Today's buzz

Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to Covid-19 vaccination sites in the US

Uber and Lyft are set to offer free rides to US vaccine sites. They will be available within the next two weeks through the taxi firms’ apps until 4 July as part of government efforts to increase vaccine take-up, the White House announced on Tuesday.

It comes as demand for jabs in the US has slowed in recent weeks. The boss of Uber said: “Vaccines are our best hope to beat this pandemic”. Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi added: “This is a proud moment for me, for Uber, and for our country. More and more Americans continue to get vaccinated every day – let’s keep moving forward, together”.

The new initiatives come at a time when US demand for vaccines has declined significantly, forcing the administration to figure out new ways to motivate people to get vaccinated.

Recent buzz

(May 11th, 2021)

Chinese food delivery giant Meituan falls sharply for a 1,000-year-old poem

Meituan, China tech giant’s shares slide over ancient poem. It has fallen sharply after its boss reportedly shared a 1,000-year-old poem on social media. The Book Burning Pit by Zhang Jie was posted, then deleted, by the firm’s billionaire chief executive, Wang Xing.

The Tang dynasty poem was interpreted as a veiled criticism of President Xi Jinping’s government. Meituan is currently under investigation over allegations of abusing its market dominance. The company is one of China’s biggest takeaway food delivery and lifestyle services platforms and is backed by technology giant Tencent.

It has a market valuation of around $220bn (£156bn) and in April raised $10bn to fund its investment plans for deliveries using drones and self-driving vehicles.

(May 10th, 2021)

America’s second largest burger chain is returning to the UK after 20 years

Wendy’s, burger giant plans return to the UK after 20 years. It’s famous for square burgers, plans up to 400 outlets nationwide creating at least 12,000 jobs, although that could take many years, it said.

But, it would still be far smaller than McDonald’s, which has 1,300 UK outlets.The firm, which has also agreed a delivery deal with Uber Eats, left the UK complaining of high operating costs.

Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s chief development officer, said in media interviews over the weekend that with the UK burger and takeaway market growing the time was right for a return. And the UK will be used as a springboard for growth in the rest of Europe.

(April 30th, 2021)

Chinese regulators push financial tightening to rein in China’s tech giants

Chinese regulators have called on 13 online platforms to adhere to tighter regulations in their financial divisions, as part of a wider push to rein in China’s tech giants. They include Tencent and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.

The authorities said the aim was to prevent monopolistic behaviour and the “disorderly expansion of capital”. For many years, Beijing took a hands off approach to encourage the tech platforms to grow. But official scrutiny of their platforms has stepped up as they have branched out into financial services.

“Internet platforms have played an important role in improving the efficiency of financial services and broadening the access of financial services to more people,” the People’s Bank of China said in a statement.

(April 29th, 2021)

Surge in iPhone sales, double profit to Apple

A surge in iPhone sales, especially in China, has led to a doubling of profits at Apple since the start of the pandemic. Rival tech firm Facebook also reported bumper revenues and profits. But the social media giant warned Apple’s latest software release could undermine its prospects later in the year.

Apple has seen sales of its phones, apps and other devices rise throughout the pandemic, as consumers spent more time working, shopping and seeking entertainment online. Customers continued to upgrade to Apple’s new 5G phones which were rolled out last year, and also bought Mac computers and iPads to tackle working and studying from home, the firm said.

Sales to China nearly doubled, leading to overall revenues for the first three months of this year of $89.6bn (£64.2bn), more than 50% up compared to a year earlier. Profit was $23.6bn, up from $11.3bn for the same period last year.

(April 28th, 2021)

Google owner Alphabet’s earnings soar in the first quarter 

Google owner sees record profits as lockdown boom continues. Net profit jumped by 162% to a record $17.9bn in the three months to March as advertising revenue swelled by a third. It comes as the tech giant faces increased scrutiny over its power and the pandemic has people turning to the internet more than ever.

The firm credited “elevated consumer activity online” for its results. “Over the last year, people have turned to Google Search and many online services to stay informed, connected and entertained,” said Alphabet and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. Analysts had expected a good performance as economies around the world have continued to reopen, prompting more spending on online advertising.

Reflecting this revenue at Google’s search business jumped by 30% to $31.9bn in the quarter , while sales at YouTube leapt 49% to $6bn.

(April 27th, 2021)

UK’s third largest steel maker struggles to save 5,000 steel jobs

Sanjeev Gupta is desperately seeking a source of operating cash to replace the collapsed financier Greensill Capital which kept Liberty Steel owners GFG (Gupta Family Group) Alliance afloat. Company sources admit they are looking at selling current inventory for short-term cash with a view to buying it back when needed – a practice it insists is not uncommon.

The time is running out as “victims” of the Greensill collapse prepare their claims to liquidate some of the assets Gupta pledged to Greensill to keep the cash flowing. Applications to compel the liquidation (winding up orders) of three Liberty Steel group companies have been filed and were originally due to be heard by a judge next week.

The one-time “saviour of steel” is now perceived by the government as a barrier to its salvation. Sources close to the creditors of collapsed financier Greensill say that the future of this UK steel maker needs to be saved from Sanjeev Gupt. 

(April 26th, 2021)

Amazon workers should be allowed to talk with and form unions “without fear”

Amazon workers in the UK and Ireland should be allowed to form unions. It is said the shopping giant, which has faced allegations of poor working conditions, often tries to suppress union organising at its warehouses. No UK Amazon warehouses are unionised, but by law workers could set one up.

Amazon said it respected its employees’ right to “join, form or not to join a labour union” of their choice. Unite’s call comes after workers in Alabama in the US, voted against forming that country’s first unionised Amazon warehouse.

