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True Balance Raises Rs 100 Cr In Series B Funding

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Mobile balance management app True Balance Monday announced it has secured investmnet of Rs 100 Crore in Series B round of funding from Softbank Ventures Korea and some other VCs.

The investment includes additional funding from the global venture capital firm SoftBank Ventures Korea which participated in the Series A round and funding from new investors including IMM Investment, Mega investment, Korea Development Bank, and Capston Partners.

The utility app True Balance developed by Balance Hero crossed 10 million downloads in July last year in just 19 months after it was officially launched in India. It is rapidly growing, now with outrunning 30 million downloads 24 months into launch. India is expected to surpass the U.S.A. and become the world’s second largest mobile market. The additional investment was made possible as Balance Hero’s capabilities of rapidly grabbing market share in the Indian market were recognized.

“The additional funding will help us spur our business growth even further. True Balance has been growing exponentially passing the 30 million download mark, targeting 100 million by the end of this year. We have also recently introduced the ‘one click recharge feature’ to dramatically improve the convenience of mobile life,” said Cheol-won Lee, CEO of Balance Hero, the parent company of True Balance.

“The most impressive investment of the previous year was Balance hero, within the first year of investment, there was 3000% growth in app downloads, and this denotes the company’s growth. Due to rapid expansion of Indian market, the company’s estimated potential seems to be even greater,” said Gyu Hak(Greg) Moon, the president & CEO of SoftBank Ventures Korea.

“Balance Hero is preemptively providing a must-have service for users in the rapidly growing Indian market, and we decided to invest in the company because we expect the number of users and their revenue to grow,” said Seong-bae Ji, CEO of IMM Investment. “We hope to see more Korean startups succeed in mega markets like China and India, and we will actively support Balance Hero so they can become a model case.”

True Balance is an app launched by Balance Hero in India in 2014. True Balance converts a text message with available balance to infographics so that the users can easily check the balance, purchase a prepaid account, recharge the balance and track the data usage. The app passed the 10 million download mark in July 2016 in just  19 months into launch and near 30 million downloads 24 months into launch.

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Startups

Micromax To Create $75 Million Investment Fund

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Micromax, arguably the biggest among Indian mobile phone companies, is planning to set up an investment fund of $75 million to invest in internet startups. The company will invest in local as well as global startups.

Named Orbis Capital, the investment fund has already taken on board Truecaller founder Nami Zarringhalam and Covester co-founder Parry Blacher as its advisors. The investment fund will be headed by Kumar Shah who earlier used to head the phone firm’s global investment program.

“Micromax is the first port of call for companies looking to expand in India and the platform has created tremendous value for partners. Our portfolio companies have acquired millions of users through the Micromax platform and attracted follow on funding from top-tier investors. We have proved that this investment strategy can identify and partner with the best companies around the world, and we have an identifiable value-add through Micromax that appeals to world-class entrepreneurs and their investors,” said Shah.

This is not Micromax’s first entry into the field of investments. The company has already made investments in 10 startups including ixigo, Scandid, Gaana and HealthifyMe.

“We have tasted a great amount of success with all our investments that we strategically did over the last 2 years and this progression to announce an Independent fund was due to the large opportunities that the market presents. This fund will look at investing in consumer Internet companies across the world that have local relevance. Micromax has created immense value for our existing portfolio companies and this allows us to further leverage our platform for larger opportunities,” said Micromax Co-Founder Rahul Sharma.

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Startups

Reliance Unlimit Partners Invest India To Run IoT Contest

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Reliance Group’s Internet of Things venture Unlimit and government of India’s investment facilitating arm Invest India have came together to run an IoT idea contest in the country for the budding entrepreneurs.

The IoT idea contest, called Interthrone, has also got support from Sardar Patel Institute of Technology and IB-Hubs and aims to provide a platform to ideate, create and make the best use of the Internet and connected devices. It will also play an incubator role for young turks and technocrats to participate and build their IoT businesses under the guidance of industry experts and stalwarts. The contest will also involve institutional and individual investors, who will evaluate the submitted ideas and invest in the winning projects.

