The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (05-09 July)

The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (05-09 July)

We have come to the end of one more week of startup stories. This week the stories are different. Previous weeks saw the funding of edtech, healthtech startups but this week the investments were made in varied sectors such as furniture and home décor startup, eCommerce shipping solution platform and many such others. Other than investments there was ESOP buybacks news as well this week. Glance into the content below to know what’s happening in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Partial nationwide lockdown still continues and furniture and home décor products are in demand. Furlenco, a furniture subscription service, has raised $140 million (Rs1,000 crore) in a mix of debt (Rs 850 crore) and equity (Rs 150 crore) as part of its latest funding round led by Zinnia Global Fund.

This round was also attended by existing investors Lightbox Ventures, CE-Ventures, and angel investor Saket Burman. Furlenco, which primarily rents out furniture and home décor, raised $20 million earlier this year from venture debt firm BlackSoil Capital. It raised around $10 million in debt and equity from Lightbox last year.

This week one year old startup raised funds to speed up supply chain ecosystem in South Asia. Locad, a logistics and supply chain management integrator which was founded in 2020 announced a $4.9 million seed round led by Sequoia Capital India's Surge, with participation from Antler, Febe Ventures, Foxmont, Global Founders Capital, Gokongwei Family, and Hustle Fund.

Locad provides ecommerce brands and retailers with simple yet scalable end-to-end solutions ranging from plug-and-play ecommerce fulfillment to an APAC distributed warehousing network for companies looking to expand internationally.

Locad claims to fill an important gap in the current ecommerce state-of-play - the fragmented, complex, and slow supply chain ecosystem in Southeast Asia - with a fully digital and integrated platform that provides real-time visibility over order and inventory movements.

World’s largest investors invested in Indian startups this week. Pine Labs Pvt. Ltd., a payments platform for merchants in India and Southeast Asia, has raised $600 million from some of the world's largest investors, including Fidelity Management & Research Co. and BlackRock Inc., as it prepares for an initial public offering (IPO) in 18 months.

According to Chief Executive Officer Amrish Rau, the Singapore-based startup, which provides solutions for in-store and online payments as well as prepaid, loyalty, and "pay later" programs, is valued at $3 billion. A fund advised by Neuberger Berman Group LLC, as well as India's IIFL Finance Ltd. and Kotak Funds, participated in the round.

Banks and merchants pay monthly fees to use Pine Labs' software as a service, and the startup receives micro-fees on each transaction. Payment services are becoming more popular in Asia as smartphones become more widely available, benefiting providers like Pine Labs.

The week saw not just fund raising and investments, but also ESOP buybacks. Whatfix, a B2B digital platform solution provider announced that it has implemented an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) buyback of $4.3 million for its employees. Whatfix is a software-as-a-service platform that offers in-app guidance and performance support for web applications and software products.

Whatfix assists businesses in developing interactive walkthroughs that appear within web applications. According to the company, Whatfix is giving employees the option to liquidate up to 35 percent of their vested ESOPs. This is the company's first buyback, and more than 80% of the eligible 175 employees have chosen not to liquidate their vested shares. Current and former employees will be able to obtain the value of their shares at the company's series D, non-discounted valuation.

India's largest venture debt fund, Alteria Capital, has provided Rs100 crore in venture debt funding to newly-minted unicorn Infra.Market, a technology company based in Mumbai that is attempting to change the way construction and real estate companies obtain materials for their projects. The company is a procurement marketplace that uses technology to provide a procurement experience for all players in the construction ecosystem.

Infra.Market, founded in 2016 by Souvik Sengupta and Aaditya Sharda, is attempting to disrupt the way businesses obtain building materials by introducing standardisation, quality, and predictability into the supply chain.

To improve the product to provide care for more cardiometabolic conditions, BeatO, a digital care ecosystem for chronic condition management based in Delhi-NCR, has raised Rs 42 crore in funding led by US-based venture capital firm W Health Ventures. PharmEasy, Merisis VP, and existing investors Orios VP, Leo Capital, and others also contributed to the funding.

With this investment, Pharmeasy hopes to collaborate with BeatO on the development of technology and new products to improve the health outcomes of patients with chronic conditions across both platforms.

Commenting on the new funding, Gautam Chopra, Co-founder and CEO, BeatO said, “Diabetes and Hypertension have been the major killers in this pandemic. The situation looks even more grave when you consider that out of the 200 million Indians who have these conditions, 80 percent have uncontrolled levels."

Things are getting back on tract on easing of lockdown rules. This week on easing of travel curbs Oyo sees recovery in India. The chief executive of India's Oyo Hotels and Homes said that the SoftBank-backed hospitality startup's business was likely to return to levels seen before the second wave, but he did not provide a timeline for its potential IPO.

"In India, if all goes well, in a couple of weeks our numbers will be back to pre-wave two and then growing from there," says, Indian Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal.

During the global health crisis, the hotel aggregator, in which SoftBank has a 46 percent stake and is one of its biggest bets, has faced months of layoffs, cost cuts, and losses. However, as travel restrictions are eased and vaccinations are increased, travel demand in India is slowly recovering, with local tourism attractions seeing increased traffic.

India's only automated eCommerce shipping solution Shiprocket, a logistics aggregator, has raised $41.3 million in a funding round led by PayPal Ventures, the company's venture investment arm, and existing investor Bertelsmann India Investments. The round was also attended by existing investors Info Edge Ventures, March Capital, Tribe Capital, and Innoven Capital.

Shiprocket allows you to select from over 17 courier partners, print shipping labels, track orders from a single panel, and process returns from an integrated dashboard. In addition to shipping automation, offers negotiated freight rates with its top-rated shipping partners such as FedEx, Bluedart, Aramex, and Ecom Express.

App for construction management Powerplay announced a $5.2 million funding round led by Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital India's accelerator programme, Surge.

The funding will be used to build the company's team and improve the product experience, according to the company. The mobile app developed by the two-year-old startup connects multiple stakeholders involved in construction, allowing them to communicate and collaborate more efficiently.

Powerplay is a construction operating system that allows all construction stakeholders, including builders, contractors, and subcontractors, to build projects of any size, from the tallest buildings to the longest roads.

Another big ticket investment was made in a social e-commerce startup, DealShare when Tiger Global led a $144 million Series D, its third fund-raise in the last seven months. WestBridge Capital, Alpha Wave Incubation (a venture fund backed by ADQ and managed by Falcon Edge Capital), and Z3Partners led the latest funding round. The round was attended by DST Global, Matrix Partners India, and Alteria Capital partners.

The big week came to a close with Temasek Holdings, a Singapore government investment fund, and private equity firm Warburg Pincus leading a $500 million funding round in Ola ahead of its planned IPO, the mobility firm announced on Friday.

The investment comes at a time when Ola's ride-hailing business has taken a significant hit as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.