HomeTechStartup news and updates: daily roundup (Jan 27, 2022) - YourStory

Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Jan 27, 2022) – YourStory

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Omni-channel eyewear brand Lenskart launched 73 stores on the occasion of India’s 73rd Republic Day across 46 cities and 19 states. Lenskart aims to set up a total of 400 stores in the FY 2022, with an aim to further expand and strengthen the network in the country.
Nearly 73 stores were launched predominantly in Tamil Nadu -17 stores, 10 in Karnataka and six each in Telangana and Kerala amongst others. With this, the company has started its countdown to successfully establish its landmark 1000th store in February this year.
The launches also include states like Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab along with several others.
Commenting on the Republic Day launch, Amit Chaudhary, Co-founder, Lenskart said, “We are delighted to launch 73 stores in the country on a single day on the 73rd Republic Day. We aim to enable vision for 1 billion people by 2027 globally and this is a positive step towards it.”
Lenskart currently serves over seven million customers yearly through its omni-channel shopping experience, which includes an online store, a mobile app, and over 900 omni-channel storefronts. Every new store opening is expected to increase the customer base.
US-based CommerceIQ, an ecommerce decision management platform, on Thursday announced its expansion into India, to drive & support ecommerce growth for global partner brands and has already enrolled its first customer in the country. 
Based in California, USA, CommerceIQ supports global brands such as Kellogg’s, Mondelez International, Nestle, Whirlpool, and Colgate, Johnson & Johnson, and others in adopting algorithmic retail. It uses ML and AI to aggregate data across sales, marketing, and supply chain operations, helping companies gain shoppers and maintain customer loyalty. This technology was developed in  the company’s Bengaluru facilities.
“It is our mission to help our customers capture their consumer at the point of purchase, regardless of geography or retail channel,” said Guru Hariharan, CEO, and Founder of CommerceIQ said in a statement. “The Indian e-commerce market is exploding, and we intend to deliver the same results to regional operators here as we have for our customers based in the U.S. Whether in India or elsewhere, the challenges are the same – keeping up with the world of algorithmic retail through retail-aware, automated decision-making.”
To service the Indian market, CommerceIQ said that it  has tweaked its algorithmic components to optimally respond to shoppers  behavior on local retailers like Amazon.in and added support for local websites like Flipkart. The company is also building out its customer success, sales and marketing team in-country to support the expansion.
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Guru Hariharan, CEO, CommerceIQ
Tonetag, a sound-based proximity communication and payments service provider on Thursday said it is collaborating with Elocity, an electric vehicle charging solutions provider, to solve the payment processing challenges in the EV sector.
The technology will be especially beneficial in rural areas and underground parking garages where online payments and network connectivity are challenging. This technology will be first offered in the Indian EV charging market and quickly scaled globally.
Through this strategic partnership, EV drivers with any mobile phone can now pay easily at Elocity HIEVTM and ToneTag enabled EV charging stations, irrespective of their location or network availability.
Commenting on this initiative from the Bangalore head office, Kumar Abhishek, Founder & CEO of ToneTag, said in a statement, “ With ToneTag, customers can make digital transactions just with their voice in their preferred language. With Elocity, we are extending our offline and voice-based payment services to EV drivers to improve their EV charging experience.”
 ToneTag has completed over 52 million consumer transactions and this strategic partnership with Elocity, will contribute hugely to speeding EV adoption
Sanjeev Singh, Founder & CEO of Elocity, commented, “The value of integrating our EV charging HIEVTM technology with ToneTag’s voice-based payment system is enormous. Working with ToneTag aligns with Elocity’s mission of “A Connected EV World ”.
Sanjeev further added that “Currently, Elocity is engaged with many leading companies and Government organizations in India, North America and globally. We will continue to collaborate with many specialist technology partners, businesses, Government organizations and EV drivers to unlock superior value for everyone involved.”
