The week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (15th May- 20th May)

The week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (15th May- 20th May)

Following an exceptional 2021, with $44 billion in startup funding and 1600 deals, the growth momentum for the Indian startup ecosystem has remained intact until the first quarter of 2022. In terms of entrepreneurship and business, India has emerged as one of the world's top emerging markets. Hundreds of startup companies have been founded in recent years, with many of them enjoying tremendous success. This weekend we came across some fantastic launch events, fund raising, and acquisitions from private sector rocket maker Skyroot Aerospace successfully firing its rocket engine into space to the acquisition of Sequoia-backed Clever Tap acquiring its rival Leanplum in a stock and cash deal. We've compiled a list of the top six performers from this weekend.

Skyroot Aerospace

Skyroot Aerospace Private Ltd, a private sector rocket manufacturer, successfully tested the third stage/engine of its Vikram-1 rocket. The company announced on Thursday that the full duration test-firing of its Vikram-1 rocket stage had been completed. The third stage of Vikram-1, named 'Kalam-100' after renowned Indian rocket scientist Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, produces a peak vacuum thrust of 100 kN (about 10 tonnes) and has a burn time of 108 seconds. The rocket stage is constructed of high-strength carbon fibre, solid fuel, an Ethylene-Propylene-Diene terpolymers (EPDM) thermal protection system, and a carbon ablative nozzle.

The rocket stage/engine has no moving parts and is manufactured with high automation."Full-length stage level testing is a significant step forward in the development of our flagship orbital vehicle, Vikram-1. The stage performed admirably, and this success inspires great confidence in our other rocket stages, which will be tested soon "Pawan Kumar Chandana is the company's co-founder and CEO. "This is the largest rocket stage ever designed, manufactured, and tested entirely in India. We are proud to have contributed to this accomplishment by assisting with propellant processing and static testing at our world-class facilities in Nagpur "Manish Nuwal, MD and CEO of Solar Industries, stated

Eight Roads

Eight Roads, a global investment firm backed by Fidelity, has launched its first $250 million dedicated India healthcare and life sciences fund, making it the country's largest pool of capital available for the sector."India's healthcare market is at a tipping point. We've seen that in markets like China and the United States," said Prem Pavoor, senior partner, head of India, and healthcare investments at Eight Roads Ventures. Though the sector has been a mainstay for the firm in India for the last decade and a half, "now was the time for a dedicated sector focused fund,". "We will make early to growth stage bets on companies and can invest up to $40 million," Pavoor said. It will examine approximately 15-20 companies in the lifesciences, healthcare services, consumer health, and digital health sectors."We intend to deploy this capital over the next three to four years," says the company.

Eight Roads has been one of the region's most active global investors.With $1.6 billion in assets under management in India, it has supported healthcare companies such as Laurus Labs, Pharmeasy, Cipla Health, and Toothsi, among others, through its generalist fund.


Fashinza, the AI-driven B2B marketplace and real-time global supply chain for fashion brands and retailers, today announced it has raised a $100 million in Series B funding round led by Prosus Ventures (f.k.a. Naspers Ventures) and Westbridge along with participation from existing investors Accel, Elevation, and DisruptAD. The round also saw participation from angel investors Naval Ravikant, Jeff Fagnan, Jake Zeller, Nivi, and Nitesh Banta. The funding round is a combination of equity and debt financing. Fashinza will utilize the funds towards creating a sustainable supply chain for the global fashion industry and in expanding the company’s presence globally. This includes monetizing fintech offerings, expanding into raw material procurement, helping Indian SME apparel manufacturers with supply chain financing, creating a sustainable (i.e. net positive) supply chain by 2030 and Industry 4.0 solutions for SMB manufacturers.

