The week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (5th June- 13th June)

The week that Was: Indian Startup News Overview (5th June- 13th June)

India is frequently referred to as "the posterchild of emerging markets" for its vast commercial potential for startups. In a country with a population of nearly 1.3 billion people, even niche products can have significant market potential. Economic reforms in the 1990s pushed India toward a more market-based economic system. Since then, the Indian economy has grown rapidly, with a GDP of $3.726 trillion in 2020. India is one of the world's fastest-growing large economies, with a GDP growth rate of 8.0 percent in 2021. As a result, the Indian market is perceived as having a plethora of opportunities for startups.

This week saw some incredible startup funding rounds, with some of them achieving unicorn status. NFTICALLY, a global Web3 E-Commerce SaaS platform, has announced the release of "COMEARTH," the Metaverse's go-to destination for commerce, to unacademy, which has launched a Rs 30 crore-ESOP buyback offer. Here are the top five startups that performed exceptionally well this weekend.


NFTICALLY, global Web3 E-Commerce SaaS platform, today announces the launch of "COMEARTH", the go-to destination for commerce in the Metaverse. COMEARTH, a 3D immersive virtual environment, will be powered by NFTICALLY's "Web3 E-Commerce Engine" and backed by the trust and decentralization of the Polygon Blockchain. In COMEARTH, brands, enterprises, content creators, and celebrities will be able to purchase their virtual spaces / virtual real estate as COMEARTH’s "Citizens" and launch the E-Commerce experiences for their customers, consumers & followers. The Metaverse has the potential to be a $13 Trillion ecosystem within a decade. The E-Commerce industry also is expected to expand at a CAGR of 22.9% between the years 2020-2027 to size over $16.2 Trillion. Exploring the intersection of two burgeoning markets, Polygon co-founders Sandeep Nailwal and Jaynti Kanani, Coinbase CPO Surojit Chatterjee, Unacademy Co-Founders Gaurav Munjal, and Roman Saini, Indian film-maker Subhash Ghai, Actor Kunal Kapoor, Capital X's Cindy Bi, Nazara's Nitish Mittersain have invested in NFTICALLY to build a 3D immersive Metaverse ecosystem that would power E-Commerce for 100,000 brands & individuals by 2025.

Toshendra Sharma, Founder, and CEO, of NFTICALLY, said, "Web3 is the next generation of the internet, which will profoundly impact E-Commerce solutions. COMEARTH will bring a fully-immersive DIY layer to E-Commerce and enable immersive hyper-personalization for everyone. We intend to democratize and facilitate mass Web3 adoption & bridge the gap between web3 & web2 E-Commerce." The launch was graced by NFTICALLY’s advisors and partners including renowned film Writer-Director and Producer, Subhash Ghai, Priyavrata Mafatlal, Vice-Chairman at Mafatlal Group, Govind Singh Sandhu, Director, Kulturemint and Pradeep Aswal, CEO, The Blockchain Council. They reflected upon the perspectives of brands getting empowered with COMEARTH for augmenting retail and consumer experiences.


Software-as-a-service startup Kissflow on Tuesday said it is going after the $50 billion integrated work platform opportunity with the launch of its unified low-code/no-code platform that it said will help enterprises fast-track digital transformation.It said the platform will bring together the entire spectrum of work management into a unified experience for users ranging from end-users, teams, team managers, process experts, citizen developers and IT developers."This is a long game for us," Suresh Sambandam, CEO, Kissflow said. "So we are really looking at anywhere between three to five years, we are trying to go from a few million users right now into close to 100 million in the next five years or so. There is a big gap in the Google ecosystem especially. For all those customers, Kissflow will be a very compelling opportunity."

The Chennai-based company said that enterprises use multiple work management tools that focus either exclusively on app development, process management, project or task management, and collaboration. Multiple tools are deployed to seamlessly manage operational initiatives but rather than simplifying work, they make work complex and disjointed and hamper enterprise-wide digital transformation.“Globally, there are only 26 million developers, but there are 500 million business users," Sambandam said. "And of these 26 million developers, only a portion of them are actually developers. Roughly, I would say 20% of them, like four or five million people, are trying to cater to the needs of the 500 million people, which is like a 100x gap."

Currently, the India market constitutes about 10-12% of Kissflow's customer base but with this offering, Sambandam said that he sees the potential for this number to double and touch about 20%. "This is a much broader offering, that helps us to pretty much reach out to any enterprise, even mid tier enterprises," he said.