Care24, a home healthcare platform operating in Mumbai and Delhi, said on Thursday that it has been acquired by Human Life Management(HLM), a leading Japanese home medical support corporation.
HLM, led by Yoshiki Sasaki, has been a prime investor in Care24 for the past two years and holds multiple businesses in healthcare and other sectors. Care24 will extend its robust service delivery and agile technology platform for HLM and will cater to the evolving healthcare needs of the customers.
Post the acquisition, HLM and Care24 will closely work together to scale and strengthen medical service offerings in India and additionally expand to other southeast countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia. It will also play a pivotal role in launching new medical offerings for Care24 in the Indian market such as end of life care, critical care at home, family doctor subscription service, doctor on call, implementation of care plan and Training of doctors along with training materials. 
Care24 will expand its service offerings across multiple states in India,  while the international operations will be under the label of “Care24 international. 
On this acquisition, Vipin Pathak, Founder and CEO, Care24 said, “We are excited and highly enthusiastic with this new acquisition deal. Our team has been working with the HLM team for the past 2 years and we could feel the synergy and compatibility in the thought process of both the teams.”
He further added, “We aim to bridge the gaps of Global Medical expertise, best practices, capital and network in Japan, south-east Asia with HLM and Care24’s existing capabilities. All our investors are also excited and pleased with this acquisition and strongly believe that HLM is the right long term partner for us. Together, we envision an accelerated growth for company and plan to change the course of healthcare in India as well as globally.”
All earlier investors Elevation, IQ, DI, Start-up Health have received cash exit through this deal and all existing investors stands contented and aligned on the deal.
Mobile cloud company now.gg on Thursday launched its now.gg Fungible Games (NFG) platform for mobile games developed on Unity, Unreal and Cocos engines. 
“This would be impossible to do today on a phone, but with the processing power of the mobile cloud and the dynamic compositing of games, this becomes possible,”  said Rosen Sharma, CEO and founder of now.gg. “We are very excited about this and you will see more games plug into the Metaverse.”
now.gg Fungible Games combines several unique technical capabilities to create a mobile Metaverse. The first is the ability to break down a game into game code, game events, and game art with different people owning different pieces of the game. The second is the real-time dynamic composition of these unbundled elements in the cloud streamed to the user with low latency. Third is the interlinking of the elements between games and also with the user’s own wallets and journey.
LEAD co-founders: Smita Deorah and Sumeet Mehta
School edtech major LEAD, which recently turned unicorn, said on Thursday that its Chief Commercial Officer, Ritwik Khare, is now the Chief Operation Officer (COO) of the firm. 
This comes after Ritwik helped achieve a series of successes towards driving sales and spearheading the revenue function of the company, said the company in a statement. 
Ritwik has over 20 years of experience in leadership positions driving business successfully across industries. In his new role, Ritwik will take the lead in providing a unified customer experience to LEAD’s partner schools and ensure to deliver learning outcomes for students by bringing in synergy between the company’s Academic Excellence and Commercial teams. 
LEAD co-founder Sumeet Mehta said, “We are in the midst of a very exciting phase and Ritwik’s deep understanding of the evolving EdTech landscape with customer centricity at its core is remarkable. This makes him a perfect fit to lead our next wave of growth. I am delighted to have him take charge of the company’s overall operations and develop innovative sales models for scaling up at a rapid pace. “
Talking about his new role Ritwik Khare said, “I am thankful to Sumeet and Smita for their continued belief in me, as together we work towards LEAD’s mission of transforming core school education in India. I look forward to bringing my knowledge and experience to increase the agility of strategy execution and drive continued growth by overseeing the delivery of a unified customer experience to our partners.”
Capillary, a B2B SaaS platform for customer loyalty and engagement, on Thursday announced its collaboration with Ample, an enterprise and retail technology solutions company to strategically revamp the company’s Customer Relations Management systems across India.
