Raising funds major challenge for internet startups: Study

Mar 30, 2017 0

New Delhi–Even though the government has been trying its best to ensure sustained funding for startups, a large number of internet-based startups are yet to get any formal funding in the form of business grants, loans or lines of credit, a survey said here on Thursday.

A dipstick survey of bootstrapping 2,925 internet startups by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) suggested that this shortage of funds persists despite nearly 74 per cent of them leveraging mobile technologies to scale up their businesses.

The survey was conducted in the cities of Jaipur, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune and New Delhi.

The survey found that while a majority 74 per cent of the respondents are leveraging mobile technologies to boost their businesses, 12 per cent of the respondents had completely mobile-based products.

“Very few of the respondents had any kind of formal funding in the form of business grants, loans or lines of credit, leave alone Angel or VC (venture capital) funding…it is no surprise that funding is considered to be the biggest challenge,” the survey said.

“Thus, it is imperative that the government should start funding the startups through approved incubators, for the startup ecosystem and the apps economy to grow in India,” it added.

Thirty-five per cent of the respondents also mentioned that “manpower” was a major challenge for these startups in their effort to scale up.

“Thus, there should be special focus of skilling and retraining, and the government should create a separate skills development council aimed at skills training particularly for the digital industry,” IAMAI survey suggested.

The survey pointed out that mobile is the key platform for new business generation (customer acquisition) and customer retention and transaction completion, in terms of finalising the deal.

“Digital payment is another major factor for going mobile. Many startups are in the field of mobile-specific services or into Internet of Things (IoT)-based products, like wearables and other gadgets, and hence completely based on the mobile platform for their products,” the survey said.

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Digital sports platform raises funds from Intex

Mar 28, 2017 0

New Delhi– Rooter, the worlds first digital platform that connects, engages and helps sports audiences interact with each other on a real-time basis during sports events, has raised an undisclosed amount of funds from Intex, one of Indias fastest growing consumer electronic goods and accessories manufacturer.

The sports social engagement app earlier successfully raised funds from Dhruv Chitgopekar and Prantik Dasgupta. It also holds the distinction of being the first venture that Bollywood actor Boman Irani has invested in as an angel investor.

The freshly infused capital will be utilized to strengthen the tech team at Rooter, all the while maintaining a lean structure.

It aims to also add more numbers to its Sales and Marketing team as well as to the content division to bolster the vernacular versions of the app. This round of funding will, in addition, help accelerate the platform’s expansion into South East Asian markets and catalyze partnerships with sports teams and leagues all around the world.

Rooter’s ambition to carry out merchandizing activities and possibly fan-player interactions will also get a boost besides allowing it to leverage the superlative tech infrastructure of Intex.

Rooter has been identified as one of the most unique ideas to emerge out of the Indian start-up ecosystem, with no pre-existing business model to follow anywhere in the world. With its user engagement features such as live-match prediction, quizzes, and chat forums becoming extremely popular with users, Rooter’s audience base and the time spent by an average user on the app has increased significantly.

With the approaching sports season, Rooter hopes to far exceed the 50000+ downloads it currently sits on, and aims to cross half a million downloads by the end of the IPL.

Rooter will benefit from the state-of-the-art technological setup of Intex, access to which can help reduce Rooter’s research and development costs. The ready database of Intex will also be a goldmine for Rooter to find new users. (IANS)

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Ankit Mahadevia’s Spero Therapeutics Secures $51.7 Million Venture Funding From Google Ventures

Mar 9, 2017 0
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Celect, founded by MIT professors Vivek Farias and Devavrat Shah, raises $10 million in Series B Funding

Mar 2, 2017 0

BOSTON–Celect, founded by two MIT professors Vivek Farias and Devavrat Shah in 2013, has raised 10 million in Series B funding. Celect is a cloud-based, predictive analytics SaaS platform that helps retailers optimize their overall inventory portfolios in stores and across the supply chain.

