A compilation of important news from the startup world:
Apple to work closely with Indian startups
Apple is likely to announce an accelerator program for Indian startups as part of its CEO Tim Cook’s visit to India this week, two people familiar with the development told ET NOW. The sources, who declined to be quoted, said while Tim Cook’s key push with Indian government officials will be the sale of refurbished Apple phones here, its initiatives for startups and digital India will also be part of the agenda. Reuters reported on Monday afternoon that Cook will visit India this week and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi . While sources ET NOW spoke to confirmed his visit, they also shared details of Cook’s likely itinerary in India. An Apple spokesperson said the company will not be sharing any details of Cook’s India visit.
India emerging a hub for fintech start-ups
In In June this year, British banking giant Barclays will operationalise its fintech innovation hub Rise in India. This will be the bank’s fifth centre across the globe to tap into the fintech start-up ecosystem. According to a report by Nasscom, there are nearly 400 companies in India focused on the fintech market globally. This is also attracting investor attention with $450 million being invested in fintech product start-ups in 2015. No wonder, then, that several fin-tech focused accelerators and incubators are being set up in India.
Rahul Yadav: The bad boy of Indian startups is finally acting like an adult
Before Rahul Yadav was unceremoniously kicked out from the company he founded, there were whispers about how the 26-year-old former CEO of real estate listings website, Housing.com, could even be India’s version of Steve Jobs. A dropout from the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, Yadav had already built a company valued at $250 million by the time he was a 25-year-old. To his colleagues at Housing.com, he was a visionary, but the young Yadav was also brash and impulsive, running into numerous scuffles with the company’s investors and the media. All that, though, was a year ago. Today, Yadav believes he has matured, and regrets how things turned out at Housing.com.
Consumer tech start-ups on IDG Ventures’s radar
Venture capital firm IDG Ventures India Ltd has launched a programme to find and invest in new consumer-facing Internet start-ups, as the VC firm seeks to increase its focus on such investments at a time when some of its peers have slowed down. Through the programme, Digital Consumer Innovators Program, IDG will invest in 15 to 25 start-ups by the end of December. The company is looking at mobile-first shopping apps, digital media start-ups, software providers for Internet companies and others.
Enterprise software start-ups catch VC investors’ attention
Enterprise software start-ups are fast becoming the favourites of investors, who are keen to diversify their portfolios after many of their expensive bets last year on consumer Internet companies soured. Apart from established venture capital firms such as Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital and others that are increasing their investments in enterprise start-ups, some new funds such as Ideaspring Capital and Utilis Capital are launching with a sharp focus on enterprise deals. Between January and April last year, there were 44 investments in enterprise or business-to-business (B2B) start-ups, as against 71 deals in the same period this year, according to Mint calculations based on data available on the website Trak.in.
How Qualcomm India is backing tech hardware startups
Qualcomm is taking several steps towards helping the government in its ‘Make in India’ mission. The company is trying to align the startup ecosystem (working in the electronics hardware domain) with the ‘Make in India’ campaign to fuel innovation. In the bet, startups are getting the desired platform and exposure. The company recently concluded the first phase of its Qualcomm Design in India Challenge (QDIC) and shortlisted 10 finalists (startups) out of 400 that applied. With this challenge, the company aims to encourage the creation of a local product and hardware design ecosystem in India in the areas of smartphones, tablets and Internet of Things (IoT). The 10 finalists have received funding of up to $10,000 each to enable them to translate ideas to working prototypes with $100,000 going towards the top three winners.
The trio who ventured out for the start-ups
They had a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship and an urge to support start-ups. For the three working professionals in the UK, the best way to achieve their objective was to turn angel investors. In their early 30s, the three – Prem Kumar Barthasarathy, who is with Infosys Consulting, Arunkumar Krishnakumar, who was till recently with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Kiran Kumar Pillala, of Accenture – were confident that the global exposure they had had in their jobs and connections in India, would help them become angel investors. Thus was born Angels Unleashed Ltd (AUL), a syndicate of business angels, in which they collectively committed $100,000 to invest in start-ups. AUL analysed over 200 start-ups and invested $300,000 in four firms – Divido, a buy now pay later online platform; Cornerstone, which delivers shaving supplies on a subscription model; Xstream Trucking, a technology company; and, Funding Xchange, a market place for SME lending.
Rocket Internet, others invest in BedBathMore.com
Home décor portal BedBathMore.com, which is operated by Mumbai-based Home Craft Online Pvt. Ltd, said it has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from a group of investors that included Rocket Internet, as it aims to strengthen the platform and enhance the user experience, according the firm’s founder and CEO Amit Dalmia. Some of the investors who previously invested in furniture and home furnishings portal FabFurnish.com also participated in the funding round, he said without divulging details. The company will use the funds to augment technology. “We are rolling out a fresh version of BedBathMore to strengthen the platform and enhance the user experience,” said Dalmia.
Indian travel tech startups are closing the great funding gap with Chinese counterparts
When South African media company Naspers Group invested an additional $250 million in online travel venture Ibibo Group in February, everyone noticed. Travel tech had never received much attention, given that majority of the $8 billion invested by venture capital firms in India last year went towards e-commerce firms, among other startups in the consumer sector. But this sector has quietly been developing into a major area for investment. Although it is still way behind what Chinese travel tech companies have raised, Indian travel tech is swiftly coming into its own. That mirrors what has happened worldwide, where travel tech startups attracted record financing last year, and took on areas such as consumer booking for flights and hotels, lodging, fare alerts and more in the broader travel category.