The Week that Was: Indian Start-up News Overview (28 February - 05 March)
It's a moment of extraordinary innovation and disruption, with a slew of new businesses springing up with game-changing products, business strategies, and funding to take on the globe. Every day, new firms are launching or raising funds for expansion and growth. Startupcity presents weekly roundup of the latest startup news and updates from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for this week.
UPSWING FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGIES
Upswing Financial Technologies, a B2B ecosystem enabler for open finance, has secured $4 million from QED Investors and a slew of other fintech innovators.
The money will also be utilised to help fintechs and consumer tech companies provide seamless financial services.
QED, a fintech-focused fund, has supported 25 unicorns throughout the world, including Nubank, Credit Karma, and SoFi. QED, based in Alexandria, was formed in 2007 by Nigel Morris and Frank Rotman.
Its investors are looking for startups that are disrupting the financial services industry in the United States, Latin America, the United Kingdom and Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
Student loan fintech incubator located in Mumbai, Kuhoo has received a record $20 million in venture investment from Westbridge Capital. The fintech business plans to use the funds to give online loans to students who want to study at institutions in India and overseas.
The round is an equity transaction, according to Kuhoo, and the funds will be utilised to expand technology, data science capability, and create product and distribution innovations.
Kuhoo's founder, Prashant A. Bhonsle, remarked, “We combine our vast experience with advanced technology and data science to create risk and credit models. These models help us evaluate students’ potential employability and future incomes for various courses students enrol in. With this unique ability, Kuhoo can offer different products best suited to individual profiles of students from varied family backgrounds.”
According to a senior corporate executive, the transaction will allow it to improve its data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning capabilities.
The acquisition is the company's third in the last 12 months, and it comes only two months after it raised $55 million in Series B capital from Lightrock India-led investors.
It bought Coding Minutes and Coding Elements last year. Scaler's parent company, InterviewBit, was founded in April 2019 by Anshuman Singh and Abhimanyu Saxena and has a post-money valuation of $710 million.
Pocket FM has secured $65 million in Series C fundraising headed by South Korean internet behemoth Naver, Goodwater Capital, and current investor Tanglin Venture Partners.
This round of investment comes roughly three months after the company received $22.4 million in Series B capital in December of last year. To date, the startup has received $93.6 million in funding from investors including Lightspeed, Times Group, Tencent, and Tanglin Venture Partners.
The funds raised will be used by the Gurugram-based startup to strengthen its offering, expand to new languages, invest in artificial intelligence capabilities, scale its community of audio content creators, and assist them in monetising on the platform.
Children's pocket money app and digital payments Junio has secured $6 million in a round headed by NB Ventures in the United Arab Emirates, with the Rajiv Dadlani Group playing a key role.
The money will be used to expand the company's personnel, roll out new product features, and scale up client acquisition initiatives, the company announced.
Junio received $2 million in seed fundraising last year from well-known angel investors such as Cred founder Kunal Shah, PolicyBazaar cofounder Yashish Dahiya, and Venture Catalysts. Last year, family offices led by the Rajiv Dadlani Group took part in the fundraising.
Filo, an instant live tutoring platform, garnered $23 million in a Series A round headed by Anthos Capital.
Better Capital, GSV, Sapling Capital, and a slew of well-known individual investors, including Gokul Rajaram, Rob Frohwein (cofounder Kabbage), Mate Pencz and Florian Hagenbuch (founders of Loft), and Ross Lipson, all participated in the round (cofounder, Dutchie).
The edtech business intends to use the new funds to expand its product development team, expand into new categories, and extend its tutor base across the country.
Apollo.io, a B2B sales intelligence and engagement platform, revealed that it has raised $110 million in a Series C round of funding headed by Sequoia Capital, with existing investors Tribe Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, and NewView Capital joining in. To date, the company has raised more than $150 million.
Apollo.io plans to use the latest fundraising round to drive its product-led growth and roughly triple its investment in product and engineering.
Sales teams can use the platform to automate their procedures and outreach, resulting in enhanced productivity. It integrates with other sales platforms including Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Sendgrid, and LinkedIn to assist expedite the sales process.
Ninjacart, an agritech startup, has created a $25 million fund to support startups in similar categories. The investment initiative, dubbed Agri Seed Fund, will fund such firms by participating in seed capital rounds.
Thirukumaran Nagarajan, cofounder and CEO of Ninjacart, asked agritech entrepreneurs to connect for funding in a LinkedIn post the day before. He claimed in the post that Ninjacart will seed finance firms in just two days.
"Two calls - one for screening and the other for evaluation – two days flat from the first call to get a yes or no from us," he wrote.