Amazon, which would have had to negotiate on work rules and pay had it lost, said the union did not represent the views of most staff.

(April 24th, 2021)

Ex colleagues from Flipkart are now making selling easy for offline Electronic stores. 

With E-commerce winning the game in recent times, Offline Marketers have become a little grim due to their inability to sell their products at a good price. Taking this into consideration, the duo came up with their own startup, mainly to help small businesses both physical and retail to boost up their sales online, at a good competitive price. 

Arzooo the start-up, has also started up retail from home for retailers to get In touch with their customers and sell products, even though their shops remain shut due to the pandemic.

(April 23rd, 2021)

Great news post World Earth Day! 

A Chennai based startup is recycling plastic and preventing seepage of plastic into the sea. It is said that the team went to many recycling units and found that many of them were doing it, but at Cost of rdthe environment. 

Taking this into consideration the team now uses advanced technology which derives value in a digitised and decarbonised fashion.

(April 22nd, 2021)

Two Childhood friends get back together in Business to make a difference for SMB owners. 

With the deadly virus and the amount of loss it led to, these entrepreneurs didn’t take a step back. Hirdyesh, was into cloud kitchen and he faced a number of problems serving orders during the situation. 

Keeping this in mind, he asked his friend who was a software developer at that time, if he could create a website for Small businesses to create their own online stores. 

Within a year of planning, this business has picked up tremendously and is partnered with razorpay and other payment gateway apps to promote entrepreneurs to accept online money transactions.

(April 21st, 2021)

To retain the dying art forms, this start-up is bringing art enthusiasts together from across the globe. 

Kartik Gaggar, a chartered accountant by profession, was looking for organization’s that provided experiential travel related to art in India. 

When he did his research to invest in business, he was very keen about investing in the tourism and art space. However this didn’t work out for him and inturn turned the idea into a materialistic concept. The start-up aims at driving tourism in the country and bringing in art enthusiasts together.

(April 20th, 2021)

This Bengaluru Based couple is making furniture for kids to enhance curiosity in the minds of them.

We’ve all heard a lot about families coming together during the Pandemic. But what we didn’t hear about is the things that parents did for their little ones.Karthik Srinivasan from Bengaluru made the most adorable book shelf for his daughter, after discovering that her books needed a new home.

A photo of the shelf went viral on social media, getting every stranger’s attention. This led to a number of orders from people and hence turned out to be a big success in business.The couple named this business “Gosh”, inspired by a child’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity.

(April 19th, 2021)

How this Bengaluru Based Start-up is improving employee engagement and business productivity through gamification. 

Lack of motivation in employees has become one of the major drawbacks of employee productivity in any organization.

The Sales team and the Customer support team constantly requires incentives and motivation in order to keep their productivity levels in check.

Taking this into consideration, this Bengaluru based Saas Start-up run by Mohit Ambani, Arpit Vasani, and Mehul Jain helps companies to keep its employees happy by helping in improving product knowledge using quiz and memory games.

(April 17th, 2021)

Citigroup’s consumer banking operations to be closed in 13 markets

The US banking group, Citigroup, is closing its consumer banking operations in Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. It will instead run these operations from four hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and London. But it will continue to offer products to larger clients and institutions in these markets.

Its chief executive Jane Fraser said it “does not have the scale” to compete in the 13 markets across Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Recently, Citi reported net income of $7.9bn (£5.7bn) for the first three months of 2021, beating analysts’ expectations. While the banking group may be exiting key markets in Asia, rivals are expanding in the region.

(April 16th, 2021)

China’s economy grew a record 18.3% in the post- covid comeback 

China  saw the biggest jump in gross domestic product (GDP) with a record 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021 since it started keeping quarterly records in 1992. However, the figures are below expectations, with a Reuters poll of economists predicting 19% growth.

They are also heavily skewed, and less indicative of strong growth, as they are compared to last year’s huge economic contraction. As a baseline, they use the first quarter of 2020, when China’s economy shrank 6.8% due to nationwide lockdowns at the peak of its Covid-19 outbreak.

Other key figures released by China’s statistics department also point to a continuing rebound, but are also unusually strong because they are compared against extremely weak numbers from last year.

(April 15th, 2021)

Cryptocurrency firm Coinbase hit $100bn

Founded in 2012, Coinbase reported $1.8bn in estimated revenue in the first three months of 2021, more than its total for all of 2020 – as interest in Bitcoin and other digital currencies boomed. It hit a record of more than $63,000 on Tuesday, ahead of the Coinbase listing. The price of Bitcoin surged more than 300% last year – and has climbed even higher in 2021 – as firms including Tesla, Mastercard and BlackRock unveiled plans to incorporate digital currencies into their businesses.

Compared to 2018, when investors reckoned Coinbase was worth $8bn in a private funding round, the firm’s value has increased more than ten-fold.

(April 14th, 2021)

Randox reduced covid test price from £100 to £60

Randox, one of the biggest suppliers of PCR tests under the UK’s “testing for travel” scheme, has reduced the price from £100 to £60. But travel organisation Abta warned that the cost was still a “significant restriction”. Other industry figures including the boss of Easyjet have said the requirement could price out travellers.

Foreign holidays are currently banned, and returning travellers have to quarantine on arrival. The earliest possible date for foreign travel from England has previously been given as 17 May, but it has not been confirmed.

The government has said it would work with airlines, travel firms and the test providers to see whether prices of tests can be reduced. That could involve cheaper tests, or the government providing the pre-departure tests.

