The Week That Was: Indian Startup News Overview (22nd January - 26th January)
India's startup landscape is witnessing a notable upswing propelled by enterprising individuals receiving backing from government programs like Start-up India, offering tax incentives. The robust ecosystem is fortified by the presence of incubators and accelerators. Particularly, sectors such as e-commerce, fintech, health tech, and edtech are flourishing, fostering innovation, job generation, and economic growth. The international recognition of India's startup capabilities underscores its capacity for groundbreaking innovation. The developmental path of this ecosystem mirrors a country ardently embracing entrepreneurship and innovation, strategically positioning itself to mold its future through technology and creative solutions.
This week, we observed San Jose-based enterprise SaaS solutions provider AiDash raises $50 million in a Series C funding round, with global impact investor Lightrock leading the investment and AquaExchange, a startup in aquaculture technology and fintech, secures $6 million in Series A funding for expansion. These are just two examples of the top ten startups that raised million-dollar funds this week.
San Jose-based enterprise SaaS solutions provider AiDash raises $50 million in a Series C funding round, with global impact investor Lightrock leading the investment. Lightrock's Ashish Puri will join AiDash's board. SE Ventures, supported by Schneider Electric, and existing investors such as G2 Venture Partners, Benhamou Global Ventures, National Grid Partners, Edison International and Shell Ventures, also participate in the funding.
Rahul Saxena, AiDash's Co-Founder and Chief Product and Technology Officer, underscores the imperative for advanced tools in managing environmental risks, noting, "Our aging infrastructure is succumbing to the challenges of environmental change, jeopardizing lives". The recent funding positions AiDash to broaden its suite of solutions to wider markets. With a cumulative funding of $83 million from four rounds, AiDash intends to use the current investment to double its team to over 600 employees within two years and establish a European headquarters. The company, currently with 300 employees, including 250 in India, is poised for substantial expansion.
Silverfort, a leading cybersecurity startup with expertise in identity protection, has revealed a successful late-stage funding round that secured $116 million. Brighton Park Capital spearheaded the round, with substantial contributions from Citi Ventures and General Motors Ventures. The growing emphasis on cybersecurity, fueled by the increasing threat landscape, has led companies, major institutions, and governments to amplify their investments in fortifying defenses against cyber attacks and data breaches to safeguard assets, customers, and employees.
Hed Kovetz, CEO and Co-Founder of Silverfort has disclosed that the newly acquired funding will be utilized to enhance the current product lineup and explore new domains, showcasing the company's dedication to innovation and staying at the forefront of the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape. Silverfort counts high-profile clients such as Agoda, UPS, and Samsonite, and has established a strategic partnership with tech giant Microsoft.
Ecofy, an NBFC dedicated to advancing green initiatives, secures $10.8 million in funding from FMO, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank. The funds, distributed in two equal tranches, will be utilized to broaden Ecofy's loan portfolio, diversify its product range, and support nationwide expansion, according to a company announcement.
Rajashree Nambiar, Co-Founder, Managing Director, and CEO of Ecofy, emphasized the importance of investment in advancing the decarbonization of energy, particularly within the context of India's rapidly expanding economy. Nambiar remarked, "This partnership not only enhances our financial position but also validates our vision for a cleaner and more resilient future".
Fintech NBFC Vivifi Finance Secures $74M in Funding Blend, Including Key Backing from Unnamed Major US Investor. The Hyderabad-based firm outlines plans for aggressive workforce expansion from 800 to 2,000 employees and regional office establishment in tier II and III cities, with a strategic alliance highlighting the investor's significant presence in the US specialty and alternative finance sector.
Anil Pinapala, the Founder of Vivifi, is optimistic about the company's trajectory, expressing, "With this funding, we are on a path to new heights and aim to expand our customer base to one million users within the next 12-18 months". Established in 2016, Vivifi functions as a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) with a focus on providing credit access to underserved communities in India through small loans. In the past year, the company has successfully disbursed Rs 1,000 crore to over five lakh customers and has set a goal to scale its loan disbursements to Rs 3,000 crore this year. The financial performance for FY23 reveals a revenue of Rs 166 crore and a profit after tax of Rs 16 crore. Vivifi is optimistic about doubling its revenue in the current fiscal year.
Fixerra Pvt Ltd, previously operating under the name Fixed Invest, has secured Rs 14 crores in a seed funding round, with backing from notable angel investors and family offices. Key participants in the funding include Jaideep Hansraj, Managing Director of Kotak Securities, Shailesh Haribhakti, Chairman of Shailesh Haribhakti & Associates, Oisharya Das, CEO of Kotak Private, and the family office of Harish Shah, Managing Director of Signet Excipients Pvt Ltd, among others.
