The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (06-09 August)

The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (06-09 August)

The year 2021 has been ideal for start-up growth. The Indian start-up ecosystem has showed tremendous resilience in this quarter. Despite the fact that the catastrophic second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic affected businesses across industries in early 2021, many investors continued to cherry-pick opportunities and park their funds in Indian enterprises with growth potential and strong returns. According to Tracxn statistics, Indian enterprises, including startups, raised $33.2 billion in total capital over 1321 agreements between January 1 and August 31, 2020. This is the first week of September and the investors are still on the same inertia of investing in the Indian startups.

Bengaluru based retail platform Dukaan that enables small merchants with no programming skills to set up an online store in 30 seconds, has raised $11 M in a pre-Series A round. The investing round was led by 640 Oxford Ventures along with existing investors Lightspeed Partners, Snow Leopard Ventures and Matrix Partners India.

Venture Catalyst, HOF Capital, Old Well Ventures, LetsVenture, 9Unicorns, Oyo's Ritesh Agarwal and Nothing's co-founder and CEO Carl Pei also participated in this funding round.

“This new investment allows us to aggressively expand our operations, while building our team of highly skilled designers and developers. Additionally, this capital accelerates our ability to establish key strategic partnerships to grow our paying merchant base. We started with our monetisation journey on a small merchant base last quarter, and more than 2,000 merchants have enrolled in our Dukaan premium subscription plan so far. Premium subscription is just one of the revenue streams, which contributes almost 10 percent to our revenues,” said Suumit Shah, CEO and Co-founder, Dukaan.

Bangladeshi B2B commerce firm ShopUp that combined with India's fashion-focused etailer Voonik in 2020, has raised $75 million in a new round of funding headed by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures, with participation from Prosus Ventures, which was previously known as Naspers.

This is Valar Ventures and Prosus Ventures' first investment in Bangladesh. Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, is one of Silicon Valley's wealthiest venture capitalists.

This round was also attended by Sequoia Capital and Flourish Ventures, both of whom made their first investments in the neighbouring market with ShopUp.

The company wants to digitise the fragmented retail business and solve problems in areas such as suppliers, lending, and transportation. Sujayath Ali, who co-founded Voonik, became a co-founder of ShopUp in February of last year.

Honeywell Hometown Solutions India Foundation (HHSIF), Honeywell's philanthropic arm, has partnered with ICT Academy for a three-year project to establish centres of excellence for skill development in 50 institutions throughout the country. Honeywell has contributed INR 10 crore (INR 100 million) in the first year to build these centres, which will provide certifications in AI, Machine Learning (ML), Big Data Analytics, and Nanotechnology. Through the project cycle, this upskilling programme will empower 15,000 students, half of whom are women, and offer job placements.

Certifications in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data analytics, and nanotechnology will be available at the centres. This upskilling programme is projected to assist 15,000 students, half of whom are women, in completing the project cycle and finding work.

“The programme offers a globally recognized certificate that will benefit bright students from marginalized sections of society who are enrolled in engineering, arts, and science colleges in tier-I and tier-II cities across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. HHSIF is also establishing centres for women students, demonstrating Honeywell’s commitment to promoting inclusion and diversity in the country’s workforce," Honeywell said in a statement.

Hyderabad based B-school, Indian School of Business (ISB)’s DLabs incubator received Rs 5 crore under the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme by the department of promotion of industry and internal grade, Union ministry of commerce and industry.

ISB’s DLabs Incubator Association will use the fresh funds for prototype development, early-stage startups for proof of concept, product trials, market entry and commercialization.

“Many good ideas don’t see the light of day because they could not get early-stage funding. This grant will help us fix it,” said professor Bhagwan Chowdhary, faculty director, ISB DLabs.

Logistics aggregator Shiprocket is in talks with Singapore's national wealth fund Temasek to lead a new round of fundraising for $200 million. They claimed that in addition to existing investors, other cross-border investors could join the investment round, which is projected to value the Delhi-based company at around $800 million.

Shiprocket gathers delivery requests from direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, micro entrepreneurs, and small businesses, and transfers them to logistics companies like Delhivery and Ecom Express. Aside from shipping, it also provides its technological stack to retailers, allowing them to combine their shopping websites with platforms such as Shopify. Shiprocket has raised around $94 million to date.

Shiprocket claims an annual revenue run rate of $80-90 million, with 130,000-140,000 active merchants on its site each year. It has been concentrating on the burgeoning direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand area, which presently sees roughly 2-3 million daily shipments.

Indian delivery and e-commerce logistics company, Delhivery secured $76.4 million ( 558 crore) in a series I round led by Addition LLC, a firm led by renowned startup investor Lee Fixel. The Gurugram-based startup has allocated 146,961 Series I Compulsory Convertible Preference Shares (CCPS) at a price of Rs 37,900 per share to Addition LLC.

Fixel previously worked for Tiger Global, a New York-based hedge fund, for 13 years, from 2006 to 2019. He was in charge of Tiger Global's $3.3 billion investment in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart. In September 2019, Lee Fixel launched his own investment firm, Addition LLC, and has made investments in news aggregation startup Inshorts and its social network platform, Public.

The latest round of funding comes months after a FedEx division invested $100 million in Delhivery, and the startup completed a subsequent $277 million round. As part of the transaction, FedEx Express also enters into a long-term commercial partnership with Delhivery. Although FedEx Express will focus on international export and import services to and from India, Delhivery will promote FedEx Express's international products and services in India and handle pick-up and delivery operations within the country.

Zoho Corporation, an Indian software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup has invested $5 million in Voxelgrids, a Bengaluru-based medical devices company that makes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.

The investment will be made in two parts over the next two years with Zoho owning around 25 per cent stake in Voxelgrids. The investment from Zoho would allow Voxelgrids to build planned relationships for design and intellectual property licensing opportunities, rapid market penetration and partner with original equipment manufacturers.

“DeepTech products, like ours, require a significant amount of time from completing the R&D (Research and Development) to taking the product to market, and most often, this is the time where we face insufficient funding. The investment from Zoho will help us bridge this gap and speed up our efforts to scale,” said Arjun Arunachalam, Founder of Voxelgrids.