The Week That Was: Indian Startup News Overview (15th January - 19th January)

The Week That Was: Indian Startup News Overview (15th January - 19th January)
India's startup landscape is undergoing a remarkable upswing, buoyed by a wave of enterprising individuals bolstered by governmental backing, particularly through initiatives like Start-up India, offering enticing tax incentives. The ecosystem benefits from the presence of incubators and accelerators, fortifying its foundation. Evidently, sectors such as e-commerce, fintech, health tech, and edtech are flourishing, fostering innovation, job generation, and economic growth. India's startup prowess has garnered global recognition, emphasizing its potential for groundbreaking innovation. The nation is actively embracing entrepreneurship and innovation, strategically positioning itself to chart its technological future with inventive solutions. Launched on January 16, 2016, the Startup India Initiative epitomizes this commitment, deploying multifaceted programs aimed at cultivating entrepreneurs, nurturing a robust startup ecosystem, and steering India towards a paradigm where it becomes a nation of job creators rather than job seekers.
This week, we observed Social investment platform StockGro has secured Rs 205 crore in debt funding through a round led by major investors Trifecta Ventures and Hindustan Media Ventures and Indian electric mobility startup Yulu has secured INR 25 crore in debt from Chennai-based non-banking financial company Northern Arc Capital. These are just two examples of the top ten startups that raised million-dollar funds this week.
Social investment platform StockGro has secured Rs 205 crore in debt funding through a round led by major investors Trifecta Ventures and Hindustan Media Ventures. The funding is divided into two tranches, with Trifecta contributing through non-convertible debentures (NCDs), and Hindustan Media Ventures investing Rs 85 crore via optional convertible debentures (OCDs).
Based on regulatory filings obtained from the RoC, StockGro issued 1,200 non-convertible debentures (NCDs) to Trifecta Ventures, generating Rs 120 crore, and 8,708 optional convertible debentures (OCDs) to Hindustan Venture, securing Rs 85 crore in funding. The company intends to deploy these funds to fuel its business expansion, addressing additional capital and financing needs. Established in 2020 by former venture capitalist Ajay Lakhotia, StockGro operates as a fintech startup offering a social investment platform. Its interactive virtual interface enables users to learn about and actively engage in the stock markets.
zbyte, the distinguished Web3 infrastructure platform, proudly announces the successful launch of its mainnet, a significant achievement supported by a $4 million capital raise. Notable investors, including Cartography Capital and Quarterback Financial, have committed an additional $1 million. The introduction of the zbyte mainnet is accompanied by the unveiling of an innovative low-code, no-code module, reshaping Web3 development. This groundbreaking module empowers Web2 developers to effortlessly create decentralized applications (dApps) without the need for extensive re-skilling. In response to the shortage of developers in the Web3 space, zbyte adopts a pioneering approach, providing a user-friendly platform for swift dApp development across multiple public blockchains. Recognizing India as a key global developer market, zbyte plans to capitalize on this opportunity through its campus chain program with various universities. The team has already organized numerous hackathons in India, contributing to the diverse development of dApps.
Co-Founder Krish Kupathil underscores, "At zbyte, we're not just constructing a platform; we're shaping the future of Web3 development. Our mainnet is crafted to empower developers, seamlessly bringing Web2 ease and familiarity to the Web3 environment. We're eager to witness how this will expedite the adoption of blockchain technology". This funding round will expedite their ambitious roadmap, encompassing the onboarding of diverse talented developer communities, organizing hackathons, and extending the influence of Web3 to businesses and developers across various domains and use cases by harnessing the capabilities of the zbyte platform. The company also aims to aggressively decentralize and empower the zbyte community.
In a recent pre-Series A funding round, Fintech startup Upswing has secured $4.2 million in funding, with Quona Capital leading the investment. This brings Upswing’s total funding to $8.2 million since its inception. The Pune-based startup had previously raised $4 million in February 2022, led by QED Investors, with notable participation from investors such as Kunal Shah, Jitendra Gupta, Rajan Bajaj and Lalit Keshre.
Established in 2021 by Anupam Bagchi and Nihar Gupta, Upswing operates as a banking-as-a-service platform, aiming to assist companies in swiftly launching new banking products. The platform's customizability, simplicity, and modularity are designed to minimize integration efforts for consumer tech players seeking to introduce financial products such as savings accounts, deposits, and lending services. As emphasized by the founders, "Upswing’s low-code banking-as-a-service platform allows client companies to embed banking products, and its multi-bank deposit stack is operational across multiple consumer platforms". This underscores Upswing’s commitment to providing an efficient and versatile solution for integrating banking services into various consumer applications., a digital commerce and technology solutions provider, secured Rs 10.5 crore in its pre-Series A funding round, with leading participation from Angel Network investors including Uday Chatterjee, Romesh Sobti, Sri Prakash and Hari Balasubramanian. The Indian Angel Network (IAN) contributed Rs 3.75 crore in this funding phase, supplemented by involvement from additional strategic investors. intends to utilize the funds to advance its innovative solutions, bolster its market position, and expedite the development of artificial intelligence technologies, according to a statement from the company.