Fixerra's recent funding signifies a strategic transformation for the company, previously known as Fixed Invest, as it evolves from a Fixed Deposits marketplace to an Embedded Finance startup. The shift positions Fixerra to become a comprehensive banking-as-a-service provider, facilitating the rapid launch of banking products for digital businesses while ensuring compliance. Shailesh Haribhakti, expressing excitement about the investment, stated, "We are excited to back Fixerra’s vision to bridge a gap between banks and fintechs that helps enable consumers to explore a broader range of superior banking services".
AI testing startup, RagaAI, has successfully concluded a seed funding round, securing $4.7 million with pi Ventures leading the investment. The funding round witnessed participation from global investors, including Anorak Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures, Arka Ventures, Mana Ventures and Exfinity Venture Partners. Gaurav Agarwal, CEO and founder of RagaAI, outlined the company's utilization plans for the funds, stating, "These resources will be directed towards research and development, fostering innovation, and expanding our customer base. Currently comprising a team of 40, our objective is to double our workforce to 100 by recruiting professionals across diverse domains such as Data Science, Engineering, and Product".
RagaAI serves as an automated testing platform catering to various AI types, including GenAI. The platform's core models, referred to as RagaAI DNA, leverage automation to promptly identify, diagnose, and rectify AI issues. With a repertoire of over 300 distinct tests, the platform aids users in pinpointing root causes such as data drift, edge case detection, subpar data labeling quality, bias in data, model robustness issues, or adversarial attacks. Supporting multimodal applications, including LLMs, images/videos, 3D, audio, NLP, and structured data, RagaAI aims to mitigate risks by 90% while accelerating AI development by over three times. The platform has garnered clientele from Fortune 200 and Fortune 500 companies across the US, Europe, and India. Its pricing model is structured around monthly usage subscriptions, with variations based on geography and industry.
STAN, the burgeoning gaming platform headquartered in Bengaluru, joyfully concludes its Pre-Series A funding, securing a notable $2.7 million. This funding cycle saw the engagement of significant new backers, such as Aptos Labs, Pix Capital, Maelstrom Fund, GFR Fund, and the continuous support of General Catalyst. Reflecting the global enthusiasm for the Indian gaming sector, further contributions were received from CoinDCX Ventures, Climber Capital, TDV Partners, and Coinswitch Ventures.
Founded by Parth Chadha and his dynamic team, STAN is dedicated to fostering active communities of gaming enthusiasts worldwide while creating a robust foundation for sustainable expansion. The recent funding injection aims to democratize infrastructure for creators, utilize AI for community architecture development, enhance user personalization, and collaborate with gaming influencers. STAN, which previously secured $2.5 million in seed funding led by General Catalyst in May 2022, is now focused on addressing challenges in the Indian market for creators, streamlining monetization processes, and nurturing a dedicated gaming creator base.
Jaipur-based financial platform Namdev Finvest Private Limited has successfully concluded its Series B funding round, securing a substantial $15 million. The funding round saw participation from various investors, including British International Investment (BII), LC Nueva AIF, the company’s promoters and employees, along with existing investor Incofin India Progress Fund. Specializing in serving Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), this non-banking financial company (NBFC) plans to utilize the newly acquired capital to expand its reach, diversify its product offerings, and invest in technological advancements, according to an official statement.
Founded in 2013 by Jitendra Tanwar, Namdev Finvest has emerged as a prominent non-banking financial company (NBFC), providing credit facilities to MSMEs in rural and semi-urban areas through an extensive network of over 100 branches in North-West India. The company has successfully disbursed more than 50,000 loans ranging from Rs 4-7 lakh and boasts an impressive Assets Under Management (AUM) exceeding Rs 1,000 crore. In addition to its conventional offerings, Namdev Finvest provides green finance optionsd, including e-mobility and solar loans.
Studiovity, an AI-powered platform for film and video pre-production, has secured undisclosed pre-seed funding from IIM Kashipur. This strategic investment marks a notable milestone for Studiovity, paving the way for pioneering developments and rapid expansion in the field of film and video pre-production.
Established in 2021 by Akshay Kumar Jain, Santosh Kumar Gupta and Udit Kumar Mishra, Studiovity specializes in AI-driven software designed to revolutionize the creative processes of screenplay writing and storyboarding. The platform smoothly transitions into production by automating script breakdowns and streamlining production scheduling for film producers, ad agencies and various departments involved in the production process. Studiovity has gained recognition from industry leaders such as Nvidia, DPIIT Startup India, and Nasscom 10k startups.
AquaExchange, a startup in aquaculture technology and fintech, secures $6 million in Series A funding for expansion. Ocean 14 Capital led the investment round, joined by existing investors Endiya Partners and Accion Venture Labs. Based in Vijayawada, AquaExchange is driving technological advancements in aquaculture.
Utilizing its technology, the company enhances crop yields, minimizes crop risks and addresses escalating input costs. Their devices facilitate farm automation, enhancing crop visibility for lenders and customers, resulting in better prices and reduced costs for farmers. The funding will be deployed to expand the company's comprehensive business model, encompassing farm automation, crop financing, and harvest procurement. AquaExchange also intends to concentrate on specific international markets for exporting their devices.
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