PhysicsWallah, an edtech startup, has raised $100 million in Series A funding from Westbridge and GSV Ventures, becoming India's 101st unicorn and the first edtech player to do so, the company announced on Tuesday. The company will be valued at $1.1 billion after the transaction is completed, according to a statement. PhysicsWallah stated that the funds raised will be used for business expansion, branding, the opening of additional learning centres, and the introduction of new course offerings."With this latest funding, we are thrilled to join the unicorn bandwagon.This advancement will assist us in furthering our vision and implementing new initiatives to enhance students' learning journeys, allowing them to reach new heights in their careers "In a statement, Alakh Pandey, Founder and CEO, said

PhysicsWallah, which was founded in 2016 by renowned YouTube STEM educator Alakh Pandey and later joined by tech executive Prateek Maheshwari, provides online and offline courses and study materials for JEE, NEET, and other engineering entrance and state board exams. For the aforementioned exams, the platform provides live classes, video lectures, test series, and dynamic exercises.


Purplle, an online retailer of beauty and personal care products, has raised $33 million from Paramark Ventures at a valuation of $1.1 billion.This is the second Indian tech startup to join the unicorn club this week, following online education venture Physics Wallah, and comes amid a funding freeze in the global startup ecosystem.The round was also attended by existing investors Premji Invest, Blume Ventures, and Kedaara Capital. To date, the company has raised $215 million, including this round.Goldman Sachs and Verlinvest were among its early investors.The company, which competes with larger rival Nykaa, has seven million monthly active users on its platform and over 1,000 brands, including five private labels.

Purplle reported an annualised gross merchandise value of $180 million in fiscal year 2022.It employs 2,400 people. Purplle purchased the cosmetics and skincare brand Faces Canada last year.The company is considering numerous other tuck-in acquisitions and intends to use the proceeds to fund its inorganic growth plans."The infusion is an opportunity to further our mission of building the beauty industry in India with technological investments, scaling of our private brands, and industry-first innovations," said Manish Taneja, cofounder and CEO of Purplle.In the last two years, startups such as The Good Glamm Group, Sugar Cosmetics, and Mamaearth have raised significant funds in the online beauty market, which has traditionally been dominated by large multinational corporations.Sugar Cosmetics recently raised $50 million led by L Catterton.


Roll-up commerce startup 10club is set to raise more than $30 million, in an equal mix of debt and equity.Olive Tree Capital, a Boston-based fund, led the funding round, while existing investors,which includes Fireside Ventures, Secocha Ventures and Boat co-founder Aman Gupta, also participated. 10club has already closed $22 million, while the remainder will be closed over the next few weeks, it said in a statement.“The commitments for the remaining amount have come in and we are happy with the interest. We are in the process of closing the remaining round,” said Bhavna Suresh, co-founder and chief executive of 10club. 10club is also the second company after Mensa Brands to announce that it would launch its products in the US market. “The team has also initiated a new vertical that exports goods to the middle-east and North Africa (MENA) region and the USA,” the company said.

Roll-up commerce companies acquire multiple online sellers who sell on Amazon and other ecommerce marketplaces and help them sell more effectively through better management and shared expertise.The company stated that it would increase its focus on the home and fitness categories. Garden, outdoor, kitchen, bathroom, decor, and furnishing are all part of the home category. "Home and fitness are disorganised and bloated categories that are fragmented and primarily offline.""We believe that a diverse country like India has enormous growth potential," she said.


Edutech platform Unacademy on Thursday said it will undertake an ESOP buyback programme of Rs 25-30 crore in December this year. The buyback - which will be held on December 10, 2020, and is open for current and former employees - is the second such liquidity event at the five-year-old company, a statement said."All vested ESOPs until December 10, 2020, will be eligible for the buyback and current and exited employees may liquidate between 25 per cent to 100 per cent of vested ESOPs based on a specified scheme," it added. The firm said the size of the buyback pool is likely to be around Rs 25-30 crore, based on the number of ESOPs liquidated by employees.

Unacademy had conducted its first ESOP buyout in September 2019 and at that time, the buyback pool was about a tenth of the current buyback size, the statement said. Unacademy employees who have been granted ESOPs and have completed more than one year with the firm will be eligible to participate in the latest liquidity round, the statement said. Last month, Unacademy had announced raising around Rs 1,125 crore in a funding round led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 along with participation from existing investors, including Facebook.