Vivek Farias

Farias is an Associate Professor and the Robert N. Noyce Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School, affiliated with the Operations Management group and the ORC.  Shah is Jamieson Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

Led by Activant Capital with participation from Fung Capital and August Capital, the funding will be used to extend momentum built in 2016 after closing the year with 2.5x revenue growth, Celect said in a statement.

“For nearly twenty years our industry has been paying lip service to the notion of injecting the ‘art’ of merchandising with more science,” said Bryan Eshelman, COO of Aldo Group. “We have now reached a tipping point with consumers expecting everything available everywhere all the time. Lip service is no longer an option – meeting this expectation while simultaneously reducing inventory is simply impossible without advanced analytics.”

Devavrat Shah

Historically, most merchandising decisions are made using simple spreadsheets and gut instinct, which leaves little room for optimization and in turn limits growth opportunities. With Celect, retailers now have a more precise and granular way to understand how customers choose between products, and how products interact with each other. This unprecedented insight is surfacing significant opportunities for optimization that would otherwise have gone undiscovered.

“Celect’s growth confirms that omnichannel retailers are ready to embrace data-driven decision support solutions,” said Steve Sarracino, Founder and Partner at Activant Capital. “Inventory optimization across the supply chain is on the top of every retail executive’s list of priorities. We are excited to further our relationship with the Celect team as they help retailers solve this critical challenge.”

John Andrews, CEO at Celect, added: “Every retailer we work with is making it a top priority to bring data and analytics into their merchandising, planning and allocation decision making. With this funding, we will be able to support our growing list of customers and expand the scope of product offerings moving through 2017.”

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Demonetisation to spark VC interest in Indian fintech firms

Feb 22, 2017 0

Chennai–The increase in digital payments by Indians following the demonetisation of old notes is expected to interest venture capital funds to invest in firms operating in the payments and mobile wallet sectors, consultancy firm KPMG said.

“Demonetisation efforts resulted in an increase in transactions for both payments companies and mobile wallet providers. This trend will be one to watch in Q1’17 and Q2’17, as it may spark additional interest from investors,” KPMG said in a statement.

Citing its Pulse of Fintech Report Q4’16 edition released on Wednesday, KPMG in its statement said the venture capital investment in India saw a significant decline in 2016, with just $216 million being invested, compared to $1.6 billion the previous year.

“This decrease highlights the impact a lack of mega-deals can have on a country, as actual deal volumes in India remained steady over the same period. Despite the decline, India appears to be a key focus of VC investors in Asia,” KPMG said.

According to KPMG, corporate interest in financial technology (fintech) is also expected to increase in India over the next year. Already, many of India’s banks and insurance companies have created innovation funds to invest in fintechs or set aside funds for collaboration.

“With the demonetisation effort that started in Q4’16 in India, there has been a big increase in the number of transactions managed by both payments companies and wallet providers. As this effort continues, we should see momentum grow for digital platforms and fintech solutions,” Neha Punater, Head of Fintech, KPMG in India, was quoted as saying in the statement. (IANS)

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Shakeel Avadhany-Founded ClearMotion Secures $100 Million Investment to Commercialize World’s First Digital Chassis

Feb 1, 2017 0

BOSTON–ClearMotion, Inc., an automotive technology company developing the world’s first digital chassis and co-founded and led by Shakeel Avadhany , has raised  $100 million Series C preferred stock financing, the company said in a statement.

The investment led by clients advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, with participation from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Qualcomm Ventures, World Innovation Lab (WiL), and Eileses Capital. This round brings the company’s total investment to date to over $130 million.

“Innovation in the car business is ramping dramatically, and we see an opportunity to make our mark upon it,” said Avadhany, CEO and co-founder of ClearMotion. “Self-driving functionality mandates a future in which cars afford not just driving pleasure, but the utility of a mobile office. We are focused about the quality of time in autos and how we transform it by digitizing our relationship to the road, allowing software to control the dynamics of the car. We are excited to work with leading automakers and Tier-1 suppliers in making this a reality.”

