From the startup world – June 5

India's stable and growing economy is a great option for investors following the volatility in Europe and America

A compilation of important news from the startup world:

Startup India: 250 requests, 90 days, 1 picked
Months after the launch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme Startup India, only a single project has got clearance from the government out of over 200 aspiring entrepreneurs who had applied for the permission to set up new business. Out of over 200 applicants, about 170 had not completed the process of registration. About 25 had not given their process details of business. Many of the projects were not innovative enough to attract attention of the board members which decided for certification of startups. All the tax benefits will be extended to budding entrepreneurs after the passage of the Finance Bill. The startup portal provides with a real-time recognition certificate. Moreover, startups can also find information regarding various notifications issued by government ministries and information about incubators and funding agencies. Also, the site features the Startup India Hub, established within Invest India, which is a single point of contact for the ecosystem enabling exchange of knowledge.

Are more startups really good for economic growth?
There are a few facts about India that are very well-known and cited in day-to-day conversations. A fact that has been gaining ground and is relevant for this discussion is the rise of India as a startup nation. In its second report titled Startup India-Momentous Rise of the Indian Startup Ecosystem, NASSCOM has made clear inferences about India becoming the breeding ground for new startups. As per the report, India is amongst the five largest startup communities of the world, and the youngest of all. The year 2015 ended with the number of startups reaching 4,200. These startups helped create 80,000 new jobs and contributed immensely to the Indian economic growth story. The promise of a billion-dollar startup is either on the verge of being broken or is being tested by cut-throat competition. The same startups that start hiring for employees, powered by deep pockets of their investors, now start consolidation and trimming their resources on the pretext of restructuring and sustainability. Google, Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, all these companies have played an important role in boosting the entrepreneurial culture in the millennial generation.

Snapchat secretly acquires Seene, a computer vision startup that lets mobile users make 3D selfies
Snapchat has acquired 3D photo app maker Seene (also known as Obvious Engineering) a couple of months ago, TechCrunch has learned. There are many different use cases for Seene’s technology, but they all rely on the same differentiating factor. Seene scans and reconstructs full 3D geometry on your phone. Unlike Project Tango or Microsoft’s Kinect, Seene doesn’t need special infrared sensors and multiple cameras. Similarly, Seene doesn’t need a cloud backend to process 3D scans and recreate 3D objects — everything happens on the phone. Virtual reality is a two-sided coin. While many tech giants are focusing on creating VR headsets, other companies are also working on creating compelling content for these headsets. Seene is well-positioned for the content-side of VR, letting anyone create VR-ready content using a phone.

Four city startups raise Rs 1 crore funding
Having weathered several obstacles during the last one year, at least four city-based startups combined have raised funding to the tune of Rs 1 crore and are now gearing up to spread their wings across the state and country. Unihalt Technologies and Health Saathi have been funded (undisclosed amount) by Govin Capital Singapore, has been funded by Dubai-based angel investor Sonthenam Lakshman, while The Red & Black has been funded by another NRI Angel Investors. Raja Sekhar, founder of Health Saathi which launched its healthcare app to provide home-based services such as genetic tests, child care and elder care takers for residents of Vizag, said, “We have around 500 registered users and we have done around 15 genetic tests until now in Vizag, Kakinada and Rajahmundry.” Ramesh VJ, founder of The Red & Black providing services in animation, gaming and VFX, said the startup has already released a full-fledged game known as Bowmen and is working on two mobile games.

Jugnoo rolls out auto-rickshaw pooling service
Taking a cue from cab aggregators Uber and Ola, auto-rickshaw aggregator Jugnoo has launched an auto-rickshaw pooling service called Jugnoo Pool. Chandigarh-based SoCoMo Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs on-demand delivery services and urban transport aggregator startup Jugnoo, says the feature will go live in all the cities where its services are operational. Jugnoo is currently operational in 30 cities and 11 villages. Founded in November 2014 by by IIT Delhi alumni Samar Singla and Chinmay Aggarwal, Jugnoo focuses on four segments—auto booking services, taxi aggregation, online ordering and home delivery of meals and groceries. The taxi aggregation play was added in July last year when Jugnoo acquired BookMyCab in a cash-and-stock deal. Jugnoo, along with BookMyCab, competes with Ola, Uber, Meru and mGaadi (only auto-rickshaws) among others. Jugnoo had recently acquired on-demand grocery venture SabKuchFresh.

