STARTUP DIGEST: Grofers turns unicorn, Infra.Market in talks to raise $125 mn, 10club raises $40 mn

There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Tuesday, which include construction materials marketplace Infra.Market is in talks to raise $125 million from Tiger Global as per Moneycontrol; 10club raises $40 million in seed funding; the UK’s SME fintech platform Tide forays into India with $100 million investment;  two senior Twitter officials booked over the distorted map, which showed UTs Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir outside India; Facebook to submit compliance report as per India IT rules next month; and language learning app Duolingo files for US IPO. Here are the top stories from the startup universe:

Grofers turns unicorn with $120 mn from Zomato, Tiger Global

IPO-bound foodtech company Zomato and Tiger Global have invested $120 million into e-grocery player Grofers, turning it into a unicorn with a valuation of over $1 billion.

Zomato is expected to seek CCI approval soon for the deal. Grofers CEO Albinder Dhindsa had said in a June 21 blog post that ‘next round of funding is secure’ while announcing that the company would give 33 percent hikes to its tech teams.

Ecommerce industry seeks more time for feedback on draft rules

The e-commerce industry is seeking more time to submit feedback on the draft rules that were put out by the government last week, for which the industry has been given 15 days to share comments. CNBC-TV18 has learned that some industry associations have already written to the government with the request for an extension.

The Consumer Affairs Department had published the draft e-commerce rules on June 21 and sought feedback from the industry within 15 days (by July 6) by e-mail.

However, e-commerce players, who have held discussions with industry associations on the proposed rules, feel they need more time given the exhaustive list of rules that are part of the proposed amendment to the Consumer Protection (Ecommerce) Rules, 2020.

Infra.Market eyes $2.6 billion valuation

Construction materials marketplace Infra.Market is in advanced talks to raise $125 million led by existing investor Tiger Global Management at a valuation of $2.6 billion post-money as per a Moneycontrol report.

The round will more than double Infra.Market’s valuation from just three months back when it was valued at a billion dollars.

Infra.Market is a B2B e-commerce unicorn, running a brand of construction material, concrete and chemicals used in infrastructure projects.

While Tiger Global’s investment is expected to close in the coming weeks, Infra.Market has also separately held conversations with private equity giant TPG for an investment at a similar valuation as per the report. However these talks are still at an early stage, it added.

10club raises $40 mn in seed round to roll up ecommerce brands

10club, an e-commerce marketplace aggregator, has raised $40 million in seed funding. The funding round was co-led by Fireside Ventures and an international investor active in the space.

The round also saw participation from HeyDay, a player in the roll up space,

PDS international, Class 5 Global, Secocha Ventures led by Sanket Parekh, boAt founders Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta in their individual capacity and several other global strategic investors.

The company said the funding will primarily be used for expanding 10club’s portfolio of brands, investing in building its technology stack, and for working capital purposes. Vinay Singh, Partner, Fireside Ventures, will join the company’s board.

Airblack raises $5.2 million in Series A round

Online makeup and beauty learning platform, Airblack has raised $5.2 Million in Series A round co-led by Info Edge Ventures and Elevation Capital.

The company said the round saw participation from Atelier Ventures; Ankur Nagpal, founder and CEO of Teachable; Kunal Shah, founder of CRED; and others.

“This fundraise bolsters our movement and allows us to take our courses to millions of creators and micro-entrepreneurs,” Videt Jaiswal, founder and CEO of Airblack, said.

It intends to use the cash proceeds for accelerating the expansion of Beauty Club, launching new clubs and investing in product, engineering and brand, Airblack said.

Intervue secures seed funding from Titan Capital, Kunal Shah & 2AM VC

SaaS-based hiring platform Intervue has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding led by a slew of investors.

Titan Capital; Kunal Shah, founder of CRED; Brendan Rogers, co-founder of Wag; and Hershel Mehta, founder of 2AM VC invested in this round, Intervue said.

The funds will be utilised to scale the product and strengthen the core team.

Mastercard announces investment in Instamojo to serve MSMEs

Global payment giant Mastercard has announced a strategic, undisclosed investment in Instamojo, a digital solutions provider for MSMEs.

In a tweet, the company said the investment is aimed at digitising and scaling millions of MSMEs and gig workers by helping them set up online stores, accept digital payments and reach out to customers.

The partnership with Instamojo is Mastercard is an extension of its commitment to bring one billion people and 50 million MSMEs into the digital economy by 2025, it said.

Emami hikes stake in The Man Company

Emami has hiked its stake in in Helios Lifestyle, a direct-to-consumer start-up that sells male grooming products under The Man Company brand to 45.96 percent, following the acquisition of additional shares.

The company did not disclose the financial details of the transaction. This investment is in line with the company’s intent to leverage emerging online opportunities that has accelerated as more Indians spend time online.

Emami previously held a 33.09 percent stake in Helios Lifestyle, operator of the ‘The Man Company’ brand, by acquiring shares in two tranches in December 2017 and in February 2019.

