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Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (May 23, 2024)

YourStory presents the daily news roundup from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Thursday, May 23, 2024.

Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (May 23, 2024)

Thursday May 23, 2024 , 11 min Read

Funding news

ah! Ventures invests in agritech startup Agrilectric through its First Gear Platform

ah! Ventures has invested in Agrilectric through its First Gear Platform, which helps startups raise upto Rs 1 crore (~$150,000). 

ah! Ventures has done 221 investments in 130 startups to date taking its total investment portfolio to Rs 437 crore (~$54 million) with 17 exits and 55 follow-on rounds. 22 investments have happened through all three platforms and the fund in 2024.

ah! Ventures has three platforms: First Gear, which helps startups raise up to Rs 1 crore (~$150K); Angel Platform, which helps startups raise up to $1 million, and High Tables Platform, which helps startups raise $1-10 million.

ProsParity raises $2M in pre-seed round led by BEENEXT

ProsParity, a fintech platform focused in the electric mobility sector, has raised a $2 million pre-seed funding round from global institutional investors such as BEENEXT, Sparrow Capital, All In Capital, DeVC, and Huddle Ventures.

Angel investors including Dr Ashish Gupta (Co-founder of Junglee and Helion Ventures), Raj Dugar (Ex-Eight Roads Ventures), Dhyanesh Shah (Co-founder of Mosaic Wellness), Abhishek Goyal (Co-founder of Tracxn), and Nitin Kaushal (Co-founder of Country Delight) also participated in this round.

Founded by Saurabh Khodke and Anirudh Dhakar, ProsParity is an end-to-end electric mobility financing platform that focuses on compliance, scalability, and agility for lenders, while easing access to financing relationships for EV dealers and OEMs to enable financing for their end-customers.

Co-Founder ProsParity (LtoR) Anirudh Dhakar, Saurabh Khodke

Co-Founder ProsParity (LtoR) Anirudh Dhakar, Saurabh Khodke

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The funds raised will be used for building proof of concept and technology, and expanding origination networks, starting with Central India. ProsParity is also building a comprehensive partnership network across original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), fleet operators, dealerships, and lenders.

Freshleaf raises Rs 1 Cr in seed round led by Inflection Point Ventures

Premium tea brand Freshleaf has raised Rs 1 crore in a seed round led by Inflection Point Ventures. The funds raised will be utilised to expand marketing efforts, increase production capacity, and enhance research and development for new products, said the company.

This investment will enable Freshleaf to offer high-quality teas that enrich the tea-drinking experience for modern consumers.

Portl raises $3M led by Bharat Innovation Fund

Portl, a digital fitness and wellness technology startup, has closed a $3 million funding round led by Bharat Innovation Fund. This round also saw participation from existing investor Kalaari Capital and new investor T-Hub Foundation.

The latest funding is set to accelerate Portl’s product development, market expansion, and enhancement of its cutting-edge AI systems. Portl also plans to broaden its product range, introducing connected strength systems designed for users of all fitness levels, and expand its customer base across India and overseas markets with its latest funding.

Founded in March 2021 by Indraneel Gupta, Vishal Chandapeta, and Armaan Kandhari, Portl's flagship offering, the Portl Studio, along with its digital platform, integrates cutting-edge artificial intelligence to provide personalised fitness and wellness experiences directly in users’ homes, luxury hotels, and gyms.

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Startup news and updates: Daily roundup (May 22, 2024)

Good Monk raises Rs 7 Cr pre-Series A round

Superfoods Valley, a Bengaluru-based Nutrition startup, has raised Rs 7 crore in a pre-Series A round. The investment is used to scale its flagship brand, Good Monk, which offers a unique range of nutrition mixes and instant fruit drink mixes.

New investors Sharrp Ventures, Thinkuvate, along with existing investors Multiply Ventures, have invested in this round.

Founded by Amarpreet S Anand and Sahiba Kaur, Good Monk offers a range of nutrition mixes which can be added to food without changing its taste, colour or smell. 