Private banks keen to play venture capitalists to startups
Top private sector banks with deep reserves are now playing venture capitalists to startups at a time when startup valuations are sliding and angel investors have become more cautious than before. ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank have formed separate lending teams to fund small startups, mainly for their second and third rounds of funding. Axis has a startup team called new business economy, HDFC Bank has a team working on its product Smart Buy to fund first-time entrepreneurs. The non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) have already started to fund second and third rounds of many startups and banks clearly don’t want to miss the party,” said Chetan Nagendra, partner at AZB & Partners.

Sebi plans to relax start-up listing norms by next month
To make start-up listing platform more attractive, regulator Sebi plans to relax norms by next month to help them tap this avenue for raising funds as also to give an easier exit opportunity to their existing investors including from abroad. The platform is aimed at providing easier exit options for angel investors, domestic and foreign venture capital funds and private equity players, who have invested in over 3,000 startups, including in new technology space, in India. The Institutional Trading Platform (ITP) is yet to see any start-up listing ever since an easier set of compliance and disclosure requirements was notified in August 2015. Under the rules, start-ups can list on the separate ITP of stock exchanges such as BSE and NSE. For their listing, Sebi had also relaxed the mandatory lock-in period for promoters and other pre-listing investors to six months, as against three years for other companies.

Microsoft Build 2016 India: Bots, IoT, and Windows Apps
Bengaluru-based startup Yellow Messenger is one of the companies in India that’s exploring conversational commerce through bots. You tell the bot to show you shoes and then continue the conversation by asking for men’s shoes, or women’s, and so on. Yellow Messenger is just one of the startups in India that’s making use of Microsoft’s Cognitive Services. Build is an event for Windows developers, where Microsoft showcases all the tools developers can use to make Windows apps. Being able to do multilingual conversations in one stroke [is one of Yellow Messenger’s key features],” Burtoft said Azure has 30 data centres around the world, which is more than both Amazon and Google. Three of these data centres are in India, one of which is in Pune. Highlighting the importance of Microsoft cloud in the Indian market, he said 50 percent of the top 100 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) use Microsoft cloud services.

Edugild, signs a collaborative MoU with Cambridge University Press, India to support ed-tech startup ecosystem
The MoU will enable Edugild and CUP to bring in key stakeholders on the similar platform. These would include startups, mentors, early stage investors, publishing houses and other partners. This MoU highlights the strategic intent of both companies to offer most critical resources like strong assessment and evaluation of startups to be accelerated, devising mentorship programs under joint guidance, knowledge management and success enhancement programs, facilitating institutional partnership for potential testing/test bedding of solutions in CUP ecosystem. Edugild is currently hosting its first batch of startups and has started receiving applications for the second batch.

SEBI woos Silicon Valley for investments in tech startups
UK Sinha, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) appealed to the industry leaders of Silicon Valley to consider Indian startups as a viable option after the country tweaked rules to protect minority shareholders. The rules have made it easier for investors in the country’s over-4,000 technology startups to eventually cash out through initial public offers. The technology startup scene in India has picked up dramatically. A lot of investment has taken place in those companies from Silicon Valley. In a recent World Bank report, India ranked among the top 13 countries that protect the rights of minority investors, with the United States lagging in 35th place.

Bengaluru dethrones Tokyo as fifth most preferred Innovation hub
Bengaluru has made it in the list of top five most preferred destinations for innovation centers in the world. The other places ahead of Bengaluru are Silicon Valley, London, Paris, and Singapore. The report states, “India has seen a significant growth in the number of innovation centers, and especially in Bengaluru dubbed as the ”Silicon Valley of India. Among the innovation centers opened in the silicon valley is Airbus BizLab, which is set up to bring startups and Visa whose technology center in Bengaluru will house 1,000 developers who will help in accelerating development of next generation payment solutions. Ove the past few years, a number of multi-billion dollar startups have been set up in Bengaluru like Flipkart, InMobi and Mu Sigma who have not only invested an enormous amount of money in the economy but have also set up their headquarters in India’s ‘Silicon Valley’.

Funding Galore: Startup Fundings Of The Week
Gurgaon-based Droom in its Series B round of funding led by BEENEXT and Digital Garage of Japan. Couple of few more new and existing investors LightBox Ventures and Beenos also participated in this round. Mumbai-based Atomberg that makes smart, energy efficient home appliances, has raised $1 Mn from Parampara Capital. Formerly known as rBus, Mumbai-based Bus aggregator, Limo, owned by Raftaar Technologies raised $1 Mn from Rainmaker Ventures. Limo runs chartered buses for corporates and individuals for office commute. Hyderabad-based digital marketing company, GenY Medium, acquired TailCurrent, a B2B lead generation company, for an undisclosed amount.

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