The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (04 - 09 October)

The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (04 - 09 October)

A budding stage startup is nothing less than a toddler which needs to be nourished and prepared to face all the obstacles that lie ahead. The global buzz surrounding the startup culture has made it even more vital than ever to foster innovation, and it's encouraging to see that even India is taking this seriously. As a result, dozens of new startup hubs have already sprouted up across the country and funding is what aids in promoting these startups. In that context, the startups that raised financing this week are listed below.

Progcap, the pioneer in corporate-led last mile financing solutions in India, has raised USD 30 million in primary equity capital as part of its Series C investment round led by existing investor, Tiger Global Management and Creation Investments. Sequoia Capital India, which led the last two funding rounds for Progcap, also participated in this financing. Progcap has raised $55 million in total since the last 3 months and is firmly positioned as the largest fintech in the corporate-led retailer financing space in India. This conviction is driven by Progcap’s stellar growth despite COVID related challenges.

The company will use the new capital to accelerate its vision of building a broader and deeper supply chain banking platform for its merchants and corporate network in India. Progcap aims to reach $1 billion in disbursals by March ’22.

Insurtech startup GramCover has raised $7 million co-led by Inflexor Ventures and Siana Capital in a Series A round. Stride Ventures and existing ventures like Omidyar Network India, Emphasis Ventures and Flourish Ventures also participated in the funding round.

The fresh capital will be used to strengthen the technology and product offerings and also scale up the business and support functions, the startup said in a statement. GramCover said that it will also expand its point of sale network, tech and operation teams across geographies.

“We, at GramCover, will be strengthened by their deep-tech domain expertise and their startup experience as we work towards building a growth and profitability focussed rural insurtech organization,” said Dhyanesh Bhatt, co-founder and Group CEO.

Esper, an Android DevOps platform, has raised $60 million in Series C funding headed by Insight Partners, with current investors Scale Venture Partners, Madrona Ventures, and Roots Ventures also participating.

The Series C financing comes just over four months after the firm closed a $30 million round led by Scale Venture Partners, bringing the total cash received by the Bengaluru and Seattle-based company to $100 million.

Esper plans to use the funds to expand its presence and attract additional enterprise customers. In order to accelerate expansion, it also wants to more than double its employee count to 200 by 2022 in order to strengthen its engineering and sales operations.

Epiq Capital, founded by Rishi Navani, is hoping to close its second India fund of $150 million to invest in growth-stage firms, coinciding with increased activity in the technology investing market.

Epiq is looking for domestic funding for its new vehicle after investing in startups such as eyeglasses retailer Lenskart, news aggregation platform Dailyhunt, and health and fitness startup Curefit with its $100 million Fund-I.

According to people acquainted with the fund's thinking, this will be a departure from the strategy of its first fund, which was primarily funded by international limited partners.

Sunstone Eduversity, a higher education edtech startup, has raised $28 million in a Series B funding round headed by WestBridge Capital, with current investors Saama Capital and Alteria Capital joining in.

Pankaj Bansal, the group chief executive officer of HR IT solutions company PeopleStrong, also joined in the round with Work10m, a work-focused fund.

Sunstone has raised about $34 million in total, including the most recent round.

“The current funding is an endorsement to Sunstone’s unique model of working with reputed colleges and corporates and using technology to bring quality education to millions of students,” said Ashish Munjal, cofounder at Sunstone Eduversity.

E-Restaurant Company Rebel Foods step-into India’s elite unicorn club with fundraise of $175 million at a valuation of $1.4 billion in series F funding round.

The company said the funding round was organised by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with contribution from existing investors Evolvence and Coatue. Rebel Foods has ranked 3rd unicorn to step-into famous club with this investment in a flash of three days after Licious and CoinsSwitch Kuber.

Rebel Foods appointed Goldman Sachs as the exclusive financial advisor and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas as the legal advisor for this transaction, the company said. It further revealed that profit is constantly thriving with annual rate sales of $150 million with 100 per cent growth and is aiming an IPO (Initial Public Offering) in the next two years.

Tiger Global will lead a round of over $100 million in the Bangalore-based fintech startup Slice. Other firms like Ribbit Capital, Insight Partners and Greenoaks are also engaging with the startup. Slice is attempting to expand the market for credit cards in India.

Earlier this year, Slice has raised around $30 million in its equity financing rounds and was valued at under $200 million. Its investors include Gunosy Capital, Blume Ventures and Better Capital.

Only 30 million Indians today have a credit card. Many are not eligible to get a credit card and also the experience of signing up is too time consuming and the rewards don’t make up for it.

Slice has made it easier to get a card, and the signup process is swift. Slice has developed as one of India’s largest card-issuing firms in the past two years.

Stader Labs, a crypto start-up, has fundraised $4 million in seed funding round. It was organized by Pantera Capital.

The round witnessed active participation from Jump Capital, Proof Group, Coinbase Ventures, Ledgerprime, Hypersphere, Double Peak Group, Huobi Ventutres, True Ventures and Solidity Ventures.

Numerous blockchain foundations also contributed in the round such as Near Foundation, TerraForm Labs, and Solana Foundation. Angel investors also participated in the round namely Jaynti Kanani, CEO of Polygon; Sandeep Nailwal, COO of Polygon; Diogo Monica, CEO of Anchorage; and Tim Ogilvie, CEO of Staked.

Other participants include Akash Garg, CTO of Afterpay; Harsh Rajat, CEO of EPNS; Chris McCann, GP at Race Capital; Ahmed Al Balaghi, CEO of Biconomy; Aniket Jindal, COO of Biconomy; Nemil Dalal, head of crypto at Coinbase; and Sumit Gupta, CEO of CoinDCX.