The Week That Was: Indian Startup News Overview (4th Dec - 8th Dec)

The Week That Was: Indian Startup News Overview (4th Dec - 8th Dec)
Startup India appears promising and poised for continued growth and innovation. Supported by government initiatives, startups are leveraging technology across fintech, healthtech, and agritech sectors. Increased funding accessibility, a supportive ecosystem of incubators and mentors, and ongoing policy reforms foster an entrepreneurial environment. Sustainability-focused startups gain prominence, while global recognition boosts international collaborations. Challenges persist in talent acquisition and regulatory complexities. Overcoming these hurdles will require collaborative efforts from stakeholders to sustain momentum and drive the success of Startup India, ensuring its evolution into a thriving hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in diverse domains.
This week, we've seen India-based FinTech startup Navadhan has secured $5 million in its Pre-Series A funding round led by Prime Venture Partners and Igloo has announced a successful achievement, securing $36 million led by Eurazeo, a global investment firm with an insurtech fund supported by BNP Paribas Cardif. Here are some of the top ten startups that obtained funding in the millions this week. Here's a compilation of the top 10 startups that secured million-dollar funding this week.
India-based FinTech startup Navadhan has secured $5 million in its Pre-Series A funding round led by Prime Venture Partners. The round also saw participation from existing investors Varanium NexGen FinTech Fund and Gemba Capital. The fresh capital infusion aims to further develop Navadhan's AceN tech platform and expand the company's distribution and service delivery models. Navadhan's AceN tech platform facilitates comprehensive customer fulfillment, encompassing sourcing, seamless digital enrolments, credit underwriting, servicing, and payments to collections. It currently holds over Rs 300 Cr of credit lines from 20 banks and NBFCs on its platform, allowing API integrations for these institutions into their existing systems.
Navadhan employs a unique alternative underwriting model that evaluates digital footprints and surrogate cash flows. This method resolves the issue of inadequate income proofs and documentation that have deterred banks from entering such markets. This approach tackles the hurdles presented by cash-based economies and the limited banking history in rural and informal sectors. Navadhan operates through both human resources and technology, following a hybrid brick-and-click model.
AllTrak, a healthcare logistics platform, has secured Rs 4.2 crore in a pre-Series A funding round led by Inflection Point Ventures (IPV). AllTrak plans to utilize the raised funds to grow its team, upgrade its technological infrastructure, and expand logistics operations to multiple cities across India, according to the company's announcement.
Co-Founded by Amit Gupta and Tarun Sharma, AllTrak specializes in tailored solutions for diagnostic firms. Their offerings include a SaaS platform driven by technology, a nationwide shared logistics network, and a phlebotomist network designed to assist healthcare companies in efficiently serving their patients.
DigitalPaani, a prominent player in revolutionizing water management, has achieved a major milestone by securing $1.2 million in a seed funding round. Elemental Excelerator spearheaded the investment, marking its inaugural venture in Asia. Presently, DigitalPaani's technology is utilized by more than 40 major industry players such as Tata Power, Delhi Jal Board, Britannia, and Leela Hotels. The company specializes in delivering automation and software solutions focused on improving the efficiency of wastewater treatment infrastructure. Furthermore, it plays a vital role in monitoring infrastructure performance, pinpointing issues, and offering corrective guidance.
The seed funding round attracted a diverse group of investors, both global and Indian, with Elemental Excelerator making its first foray into investments in Asia. Indian institutional investors Enzia, Peer Cheque, SAE, DevC, and Bharat Founders Fund participated in the round, alongside contributions from well-known angels including Ashish Goel (Urban Ladder), Alok Mittal (Indifi), Mohit Sadani (Moms Co), and Mohit Tandon (Delhivery). Over the upcoming twelve months, DigitalPaani intends to accelerate its expansion in major urban hubs like Delhi's National Capital Region, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, and Hyderabad. The company aims to assist more than 150 wastewater treatment facilities during this period, making substantial contributions to India's water sustainability objectives.
Sarvam AI 
Sarvam AI, a startup based in Chennai that began in July and specializes in developing its proprietary generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) models, has secured $41 million in a Series A funding round. Lightspeed Venture Partners led this initial funding round, joined by Peak XV (formerly Sequoia India and Southeast Asia) and Khosla Ventures, an early investor in OpenAI, according to a statement from Sarvam AI. This achievement marks the most substantial funding at this stage for an artificial intelligence startup based in India. Vivek Raghavan, one of the co-founders, mentioned, "We are creating training models. In the coming weeks, we'll introduce our first model designed for Indian languages".
"Our primary objective is to tailor generative AI to suit India's context, providing solutions that contribute value to the country. While many are focused on developing larger models heading toward artificial general intelligence, that isn't our primary area of focus", he mentioned. Raghavan further explained that the company is exploring the concept that a substantial part of the worth in Gen AI comes from domain-specific models. In this realm, there's potential for more intelligent, smaller, and equally efficient models to execute tasks.
The Sleep Company 
The Sleep Company, a direct-to-consumer mattress manufacturer, announced securing Rs 184 crore in its Series C funding round, with existing investors like Premji Invest and Fireside Ventures increasing their investment in the company. The funds will be utilized to diversify product offerings, strengthen brand presence, and bolster its omnichannel strategy. Currently operating 60 stores, the company plans to expand its offline presence, aiming to launch a total of 100 stores in the next six months, particularly focusing on Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. Priyanka Salot, Co-Founder of The Sleep Company, highlighted the company's remarkable growth, achieving a notable 6x increase in two years, resulting in an annual revenue run rate (ARR) exceeding Rs 350 crore as of September 2023, a substantial rise from Rs 60 crore in November 2021.
