STARTUP DIGEST: Tata Digital explores Dunzo deal, El Salvador makes Bitcoin legal tender

STARTUP DIGEST: Tata Digital explores Dunzo deal, El Salvador makes Bitcoin legal tender


There were several important developments in the startup space on Wednesday, which include Tata Digital eyes Dunzo after adding CureFit and BigBasket to its cart; online investment firm Groww seeks CCI nod for Indiabulls AMC buy; Amazon India has vaccinated over one lakh employees; El Salvador becomes first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Here are the stories that made headlines in the startup universe today.

Tata Digital explores Dunzo deal for ‘super app’ play

Tata Digital’s shopping spree continues as it builds its ‘super app’ platform.

After acquiring e-grocer BigBasket, investing in fitness platform Curefit, and in the process of closing a deal with e-pharmacy 1MG, the company is now eyeing the Google-backed hyper-local delivery platform Dunzo, which has become a popular concierge service in many metros.

Sources told CNBC TV18 that two rounds of talks have taken place between the Tatas and Dunzo for investment, though the talks are still exploratory in nature.

“Dunzo is growing at an unprecedented rate. In fact, we have doubled our business in the last 75 days and continue to grow 50 percent month-on-month. While we are currently in advanced discussions with multiple investors on raising additional capital to the tune of $150-200 million, a buyout or sale of controlling interest is definitely not up for discussion,” a company spokesperson told CNBC-TV18. Tata Digital did not respond to CNBC TV18’s queries.

Tata Digital was launched in 2019, and while the company is yet to launch its ‘super app’ platform, it is aggressively chasing M&A opportunities.

Groww seeks CCI nod for Indiabulls AMC

Online investment platform Groww has sought CCI approval for acquisition of Indiabulls AMC’s mutual funds business from Indiabulls Housing Finance.

Groww added that proposed transaction will mark its entry in asset management space of managing mutual fund schemes.

CNBC TV18 had earlier reported that the digital platform will acquire Indiabulls Asset Management Company and the trustee company for Rs 175 crore, which includes a cash and equivalent component of Rs 100 crore.

IPO-bound Zomato elevates Akriti Chopra as co-founder

Ahead of its IPO, Zomato has elevated former chief finance officer (CFO) Akriti Chopra as founder.

“Akriti, I know this doesn’t mean much to you, because you have always been a founder at Zomato. Sometimes more than me, but never less than me. Thank you. Congratulations for now officially being a founder at Zomato,” Deepinder Goyal, Zomato Founder wrote in an internal email to employees.

This is not the first time Zomato is elevating an employee to the position of a founder of the company. Previously it elevated Mohit Gupta, the CEO of its food delivery business and Gaurav Gupta, the chief operating officer of the company were also made co-founders. Now with Akriti Chopra, Zomato has five co-founders currently.

Chopra has been with the online food delivery platform since 2011, when she started as a senior manager of finance and operations.

Capital Float raises Rs 50 cr debt round from Triodos IM

Tech startup Capital Float has raised Rs 50 Cr in debt for a period of 3 years from Triodos Microfinance Fund and Triodos Fair Share Fund, financial inclusion funds managed by Triodos Investment Management. Triodos IM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Netherlands-based Triodos Bank.

Since January 2021, Capital Float has raised over ₹200 crores in debt. These funds will be used to enhance firm’s growth in credit delivery. The startup has doubled its base over the last 8 months to over 2 million customers, it said in a statement.

Greenjoules raises $4.5 mn from Blue Ashva Capital

Green energy technology firm, Greenjoules has raised $4.5 million from Blue Ashva Capital’s Blue Ashva Sampada Fund. The fund raised will be used by the companyto set up waste-to-energy plants and invest into R&D.

Greenjoules specialises in making renewable biofuels, commonly recognised as drop-in fuels or second-generation biofuel, curated from agricultural residue and renewable wastes from agro processing industries. The company is currently serving several enterprise customers from its biorefinery in Chakan, Pune.