Shakeel Avadhany

ClearMotion’s “digital chassis” technology replaces traditional automotive shock absorbers with software-controlled actuators, allowing cars to interpret and react to road conditions in real time. The system combines an unmatched level of comfort with the response and agility of a sports car. ClearMotion’s actuator technology pushes and pulls the wheels at high speed, delivering a calm and relaxing ride experience in what otherwise may be disturbing conditions. Proprietary software algorithms have enabled the commercial viability of the system while maintaining dramatic gains in performance.

Jonathan Ross, Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, is joining ClearMotion’s Board of Directors.

“As the world continues to move toward connected, autonomous cars and mobility services, the next frontier of competition will be user-experience,” said Ross. “People spend an average of 1.5 hours per day in their cars. ClearMotion technology transforms the in-cabin experience, keeping passengers productive, safe, comfortable and engaged. This is central to how we envision mobility of the future.”

ClearMotion is a venture-backed automotive technology startup based in the Boston area. The company was founded out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is focused on launching the world’s first digital chassis to usher in next-generation user experience for autos.

Shakeel Avadhany

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LiquiGlide, Co-Founded by Kripa Varanasi at MIT, Closes $16 Million in Venture Funding

Jan 24, 2017 0

CAMBRIDGE, Ma. –LiquiGlide Inc., co-founded by MIT professor Kripa Varanasi, has closed $16 million in new financing. Investors that played a key role in the funding include Structure Capital, Valia Investments, Struck Capital and Pilot Grove, the company said in a statement.

LiquiGlide will use the capital to grow its existing packaging business while also accelerating the commercialization of new coating applications in the industrial and food manufacturing markets.

“What was ground-breaking materials science discovered in a lab at MIT has turned into a commercial technology platform that is revolutionizing the way liquids move,” said LiquiGlide Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, and MIT Professor Varanasi. “Our investors’ vision and strategic support of our mission for a zero-waste economy will help us bolster the expansion of our technology platform as we develop additional coatings for new markets where we believe we can make a significant impact.”

Kripa Varanasi (Photo: MIT)

As part of the investment, Jillian Manus, managing partner at Structure Capital, a seed and early stage venture fund providing capital and marketing strategy to companies working to eliminate waste, has been named to LiquiGlide’s board of directors. Manus and the team at Structure Capital were early investors in Salesforce.com, Uber and Tesla.

Of the investment in LiquiGlide, Manus said: “Structure Capital’s mission is to be the architects of a zero-waste economy, and LiquiGlide’s slippery coating technology redefines the elimination of waste. As a board member, I look forward to being a strategic advisor for the company as it prepares to make a real impact on waste and inefficiency in industrial markets.”

LiquiGlide’s patented technology platform for permanently wet, slippery surface coatings was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by Prof. Varanasi and Dave Smith, who co-founded LiquiGlide Inc. LiquiGlide’s coatings are custom-made for each application by combining a porous solid with a liquid that gets trapped within it via strong capillary forces.

“Our technology has always had applications across a variety of industries,” said LiquiGlide Co- Founder and CEO Smith. “Having developed successful partnerships in packaging, the area of our initial focus, this capital gives us the opportunity to not only continue to grow and support initiatives in packaging, but also accelerate our growth in industrial markets – an area where we see tremendous potential to help companies reduce waste and improve energy efficiency.”

The $16 million infusion adds to the $7 million LiquiGlide received from Roadmap Capital in March 2015, which allowed the company to secure commercial deals in multiple market verticals, build a state-of-the-art laboratory and office space in Cambridge, and attract top scientists.

The first company to create permanently wet, slippery surfaces, LiquiGlide Inc. revolutionizes the way people and businesses move liquids by eliminating friction between liquids and solids. From reducing waste in manufacturing, to better packaging for consumer goods, to improving oil and gas infrastructure, LiquiGlide delivers coatings that work and are safe across a myriad of consumer and industrial applications.