One of the country’s oldest premium retailers, Ample has partnered with brands including Apple, Bose, Under Armour and Asics to provide pioneering experience to consumers through a chain of exclusive brand stores. With an aim to boost its existing omnichannel commerce and to build on customer engagement, the company has entrusted Capillary Technologies with seamlessly integrating their existing offline business into a blended offline and online retail model.
Ample’s founder and CEO, Rajesh Narang, said, “We are confident that with Capillary Technology’s diversified loyalty and engagement product suite as well as AI-based technology platform, Ample can create real-time, omnichannel and personalised experience for customers, thus overcoming post-pandemic challenges.”
Aneesh Reddy, Executive Director and CEO of Capillary Technologies, agreed that brands needed to keep up with the best technology.  “With offerings like real-time incentivisation, Ample can now enable its partner brands to optimize discounts and delight the customers with instant rewards at the point of sale. While we work with prestigious partners like Ample, I believe Capillary is set to expand further into providing loyalty products across global brands.” he added. 
Shankar Prasad, Founder of PurePlay Skin Sciences
D2C brand Plum ropes in millennial sensation Mithila Palkar as brand ambassador
Plum, a beauty and personal care brand, said on Thursday that it has signed actress Mithila Palkar as their brand ambassador. This will be the first time that Plum is getting a brand ambassador on board.
The brand is available in over 250 towns and cities in India, through more than 900 assisted retail outlets, and over 10,000 unassisted outlets – growing month-on-month. 
Mithila is known for a wide variety of roles that she has portrayed in movies and web series such as, Chopsticks (A Netflix Original film), and Karwaan. She rose to fame after her roles in popular web series Little Things and Girl in the City. She is also a popular singer.
On being the brand’s first ambassador, actress Mithila Palkar shares, “I’m really excited to be the face of a brand like Plum that believes in spreading so much goodness around the world. I deeply resonate with the philosophy of the brand and their unique approach towards creating products which are truly good for your skin. I am truly glad to be associated with them.” 
Commenting on the announcement, Shankar Prasad, CEO and founder at Plum, said  “Our association with her is a step towards strengthening the connection with our customers and reaching out to millions of more women who will emotionally associate with our brand and love using our products. We are confident that her voice will inspire them to be comfortable in their skincare and beauty choices and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her as the face of Plum.”
ATLAS SkillTech University had its first Advisory Board meeting on Republic day 26th January 2022. It was launched on Independence Day 15th August last year. 
Its Advisory Board includes Deepak Parikh (HDFC) as Chairman, Dr. Indu Shahani (Founding President ATLAS), Ronnie Screwvala & Mayank Kumar (upGrad), Ram Raghavan (Colgate), Keshav Murugesh (WNS), Karan Singh (Bain), Vivek Pandit (McKinsey), Jamil Khatri (KPMG), Anant Goenka (CEAT), Anjali Bansal (Avana), Aryaman Birla (Aditya Birla group), Sanjay Gurbaxani (Mondelez), Prof Russ Winter (NYU-Stern), Prof Tim Marshall (RMIT), & Carol Kim (Parsons).
The board met to spell out the vision, scale and ambition to make this a premier institution in India in the next four years. 
ATLAS has committed to creating a curriculum, academic excellence, and experiential learning in five very critical and future-ready verticals namely: (A) Design & Creativity (B) Digital content & gamification (C) Media & Communication (D) Digital Technology and Data (E) Management and Entrepreneurship. 
The founding batch which commenced in August last year has students from across 22 states.
It has over 150 faculty members that are slated to double over the next 18 months.
upGrad has committed Rs 150 Cr ($20 million) in the first phase to build out ATLAS SkillTech University – a not-for-profit – and will continue to support its growth in the years to come.
“Our joint vision is to see ATLAS in the top 5 Universities in the country, a centre for global excellence and we are committed to build and to upskill our young adults for the careers of tomorrow as India heads into the Fourth Industrial Revolution – where innovation and Creativity not labour arbitrage will be at the core,” said Ronnie Screwvala Co-founder and Chairperson of upGrad.