(April 13th, 2021)

Toshiba’s chief executive resigned amid $20bn controversy

Toshiba’s chief executive,  Nobuaki Kurumatani, resigned giving no reason amid controversy over a $20bn buyout bid from private equity firm, CVC Capital Partners. However, he had faced criticism from activist shareholders over the bid from CVC, his former employer.

Toshiba’s shares surged on reports that more suitors were planning offers on the electronics giant.

The Japanese conglomerate said that it had received an offer to take the company private from buyout firm CVC. The bid reportedly valued Toshiba at $20bn. The incoming chief executive Satoshi Tsunakawa said there is room for improvement in governance, as pointed out by another activist shareholder group Effissimo.

(April 12th, 2021)

Dubai is gearing up to host the World Expo

Despite restrictions on travel, and the recent lockdowns in some parts of Europe, the Dubai Expo 2020 is announced holding on to the pre-pandemic target. Before the pandemic forced the event to be postponed, organisers had expected 25 million visits during the course of the six-month international fair. It will now run from 1 October to 31 March 2022.

This is held every five years, expos see hundreds of countries using pavilions to show off the latest in architecture and technology.

It is an optimistic forecast for an event that relies on tourism, when most of the world has cut down on international travel. But the various in-person conferences and trade shows held in the city over the last few months has made organisers more hopeful.

(April 10th, 2021)

Serum Institute Acquires Stake In Policybazaar; True North Sees Part Exit

Serum Institute and four others bought a portion of True North’s holding in online insurance aggregator PolicyBazaar.

True North had conducted the first tranche of its stake sale in October 2020 and continues to be invested in PolicyBazaar for its next phase of growth, according to a company statement released on Friday. True North made a partial exit through the transaction.

(April 9th, 2021)

Morgan Stanley India Invests $21 Mn In Telco Services Company iBus

Morgan Stanley India Infrastructure,  an India-focused private equity fund of Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners to acquire a stake in Bengaluru-based telecommunications and connectivity services provider iBus investing INR 150 Cr (US$ 21 Million).

“Our investment will allow iBus to drive consolidation and scale in a fragmented industry while enhancing the mobile user experience,” said Raja Parthasarathy, Managing Director and Co-head, Morgan Stanley India Infrastructure.

(April 8th, 2021)

Ekor, a Hyderabad-based startup giving a new spin of life to weavers

In the times where hand weavers are struggling to compete with industrial weaving, here is a city-based startup seamlessly blending tradition with modern fashion.

Ekor offers a platform for people to directly connect with weavers and get clothes designed as per their choice. Ekor has been a boon to weavers who work with cooperative societies or in tie-ups with local master weavers or in sheds organised by master weavers but they don’t have access to sell their wares directly.

(April 7th, 2021)

Cred enters unicorn club with $2.2 billion valuation

Fintech startup Cred leapt to unicorn status on Tuesday with a $215 million fundraise at a valuation of $2.2 billion in a funding round led by new investor Falcon Edge Capital and existing investor Coatue Management LLP.

The latest round of funding led by new investor Falcon Edge Capital and existing investor Coatue Management LLP comes after the startup raised $81 million, as a part of its Series C round, which ascribed it a valuation of $806 million, in January.

(April 6th, 2021)

Paytm reaches 15M monthly users mark on Mini App Store

Fintech major Paytm on April 5, 2021, announced over 600 apps have been featured on its Mini App Store with more than 15 million monthly users coming to the platform.

“With more than 15 million monthly users on Mini apps alone, the platform is already helping hundreds of app developers across India further accelerate their business and reach their target users. In the last few months, over 600 apps have been featured on the Mini App Store with an additional 1,000 in the pipeline,” a statement from the sources revealed.

(April 5th, 2021)

This Mumbai-based bootstrapped startup aims to make stock market investments AI-driven

Founded in December 2017, Upside AI, an investment firm is using machine learning and fundamental analysis to invest in the Indian stock market.

Claiming to have generated 52 per cent returns for its investors over the past year, Upside AI strives to eliminate human errors and biases in the fundamental decision-making process and to make sophisticated technology more accessible to India through the retail advisory business.

(April 3rd, 2021)

Amazon eyes Indian startups to war against Mukesh Ambani

Amazon, which has already pumped in billions of dollars into India, is now turning towards the country’s startups as it accelerates the retail war against Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

The US-based e-commerce titan recently acquired Perpule, a retail-tech startup and reportedly paid $14.7 million for it.

The latest acquisition comes as Amazon gets ready to go further deep into India’s retail industry, where it is already fighting with Ambani’s JioMart. Amazon had earlier picked up a 49% stake in Kishore Biyani’s Future Group’s – Future Coupons for ₹1,431 crore. But when Future Retail, another Future Group company, got acquired by Reliance, it led to a long legal battle with Amazon.

(April 2nd, 2021)

US tech giant Microsoft to sell goggles to the US army

Microsoft is to sell augmented reality headsets to the US army in a bumper deal worth up to $21.9bn over 10 years. The headsets are based on its HoloLens product, which allows users to see holograms laid over their actual environment. The contract is for more than 120,000 headsets, which will be manufactured in the US.

HoloLens is commercially available for $3,500 per headset, with Microsoft selling it primarily to businesses, who often pair it with customised software applications. Architecture firms, hospitals, universities, car manufacturers and US space agency Nasa are among the technology’s users.

After Microsoft announced the $480m IVAS contract in 2018, at least 94 workers petitioned the company to cancel the deal and stop developing “any and all weapons technologies.

