Deal Roundup: Seed stage startups shine in muted week for technology funding

Deal Roundup: Seed stage startups shine in muted week for technology funding
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17 Jan, 2020

In a week that saw Amazon chief Jeff Bezos earmark an additional $1 billion for investments in India, funding activity in technology startups was muted in terms of dollars deployed at $37 million (several deals didn’t disclose their value). 

There was, however, a silver lining -- out the 12 deals closed during the week, nine were at the seed stage. The earlier week saw 17 startups raise a total of $577 million, with unicorns -- startups valued privately at $1 billion or more -- Zomato and Byju’s leading the rally.

On the investor front, venture capital firm Sprout Venture Partners struck twice this week, first with an investment in ayurveda brand Aadar, along with LetsVenture members, and a second investment in edtech startup ExtraaEdge, with Indian Angel Network (IAN). 

Separately, IAN also tied up with impact investor Caspian Debt to support early and growth stage innovations.

The week was also marked by impact investor Accion’s exit from a five-year investment in SME (small and medium enterprises) lender Aye Finance. Accion Venture Lab, its seed stage investment arm, sold its remaining stake in the Gurugram-based company to A91 Partners, the venture capital firm founded by former Sequoia Capital India executives.

Coming back to Bezos, ahead of his visit to the subcontinent, Amazon infused a total of $242 million in two of its local units -- digital payments platform Amazon Pay ($191 million) and B2B marketplace Amazon Wholesale ($51 million).

Top funding deals

Wysh: Celebrity engagement and wishing platform Wysh raised $2 million in a Series A round led by Kalaari Capital. The round also saw contributions from investors including Akatsuki Entertainment Technology Fund (AET Fund), AngelList, Touchstone Equities and Whiteboard Capital. Wysh is owned and operated by Bengaluru-based Emojifi.

epiFi: The Bengaluru-based neo banking startup, currently in stealth mode, raised $13.2 million in an outsized seed round led by venture capital firms Sequoia Capital India and Ribbit Capital. Beijing-headquartered private equity firm Hillhouse Capital, Nubank founder David Velez and Cred founder Kunal Shah participated in the round.

Power Gummies: New Delhi headquartered Aesthetic Nutrition-owned platform raised an undisclosed amount in an extended seed round from early stage venture capital firm DSG Consumer Partners. Founded in November 2018 by Divij Bajaj, Power Gummies sells dietary supplements in a chewable form instead of capsules and pills. Currently, it offers hair vitamin supplements made from plant-based pectin, essential vitamins, biotin and folic acid.

TechnifyBiz: The B2B food commodity marketplace’s parent company Connedit Business Solutions raised $2 million in a seed round from impact investors Omnivore Partners and Insitor Partners. Shashank Kumar and Harshil Mathur, founders at online payment gateway service provider Razorpay, also participated in the round.

Pando: The startup, which provides networked logistics management software, raised $9 million in a Series A funding round led by Chiratae Ventures. The round also saw participation from Siemens-backed Next47, existing investor Nexus Venture Partners, angel investors such as VMware India’s vice president of technology Ramkumar Narayanan, Indifi  founder Alok Mittal and CEO, and co-founder of xto10x Ventures Saikiran Krishnamurthy.

Toddle: The education technology startup, which is a productivity platform for teachers across all stages of teaching and learning, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from venture capital firm Matrix Partners India. The round also saw participation from seed stage venture capital firm Better Capital as well as angel investors, including Swiggy co-founder Rahul Jaimini.

Purplle: The Mumbai-based online beauty and personal care platform raised $8 million in an ongoing Series C round from Brussels-headquartered family investment firm Verlinvest. In December, it raised $27 million in a Series C from investment bank Goldman Sachs. With this round, the Manash Lifestyle-owned platform has raised $51.3 million so far.

Klub Works: Bengaluru and Singapore-based fintech startup raised $2 million in a seed round from Surge, Sequoia Capital India’s scale-up programme, and a group of angel investors. The institutional investors in this round include EMVC Fintech Fund, Better Capital, Tracxn Labs, and 9Unicorns, along with nearly 40 angels participating in the round through AngelList. 

Numocity Technologies: The Bengaluru headquartered startup, which provides ancillary solutions for EVs (electric vehicles), raised an undisclosed amount from early stage investor Ideaspring Capital, Japanese venture capital firm Rebright Partners and ATV (ABB Technology Ventures). It is the first round of institutional funding for the company founded in 2018 by former

Nokia Siemens executive Ravikiran Annaswamy and former vice president of product management at Infibeam Siddharth Sreenivasan.

Aadar: Mumbai-based Inmart Commerce-owned ayurveda wellness and lifestyle consumer brand raised an undisclosed sum in a seed round from venture capital firm Sprout Venture Partners and investors from angel investment platform LetsVenture. JITO’s (Jain International Trade Organization) angel network also participated in the round. This is the second round of investment at Aadar, which last raised an angel round from investors such as former VLCC CEO Syed Safawi in early 2018.

ExtraaEdge Technology Solutions: The B2B platform for admissions and marketing at educational institutions, raised $700,000 in a seed round led by Sprout Venture Partners and Indian Angel Network. The Pune-based marketing automation and CRM (customer relationship management) platform will utilise the capital towards its product development, data science capabilities as well as overseas expansion, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

Funds

Wipro Ventures: The Wipro-owned unit announced a second fund with a $150 million corpus. The new fund will back early-to-mid-stage companies in the enterprise software solutions space across geographies, according to a statement. The first fund of the venture capital arm had a $100 million corpus and funded companies in key areas of AI (artificial intelligence), Big Data and analytics, cloud infrastructure, financial technology, healthcare, Internet of Things and cybersecurity.

Venture Highway: The seed investments focused venture capital firm has raised $78.6 million for its second India-focused fund. The new fund aims to back approximately 30 early-stage companies. The average cheque size for the second fund is expected to be $1 million. Former WhatsApp global business head Neeraj Arora is a returning limited partner in the second fund. 

Ankur Capital: The seed stage investor marked the first close of its second India-focused fund at $34 million, drawing commitments for UK development financial institution CDC and SIDBI. The fund aims to close the fund at $50 million and expects to complete fundraising later this year. 

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