“Reliance Group is embracing the digital way and is proactively engaging with the start-up ecosystem. Interthrone is an extension of our efforts to engage with budding entrepreneurs to lay a strong foundation for a truly global business enterprise,” said Anmol Ambani, Executive Director, Reliance Capital.

The ‘Digital India’ movement has received an overwhelmingly positive reception, indicating an environment ripe for a digital revolution. Customer-centric businesses like ours are embracing the depth and breadth of the changing technology landscape. Interthrone is a platform for start-ups working on world-class technological solutions to partner with us along this dynamic digital journey.”

The contest will feature 5 categories in 3 stages – ideation, concept & research and prototype. The contest will run over a period of 6 months, Reliance Group said in a statement.

The 5 categories include connected home, fintech, smart village, automotives/public transport and startups.

The winning teams across all categories will get a cash prize of Rs 300,000 and the runners up will receive Rs one lakh each. A total of 10 startups across categories will be incubated under this program.

“India has witnessed the third largest number of young start-ups worldwide. With IoT being a revolution in the making, we want to ensure that young entrepreneurs and innovators are actively engaged in this space. Interthrone will create an ecosystem for IoT in India which can take this wave forward,” said Juergen Hase, Chief Executive Officer of Unlimit.

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Analytics Startup IntelligenceNode Raises Rs5 Cr From BlackSoil Capital

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Data Analytics startup IntelligenceNode today said it has raised Rs 5 crore funding from Mumbai based specialized financing NBFC firm BlackSoil Capital Private Limited. The company, in August 2015, had raised around Rs 26 crore from NEA & Orios Capital ventures.

“We found the products, the technology, the founders and the utility of IntelligenceNode very impressive & path breaking. The company has strong client traction coupled with zero client churn. We have great hopes from the company and wish the team all the luck for its future endeavors” – said Ankur Bansal, Director, BlackSoil Capital Private Limited.

IntelligenceNode is also backed by marquee angel investors, viz. Gaurav Sharma, Sunil Varrier, Arindam Das, Anupam Mittal and Gul Mukhey.

Launched in 2012 as a consulting service, IntelligenceNode is providing technology-based products and service providers to global retail players. It has a total customer base of 35 clients and covers over 1 bn+ unique products of over 130,000 brands. The company’s two products (InCompetitor & InOptimizer) enable the customers to get an overview of the competitive landscape in terms of pricing & visibility. It also suggests the client the most optimum pricing for its products. Its strong back-end analytics process is able to support a wide range of offerings in terms of refined data in the most efficient matter

“IntelligenceNode has some great aspirations in reaching out to blue-chip MNC’s in global retail. The utility for our products & services is immense and with the help of venture debt provided by BlackSoil our business has got optimum fuel to run and grow faster in this industry” – said Sanjeev, CEO and Co-founder of IntelligenceNode.

After investments in Cloud based telephony company “Knowlarity”, Indian arm of NASDAQ listed company Groupon “Nearbuy”, BlackSoil has completed its third Venture debt transaction with “Intelligence Node”. In six months of its operation, the NBFC has reached a INR 75 Crores loan book across 7 transactions and in process to expand their loan book to Rs 100 Crores by March 2017.

BlackSoil is backed by the family offices of respected corporate houses such as: Gala family – Promoters of Navneet Education Limited, Shetty family – Promoters of Avvashya Group and Mr Virendra Gala, a renowned real estate expert in Mumbai.

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Startups

CES 2017 : Boltt To Showcase AI Based Sports Wearables

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India based sports wearable startup Boltt Sports Technologies is going to showcase its products and solutions at the CES 2017, to be held in Las Vegas from 5th to 8th of January. The products will be exclusively unveiled at the launch event by Boltt on 6th January and will also be available for preview at booth number 45930.

CES is a globally renowned gadgets and innovation tradeshow facilitated by Consumer Electronics Association in United States every year in Las Vegas.