Other news

PokerBaazi and Push Sports partners to launch Baazi Sports Foundation Fellowship

PokerBaazi, a poker platform, in collaboration with Push Sports, has announced the Baazi Sports Foundation Fellowship. As part of PokerBaazi's corporate social responsibility (CSR) vision, this fellowship program aims to provide junior cricketers (under 19 years) with a year-long fellowship to enhance and hone their skills through focused technical training and competitive exposure. 

Annually, a cohort of promising participants is selected based on their potential and dedication to the sport, the release states. These selected athletes receive personalised guidance and training from seasoned cricket professionals. They are also given the opportunity to compete in both domestic and international tournaments, providing them with crucial competitive exposure.

Additionally, the fellowship provides financial support to the participants, offering Rs 10,000 per month for living expenses and Rs 15,000 per month to cover training fees. To further aid in their development, the fellowship includes high-quality cricket equipment valued between Rs 25,000 and 50,000, comprising essentials such as bats, pads, gloves, helmets, and other necessary gear for their cricketing endeavours.

online gaming

Photo: YS Design

MakeMyTrip introduces tech-driven features to transform train travel experience

Online travel company MakeMyTrip has launched a host of tech-driven features designed to enhance every railway journey and address common consumer pain points. 

The company segmented the traveller’s booking experience into distinct phases, actively exploring technology-driven solutions. Among the most pressing concerns for customers with regard to train ticket bookings has been the difficulty in securing confirmed tickets. In this regard, the company has introduced a seat lock feature on MakeMyTrip Trains that allows travellers to secure a confirmed ticket by paying just 25% of the fare, with the remainder payable up to 24 hours before travel.

Another key problem area for train ticket bookings is that confirmed tickets are not always available on direct trains/trains of choice for the preferred date of travel. This leaves travellers with very few options. MakeMyTrip’s Connected Travel feature solves for this by seamlessly combining bus and train journeys and providing multiple combinations while considering layover time and overall travel duration.

Delhivery to spearhead pan-India B2B logistics for beauty brand SUGAR Cosmetics

Delhivery, an integrated logistics service provider, announced a partnership with homegrown beauty brand SUGAR Cosmetics to spearhead its pan-India B2B logistic operations.

With Delhivery's nationwide network covering over 18,600 pin codes and over 2.7 billion shipments since inception, this partnership is poised to streamline the supply chain of SUGAR Cosmetics and expedite B2B deliveries across the country and will give Sugar Cosmetics a competitive edge in the market. The logistics company has been a long-standing partner for the brand’s D2C express parcel shipping.

"SUGAR Cosmetics is on a high growth trajectory and needs a logistics partner that comprehends the demands of the digital native generation. Delhivery's superior express part truckload (PTL) delivers B2B consignments at e-commerce speed, and its intuitive client dashboard, Delhivery One, provides end-to-end visibility of consignments being shipped across India, giving us the competitive edge," said Amartya Guha, Vice President, Supply Chain at SUGAR Cosmetics.

Beauty brand Plum appoints Preenu Abraham as CBO-Retail

Plum—a vegan beauty brand established in 2014—is further strengthening its leadership team as it looks to expand its omnichannel network across geographies. The company has appointed Preenu Abraham as Chief Business Officer, Retail. He will work closely with Founder and CEO Shankar Prasad to further accelerate the growth of Plum.

Preenu Abraham, Chief Business Officer, Retail, Plum

Preenu Abraham, Chief Business Officer, Retail, Plum

Preenu brings over 22 years of experience in consumer goods sales and distribution, and has held leadership positions, helping build much-loved brands at Mondelez, Pepsico, Danone, and Jubilant Foodworks. At Plum, he will be responsible for scaling growth across the full retail spectrum covering general trade, modern trade and Plum-exclusive stores.

UPI integration spurs growth in Rupay credit cards, says Kiwi report

Kiwi, a credit-on-UPI platform, released its latest report revealing insights into the nationwide surge in virtual Rupay credit card adoption through UPI integration. The company achieved a milestone by onboarding over one lakh virtual Rupay Credit Cards on the platform in less than 10 months.

The report titled 'Credit Cards on UPI' highlights a significant trend: More than Rs 100 crore worth of credit cards on UPI transactions are happening on Kiwi’s platform on a monthly basis. Furthermore, 75% of all these transactions occur at small merchants, showcasing widespread acceptance and utilisation of credit card payments.