Candes raises $3 million

D2C home appliance brand Candes has raised $3 million from various marquee family offices in Delhi. The round was led by Anuraag and Ruchirans Jaipuria along with Lotus Group Joint MD Nitin Passi and Redcliffe’s Dheeraj Jain.

According to the startup, with this funding, Candes aims to clock Rs 200 crore revenue this year. It is already seeing Rs 10 crore monthly sales with 90 percent online business in the marketplaces works focusing on products like fans, geysers, TV, stabilisers among others.

AI-enabled Shyplite raises $1 mn

AI-enabled logistics platform Shyplite has raised $1 million from revenue-based growth capital firm N+1 capital.

The company said it will utilise the funds to support its expansion plans to enter the new segments like fulfilment centres and hyperlocal deliveries to become an end-to-end logistics player and add more experts on board

“Along with its expansion plans, Shyplited has also onboarded logistics players like Dunzo, Wefast and Shadowfax and others on its platform to help businesses with last-mile and same-day delivery service.

Education startup Masai School acquires Design Shift Academy

Coding bootcamp startup Masai School has acquired Design Shift Academy, a Bengaluru-based design institute. However the details of the deal haven’t been disclosed by the company.

The deal will boost Masai School’s course offering by adding learning programmes on UI/UX Design and Product Management.

The takeover comes after Masai recently closed its Series-A round of funding at $5 million in March, the company added.

India Accelerator partners with IBA; launches programme for Blockchain startups

India Accelerator has partnered with India Blockchain Alliance to set up “Centres of Excellence for Entrepreneurship” across the globe. This programme targets blockchain students, faculty and startups.

As part of the partnership, India Accelerator has developed a Campus Entrepreneurship Program. Through a joint curriculum both faculty and entrepreneurs will be trained in creating successful Blockchain Startups. The selected startups will get the opportunity to work with IA Labs.

Virender Sehwag launches experiential cricket learning app – CRICURU

India’s star cricketer and opener Virender Sehwag has launched CRICURU, an experiential learning app aimed at redefining and revolutionising the cricket coaching experience in the country.

CRICURU claims to be a pioneer in AI-based cricket coaching in India and offers a personalised learning experience to its users. The curriculum for each player is developed personally by Virender Sehwag along with Sanjay Bangar, former Indian player and batting coach of the Indian cricket team (2015-19).

With international cricket attaining new heights in terms of technology-led innovation, Sehwag believes there was a need for India to join the bandwagon and offer a similar experience for aspiring cricketers.

“At CRICURU, our aim is to develop an ecosystem to democratise cricket learning in India and bridge the existing gaps. Our curriculum is designed meticulously giving access to coaching experts from across the globe to offer an uninterrupted coaching experience for aspiring cricketers at par with international standards of cricket,”said Sehwag.

CRICURU also gives parents an opportunity to become partners with their children as they work towards attaining the required skill set for a professional career in cricket, Sehwag added.

An AI-enabled mobile-web-based application, CRICURU is designed to help youngsters learn playing cricket through master classes of 30 handpicked player-coaches from across the globe like AB de Villiers, Brett Lee, Brian Lara, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Jonty Rhodes.

Oyo, AirBnB, EaseMyTrip & Yatra join hands; form industry body for tourism sector

Hospitality and travel companies Oyo, Airbnb, EaseMyTrip and Yatra have joined hands to launch a new industry body for tourism sector — Confederation of Hospitality, Technology and Tourism Industry (CHATT).

CHATT, the tourism body will help small and medium hotels and homeowners across the country to adopt technology in order to revive their businesses.

Every member will be able to access all CHATT resources and benefits. These members include Amanpreet Bajaj, General Manager, Airbnb – India, Southeast Asia, EaseMyTrip co-founder and CEO Nishant Pitti, Oyo India and Southeast Asia CEO Rohit Kapoor, Yatra co-founder and CEO Dhruv Shringi.

Instamojo e-commerce platform to help SMEs

Digital services provider, Instamojo has launched its e-commerce stack to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands to come online, said the Mint.

As per report, with this initiative, Instamojo will enable DTC brands to launch their own independent online stores, and provide other services including order management, online payments, logistics, payouts, credit, along with advertising and marketing for greater visibility.