At the show, Boltt will be introducing its fitness kit which includes a pair of smart shoes, a smart band and health and training apps powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). The startup aims to reform the health and wellness space with first of its kind AI powered fitness solutions and products. Boltt’s business includes three verticals, which are wearable, software and services. With its services solution, Boltt will provide fitness services to communities such as schools, gyms, sports institutions etc. by collaborating with them.

Boltt Sports Technology is co-founded by Arnav Kishore and Aayushi Kishore in May 2015. Boltt’s agenda is to create a winning solution with a balanced mix of data science, behavior change, and cognitive computing, to create a Virtual Coaching Intelligence. The idea was formulated to provide futuristic fitness and well-being solutions to people across the world and make the world a fitter and healthier place to live in.

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Startups

Pi Datacenters Raises Rs 154 Cr Funding From Epsilon

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Pi Datacenters or Pi, a data center startup based out of Andhra Pradesh, has raised investment of Rs 154 crore from Epsilon Venture Partners and an Australian private venture firm.

Pi is headquartered in Amaravati, the state’s new capital, and offers data center and cloud services to enterprise customers.

The round was led by Epsilon’s General Partner based on the ground in India, Mahesh Vaidya, who will be joining the company’s board. Epsilon will be actively involved in assisting with the build and growth of Pi, having already introduced local blue-chip prospective clients.

“We are excited to be associated with Epsilon and their co-investor in the current round. India is poised for an explosion in digital data with the numerous technology initiatives adopted by the government of India and the various state governments. Data is integral to a nation’s security and datacenters are the key building blocks for a nation’s infrastructure. Epsilon’s technology investment experience across the globe is of significant strategic value that would pave the way for global partnerships in ensuring that Pi brings state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure capability to India. The funds raised would add to help us roll out our first few datacenters across India. As more users go digital in India, lower latency is paramount for better user experience, which is possible only if the digital infrastructure is located within the country ,” said Kalyan Muppaneni, Founder & CEO of Pi.

Mahesh said “The Datacenter and Cloud Infrastructure space in India is poised for robust growth over the next decade as evidenced by the trends observed in mature economies such as the US and Europe. The majority of countries are already emphasizing data sovereignty as a vital element of a nation’s security with appropriate measures in place. India initiated moves in this area a few years ago, with the mandate for local hosting of all its citizens’ financial and personal data. Moreover, fundamentally, we believe that India will double its internet user base in the next 3-5 years and this should position Pi very well to capitalize on this secular growth opportunity.”

Sudheer Kuppam, Managing Partner of Epsilon and former head of Intel Capital Asia, added “We are delighted to add Pi Datacenters to our portfolio of Asian technology company investments. We feel very well placed to have a successful partnership with Pi, and have a fantastic like-minded investment partner in the Australian co-investor. This sizeable deployment of capital in such a quality company and team helps further demonstrate our sourcing and execution capability, and our ability in making decisions based on potential financial returns, as an independent fund manager.”

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NationalNewsStartups

Quikr Acquires Stepni, Introduces Vehicle Maintenance Services

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quikr-quikrcarsQuikr Wednesday said it has acquired Stepni, a platform that connects vehicle owners with service providers nearest to them. The strategic move strengthens the company’s service offerings under QuikrCars, its vertical that focuses on all types of automobiles including cars, bikes and commercial vehicles. It also opens cross-selling opportunities for QuikrServices, the company’s vertical that provides a range of services to consumers.

Founded by Vinay Singh & Nikhil Nair in October 2015, Stepni has helped thousands of consumers with their vehicle servicing needs in Bangalore through a partner network of over 125 service centers across the city.

Talking about the acquisition, Atul Tewari, Head of QuikrCars and COO, Quikr said, “At QuikrCars, we believe there is an acute need and a large opportunity for someone to innovate in the auto buying selling space in India. Over the last couple of years, we have turned QuikrCars into the country’s leading auto platform that cuts across new and used car transactions – in new cars, we are working closely with OEMs to address their marketing needs, and in used cars, we are by far the no. 1 destination for inspected, consumer-owned cars. Stepni’s business model will now allow us to develop a longer term relationship with car owners as opposed to only at the point of buying-selling. We plan to scale vehicle maintenance services to all major cities over the next three months.”