Founded in 2023 by Shayak Mazumdar, Archana Mazumdar, and Angad Singh Ahluwalia, is a Software as a Service (SaaS)-based solution specializing in data security and protection against ransomware. Utilizing big data and machine learning, the platform identifies a company's most sensitive data, safeguards it from overexposure, and promptly notifies management in case of unauthorized access or misuse. The Bengaluru-based company's solution includes a dashboard enabling businesses to track user access to files and folders. Serving as the technology service partner for the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), plays a crucial role in key sectors such as retail, mobility, F&B, logistics, credit, insurance, and finance.
Health and wellness startup Zingavita secures Rs 10 crore in a Pre-series A funding round, led by Anicut Capital. The funding aims to position Zingavita in the Premium Ayurvedic Supplement sector, emphasizing new product development and targeted nutrition. Notable investors from the Pharma and FMCG sectors, such as Venkat Krishnan, Puru Gupta, Vishesh Chandiok, Nikhil Bhandarkar, and other experienced angel investors, have shown support in this round.
Dheeraj Nagpal's recent appointment as Co-Founder at Zingavita signifies a strategic move for the company, and the injected funds will play a crucial role in its growth and marketing initiatives. The startup remains dedicated to producing products devoid of harmful additives such as sugar, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. Zingavita's commitment to transparency, innovation, and effectiveness remains at the core of its mission.
InPrime Finserv 
InPrime Finserv, a non-banking financial company (NBFC), has raised $3 million in a Series A funding round led by Matrix Partners India. Existing investors, including InfoEdge Ventures, Titan Capital, and Kettleborough VC, also participated in this funding round. This follows a significant seed funding round in November of the previous year, where InPrime raised $1.45 million with support from InfoEdge Ventures, Titan Capital, Kettleborough VC, and other notable investors.
The recently acquired funds are designated for various strategic initiatives. Specifically, InPrime Finserv plans to expand its geographical presence, grow its team across key functions like risk management, engineering, analytics, and sales, and strengthen its digital channels and credit scoring models. Additionally, the company aims to diversify its loan portfolio to cater to a broader spectrum of customers and financial requirements.
TABPS Pets, a pet food company, secures Rs 6.5 crore in funding, featuring investments from renowned cricketers Hemang Badhani and KS Bharath, among other investors. The funds will be utilized to boost production capacities, extend distribution networks, and allocate resources to research and development for the introduction of new products.
Established in 2021 by Prabhu Gandhikumar, Brindha Prabhu, Soumya Malani and Arun Mukherjee, TABPS Pets operates as a pet food startup based in Coimbatore. Distinguishing itself, the company incorporates Ayurvedic ingredients in crafting pet products, aligning with a comprehensive approach to pet nutrition and well-being.
Wow! Momo Foods
Wow! Momo Foods achieves a significant milestone with a Rs 350 crore funding injection from Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund. This marks the company's most substantial fundraising effort, coinciding with strong double-digit growth in the broader food services sector, driven by the widespread popularity of momos as an affordable snack in India. The investment involves a combination of primary infusion and secondary purchase from early-stage investors, including Indian Angel Network and Lighthouse Funds. Furthermore, existing investor Oaks Asset Management contributes an additional Rs 60 crore in this funding round.
Sagar Daryani, the CEO and Co-Founder of Wow! Momo Foods, confirmed the development, stating that the funding round will facilitate an exit for angel investors from The Indian Angel Network (IAN) and a partial exit for series A investor Lighthouse Funds. Daryani expressed the company's commitment to transforming the food space. Since its launch in August 2008, Wow! Momo has expanded to 630 stores across more than 35 cities, with approximately one-third being small-format or kiosk stores located in malls, tech parks, and hypermarkets. The brand has successfully carved a niche for itself in a relatively uncompetitive national landscape, capitalizing on the popularity of its cuisine in India. The company operates three sub-brands: Wow! Momo, Wow! China, and Wow! Chicken.
KisanKonnect, a farmer-producer organization supported by Shilpa Shetty, has secured Rs 31 crore in a pre-series A funding round. The funding was spearheaded by Green Frontier Capital (GFC), a fund focused on climate technology and witnessed involvement from Dhanuka Agritech, a crop protection company, VC Grid (a community of family offices and HNIs), along with other family offices.
Vivek Nirmal, Founder and CEO, stated, "Our efforts on the agricultural front not only benefit consumers by providing safer produce but also feature a unique, tech-enabled, temperature-controlled, and fully traceable supply chain in the country. This efficient system ensures the prompt delivery of sorted and graded fresh produce from our farmers to consumers in Mumbai and Pune, reducing wastages significantly and promoting fair prices for both farmers and consumers. Additionally, it contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions in the agricultural supply chain".
Indian electric mobility startup Yulu has secured INR 25 crore in debt from Chennai-based non-banking financial company Northern Arc Capital. As per information obtained from the Registrar of Companies, the board of Yulu Bikes has approved a special resolution to issue 250 non-convertible debentures at an issue price of INR 1,00,000 each, with the goal of raising INR 25 crore through this mechanism.
In September 2022, Yulu received a substantial financial infusion, securing $82 million in equity funding through a Series B funding round led by Magna International, a US-based company. Renowned for its electric bikes providing last-mile connectivity and an extensive network of EV charging and battery swapping stations, Yulu operates in prominent urban centers such as Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi-NCR. As a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) provider, Yulu, in collaboration with the Canadian automotive supplier Magna through their joint venture Yuma, has successfully conducted over 6.5 million swaps to date.