In the past 12 months, and in the middle of a global pandemic, Fashinza grew the business 10x crossing $150 million in annualized GMV run rate. The firm also reduced minimum order units to as low as 50 and reduced design to delivery TATs by 50% in a single year. Fashinza has a roster of over 250 manufacturers in India, Bangladesh, China, and Vietnam that currently serves 200+ brands across 6 countries, including the United States, Canada, UAE, and India.

Karbon Card

Karbon Card, a Bengaluru-based fintech startup, has raised INR 55 crore in debt financing from Northern Arc Capital, UC Inclusive Credit (UCIC), and Oxyzo Financial Services.

Karbon said in a statement that the funds would be used to empower and enable startups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with corporate credit cards that can be used as flexible growth capital.UCIC is an impact-focused Non-Banking Financial Firm registered with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), incubated by Unitus Capital, while Oxyzo is OfBusiness' lending arm and is backed by SoftBank. The startup has raised its first debt round. Karbon has raised about $32 Mn in equity so far from global and marquee investors such as Ycombinator, Ramp, and Olive Tree Capital amongst others.

Karbon Card raised $15 million in a Series A round led by Olive Tree Capital, Harmony, and Avenir Growth Capital in February 2022. Existing investors Ramp, Mercury, and Orios Venture Partners also contributed to the fundraise. Karbon Card, which was founded in 2019 by Pei-fu Hsieh, Amit Jangir, Kartik Jain, and Sunil Kumar, provides corporate cards to small businesses, enterprises, corporates, and startups. It includes petty cash management, expense report automation, prepaid cards for business expenses, and travel expense management, among other features.

Neso Brands

Unicorn of omnichannel eyewear Lenskart-backed On Monday, Neso Brands announced that it had raised more than $100 million in seed funding and named Bjorn Bergstrom as its new CEO. Neso Brands, a Singapore-based global eyewear company, announced plans to partner with and invest in consumer eyewear brands, with the goal of growing them through synergies across the Lenskart Group.

"We are convinced that the eyewear brands of today will not be the brands of tomorrow and Neso is our global initiative to collaborate with founders to create future eyewear brands "Peyush Bansal, CEO of Lenskart, stated KKR, Softbank, Alpha Wave Global, and Temasek are among the companies that have invested in Neso Brands. Bergstrom, the company's new CEO, most recently served as NA-Chief KD's Growth Officer and interim Chief Product and Technology Officer."By investing in the industry's most promising new brands and leveraging centralised resources across technology, manufacturing, and distribution, Neso Brands will be uniquely positioned to scale the eyewear brands of the future," Bergstrom said.

Clever Tap

CleverTap, a Sequoia Capital-backed customer engagement and user retention software provider, announced the signing of definitive agreements to acquire its San Francisco-based rival Leanplum in a stock-and-cash transaction.The amount of the transaction was not disclosed by the company. According to the company, this acquisition will expand CleverTap's market opportunities in North America, Europe, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2022.

Leanplum, founded in 2012, is a customer engagement company that assists brands in personalising and optimising all customer touchpoints online. Sunil Thomas, cofounder and executive chairman of CleverTap, claims that Leanplum is one-third the size of CleverTap in terms of revenue. CleverTap's current annualised revenue run-rate (ARR) is approaching $100 million, according to him. Thomas founded the company with Anand Jain and Suresh Kondamudi in 2013. "From product overlap to diversifying into new geographies, Leanplum will add significant synergies," Thomas explained.

The firm works with brands such as Jio, Meesho, PharmEasy, Dream11, Nykaa, Tata Cliq, Air Asia, and Indonesia's Gojek, among others. It has around 450 employees across 11 countries, with a product and engineering hub in Mumbai. After the acquisition, the startup will have around 600 employees, with 1,200 customers across the globe. It has clients in over 100 countries. “This acquisition will add 30-35% to CleverTap’s revenue line and [the company aims to cross ARR of $100 million before the end of 2022. We are aiming to grow 10 times in terms of ARR in the next five years,” said Thomas. Last year, CleverTap acquired in-app communication firm Patch.