Instamojo’s platform will also include a Do it for Me (DIFM) feature where its tech team will take charge of building a merchant’s website to provide a hassle free experience, adds the report.

For its e-commerce services, Instamojo will be charging merchants a five percent commission on value of each good sold. This will exclude shipping charges provided by its logistics partners.

CCI clears Byju’s acquisition of Aakash Educational Services

The Competition Commission has approved ed-tech startup Byju’s proposed acquisition of Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL).

On Tuesday, CCI said it has approved the proposed combination relating to Think & Learn Pvt Ltd (Byju’s) acquisition of certain stake of AESL and thereafter their merger. “The proposed combination will result in merger of AESL into Byju’s, as a consequence of which, Byju’s will be the surviving entity. As such, Byju’s shall effectively acquire complete and sole control over AESL,” an official release said.

The deal which was announced in April is estimated to be worth around $1 billion and will bolster Byju’s presence in the test preparation segment in the country.

Amazon India vaccinates over 1 lakh employees

Amazon India has completed vaccinating over one lakh people including frontline associates, employees, and their dependents in over three weeks.

Amazon is extending the vaccination drive to new cities and towns to cover more workforce. The on-site vaccination events are currently on in 26 cities including Ludhiana, Ranchi and Raipur, with the help of licensed healthcare partners.

To incentivise vaccination, Amazon India is offering up to Rs 750 as a special pay to frontline employees who choose to get vaccinated.

MediBuddy partners with Milaap; roll out free consultation donation campaign

Lending support to the Covid-19 fight, digital healthcare platform MediBuddy has partnered with the crowdfunding platform, Milaap to start a Free Consultation Donation campaign. The campaign aims to provide free COVID consultations to those in need and also for those families that have been affected by the pandemic.

For every donation made via the Milaap platform, MediBuddy has pledged to match the amount and provide consultation to people.

Record private equity investment of $62 billion into India in 2020: Bain & Co Report

Private equity investors pumped a record $62 billion into Indian companies last year, according to the Bain & Company’s India Private Equity Report 2021.

Nearly 40 percent of this inflow came through $26.5 billion worth of investments made in Reliance Industries’ subsidiaries Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail.

Excluding the Reliance transactions, the total deal value fell by 20 percent in 2020 (YoY). That’s because large volume deals of more than $100 million slumped by 25 percent.

As the pandemic put a stop to all economic activity in the first half of the year, private equity investments too tapered off. However, the second half of the year saw a surge in investments as investor confidence returned. Thus, the number of deals went up by 5 percent from 1,053 in 2019 to 1,106 in 2020, according to the report.

Last year, healthcare saw the highest growth of 60 percent (YoY). However, consumer tech and IT/ITES were the clear favourites, becoming the largest sectors in terms of investment value.

The virus outbreak moved the world from offline to online and created a large base of digital-friendly and health conscious users. This led to a deal surge in edtech, fintech, verticalized e-commerce and foodtech with big-ticket investments in Byju’s, Zomato, and FirstCry.

On the B2B front, IT and ITES were popular investment avenues due to accelerated growth in digital channels. The increasing interest in Software as a Service (SaaS) and greater corporate focus on digital readiness led to multiple $100 million deals in the segment. Zenoti and Postman in SaaS. Virtusa and Majesco in IT services.

“Technology is becoming the backbone of most industries. Investors are eyeing to see where the next value creation is going to come. It is inevitable that some of these companies will become standalone behemoths while others get acquired,” said Karthik Reddy, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Blume Ventures.

During the pandemic, many private equity investors sat tight with their investments given the turbulence in the market. For those investors who sold up and exited their portfolio companies, the exit value declined by 30% (YoY) in 2020. However, there was a rise in exit multiples driven by high-return generating ConsumerTech and BFSI companies.

“We expect continued exit momentum over the next one to two years as portfolios of leading PE investors mature and multiple IPOs planned for the next 12-18 months are launched,” said Arpan Sheth, Senior Partner, Bain & Company India.

