pace. The new leadership team will propel us into the next orbit of growth,” said Rishabh Goel, Co-founder and CEO, Credgenics.


Democrats attacking me and sidelining Tesla, SpaceX: Elon Musk

Elon Musk on Tuesday once again criticised US President Joe Biden, saying that he will vote for the Republican Party in midterm elections in November as Democrats are attacking him and his companies from all sides.

Earlier this month, he publicly revealed for the first time on Twitter that he will now vote for Republicans, as conservatives returned to the micro-blogging platform after his $44 billion takeover.

“I support free speech, but not any one candidate. In fact, I gave money to & voted for Hillary & then voted for Biden. However, given unprovoked attacks by leading Democrats against me & a very cold shoulder to Tesla & SpaceX, I intend to vote Republican in November,” Musk said in a latest tweet.

Musk has said that the political attacks on him will escalate dramatically in the coming months.

Meta will become Broadcom’s next billion-dollar customer: JP Morgan

Facebook parent Meta Platforms will use Broadcom custom chips to build its metaverse hardware, becoming the chipmaker’s next billion-dollar ASIC customer, analysts at JP Morgan said.

ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) chips will drive $2 billion to $2.5 billion in revenue for Broadcom this year, helped by its deals with Meta and partnerships with Alphabet and Microsoft, the analysts said.

“We believe these wins are primarily at 5 nanometre and 3 nanometre and will be used to power Meta’s metaverse hardware architecture that it will deploy over the next few years,” analyst Harlan Sur said.

Meta is investing heavily in the metaverse – a virtual space where people interact, work and play – by adding new features to hardware devices that serve as access points to the virtual world.

Apple’s new iPhone and iPad software will reportedly add lots of big changes: Report

Apple is reportedly bringing a slew of new updates to iPhones and iPads with its upcoming software releases, iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, which the company is expected to announce during its WWDC 2022 developer keynote on June 6.

The changes to the iPhone include updates to notifications, messages and the Health app, according to Bloomberg. Apple introduced new notification changes last year, too, including the option to bundle them together into a summary at a certain time of the day, and a new Focus mode that limits the notifications you see during specific times. The messages app is expected to get new audio message features, Bloomberg said.

Meanwhile, the Health app is expected to get new features that work with the iPhone and Apple Watch, according to Bloomberg.

The report also said Apple will add new iPad multitasking options. Last year, it made it much easier to two apps to run side-by-side, but some iPad power users have long asked for features that allow the tablet to run even more apps in different windows like you might on a Mac.


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