Fintech startup Sqrrl secures $1 mn in pre-Series A round
Sqrrl Fintech Pvt. Ltd, which owns and operates investment app Sqrrl, has raised $1 million (Rs 6.8 crore) in a pre-Series A round of funding from Equanimity Venture Fund, which counts emerging markets guru Mark Mobius as a member of its investment committee.
In a press statement, the company said that the fresh capital will be used to pursue “aggressive growth and add to its product and tech prowess.”
Delhi-based Sqrrl also aims to invest in new-age technologies, especially machine learning and artificial intelligence, to sharpen its product recommendation and smoothen its on-boarding process.
The app enables users to invest in high-performing mutual funds based on their investment needs, risks and goals.
“The Sqrrl team is working hard to reach out to the broader India with its very highly intuitive offering available in nine Indian languages,” said Rajesh Sehgal, managing partner of Equanimity Investments.
As part of the deal, Sehgal will join the board of Sqrrl.
Burgeon, a boutique firm focused on startups, represented Sqrrl as the legal advisor for the deal.
The app was launched in March last year by Dhananjay Singh, Sanjeev Sharma and Samant Sikka.
The Sqrrl app claims to have amassed more than 150,000 downloads across Android and iOS devices. The company said that more than 76% of Sqrrl’s users are under the age of 35.
“We have made a good start by building a personalised recommendation engine using analytics and data science,” said co-founder Singh. “Further, we plan to employ machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the recommendation engine, customer experience and security.”
Sqrrl was incubated at JioGenNext, a startup accelerator program run by Reliance Jio and Microsoft Ventures.
Among Sqrrl’s advisors are Shripad Nadkarni, an angel investor and marketing guru; Advait Dikshit, business and change management expert; and Carl Richards, a New York Times columnist and author.
In addition, Ravi Sud, former chief financial officer of Hero MotoCorp, and Rajesh Cherayil, chief executive of a private equity fund Nereus Capital, are strategic investors in Sqrrl.
Deals in the space
Startups across the fintech space have been raising funding in recent months. Among investment platforms, Mumbai-based wealth management startup OroWealth received $1.6 million (Rs 11 crore) in a Series A funding round led by US-based venture capital firm Powerhouse Ventures last month.
In February, Mumbai-based personal finance startup Fincash.com raised Rs 1 crore ($150,000) in a fresh funding round from a group of angel investors from the financial sector.
Before that, Finwizard Technology Pvt. Ltd, which runs wealth management app Fisdom, secured $3.84 million (Rs 25 crore) in a Series B round led by Quona Capital Management Ltd.
Equanimity Venture Fund
Sehgal started the early-stage venture capital firm early last year. He floated Equanimity after leaving Franklin Templeton, where he was working with the emerging markets group (EMG), managing pre-IPO, private investment in public enterprises (PIPE) and private equity (PE) deals with a special focus on India.
Apart from being on the firm’s investment committee, Mark Mobius is also a limited partner..
The fund has a target corpus of Rs 200 crore, including a greenshoe option of Rs 100 crore. The fund is sector-agnostic but plans to back early-stage tech startups in sectors such as fin-tech, health-tech and data analytics.
The fund will primarily focus on ventures within India but it will also look to invest in startup and growth ventures abroad.
It plans to invest in 20 companies, making seven to eight bets a year, and will pick up a 10-30% stake in the startups it backs. The average investment size will be between $500,000 and $3 million.
Sehgal is also an angel investor, having backed 22 startups since 2007 and exited eight of them.