LiquiGlide was founded in 2012 by Smith and Prof. Varanasi to commercialize MIT’s patented liquid-impregnated surface technology. The patents are licensed exclusively to LiquiGlide from MIT and include 13 issued patents with more than 150 applications pending around the world.

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Tata Communications arm invests in Dutch firm

Jan 21, 2017 0

Mumbai– Tata Communications Ltd’s Netherlands subsidiary on Saturday announced that it has invested in Teleena Holding B.V., a mobile virtual network enabler, making it the largest investor in the Dutch firm.

In a regulatory filing to the BSE, the city-based company said the undisclosed amount of investment, made on Friday, was part of its long-term development strategy of its global mobility and IoT (Internet of Things) services.

“As a result of this investment, Tata Communications (Netherlands) B.V., becomes the single largest shareholder of Teleena with a 35 per cent stake,” said the filing.

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Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah Invests in 3-D Greeting Cards Startup Lovepop

Dec 1, 2016 0

BOSTON– Wayfair CEO and co-founder Niraj Shah has invested in the new round of funding for Lovepop, a Boston-based startup that uses design software and laser cutters to make 3-D greeting cards, according to news reports.

Boston Business Journal reported that this round of funding was led by Boston-based Accomplice Ventures and also included Shah of Wayfair, Bob White of Bain Capital, and Wayne Chang of Crashlytics and Twitter. Lovepop has raised $6 million in Series A funding.

Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah

Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah

Lovepop was founded by Wombi Rose and John Wise who became best friends at Webb Institute training to become naval architects. After school, the duo traveled to Vietnam where they discovered incredible hand-crafted paper cards, according to the company’s website.

“They headed back to Boston and put the cards in the hands of friends, family, and strangers–and watched. That moment when someone opened a card and saw the paper sculpture revealed for the first time became their obsession, and Lovepop was born,” according to the Lovepop website.

The two launched Lovepop out out of the Harvard Innovation Lab in late 2014. Since then, they were named to the 2015 Techstars class, nominated for 50 on Fire by BostInno, and gained the confidence of professional investors.

Boston Business Journal said Lovepop raised $2.6 million in November 2015, and then added another $300,000 from “Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary.

Shah is CEO, Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of Wayfair. He co-founded Wayfair with Steve Conine in 2002 and the pair rapidly grew the business to become the largest online retailer of home furnishings and home items in the U.S., surpassing $2.25 billion in annual sales in 2015.

Before founding Wayfair, Shah was CEO and co-founder of Simplify Mobile, an enterprise software company which was sold in 2001. Prior to that, he served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Greylock Partners, COO and a member of the Board of Directors at iXL, a publicly traded global technology consulting firm, and the CEO and co-founder of Spinners, which was sold to iXL in 1998.

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Ex-HCL honcho floats Rs 100-crore venture fund

Oct 22, 2016 0

New Delhi– HCL Technologies former Chief Executive Anant Gupta on Friday announced a Rs 100-crore venture fund for developing disruptive products and businesses through his new technology investment firm TechCelx.

“As an integrated business acceleration and investment firm, we will focus on developing digital technology products and platforms in enterprises,” said TechClex Founder Chairman and Chief Executive Gupta in a statement here.

Anant Gupta

Anant Gupta

The company will also invest in ventures which will specialise in machine learning, IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), Analytics and Data Science and Automaton across banking, education and healthcare verticals.

“Our vision is to help start-ups develop and apply next-gen technology solutions to disrupt legacy operating models,” asserted Gupta.

Gupta is backed by three industry partners from investment banking and IT sectors in the new venture fund.

“We will invest between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 10 crore in disruptive technology ventures and the shareholding will range between 15-51% per cent,” said Gupta.

An industry veteran, Gupta was also a co-founder of Comnet, a tech start-up. (IANS)

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