(April 1st, 2021)

Biden signs $1.9tn Covid- 19 relief economic package

US President Joe Biden has signed a $1.9tn economic relief bill that aims to help Americans impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic into law. The bill includes $1,400 payments, an extension of jobless benefits, and a child tax credit that is expected to lift millions out of poverty. This sixth Covid-19 relief bill is a major legislative win for Mr Biden. It extends weekly jobless benefit payments of $300 until September. It also allocates $350bn to state and local governments, some $130bn to school reopening, $49bn for expanded Covid-19 testing and research, as well as $14bn for vaccine distribution.

Mr Biden said he would be laying out “the next phase,” of the US Covid-response. “There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of the past year. But we cannot let our guard down now or assume the victory is inevitable,” he said.

(March 31st, 2021)

Google maps to direct you to an eco- friendly route

Google maps to highlight journeys that generate the lowest carbon footprint using mainly traffic data and road inclines. It will now offer choices and let users compare estimated emissions. The search engine, owned by Alphabet, said it uses emissions data based on testing across different types of cars and road types, drawing on insights from the US government’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

From June, Google will start warning drivers about to travel through low emissions zones where some vehicles are restricted. These are common in countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

The US tech giant says it has long developed sustainable practices to benefit the environment, and has pledged to be carbon-free by 2030 to help cities track greenhouse gas emissions.

 

(March 30th, 2021)

China boycotts western brands like Nike, H&M and more

H&M and other western brands are facing a backlash in China as they accused the country of forcing members of the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority to pick cotton in Xinjiang. Due to this, China has boycotted brands like Nike, H&M, Burberry, Adidas and Converse, among others.

The cotton row erupted after the US and other western governments ramped up pressure on China over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China is accused of committing serious human rights violations against Uyghurs in the region.

Xu Guixiang, a Xinjiang government spokesman said the decision by some brands to stop buying Xinjiang cotton was “not reasonable”, comparing it to “lifting a stone to drop it on one’s own feet”.

(March 29th, 2021)

Ever Given ship blockage: Countless businesses are affected

The stranded ship at the Suez Canal, delaying thousands of containers loaded with consumer items, has tied up empty containers which are needed for exports. Shipping companies had started to divert their ships around the southern tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, which added about 3,500 miles to the journey and up to 12 days creating major real-world effects on the supply chain.

About 12% of global trade, around one million barrels of oil and roughly 8% of liquefied natural gas pass through the canal each day. Canal’s revenues are taking a $14-$15m (£10.2m-£10.9m) hit for each day that the blockage continues.

(March 29th, 2021)

Google back one-year-old startup DotPe in $27.5 million fundraise

The Gurgaon-based startup, DotPe on Friday confirmed to have raised $27.5 million in its Series-A financing round led by PayU, with participation from existing investor Info Edge Ventures and Google.

Valued at about $90 million, DotPe helps brick and mortar stores sell to customers online and collect payments digitally.

(March 26th, 2021)

Khatabook acquires SaaS startup Biz Analyst in a deal valued at $10 million

The fintech startup, Khatabook which provides a digital ledger app targetted primarily at small businesses has announced the acquisition of Mumbai-based Biz Analyst, a SaaS startup in a deal valued at $10 million.

The insiders claim that the transaction will be a mix of cash and equity. Khatabook, through this acquisition, aims to leap into the next phase of growth where it will provide premium value-added services.

(March 25th, 2021)

Masai School Looks To Bridge Skill Gap Among India’s Aspiring Techies With $5 Mn Series A

Looking at changing the burgeoning industry struggles to find relevant entry-level talent proving to be the root cause for the existing education system, the CEO of Masai School, Prateek Shukla, along with Nrupul Dev and Yogesh Bhat co-founded Masai school.

The company aims to bridge the skill gap among tech aspirants with the latest technologies, where the students from underprivileged backgrounds undergo tech training and mentorship in full-stack web and Android applications development.

(March 24th, 2021)

The Coimbatore-based startup MY is providing products to promote a safer lifestyle amid the new normal

Founded by Kavin Kumar Kandaswamy and Raja Palanisamy in 2020, MY offers products such as UV pocket and tabletop sanitisers, anti-viral face masks, and scarves to help people stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The startup aims to provide safety products to help people adapt to the new normal and create awareness that personal hygiene is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

(March 23rd, 2021)

India’s Electric Vehicle Startups Charge Up With Funding From The Government

As of 2019-20, India sold over 3.8 lakh electric vehicles and buyer interest was higher than ever before. Indian EV startups including Ola Electric have raised funding in the last one month and is reportedly in talks with marquee investors for its latest funding round.

Ola Electric, the EV arm of ride-hailing giant Ola, in fact, claims to be building the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturing facility. The company claims that by 2022, its facility in Tamil Nadu will be ready to produce 10 million vehicles annually.

(March 22nd, 2021)

Paytm’s payment gateway business records 750M monthly transactions

Paytm announced that its payment gateway business registered over 750 million monthly transactions, having already surpassed volumes to pre-COVID levels.

Accordingly, its “All-in-One Payment Gateway” saw increased adoption of online payments from segments, including BFSI, retail and D2C e-commerce, utilities, ed-tech, food delivery, digital entertainment, gaming, etc.

(March 20th, 2021)

How Profit.co made things easier for Managers at various levels

Profit.co was launched to ensure managers at different levels could keep track of it’s departments progress.

This Saas Platform helps Managers for a list of goals-targets to be fulfilled within a given period and this could be tracked by managers at different levels. This Company that is headquartered in California has about 65 employees in Bengaluru as well.

The main objective of this platform was to make goals very specific and clear to the employees at various levels i.e.departmental level, team level, managerial level etc. Once the OKRs are determined, employees and team leaders could keep track of its team’s progress.