The investment will accelerate Emami’s move towards building an omnichannel premium brand particularly in the online space and lifestyle stores, Harsha V Agarwal, director, Emami said.

UK SME fintech platform Tide forays into India, commits $100 mn investment

UK-based Neobank for SMEs Tide is all set to enter the Indian market, its first international foray with a commitment to invest $100 million and create 1000 jobs over the next five years.

The jobs will be across a variety of verticals including software development, product development and field support. Tide currently has over 200 employees in India, primarily at its technology centre in Hyderabad.

The fintech company said that it selected India as its first international market due to the considerable commercial opportunities available and has a long-term ambition to operate in markets accounting for 25 percent of global SMEs.

This year, the company said it is aiming to onboard 25,000 SMEs in India, and it is looking to serve about 2 million SMEs in the country in the next few years.

Uber to let office staff work up to half their time from anywhere

Uber will let employees work half their hours from wherever they want as part of its revamped return-to-office strategy, Reuters reported.

In one of the most flexible policies offered yet by a big U.S. tech company as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, Uber plans to say that those working in offices need to spend at least 50% of their time there.

But unlike many other companies the policy does not mean at least three days per week in the office, the source said. Instead, workers can show up five days one week and zero the next.

The plan is a reversal from April when Uber said that from September “employees can work from home up to two days a week, but with a clear expectation that they also come into the office three days a week.”

The company is expected to allow more employees to work remotely all the time.

FIR against Twitter officials over distorted India map

The Uttar Pradesh police have lodged an FIR against two senior officials of Twitter India over the social media platform putting up a distorted map of India. The FIR was lodged on the basis of a complaint by an office-bearer of right wing Bajrang Dal.

The map, which showed the Union Territories of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir outside India, was noticed on Monday, leading to an uproar by netizens. The social media giant immediately removed the map, following the backlash.

The FIR names Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari and News Partnerships Head Amrita Tripathi as accused who have been booked. Charges under Information Technology Act section 74 (publication for fraudulent purpose) have also been invoked in the case.

This is not the first time Twitter found itself wrapped in such controversy. Earlier, Twitter had shown Leh as part of China.

Facebook to submit compliance report as per India IT rules next month

Social media giant Facebook says it will publish a report with contain details of the content takedowns between May 15-June 15 as per new IT rules.

A final report will be published on July 15 containing details of user complaints received and action taken and will also contain data related to WhatsApp that is currently being validated.

The new IT rules – which came into force from May 26 – mandate large social media companies to publish periodic compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken thereon. The report is to also include the number of specific communication links or parts of information that the intermediary has removed or disabled access to in pursuance of any proactive monitoring conducted by using automated tools.

Healthtech startup NIRAMAI gets CDC funding for Covid-19 screening test

Healthcare focused deeptech startup Niramai Health Analytix has received research funding from UK-based development finance institution CDC Group for its Covid-19 screening solution.

NIRAMAI FeverTest is a smart software that enables screening for COVID symptoms in public places by leveraging computer vision and AI to analyse and monitor crowd compliance to COVID-19 guidelines.

The technology is deployed in two major railway stations of Bengaluru in partnership with South Western Railways.

“The financial support from CDC has enabled us to successfully pilot our AI-enabled COVID screening product at IT tech parks, schools and some hospitals across Indian cities,” Geetha Manjunath, Founder and CEO of NIRAMAI said.

Facebook partners with Stellaris Venture to help SMBs

Facebook has tied-up with the VC fund Stellaris Venture Partners to scale young businesses by providing them with digital skilling support, in a bid to accelerate the growth of small and medium businesses in the country.

The partnership is a part of Facebook’s VC Brand Incubator Program, which is an initiative for building the ecosystem for SMB growth in the country along with venture capital funds, and providing businesses with business skilling and training to improve profitability levers such as new customer acquisition, reach, and brand engagement.

“As businesses move online in current times, the need for timely digital up-skilling becomes even more urgent to drive their recovery and growth. This partnership will help early stage SMBs unleash their potential to grow their business,” Archana Vohra, Director, Small and Medium Businesses at Facebook India said.

Amazon introduces ‘Amazon Day’ delivery for Prime members

E-commerce giant Amazon India has announced the launch of ‘Amazon Day Delivery’ for all Prime members.

Through this delivery benefit, Prime members are given the option of choosing a weekly delivery day for the items they purchase throughout the week. Customers can conveniently choose between Prime’s fast, free shipping or Amazon Day Delivery during check out, company said in a statement.

The delivery option is one among Amazon’s many sustainability initiatives to help achieve Shipment Zero, the company’s global vision to make all Amazon shipments net-zero carbon, with 50% of all shipments net-zero by 2030, it added.

Over 200 million paid Prime members around the world are using the offerings of Prime, company reports.

Yono by SBI joins hands with Shivrai Technologies to launch ‘Farmizo Khata

AgriTech company Shivrai Technologies has announced the launch of their B2C Farm accounting mobile application, Farmizo Khata in partnership with Yono by SBI.

Through this merger, they aim to help farmers across the country to manage their accounts efficiently, thus cutting down on losses.

