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While 2015 was a year of big-ticket funding rounds, 2016 is a year of harsh reality for the country’s startup ecosystem: 212 startups have not survived to see 2017. And the number is 50% higher than last year, when about 140 startups were shut down, according to data analytics firm Tracxn. “Entrepreneurs will try rebooting, bootstrapping and running the company with minimum expenses; but if there is strong case for it to shut down, then it doesn’t deserve life support,” says Ajay Hattangdi, CEO of venture debt provider InnoVen Capital. Nevertheless, there are still many startups in India which are not only surviving but are also climbing the growth ladder efficiently. Many successful businessman and entrepreneurs are also helping out the startups so that they can bloom. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will host an event on 4 January. The event is likely to see participation by Google in the Startup India and Digital India initiatives by the government. Google has previously encouraged startups in India by selecting seven Indian startups for the Launchpad Accelerator program.
Overshadowing the negativities and post demonetization effects, there are startups which have managed to receive funding and support from investors around.
1. News app Funcastic raises funding
Two investors, including US-based North Base Media Fund, have put in money in a startup that has come out with an audio news and content app ‘Funcastic’. “This app allows you to listen to all kinds of news, be it political, sports or entertainment in both Hindi and English languages. There is a plethora of content, and depending on your mood, you can hear it,” founder of Funcastic Vivekraj Shah said. The app offers several options, including news analysis and content related with health, lifestyle and spirituality, among others. According to Shah, the app can work offline where users can download the content and listen to it later. Currently, it is free of charge. About the future of such business, he cited investors talking about the app having a huge potential in India as mobile Internet data seek to cover the most of 1.25 billion population.
2. Legal-tech startup MyAdvo raises funding from LetsVenture
MyAdvo, a platform that helps clients connect with lawyers for legal help, has raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding led by Pradyumna Dalmia, co-founder of Calcutta Angels Network, and a few other investors through LetsVenture, a funding platform. MyAdvo, run by MyAdvo Techserve Pvt. Ltd, was started last year and the startup claims that over the last nine months, it has received more than 22,500 legal queries, and has expanded its lawyer network to more than 2,500 lawyers spread across 115 cities, with expertise in over 75 domains. It has tied up with corporates such as Karbonn, Panasonic, IFB and Hindware, among others, for handling their over 1,000 consumer litigation cases. It assists the startups incubating in these institutions with their legal structuring and in ensuring that all compliances and regulations are taken care of. “Technology is yet to enter the legal services in India and MyAdvo was founded with an aim to do just that. Their marketplace approach to provide efficient, reliable legal services at predetermined prices will be very helpful,” said Dalmia.
3. At Eight Roads, Shadowfax gets its $10m in Series B
On-demand logistics company Shadowfax has raised Rs 67 crore ($10 million) as part of its Series B fund-raising round from existing investor Eight Roads Ventures. The latest round comes ‘with a significant mark-up’ in valuation, according to CEO Abhishek Bansal. Started in early 2015, Shadowfax competes with Roadrunnr, which merged with Tiny Owl and rebranded itself as Runnr earlier this year. “Our key focus areas in delivery include food, grocery, and ecommerce related deliveries, which have an equal division of revenues coming from each vertical. We are exclusive delivery partners to Amazon India’s grocery and fresh delivery platform Amazon Now in Bengaluru, BigBasket and Grofers,” said Abhishek Bansal, CEO of Shadowfax. Shadowfax has been growing at 12% month-on-month basis and has a fleet of over 2,500 delivery personnel on its platform. The startup raised $8.5 million from Eight Roads Ventures in September 2015. It also counts Snapdeal cofounders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal as angel investors.
4. Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal Invest in Biotech Startup Pandorum Technologies
India’s leading e-commerce retailer Flipkart’s co-founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal have invested an undisclosed amount in a biotechnology startup Pandorum Technologies. Pandorum Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is a biotechnology startup with a distinct synergy of life science and engineering competencies. “We were focusing on liver tissues. We have now started bioengineering of cornea along with a leading eye hospital in India,” said Arun Chandru, founder Pandorum. The company works on design and manufacturing of functional human tissues; for medical research, therapeutic and other applications. Pandorum is supported by grants from the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Government of India, and is located in the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), Bangalore Bio-Cluster.
5. Compliance management software startup LexComply gets funding from Ajay Relan
Ajay Relan, co-founder and former managing partner of CX Partners, has invested in Delhi-based compliance management software startup LexComply, the firm said in a statement. The company raised Rs 50 lakh in an angel round of funding from Relan along with other unnamed angel investors. It will use the funds for enhancing technology and marketing solutions. LexComply, which is run by RSJ Lexsys Pvt. Ltd, deals in compliance management software for corporates. Its software offers features like cloud-based storage system and simple user interface, it claims. “We wish to have capital ready as we are up for ramping up operations, increasing outreach, automating delivery and developing more GRC (governance, risk and compliance) solutions in next one year,” said Gaurav Jain, founder of LexComply.
6. B2B FMCG Distribution Platform ShopKirana Raises Funding from Japan’s Incubate Fund
Indore-based ShopKirana has secured funding from Japanese seed-stage investors, Incubate Fund, as well as Mumbai-based Lead Angels Group and various senior executives from leading FMCG companies. The amount of investment is estimated to be between Rs 2 crore and Rs 3 crore, according to people aware of the deal. Started in 2014 by Tanutejas Saraswat, Deepak Dhanotiya and Sumit Ghorawat, the startup connects brands and traditional retailers to sell their products. The company helps small retail stores (also known as the kiranas) improve their supply chain by connecting them with FMCH brands. With the help of a training and development team, the startup educates retailers about the new age business and connecting them to the ShopKirana app online. “The grocery market in India is mostly supported by small businesses like Kirana stores….. We are very happy to join ShopKirana’s journey to empower small retailers in India,” says Nao Murakami from Incubate Fund, the lead investor in the round.