Larsen & Toubro Infotech, technology consulting and digital solutions company on Thursday said it is partnering with IIT Madras for collaborative research in the field of 5G. 
Through this collaboration, LTI and IIT Madras aim to innovate in the emerging 5G space and enable 5G frameworks validation, low frequency RF deployments and use case testing with 5G test bed.
They will promote research towards development of low-cost, low-frequency 5G network setup for better connectivity in rural India and design low-cost base stations and networks for rural connectivity. LTI will also provide expertise for research capabilities and offer relevant infrastructure support for this initiative.
Speaking about the R&D capabilities of IIT Madras, Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, said, “IITM’s 5G testbed project is an effort to encourage Indian startups and the industry to take an early lead in 5G. The goal of the project is to build a test bed that closely resembles a real-world 5G deployment.” 
Highlighting the need for such projects, Mr. Nachiket Deshpande, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Board Member, LTI, said, “LTI’s partnership with IIT Madras reflects our commitment to leverage this technology to connect people from remote parts of India in a better way.”
Shadowfax Technologies, crowdsourced platform for last-mile deliveries, on Thursday said that it appointed Pawan Pandey as the Chief Marketing Officer. He will be responsible for ensuring the company’s strategic growth and encouraging marketing process optimisation, facilitating efficiency and expansion. 
Pawan has more than 16 years of experience in diversified categories such as Food & Beverage, Personal Care, Healthcare/OTC, Home décor, and Media & Entertainment. Prior to Joining Shadowfax, he has worked with companies like The Walt Disney Company, Dabur India Limited, and Nippon Paint.  
Sharing his vision on his new journey, Pawan Pandey, Chief Marketing Officer, Shadowfax Technologies, said, “Shadowfax Technologies is on its mission to transform last-mile delivery experiences using cutting edge AI/ML technology, and I am delighted to be part of their journey. As a CMO, I shall be working towards building Shadowfax as an aspirational and a purpose-driven brand.”
“I shall be focusing on widening the top funnel by increasing brand awareness & consideration through POV-driven marketing campaigns. And will strengthen our performance marketing efforts to improve ROI of marketing campaigns by bringing in efficiency and process optimisation,” he added. 
Abhishek Bansal, Co-founder & CEO, Shadowfax Technologies, said, “We are delighted to welcome Pawan to our Team along with his experienced approach to lead our marketing efforts in the journey ahead. Pawan’s experience and commitment will help drive our next phase of growth as we expand our platform and services further in 2022 and the years to come.”
BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer
BharatPe on Thursday said that it has ramped up the reach of its POS business (BharatSwipe) by 25X to over 250 cities in the last 12 months. The company has deployed more than 1.25 lakh BharatSwipe machines across offline shops since the launch of its POS business in the second half of 2020. 
BharatPe also said that the company has witnessed 200 percent growth in the annualised transaction value from its POS business, over the last 12 months. BharatSwipe now contributes about 25 percent to the overall payments Transaction Processed Value (TPV) of the company. 
BharatSwipe has been universally adopted by small merchants and retailers across categories including grocery, food & beverage, electronics and durables, among others with more than 50 percent of BharatSwipe machines being deployed in Tier II/ Tier III towns and cities since 2021. 
Speaking about the aggressive expansion, Mr. Suhail Sameer, CEO, BharatPe, said “BharatSwipe has been the biggest growth story in India’s POS industry- from making a humble beginning with 10 cities in the middle of COVID in 2020, to processing $4B payments annually today. Over the course of last year, we have witnessed multi-fold growth in our POS business, led by our aggressive expansion plans in Tier II, III and IV towns and cities.”
He further added, “We were able to take POS to several small merchants in last-mile areas with low digital penetration like Alappuzha, Azamgarh and Chalisgaon. In fact, over 60 percent of our merchants are first time POS users.”