According to RBI data (as of April 2024), there are about 320 million merchant acceptance touchpoints for UPI payments, far surpassing the 9 million POS terminals available for credit card payments. This broad network, coupled with convenience, has driven the rapid growth of 'credit cards on UPI' over the past year.

New auto vertical of CarDekho Group sees 94% organic traffic in FY24

CarDekho Group’s New Auto segment, an automobile content producer, has recorded the highest consumer traffic continuously for over 15 years. An integrated ecosystem of brands such as CarDekho, BikeDekho, TrucksDekho, PowerDrift, TractorsDekho, ZigWheels, and TyreDekho, the New Auto business enables automobile buyers to discover and buy their dream vehicles whilst helping OEMs and dealers to sell more.

In FY24, the platform witnessed 1.1 billion annual sessions and 94% of this traffic is organic. About 45% of the direct traffic indicates CarDekho’s strong brand recall and user loyalty. Furthermore, the platform generated 24 million saleable leads during the fiscal year.

EduFund expands operations with new office in Pune

EduFund, an educational funding solutions provider, has opened its new office on Baner Road, Pune. This strategic expansion aims to centralize teams for enhanced productivity and innovation.

The new 3,000 sq ft office is designed to foster collaboration and creativity, featuring amenities such as a conference room, video studio, private cabins, and a fully-equipped pantry, accommodating up to 30 employees.

"The opening of our new office in Pune represents a significant milestone in our journey towards fostering innovation and collaboration," said Eela Dubey, Co-founder at EduFund. 

"This expansion underscores our commitment to providing a dynamic work environment for our team and advancing our mission to transform educational financing."

L'Oreal launches beauty tech startup competition for the beauty sector across Asia and MENA

L'Oreal has launched the Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Programme in the South Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa (SAPMENA) region, including India.

Launched on 23rd May 2024, the open innovation competition offers promising startups the chance to develop their innovation in a commercial pilot and potential exposure to 35 markets of the SAPMENA region. 

L'Oreal Beauty tech contest

With L'Oreal SAPMENA as a launchpad, the startups which prove successful pilots in SAPMENA could tap into the beauty leader’s extensive network of partners and market insights.


The Big Bang Beauty Tech Innovation Programme regional open innovation competition seeks to discover, support and nurture promising startups from across the South Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa region, from countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

These startups will be given the opportunity to develop their pilots in beauty tech innovation in one of five challenge themes: consumer experience, content, media, new commerce, and tech for good.

Databricks Ventures launches AI fund

Databricks Ventures has launched its second fund, Databricks AI Fund. This fund will invest in early- to growth-stage startups that are utilising or enabling AI in innovative ways on top of or alongside its platform.

It has already announced investments in six AI focused companies—Anomalo, Cleanlab, Glean, Mistral AI, Perplexity AI, and Unstructured. These portfolio companies fall in very different sectors of the landscape—from open-source LLM development to AI-powered data quality monitoring.

Databricks Ventures was launched in December 2021 as its strategic investment arm for funding innovative startups across the data, analytics and AI landscape. Since then, via the inaugural Lakehouse Fund, it has invested in more than 25 companies that are building on or extending the Databricks Data Intelligence Platform.

PossoBuild launches tech platforms for hiring and interview preparation

PossoBuild, the Hyderabad-based recruitment tech startup, has launched two tech platforms—PossoBuild SmartHire and PossoBuild SmartPrep. Leveraging natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, both these platforms are aimed at making the entire process of talent acquisition, recruitment and job interview preparation much smoother.

The SmartHire platform has an AI-led automation feature in a bid to aid organisations to hire talent faster, better, and at scale. The PossoBuild SmartPrep platform assists students with adaptive and conversational-style mock interviews simulated through AI, in a bid towards better preparation.

Post-interview, comprehensive and detailed feedback is provided to the SmartPrep users, offering them mentor-like insights to refine their approach. According to PossoBuild, it has beta-tested SmartHire with multiple organisations across India, the US, and other countries. 

(This copy will be updated with the latest news throughout the day.)