Silicon Valley-based investors join the board of SpaceBasic

SpaceBasic, an AI-enabled digital data platform has onboarded Silicon Valley investors Shaan Varia, Product Head at Gauntlet Network and Yousef Yacoub, a seasoned industry profession, as a part of its board of advisors.

SpaceBasic was founded in 2017 by Madhavi Shankar and Silicon valley based serial entrepreneur Indu Navar to help educational instituteions to automate everyday tasks and communication within their hostels and student housing communities.

Triton EV gets $600 mn semi-trucks order from Foxbase Technologies

Triton Electric Vehicle has announced that Foxbase Technologies has signed a corporate purchase order for 4000 Triton EV Semi Trucks worth $600 million. Foxbase Technologies is a Bengaluru based technology solutions company which has forayed into EV and EV Charging Station business in South India.

The Triton EV Semi Trucks shall be supplied to commercial Industrial clients across the South zone of India. First round of delivery will be in 2022.

Telangana government has also promised to give a 3000 Electric Vehicle Government Order to Triton EV.


Language learning app Duolingo files for US IPO

Language-learning app Duolingo on Monday filed for a US initial public offering (IPO) and revealed that its revenue more than doubled in the first quarter this year.

The company was last valued at $2.4 billion after a USD 35 million funding from Durable Capital Partners and General Atlantic in November, as per a Reuters report.

Duolingo recorded revenue of $55.4 million for the three months ended March 31. Net losses in the same period widened to $13.5 million from $2.2 million a year ago.

Didi flags IPO share price at top of range or above, source says

Chinese ride-hailing giant, Didi Global, will price shares in its U.S initial public offering (IPO) at the top of the indicated range or above, according to Reuters.

Didi is selling 288 million American Depository Shares (ADS) with a price range of $13 to $14 each. At the top of the range, the IPO would raise $4.03 billion, which would value Didi at $67.2 billion.

The final price of the shares is due to be set at the U.S market close on Tuesday, according to term sheets seen by Reuters.

Facebook hits $1 trillion value after a US judge rejects antitrust complaints

Facebook closed above $1 trillion in market capitalization for the first time on Monday.

This comes after a US judge on Monday dismissed federal and state antitrust complaints against Facebook that sought to force the social media company to sell Instagram and WhatsApp, saying the federal complaint was “legally insufficient.”

Facebook shares rose more than 4 percent after the ruling.

The dismissal was the first big blow to state and federal lawsuits against Big Tech firms last year seeking to rein in alleged abuses of their massive market power.

Payoneer begins trading on Nasdaq

Shares of payments company Payoneer has made its market debut Monday on the Nasdaq.

The company went public by merging with FTAC Olympus Acquisition Corp, a blank-check company run by Bancorp founder Betsy Cohen. The shares were previously listed under the ticker FTOCU for Cohen’s special purpose vehicle.

The transaction includes a $300 million PIPE investment from investors including existing investor Wellington Management, as well as Dragoneer Investment Group, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Franklin Templeton, certain funds managed by Millennium Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates and Winslow Capital Management.

TP ICAP to launch crypto trading platform with Fidelity, Standard Chartered

TP ICAP, the world’s biggest interdealer broker, is launching a cryptocurrency trading platform with Fidelity Investments and Standard Chartered’s digital assets custody unit, as per a Reuters report.

Institutional investors have warmed to the crypto sector this year and the platform, which is due to launch in the second half of the year, will initially allow them to trade bitcoin, with second-largest token ether to be added later.

TP ICAP, along with Fidelity Digital Assets and Zodia Custody, launched by the venture capital arm of Standard Chartered and Northern Trust in December, is seeking to make crypto trading akin to that of traditional assets like stocks, bonds and foreign exchange.

The platform will offer post-trade infrastructure with a network of digital asset custodians, the consortium said in a statement, and separate execution and settlement, something widely seen as key to greater involvement of larger risk-averse investors in the emerging crypto market.

TP ICAP launched bitcoin futures and options on CME in 2019 and now plans to launch other derivative products including total return swaps and non-deliverable forwards.

The platform is awaiting approval by Britain’s financial regulator. Neither Standard Chartered nor Fidelity Investments have invested in the platform, TP ICAP said.

EU watchdog takes deep dive into banks’ use of tech

Banks’ increasing dependence on ‘RegTech’ technology to automate fraud checks and send data to regulators may need common rules to encourage wider use, the European Union’s banking watchdog said.

Part of a wider trend of digitalising finance, RegTech is used by banks to comply with anti-money laundering checks on customers, monitor transactions for fraud, send data to regulators about levels of capital, and assess if customers can afford a loan, according to a Reuters report.

It speeds up routine tasks and reduces human error, the European Banking Authority (EBA) said in a report on Tuesday. But the lack of common regulatory standards across EU states for a growing subsector could pose barriers for wider market adoption of RegTech, the EBA said.

The watchdog said it was committed to “neutrality” towards technology used by banks, meaning any specific technology is neither preferred nor discriminated against when it comes to setting rules or supervising lenders.


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