The Sleep Company has considered introducing additional accessories such as seat cushions, back cushions, neck massager pillows, and motorized recliner sofas all utilizing its Smartgrid technology as part of its strategy to diversify revenue streams. Although the company did not disclose its current valuation, The Sleep Company might be valued at approximately $180 million, a significant increase from its prior valuation of roughly $120-130 million. Dipanjan Basu, Co-Founder of Fireside Ventures, expressed enthusiasm about The Sleep Company's remarkable growth, robust omnichannel strategy, and consistent profitability within a year, acknowledging the company's immense potential.
Scandalous Foods
Scandalous Foods, a leading sweets destination in the restaurant industry, has successfully secured 1.6 crore in pre-seed funding. This funding round is co-led by Anthill Angel Fund, EvolveX, Value360, and Sapphireink, with significant contributions from well-known individuals like Sagar Daryani, Kamnaa Aggarwal, Vikas Aggarwal, and Harpal Singh Sokhi. The raised funds will be utilized for diverse purposes including product development, expanding their production unit situated in Nasik, automating production processes, and notably, scaling up their current presence from 250 touchpoints to a significant 2000 touchpoints within a year.
Established in August 2022 by Sanket S and Pravesh Amin, Scandalous Foods primarily functions as a B2B enterprise, dedicated to empowering the sweets industry within the restaurant sector. Their product line consists of preservative-free sweets, conveniently packaged in individual servings with an impressive shelf life of six months. The company strategically focuses on cloud kitchens and aims to expand into various segments within the food service industry.
Digivriddhi Technologies 
Digivriddhi Technologies (DGV), a dairy fintech startup, has secured Rs 50 crore ($6 million) in Series A funding. This funding round was spearheaded by Omidyar Network India, with active participation from existing investors Omnivore and InfoEdge Ventures. The substantial investment underscores the confidence in DGV's potential for growth. The newly acquired funds will play a crucial role in driving the company's expansion plans and advancing its technological innovations.
Founder and CEO Ragavan Venkatesan articulated DGV's mission, highlighting the dairy sector's potential to amplify the income of Indian farmers. Through their DGV PAY system, the company streamlined payment processes for dairy farmers and micro-enterprises, catering to their basic banking needs. By integrating ERP systems across the dairy value chain, DGV developed a distinctive underwriting mechanism enabling digital working capital and bovine loans through DGV Money. Since its establishment in 2019 by Ragavan Venkatesan, DGV has played a crucial role in granting institutional credit access to dairy farmers and microenterprises, while digitizing and simplifying payments within the dairy ecosystem.
Radiohead Brands
Radiohead Brands, the company responsible for Jimmy’s Cocktails and Mixers, raised Rs 35 crore in its latest pre-Series A funding round. Prath Ventures led the investment round, joined by Capital Ventures, Illeyrium Ventures, and prominent angel investors Neel Bahl and Sandeep Aggarwal from Droom. This funding round builds upon the earlier Rs 11 crore raised in July this year, which came from Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Prath Ventures.
The company specializes in premixed cocktails and effervescent mixers like tonic water and ginger ale, competing with well-established brands like Sepoy & Co., Franklin & Sons, Svami, and Jade Forest in the non-alcoholic beverage sector. Ankur Bhatia, the Founder and CEO, emphasized the firm's dedication to sustainable brand development, emphasizing cash flow, no credit sales, and profitability on a per-account basis.
Biryani By Kilo 
Biryani By Kilo (BBK), a notable name in the cloud kitchen sector, has accomplished a successful Series C funding round, securing $9 million. This fundraising marks BBK's re-entry into fundraising activities following a pause of more than two years. The investment, led by Alpha Wave Ventures, reflects robust investor confidence in BBK's anticipated growth path.
According to the Registrar of Companies filing, Biryani By Kilo (BBK) authorized issuing 18,086 Series C CCSP at Rs 39,800 per share, raising Rs 72 crore ($9 million). Alpha Wave Ventures led the funding with Rs 28 crore, followed by Ivycap Ventures, Incred Wealth, and Clear Bridge Ventures contributing Rs 16.5 crore, Rs 8.2 crore, and Rs 8.3 crore, respectively. Vevek Ventures, DSP HMK Holdings, and others collectively invested Rs 11 crore. This investment distribution indicates Alpha Wave owning 33.5%, Ivycap Ventures holding 19.42%, Incred and Clear Bridge each having 1.04% and 1.05%, respectively.
Singapore's insurtech company, Igloo has announced a successful achievement, securing $36 million in a pre-Series C funding round. The investment was led by Eurazeo, a global investment firm with an insurtech fund supported by BNP Paribas Cardif. This substantial funding milestone bolsters Igloo's standing within Asia's swiftly evolving insurance landscape. Openspace and La Maison, both previous investors from Igloo's Series B and B+ rounds, also participated, showcasing their continued belief in Igloo's robust business foundation. Openspace's investment was facilitated through its mid-stage fund, OSV+, focusing on Series C and D rounds for innovative technology firms across Southeast Asia.
Matthieu Baret, Eurazeo's Managing Partner for Venture, expressed enthusiasm about the investment in Igloo, emphasizing its alignment with Eurazeo's strategy to invest in innovative technologies disrupting the insurance sector. He highlighted excitement in collaborating with BNP Paribas Cardif and expanding Eurazeo's presence in Asia through investments in China, Indonesia, India, and Singapore, aspiring to establish a prominent role in the region.