The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (13 MARCH - 18 MARCH)

The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (13 MARCH - 18 MARCH)

Indian startups have grown exponentially in the last few years, indicating that the country has evolved into one of the world's top emerging markets due to the presence of venture capital, the strength of the country's entrepreneurship, and the fact that the Indian economy is rapidly growing, providing a great foundation for Indian startups to thrive.Innovation is not limited to just a few industries.We have recognised startups that are solving problems in a variety of industrial sectors. The startup-list includes information about their funding history, investment activities, and acquisition trends.Insights into top trending companies, startups, investments, and mergers and acquisitions.

Zomato inks merger deal with Blinkit: Report

Food delivery platform Zomato Ltd. is nearing an all-stock deal to take over instant grocery delivery service Blinkit. In August 2021, Zomato had received CCI approval for a $100-million investment for 9.3 percent stake in Blinkit.

Blinkit, known as Grofers earlier, rebranded itself late last year after its CEO promised accelerating deliveries of everything from groceries to electronics among dominant players like Walmart's Flipkart and Amazon's local unit. Niether Zomato nor Blinkit have responded to the development yet. Zomato stated that it will invest $150 million in debt to rescue cash strapped Blinkit , according to a regulatory filing, Moneycontrol said. "This loan will support the capital requirements of GIPL in the near term and is in line with our stated intent of investing up to $400 million cash in quick commerce in India over the next two years.”

Razorpay buys fintech startup IZealiant to empower banks

Fintech platform Razorpay on Wednesday declared to acquire IZealiant Technologies, a leading fintech startup that provides payments technology solutions for banks, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition of Pune-based IZealiant, the fifth by Razorpay to date, will strengthen its banking solutions arm that builds innovative tech solutions for banks, the company said.

Founded in 2015, IZealiant provides mobile-first, API-enabled, and cloud-ready payment processing products for banks and financial institutions.

"The team at IZealiant has extensive experience in developing and implementing complex, high-performance acquiring and issuing systems and I am confident that together we will be able to build industry-first solutions for the banks in India," said Harshil Mathur, CEO and Co-founder of Razorpay.

Working closely with over 45 banks in India, Razorpay's banking team has been part of several critical projects including the Razorpay TokenHQ India's first multi-network RBI compliant card tokenisation solution, and MandateHQ - the API-based, plug-n-play recurring payments interface for banks.

India's 1st D2C unicorn Licious secures $150 mn, to widen reach

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) foodtech platform Licious on Tuesday announced it has raised $150 million, six months after the online meat delivery platform became the first D2C unicorn in the country.

The funds raised through Series F2 round will be utilised for investment in technological intervention that will help category development and improve overall customer experience, the company said in a statement.

The firm said it will also invest in strategic acquisition and widening and deepening the brand's reach.

"The growing interest of investors from India and abroad alike is an added assurance that obsession with customers, quality and service standards are the pillars of the best businesses," said Vivek Gupta and Abhay Hanjura, Co-founders, Licious.

The funding round was led by Singapore-based Amansa Capital, along with Kotak PE & Axis Growth Avenues AIF-I. Existing investors also contributed in the round.

The Indian meat market  fairly nascent with a large growth headroom -- is expected to reach $80-85 billion by 2024 and is up for disruption by branded players especially in the online space. Last year, Licious became the first Indian company to offer ESOPs to their production and delivery workforce.

Nuronics Labs of Hyderabad wins the Airtel's Startup India Innovation Challenge

Nuronics Labs, situated in Hyderabad, has been named the winner of Airtel's Startup India Innovation Challenge, which was held in partnership with Invest India.

Indian startups working on novel solutions in 5G, IoT, cloud communications, digital advertising, and digital entertainment were asked to participate in the Challenge. The rivalry attracted 237 technology startups from throughout India.

Nuronics Labs, a source of real-time intelligence based on composite AI on voice, text, and visuals, was declared the challenge's winner. Enthu.Ai, which uses speech AI to search voice data, and Chimes Radio, India's first podcast platform for kids, came in second and third, respectively, with instructive and engaging material that stimulates creativity and curiosity in children.

The competition's three winners will get access to Airtel's Digital Innovation Lab as well as the opportunity to participate in the Airtel Start-up Accelerator Program. The initiative invests in early-stage firms that are developing new-age technology-based solutions.

Sequoia Capital India acquires shares worth $94.8 million in Freshworks

Venture Capital firm Sequoia India has picked up $94.8 Mn worth of Freshworks’ shares.

In total, approximately 5.48 Mn shares of the Chennai-based SaaS giant were picked up by the Indian arm of the VC firm.

The statement helped Freshworks rally nearly 10% on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Post the intra-day trading on Wednesday, the stock closed at $18.52, up $1.59 with a market cap of $5.2 Bn.

It is pertinent to note that Sequoia India holds 10% stake in the SaaS startup. According to the VC firm’s SEC filings, it picked up the stock in the price range of $16.46–18.