BharatPe will continue to ramp up strategic partnerships with banks, financial institutions and brands with the objective of enhancing the customer experience on its POS devices. The company targets to reach $30 billion TPV on payments through both QR and Swipe by March 2023.
API Holdings on Thursday said that Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) has approved Docon for the integration and deployment of Doctors Health IDs.
Docon is a platform that enables doctors to digitise their practices using a user-friendly interface, intending to provide quality treatment to patients. The integration, which took place in December. Patients can create their Health IDs on the ABDM official website and will now be able to share their unique IDs with the doctors.
The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission was launched in August 2020 to develop the country’s integrated digital health infrastructure. Docon was amongst the first organisations chosen by the National Digital Health Mission and it is now one of India’s first one-stop digital clinics, to enable Health IDs for doctors. This integration will enable doctors and patients to seamlessly connect with India’s Digital Health Ecosystem.
The unique Health ID will be useful for authenticating patients’ health records across the country, allowing them to share their past medical history with the healthcare providers. The patients are being offered plenty of benefits, including digitised health information, personal health records and easy sign-up, to mention a few. It also lets patients revoke access as per their choice – making this a flexible opt-in opt-out ecosystem.
Akash Valia, Head of Docon said, “Just as UPI and online payments changed the way consumers transact, Health ID-enabled Docon will change the way doctors and patients interact, providing deep patient health history and understanding to the doctors, allowing them to deliver the best patient outcome.”
TerraPay, a payments infrastructure company, on Thursday said that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL), the International arm of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). This association with NIPL will allow Indians with an active UPI ID to receive real-time, international payments into their bank accounts via TerraPay’s adaptive and secure payments technology.
Globally, TerraPay processes payouts into over 4.5Bn bank accounts and into more than 1.5Bn mobile wallets. With the vision to foster financial inclusion, residents, POI’s, Indian diaspora will be able to send money to India by using TerraPay’s agile, transparent and real-time payment channel.
“India is a strategic market for TerraPay and our collaboration with NIPL is a true testament of our vision to create a financially inclusive ecosystem. This alliance will allow us to expand and optimize our payment capabilities, and open up the Indian market for our global partner networks.” said Ambar Sur, Founder and CEO, TerraPay.
Mr. Ritesh Shukla, CEO, NIPL shares his views, “This partnership with TerraPay is aimed at enabling seamless and convenient cross-border remittances experience powered by UPI platform’s best in class real-time capabilities.”
Gautam Kshatriya, CEO of UpScalio
UpScalio on Thursday said it has invested in Truphe, an NCR-based home and gardening brand, continuing its rapid pace of investing in and scaling online-first brands. This is UpScalio’s ninth investment since its inception in June’21. 
It plans to work on key levers including inventory regionalisation, sourcing, and brand marketing to scale the brand. Truphe has been well received on marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart, and UpScalio will leverage the existing presence to grow the brand to a Rs 50 crore ARR in 1-2 years.
Truphe is a leading manufacturer and distributor of gardening tools, seeds, planters and other accessories. Mr Honey Gupta started Truphe in 2015, prior to which he had founded a profitable B2B lead generation platform. 
Speaking on the investment, Saaim Khan, Co-founder and COO, UpScalio, said “The Home and Gardening category in India has quickly grown to become a $900M space, and we plan to capture a large chunk of it with Truphe. Honey has done a great job of catering to the passionate community of hobbyists that use Truphe’s products and we’re thrilled to partner with him to grow Truphe exponentially.”
Mr Honey Gupta, Founder, Truphe, said “I needed to partner with someone who understood the human side of the work we do. UpScalio checked both of those boxes for us, and I firmly believe that their strategy for expanding Truphe will realise all of our shared goals.”
The roll-up ecommerce company has had an incredible year, recording over Rs 210 crore in Annualised Revenue. The company plans to acquire five more brands by the end of FY21, and is projecting a consolidated revenue run rate of Rs 750 crore for the same period.

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