The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (14 - 19 February)

The Week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (14 - 19 February)

The fundraising boom in Indian startups continues, with several significant deals and a new unicorn reported this week. In the year 2022, there are already eight unicorns. The two biggest deals of the week were Uniphore, which raised $400 million from foreign fund NEA, March Capital, and other existing investors, and Elastic Run, which raised $330 million to join the unicorn club.

Here's a rundown of the most important deals from the recent week.

Life Insurance Corporation

Indian government run insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India filed draught papers with the market regulator, stating plans to sell 5% of its stock in the country's largest initial public offering (IPO) to generate almost $8 billion.

According to the draught prospectus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration intends to sell 316 million shares in the wholly-owned insurer.

Its initial public offering (IPO) is the latest in Modi's privatisation drive to support the government's expansionary budget.

The company's "embedded value," a crucial indicator used by insurers, is estimated to be $71.56 billion.

Kenko Health

Kenko Health, an insurtech startup, has raised $12 million in a Series A investment led by Sequoia Capital India.

The investment round included existing investors Beenext, Orios, 9Unicorns, and Waveform.

Beenext and Orios had previously invested $1.7 million in the company as part of its pre-Series A financing.

Kenko, founded in 2019 by Aniruddha Sen and Dhiraj Goel, is a subscription-based company that covers OPD and hospitalisation charges.


Sequoia Surge and Beenext led a $1.25 million pre-seed round for Indonesian agri-tech startup Semaai.

In addition to Nipun Mehra, founder and CEO of e-commerce startup Ula, Harshet Lunani, founder and CEO of Qoala, and Prashant Pawar, technology investment banker at Houlihan Lokey, angel investors Nipun Mehra, founder and CEO of e-commerce startup Ula, Harshet Lunani, founder and CEO of Qoala, and Prashant Pawar, technology investment banker at Houlihan Lokey, participated in the round.

Semaai will use a substantial portion of the money to develop its technical and product teams in India, despite the fact that the company is based in Indonesia.


Uniphore, a conversational automation firm, has raised $400 million in a funding round headed by foreign fund NEA, March Capital, and other existing investors as well as new entities, valuing the company at $2.5 billion. With this round, Uniphore's total fundraising has surpassed $610 million, valuing the company at $2.5 billion.

The funding will be used to enhance the company's technology and market leadership with improvements in voice AI, computer vision, and tonal emotion, as well as expand its operations to North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, according to Umesh Sachdev, cofounder and CEO.


Insuremile, a rural India-focused financial protection marketplace, has secured $350,000 in pre-seed capital with the goal of bringing insurance services to the hinterlands while allowing the country's over 200 million gig-workforce to be a part of this success storey.

Seeders, an early-stage angel organisation, spearheaded the investment round. This round of fundraising was spearheaded by Parthiv Neotia, director of Ambuja Neotia Group, and Abhishek Rungta, CEO of Indus Net Technologies.


Ed-tech unicorn Byju’s is looking to invest $200 million in offline tuition centres over the next 12-18 months, to cater to students from grades 4 to 10, the company said.

“A lot of parents felt that their child should also get access to offline centres and physical intervention. Hence, we decided to expand offline through ‘Byju’s Tuition centre’ which will imbibe an omni-channel learning strategy,” Mrinal Mohit, chief operating officer of Byju’s, said.

These centres will be equipped with high-quality online learning material, analytics-led assessment and will combine the presence of physical teachers to improve learning outcomes, he said. Each centre is expected to have an average strength of 30-40 teachers, which Byju’s will hire and train, he added.


In its Series-C funding round led by Sumeru Ventures, Healthtech startup Goqii has raised $50 million (Rs 375 crore). The round comprised a mix of equity including preference share and debt investments, the company said

Goqii will use the proceeds to strengthen its current offerings that include a wearable fitness tracker, an app, health store as well as real-time coaching and insurance services, the company said. It will also use the funds to expand in international markets, insurance and digital therapeutics.


ElasticRun, a business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform, has raised $330 million from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.The round was also attended by Chimera and Innoven Capital, as well as long-term investor Prosus Ventures.

According to founders and CEO Sandeep Deshmukh, the company's valuation has tripled from $400 million to $1.5 billion following the investment round.

In the next 12 months, ElasticRun plans to extend into rural areas and raise its kirana (corner store) customer base from 500,000 to one million, according to Deshmukh.

The firm, which sells FMCG products to kirana stores, functions as an extension of FMCG firms' direct distribution networks in rural areas, bringing new clients to these brands.


Fueling its plans to expand across its home country of France, autonomous convenience store startup Boxy has raised $28.4 million (25 million euros).

With historical investors CapHorn and LocalGlobe as well as angel investors the Series A funding round was led by new investor Serena.

The company says it will use the money to help meet its goal of opening a new store per week this year, in hopes of having 1,000 stores online by 2025.

Although it’s now working on expanding its network in the Paris region, Boxy says it is looking at other parts of France, including the Rhône-Alpes and Hauts de France regions.

Esop Buybacks

Supply chain enablement platform Bizongo and fintech firm Slice announced the completion of their first employee stock ownership (Esop) buyback programmes.

Slice said around 60 current and former employees were eligible for its buyback programme, worth INR 65 crore (around USD 8.6 million). Close to 54 existing and current employees participated in the buyback exercise, the company said.

Bizongo said that 102 of its current and former employees with vested options were eligible for its buyback. However, a little over 70 individuals participated in it, the company said.