(March 19th, 2021)

Fintech start-up is providing access to credit to the manual labourers and here’s how

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic a number of manual labourers faced a lot of financial difficulties. Banks failed to give these workers credit due to their low credit scores. Taking this into consideration the start-up came up with a solution by connecting customers with big banks with the aim to provide access to formal credit for the next billion.

At first, Sandeep had first seen the Swiggy delivery executives have this problem. During which time they discovered that small credit was extremely powerful as it improved creditworthiness of customers and could be very efficient in obtaining customers. This led to the formation of Bueno Finance in 2019.

(March 18th, 2021)

This bootstrapped SaaS startup helps SMBs build apps without prior coding knowledge

This Noida based start-up provides a no-code business solution provider for businesses of all sizes. The startup aims to give access to all small businesses to build their own digital products that does not require companies to learn coding.

The common advantage of their product lies behind the easy usage of the product as well as it’s affordability.According to Abhinav, the start-up provides a one stop solution to all business needs and companies do not have to run to and fro from one company to the other.

(March 17th, 2021)

Fintech Startup YAP Raises $10 Mn For Expanding Business To Middle East, Egypt.

Mumbai-based API platform YAP has raised $10 Mn in a Series B funding round led by Flourish Ventures and Omidyar Network India. This is Flourish Ventures’ first investment in embedded finance infrastructure in India.

The fintech startup’s existing investors BEENEXT, 8i Ventures and Better Capital also participated in this round.

Prior to this, YAP had raised $4.5 Mn in Series A in April 2020 led by Dirk van Quaquebeke at BEENEXT. Indigo Technologies’ Alok Mittal, Bharatpe’s Ashneer Grover, PineLab’s Amrish Rau, Jupiter’s Jitendra Gupta, and Abhishant Pant of Fintech Meetup had also participated in the Series A round. The company has raised $15 Mn to date across funding rounds.

Founded by Madhusudanan R, Muthukumar A and Prabhu R in 2014, YAP offers solutions to fintech startups to rapidly develop and roll out payment solutions. The startup supports rewards and instruments such as issuing gift cards, physical or virtual prepaid cards that its clients can customise for their user base. It also offers QR code solutions to payment companies.

(March 16th, 2021)

How OneLink is helping startups drive user engagement by leveraging deep links

For most app developers the launch of their final product usually precedes an arduous journey of testing countless prototypes and securing funding, among other challenges. But, many developers don’t realise that the one thing that could make or break things even after the product is launched is user traffic. There are few ways which are as effective in driving users to an app as owned media. Owned media typically refers to an app’s presence on mediums like social media, email lists, websites, blogs, newsletters and catalogues. When combined with user acquisition tools, owned media channels can help startups drive installations by users who are most likely to engage with the app and generate revenue. However, many startups are often discouraged from fully leveraging the potential of owned media due to broken user journeys. App marketing firm AppsFlyer’s OneLink tool bridges this gap and enables startups to direct users to their app by using deep linking and owned media. A common example of a broken user experience would be when a user clicks on an ad that’s supposed to lead them to an app, but it leads them to an irrelevant page or one that flashes an error message. This might be because of several reasons, some of which are: The app’s design might be siloed or fragmented. Users being directed from multiple platforms, multiple devices, operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.), software versions, and many media channels. Users being denied entry beyond the home screen. Regular app links cannot route users to in-app content, but only to the default home screen. OneLink is a single link for brands to provide their users an optimal experience, irrespective of the device, operating system, media channel, or the platform they use.

(March 15th, 2021)

How this Goa-based rum startup is re-inventing India’s favourite brown liquor:

Kasturi Banerjee is a woman for all seasons, but the best way to describe her is “banker-turned-bartender”, she says. After she gave up her sixteen years of unparalleled experience in the financial services industry to establish a craft alcohol company, she realised it was an opportunity knocking on her door a second time. No stranger to the world of entrepreneurship, having started her own cybercafe business at the age of 17, Kasturi decided in 2018 it was “not a matter of ‘if’, it was a matter of ‘when’’”, and traded in crunching numbers for bitters, bar spoons, and blending to start a boutique alcohol company called Still Distilling Spirits. Goa-based Stilldistilling specialises in producing high quality, easy-to-drink and sip rum, and sells two variants of it under its brand ‘Makazai’, which means “I want” in Konkani — an apt homage to where the company’s distillery is located, as well as where it primarily sources its raw materials from. Why rum, specifically? Kasturi says there were two primary reasons she decided to specialise in and focus only on producing quality rum: Whiskey, rum, and brandy are the most-consumed liquors in India. While whiskey takes the gold, rum is drunk across the country, widely. India has the perfect temperate climate for rum. “If you see how we’re placed as a country in terms of climate and weather, we are quite similar to tropical climates in the Philippines, Thailand, South America..and all these countries make amazing rums. I thought to myself ‘why doesn’t India make great rums when there’s an abundance of sugarcane in the country’. That was when I realised I wanted to be in the quality rum space,” Kasturi tells YourStory.

(March 13th, 2021)

Rupeek Fintech, an online gold loan brand is India’s fastest-growing tech startup, Deloitte finds

The “Technology Fast 50” India 2020 programme ranked Rupeek Fintech first as it clocked three-year revenue growth of 7,295%. Rupeek Fintech has topped Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India’s Tech Fast 50 India 2020 programme.

The gold loan startup is also in conversations with several growth-stage investors to raise up to $100 million. The company has partnered with Karur Vysya Bank and Federal Bank and is in talks to onboard Axis Bank and Catholic Syrian Bank, according to MoneyControl report.