Stepni’s founders and team will join QuikrCars with immediate effect. The overall platform integration will help QuikrCars consumers shortlist service providers that can ensure the best service for their vehicle within 5 kms of their location.

“Teaming up with Quikr brings tremendous possibilities for our business model on the demand side and it will help to scale the platform seamlessly across multiple cities. We look forward to combining our experience in the vehicle maintenance domain with Quikr’s scale and reach to make vehicle services convenient and affordable for all,” said Vinay Singh, Co-Founder, Stepni.

QuikrCars has over 1.5MM vehicles listed on its platform across India. It has the largest inventory of consumer inspected vehicles on its platform along with feature comparisons across models. It also offers RTO assistance and a localized discovery module that shows recently posted and trending vehicle models around a particular location.

Since last year, Quikr has made several acquisitions. QuikrHomes has acquired Realty Exchange (IRX), Realtycompass and CommonFloor and made a strategic investment in A N Virtual Tech. QuikrServices has acquired beauty services companies Salosa and Zapluk. QuikrJobs has acquired Hiree to expand into white collar jobs.

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NationalNewsStartups

Microsoft Appoints Bala Girisaballa To Head Its Accelerator Program

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Bala-Girisaballa-MicrosoftMicrosoft Tuesday appointed Bala Girisaballa as CEO-In-Residence to head its Accelerator program in India with effect from  August 1, 2016. Prior to this, Bala was with Zinnov as Partner & Practice head helping MNC R&D companies.

Bala will lead the Accelerator’s efforts to help market-ready startups and entrepreneurs to scale up and become successful businesses through technology enablement, global go-to-market efforts and deep business advisory in the form of Hi-Po and Scale-Up programs.

The Microsoft Accelerataor has already formed partnerships with Temasek, TCS, Citi, Reliance Industries and other Multinational Corporates under its corporate engagement program #CoInnovate, to help the startups in their go-to-market efforts and global expansion

Microsoft also announced that Ravi Narayan, the current Director of the Accelerator program will now assume the role of Global Director.

Ravi Narayan, in his new role as Global Director, will help Microsoft Accelerator in eight locations around the world to become market-ready, focused and accelerate these startups that have or will raise institutional funding from VCs. He will also focus on scaling the startup acceleration model through global partners.

Early last year, Microsoft Accelerator in India redesigned their programs to cater to market-ready startups. Since then, it has helped startups like iBot, CustomerXPs, Altizon, CloudCherry and Reverie Technologies.

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AppsConsumerStartups

LafaLafa Raises Seedfund, Eyes Asia Expansion

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lafalafaCoupons and cashback aggregating service provider LafaLafa has raised seed funding from Hong Kong based VC firm Vectr Ventures. This is Vectr Ventures’ first such investment in Indian startup ecosystem.

LafaLafa, however, did not disclose the size of the investment.

The company wishes to use the money in expansion and technology upgradation of the mobile-first app launched just 8 months back.

“The funds will be used for marketing, Asia expansion and strengthening our technology,” LafaLafa’s founder Yosha Gupta said.

Seed funding by Vectr Ventures is second such investment by a VC firm. In September this year the LafaLafa founder was able to raise seed funding of $125000 from Siliicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups.

“They have an incredibly interesting portfolio of startups with a strong focus on diversity and women entrepreneurs and with very strong ties in China and Hong Kong. We were sure we wanted them on board in our journey especially as we expand in the rest of Asia,” added Gupta, a 33 year old first time entrepreneur.

According to Gupta, the LafaLafa coupons aggregator app has seen half a million downloads in last eight months. Besides, recently the company has added a new feature – Personal Deal Assistant- to the app to help its members to strike the best deals by getting direct assistance from the real-time chatting.

 

 

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