IAN invests in Kerala based agritech co; ShareChat makes fourth acquisition of 2020

IAN invests in Kerala based agritech co; ShareChat makes fourth acquisition of 2020
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
16 Sep, 2020

Indian Angel Network (IAN) Fund on Wednesday said it has invested Rs 3.5 crore ($475,217 as per current exchange rates) in Farmers Fresh Zone in a bridge round of funding. 

Kochi based agritech startup will use the capital to expand to new markets, strengthen the team and scale-up technology. With the latest round, it has raised a total funding of Rs 6.5 crore (about $882,547) so far, an IAN spokesperson told TechCircle.

It had previously raised Rs 2.5 crore (about $339,907) in November 2018, in an angel investment round led by IAN, along with other angel investors network Malabar Angels and Native Lead, the spokesperson added.

Farmer Fresh Zone operates an online marketplace that helps farmers sell pesticide-free agricultural produce directly to consumers. It was founded in 2015 by Pradeep PS, a software engineer with an agricultural background.

The company operates unit-level traceability for all its products, for consumers to track the origin of a product including details of the farms and farmers. It is technology-enabled with an algorithm for yield prediction and profit calculation.

The omnichannel seller claimed to have connected over 1,500 farmers to urban consumers and said it plans to expand to new markets including Bengaluru.

“The Indian fruits and vegetable sector is valued at $100 billion, of which a staggering 96% is fragmented and disorganized. In 2014, the organic food market was valued at $0.36 billion and the market has been growing at a CAGR of 25%. The pesticide-free i.e. scientifically grown safe-to-eat fruits and vegetable market is much larger than the organic segment. That’s exactly where Farmers Fresh Zone is playing its role,” founder and CEO Pradeep said.

ShareChat acquires HPF Films

Bengaluru-based Mohalla Tech, which runs vernacular social media platform ShareChat, on Wednesday said it has bought a video production firm HPF Films that specialises in digital content, for an undisclosed amount.

The acquisition will help ShareChat and its short videos app Moj strengthen its content operations, creator engagement and brands solutions, a statement said. 

Founded in 2018, HPF Films has ideated and produced over 3,500 titles across different formats including web-series, digital ads, short films, and documentaries for over 20 brands such as Meesho, OKCredit, ixigo, and Ola among others, the statement said, adding that HPF had started out bootstrapped and has been profitable since inception. 

The 25-membered HPF Films is ShareChat’s fourth acquisition in 2020 -- it bought hyperlocal news and information platform Circle Internet in August, meme sharing platform Memer in April, and social commerce platform Elanic in February. The company was open to more content-driven acquisitions in the future and was reportedly also scouting for deals in artificial intelligence, machine learning and online gaming sectors.

Read: Twitter backed ShareChat trims 101 jobs as Covid-19 hits ad revenues

“As ShareChat continues on the aggressive growth journey, it is important for us to invest and build capabilities required to sustain growth on a large base. This acquisition will help us build a framework for our creators and nurture them to evolve as influencers on the platform,” Manohar Charan, vice president of corporate development and strategic finance at ShareChat said.

ShareChat claims to have over 130 million monthly active users (MAU) on its platform, and over 50 million MAUs on its Moj platform, currently.

Observe.AI raises $54 mn Series B capital

Artificial intelligence powered voice solutions provider Observe.AI on Tuesday said that it has raised $54 million in a Series B round of funding led by Menlo Ventures, along with other investors -- Next47 Ventures, and NGP Capital.

The funding will allow the San Francisco-headquartered business to continue momentum in servicing its clientele to transcribe and analyse every call while providing deeper visibility into customer service operations, a statement said.

The funding will be utilised to expand the Nexus Venture Partners-backed firm’s go-to market programs, add new capabilities in the areas of real-time coaching, omnichannel support, and interaction analytics, the statement added.

The company, which also has an office in Bengaluru, comprises a workforce of 100 staffers, and over 150 clients. During the past 12 months, it claimed to have added over 20,000 agent licenses to its platform and grew revenue 600%

Founded in 2017 by CEO Swapnil Jain, CTO Akash Singh, and CRO Sharath Keshava Narayana, Observe.ai was part of the winter 2018 batch of Silicon Valley-based incubator and accelerator Y Combinator.

The Series B financing, at the company, brings its total funding amount to the figure of $88 million, the statement said, adding that an $80 million part was raised over the span of the last 12 months.

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