(March 12th, 2021)

Juicy Chemistry, an organic skincare brand raises $6.3M in Series A round 

The Coimbatore-based organic skin and personal care brand announced to have raised $6.3 million in a Series A funding round led by Belgium-based investment firm Verlinvest.

According to a press release, this marks the largest Series A raise in the D2C beauty and personal care space.

(March 11th, 2021)

This Delhi-based startup is on a mission to build apps for the world

Root Power Explorer, built by KShark Apps, became a bonafide success with a million downloads in 2019.

Founded by Kartik Sharma, KShark Apps has over 50 apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Focussing on providing robust and reliable business and productivity solutions to app users, the startup targets both regular, as well as enterprise users on security, stability, and scalable infrastructure.

(March 10th, 2021)

Ahmedabad-based Magenta BI All Set To Help Indian SMEs In Their Digitisation Journey

Vikalp Somani and Vikas Mundhra team at Magenta BI has raised 6 million rupees in angel funding from a clutch of undisclosed investors.

Studying the best practices and understanding the core value proposition for SMEs, the duo is working towards integrating its system with the company’s ERP and help it spot growth opportunities by identifying gaps in sales, purchase, inventory, and payments.

The startup claims to help with actionable intelligence and ready-to-use dashboards with KPIs like inventory movement analysis, interactive maps, payment tracking, salesperson, and customer performance review.

(March 9th, 2021)

Kutuki, Edtech Startup Raises $2.2 Mn From Omidyar Network India, Others

Acknowledged by PM Narendra Modi last year in his Maan ki Baat for its India-focused approach to early learning, the early learning app will use the funding for product and technology enhancement and provide content in more Indian regional languages in the coming months.

Set up by Sneha Sundaram and Bharath Bevinahally in 2019, the interactive learning app uses a proprietary story-and-rhyme-based curriculum to focus on language, including phonics (reading skills), foundational literacy, numeracy, life skills, STEM and general knowledge, among others and claims to have partnered with 130+ schools in India.

(March 8th, 2021)

Women-led Ventures To Get a Boost in Chandigarh Startup Policy 2021

Chandigarh Startup Policy 2021 is expected to provide incentives over and above the Startup India Action Plan of the Government of India. The UT administration will soon unveil the Chandigarh Startup Policy 2021 with “special emphasis” on women-led ventures to promote budding entrepreneurs.

The policy also envisages a Chandigarh Seed Fund Scheme to provide early-stage startup financing, interest-free loans, empanelment of startup mentors, development of co-working spaces, and setting up of incubators.

(March 6th, 2021)

How this Noida startup is making relocation easy

Logistics startup Shift Freight is a movers and packers marketplace that caters to B2C customers. Within a year of its launch, it claims to have recorded month-on-month growth of 60 percent.

The movers and packers industry in India sees around 35,000-40,000 movements every day, but it still remains a very unorganised sector for the business-to-consumer (B2C) segment. Spotting an opportunity in the sector, Avinash Raghav started Shift Freight in 2020. The Noida-headquartered logistics startup is an online marketplace that aggregates vendors and connects these movers and packers with consumers to provide on-demand shifting services. The company claims its business has turned cash positive within a year of its launch. Shift Freight is now operational in Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and Kolkata, providing both intercity and intracity services.

(March 5th, 2021)

Mumbai-based fintech startup LXME aims to bridge the gap between women and finance

A disparity between men taking charge of their investments and women not doing so led self-proclaimed financial feminist Priti Rathi Gupta to launch a fintech platform exclusively for women. After working as a financial advisor for 15 years, Priti put to use what she had learned about the investment industry to start a platform that financially empowers women. Anand Rathi-backed LXME aims to bridge the knowledge and accessibility gap for women on money matters and helps them take their own decisions. The platform is available on the web, and as an app.

(March 4th, 2021)

[Startup Bharat] This Patna school dropout mentors aspiring entrepreneurs in small-town India

A serial teen entrepreneur and Class VII dropout in Patna has started a virtual academy to mentor those in India’s small towns and villages aspiring to open their own businesses.

Rohit Kashyap started Maytree School of Entrepreneurship last year when he was 18 years old and it is already profitable, having mentored several aspiring entrepreneurs and ventures in rural and semi-urban areas. According to Rohit, 92 percent of small business owners agree mentors have a direct impact on the growth and survival of their ventures. However, 90 percent of startups, he says, shut down within five years of their launch due to lack of mentorship and planning. “This is the problem we are trying to solve by providing quality mentorship from founders and top executives in the ecosystem,” says Rohit, also the CEO of Maytree.

“We are also actively working with Startup India and other government departments to help our mentees,” says the founder, who has a team of 14 people to run the academy.

(March 3rd, 2021)

Blue-Collar Recruitment Startup Apna Bags $12.5 Mn From Sequoia, Greenoaks

Recruitment startup for grey and blue-collar workers Apna has raised $12.5 Mn in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Greenoaks Capital. Existing investors Lightspeed India and Rocketship.vc also participated in the round.

The company will use this funding to expand into new metro cities and Tier-II geographies as well as strengthen its presence in existing markets — Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Ranchi, Pune and Ahmedabad. A part of the capital will also be invested in hiring talent to build better engineering and product capabilities.

Apna was founded in December 2019 by Nirmit Parikh to offer a professional network of grey and blue-collar workers. The app comprises vertical communities for skilled professionals like carpenters, painters, field sales agents and many others, where users get access to local job opportunities, network with peers, share their accomplishments and gain new skills.

(March 2nd, 2021)

This Chennai-based startup builds unmanned ground vehicles for the Indian Army

Founded in 2019, defence tech startup Torus Robotics is designing, developing, and delivering fully electric unmanned ground vehicles for the Indian Army.