BYJU’s, Flipkart, Paytm, PolicyBazaar, Zomato, Ola, Nykaa, Delhivery, Pine Labs and Barbeque Nation are the startups that are expected to hit the stock exchanges this year, offering an exit opportunity for their investors. “While some may take the SPAC or NYSE route with greater global acceptance others may list domestically. However, we will see many of these startups forming a major chunk of the Nifty in the coming decades,” said Ankit Agarwal, Partner, Alteria Capital.

For private equity investors, the post COVID-19 world will be a different playing field. However, the investment momentum is set to continue well into 2021 with the money chasing companies in HealthTech, FinTech and EdTech spaces.


El Salvador becomes 1st country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender

El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as a legal tender after Congress approved President Nayib Bukele’s proposal to embrace cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s use as a legal tender will become law within three months.

Lawmakers in the South American country voted by a “supermajority” in favour of the Bitcoin Law. With 62 out of 84 possible votes, a majority of lawmakers voted in favour of the initiative to create a law that will formally adopt bitcoin as a legal currency.

“This is a historic moment. The code (Bitcoin) Satoshi wrote is now a legal tender of a country. Bitcoin is the soundest asset and one of the biggest technological innovations the world has ever seen. We are looking forward to how El Salvador incorporates Bitcoin into its economy,” Avinash Shekhar, Co-CEO of ZebPay said.

President Bukele has touted the use of Bitcoin for its potential to help Salvadorans living abroad to send remittances back home. He added that the U.S. dollar will also continue as legal tender.

He added that the use of bitcoin will be optional and will not bring risks to users. “The government will guarantee the convertibility to the exact value in dollars at the moment of each transaction,” Bukele said.

The country intends to use ‘cheap and clear’ volcano energy to mine the digital coin.

Google loosens its search engine grip on Android devices in Europe

Google has bowed to pressure from rivals and will let them compete for free to be the default search engines on Android devices in Europe, widening a pledge to EU antitrust regulators two years ago, Reuters report.

The move by the world’s most popular internet search engine comes as the 27-country bloc considers rules that could be introduced next year to force Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook to ensure a level playing field for competitors.

Google’s Android mobile operating system runs on about four-fifths of the world’s smartphones. The U.S. tech giant said in 2019 that rivals would have to pay via an auction for appearing on a choice screen on new Android devices in Europe from which users select their preferred search engine.

Google’s change of heart followed a $5.16billion fine handed out by the European Commission, the EU antitrust authority, in 2018 for unfairly using Android to cement the dominance of its search engine.

“We are now making some final changes to the Choice Screen including making participation free for eligible search providers. We will also be increasing the number of search providers shown on the screen,” Oliver Bethell, director at Google, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

Google said the five most popular eligible search engines in each EU country according to Stat Counter, including Google,would be displayed in random order at the top of the screen while up to seven will be shown at the bottom.

The changes will come into effect in September, the blog added.

Amazon reviewing bids to replace JPMorgan as credit card partner

E-commerce giant Amazon is fielding bids to replace U.S. lender JPMorgan Chase & Co as the issuer on its co-branded credit card portfolio, reports Reuters.

Amazon has sent out a ‘request for proposal’ for the portfolio, the person said, asking not to be identified as the matter was not public yet.

JPMorgan could fetch a 15% premium if it is replaced as partner in the portfolio, which contains more than $15 billion in credit card lending, Bloomberg reported earlier on Tuesday.

Amazon and JPMorgan first issued a joint card in 2002 and their offerings have long operated on the Visa network.

SoftBank-backed DoorDash enters Japan

US food delivery firm DoorDash, which is backed by SoftBank Group, announced the launch of services in Japan on Wednesday, joining an increasingly crowded market that has grown during the pandemic.

Services will be initially limited to the city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, the money losing delivery firm told reporters, in a step that follows its expansion to Canada and Australia.

“Our strategy has always been to empower local economies, especially in the suburban markets that are historically underserved, yet the appetite for connectivity between merchants and customers is high,” Chief Executive Tony Xu said in a statement.

DoorDash, which has also branched out into delivery from grocery and convenience stores last year, reported a near three-fold jump in quarterly revenue to $1.08 billion.


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