The Indian government has been calling for innovators to leverage technology to build solutions for the defence sector. Earlier in February, at an industry event, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh revealed that the government is aiming to bring down defence imports by at least $2 billion by 2022.

While pursuing their mechatronics engineering degree, SRM University alumni M. Vignesh, Vibhakar Senthil Kumar, and K.Abbhi Vignesh set out to build solutions for the Indian defence sector.  In 2019, the trio launched Torus Robotics in Chennai to help the Indian Armed forces with modular Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) that could cater to diverse mission requirements.

Co-founder and Director Vignesh M tells YourStory that the trio opted out of campus placements and decided to get into defence robotics solutions. “It was the same time when India and the Indian Armed Forces suffered its worst loss in 20 years when four heavily armed terrorists launched a grenade attack at a camp in Uri on September 18, 2016. This was our eureka moment and we decided to develop Unmanned Systems to aid and safeguard the lives of our Indian Armed Forces,” he says. Torus was launched exactly three years after the Uri attack — post rigorous research and multiple interactions with the Indian Armed forces to understand their requirements.

Speaking about the future, he adds “We are now looking for strategic partners, capital allocators, and government grants to further develop our technology, expand our team and commercialise our products.”

(March 1st, 2021)

This edtech startup helps kids get ‘practical’ with AI, drones

Chennai-based startup SP Robotics offers children practical exposure to high-tech concepts through kit-based courses and offline Maker Labs.

Robotics, drones, virtual reality (VR), Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) are all buzzy, thriving sectors in current times, but without hands-on experience they are tough, theoretical concepts. An edtech startup offering children practical exposure to these concepts through kits and personalised online guidance is Chennai-based SP Robotics Works. It is a platform where children aged 7-17, as well as college students and graduates, can learn concepts practically in a fun-filled way and understand where they can be applied, says Pranavan S, who founded SP Robotics with Sneha Priya. The startup also offers lessons in coding and Android app building.

Strengthening STEM According to Pranavan, school students are being educated with theoretical knowledge, the emphasis being on rote learning as the competition increases every year.  “But rote learning is not supportive to a child’s academic growth,” he says. “The best way to teach a student is to help him or her gain interest in the subject.” Firm grounding in STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — is key to grasping new-age concepts; it also indicates a country’s innovation in the sciences. One way to gauge the progress in innovation is through patents granted and filed. In both, India has an unimpressive track record for 2010-2019, according to World Intellectual Property Organization data.  In 2019, Indian residents were granted a mere 3,690 patents — just over one percent of technology powerhouse China’s 360,919 in the same category. In terms of applications filed by Indian residents, this was 19,454, or marginally over 1.5% of China’s 1,243,568.

(Feb 26th, 2021)

Government of Kerala to bring in new policy for women entrepreneurs

The Kerala government, UN Women, banking sector and NGOs announced their intention to work together to help thousands of women entrepreneurs in the State to scale up their micro businesses to the level of sustainable small and medium enterprises by facilitating access to credit, technology and market. Kerala’s Minister for Women and Child Development KK Shailaja said her government would frame a policy to make Kerala a ‘model state’ for promoting entrepreneurship among women. As part of the efforts, the state government would also set up an International Women Trade Centre at the Gender Park, she said.

(Feb 25th, 2021)

Google announces free classes for Women Entrepreneurs

This International Women’s Day, Google wants to support female entrepreneurs to have access to information and digital skills training. For this, the program ‘Grow with Google’ at home presents a new module of 1 panel and 5 trainings that seek to support women entrepreneurs in the midst of the economic reactivation situation. There are five courses that will be broadcast free of charge on YouTube between March 1 and 5. The program focuses on providing training on online security, using the available resources that Google has for its businesses, and promoting opportunities and challenges in a post-pandemic world. The whole point is to reduce the technological knowledge gap that exists today.

(Feb 24th, 2021)

Spotify to expand its ‘Sound Up’ initiative and launch 12 languages in India

Spotify is launching in 36 new languages across the world, including 12 languages in India – Hindi, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, and Bengali, as an effort to continue localising the product and making audio streaming more accessible. In India, Spotify plans to soon launch its next set of original podcasts, including I Hear You, Phobia, and Jurm Live. On the music front, Spotify will focus on deeper, more active curation of music in regional languages such as Kannada, Bhojpuri, and Bengali, among others. Spotify was launched in India in 2019. While the Swedish company does not disclose country specific user numbers, it said on an average, a Spotify listener in India streamed nearly 150 artists and 3 podcasts.

(Feb 23rd, 2021)

Twitter planning to buy Indian social media startups

Twitter recently held talks to acquire Indian social media startup ShareChat as the company explored ways to expand its presence in the world’s second-largest internet market and build a global rival to TikTok. It had expressed intention to take Moj, a short-form video app that ShareChat owns. ShareChat, which claims to have over 160 million users, offers its social network app in 15 Indian languages and has a large following in small Indian cities and towns. And, Moj, with over 80 million users already, has emerged as one of the largest players in the category. But, Twitter declined to comment and ShareChat did not respond to a request for comment. India’s ban on TikTok last year prompted scores of local startups and international giants to try their hands at short- form video format.

(Feb 22nd, 2021)

Chief Minister of Meghalaya announced Rs. 125 crore corpus fund to state entrepreneurs 

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma announced a corpus fund of Rs 125 crore will be constituted over the next two years as the PRIME Fund to aid the efforts of the entrepreneurs of Meghalaya. It feels great to see the sector that was left neglected for a long time being given the attention it requires to prosper,” the chief minister said, adding that he was happy to witness artisans and entrepreneurs getting the opportunities and the much-needed handholding through the Ateliers Programme and the PRIME Meghalaya initiative

(Feb 19th, 2021)

2021 may be the year for startups from India listing abroad

The internet ecosystem in India has been abuzz with the anticipation of witnessing IPOs of many celebrated tech startups. 2021 may see a few listings either in India or overseas.

The Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 in budget 2020 passed by Rajya Sabha seeks to amend Section 23 of Companies Act 2013, which deals with public offerings and private placements. With the 2018 Sebi committee suggesting 10 permissible foreign jurisdictions for Indian companies to list overseas, including the US, the UK, HK, China, and Japan the firms can list their debt securities only through American Depository Receipt (ADR) or Global Depository Receipt (GDR).

(Feb 18th, 2021)

Pariksha, a Test Prep Startup Raises $2 Mn In Pre-Series A Round

The Pune-based ed-tech startup Pariksha has raised $2 Mn in a pre-Series, a funding round led by Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund.

Claiming to be India’s largest vernacular test preparation company, with operations across 11 states, in 6 languages, this test prep platform for aspirants of state government jobs is looking to tap into a market with 75 Mn mobile-first users who spend over $2.3 Bn annually on preparation for job exams.

(Feb 16th, 2021)

Healthcare startup Innovaccer all set to enter unicorn club, in talks with Tiger Global for $100-$150 million funding

Valued at $400 million last February, the SAAS startup raised $70 million from a clutch of investors including Tiger Global and Steadview Capital.

The Silicon Valley-based software startup, Innovaccer focuses on the healthcare industry and its objective is to take millions of data points such as patient profiles, risk factors and types of disease, and channels that data to digitise solutions for hospitals, clinics and patients.

(Feb 15th, 2021)

Indian startups to get over ₹100 cr funding from VC consortium in 2021

Venture capital consortium Indian Angel Network (IAN) is planning to invest over ₹100 crores in start-up firms across sectors in 2021.

“The consortium members will evaluate opportunities in biotechnology, augmented reality, manufacturing and in environment space”, says IAN co-founder, Padmaja Ruparel.

With the world looking at India for growth and investment in Jio Platforms during the pandemic, this could prove a testament to the very fact.

(Feb 13th, 2021)

Entrepreneurs with disabilities must have 1-2% MSME procurement

The National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) has requested Government procures from MSMEs to consider allot 1-2% of procurement from entrepreneurs with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are creating over 2 lac jobs in India, and yet, they seem to be largely left out of the entrepreneurship conversation. Statistics suggest that 63 million (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) MSMEs in India are employing 110 million people, contributing 29 % of the country’s GDP, a progress where people with disabilities are still kept out. Disability can no longer be a barrier for people to be a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and do business.

(Feb 12th, 2021)

Indian gaming startups, a new funding market for Venture Capitals

Venture capital funds have invested $438 million in Indian gaming startups since April 2020, of which $107 million came in the year 2021. The gaming market has seen more investment than in the last five years. There is equal interest from financial institutions as well as strategic capital looking for partnerships and acquisitions in India. There is excess liquidity in the global market and the Chinese markets are not accessible. India is now starting to prove that it is no longer just a consumer of games.

(Feb 11th, 2021)

69 startups register under Startup India Scheme in Jammu and Kashmir

According to data from the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), 69 startups have been registered in the Union Territory, under Startup India Scheme. Currently, the J&K government is focussing on sectors such as food processing, agriculture, renewable energy, handicrafts and handloom for promoting startups. The Union Territory administration is working to encourage startups and foster innovation, thereby creating jobs and boosting the economy. The Government of India has announced a Rs 945-crore Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS), which will be operational from April 1, 2021, to 2025 to promote and boost the startup ecosystem across the country.

(Feb 10th, 2021)

India’s federal trade ministry to investigate e-commerce firms

Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has said that India’s federal trade ministry is investigating some e-commerce firms after receiving complaints from small retailers. The government has taken these steps to ensure fair trade practices in the true spirit of law.

India is also looking into foreign investment rules governing the e-commerce sector to maintain a level playing field for all sellers on the platforms. New rules may compel companies like Amazon to restructure their ties with few major sellers.

(Feb 9th, 2021)

Tiktok to go head-to-head with Facebook

The Chinese-owned viral-video app, TikTok, is planning an aggressive expansion into ecommerce in the US. It has briefed advertisers on a number of new features for 2021, according to several people who have seen its plans, such as a tool that lets its most popular users share links to products and automatically earn commission on any sales. The latest changes in the political leadership in the US has clients more comfortable in the TikTok platform as it remains unclear what approach the Biden administration will take on the company, but some advertisers appear more relaxed about the app.

(Feb 8th, 2021)

Startups to benefit from Union Budget 2021

The measures envisaged in the Budget for 2021-22 will boost the startups in the country. The Budget has announced that a one-person company (OPC) can be turned into a public company or a private company anytime. The limitation of paid-up capital and turnover presently applicable for OPCs has been removed so that there are no restrictions on the growth of OPCs. Non- Resident Indians (NRIs) will also be able to incorporate OPCs in India, which was not allowed earlier. The amendments also reduce the residency period to 120 days from 182 days for NRIs, for being considered as a resident in India. The establishment of the Credit Guarantee Fund for providing portfolio guarantees under Credit Guarantee Scheme for Startups (CGSS) is expected to provide an incentive to financial intermediaries to lend to startups. Also, regarding the Tax Benefits for startups, the Budget has extended the eligibility for start-ups by one more year till March 31, 2022.