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The Tech Panda takes a look at recent funding events in the tech ecosystem, seeking to know where the cash is flowing.

Startup: UBreathe

Sector: Bio-tech

Amount: INR1.5 crore

Led by: Namita Thapar on Shark Tank

UBreathe, a bio-tech startup that develops plant-based air purifiers, secured a deal of INR1.5 crore from Namita Thapar on the popular television show Shark Tank. The episode featuring the company was aired on 14th February 2023.

Sanjay Maurya, CEO and Co-founder, UBreathe, said, “We are truly thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Namita Thapar and to be able to bring UBreathe to a wider audience in India and abroad. Namita’s extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry gives her an in-depth understanding of the time and effort necessary to develop a product like UBreathe. For the last several years, we have had the privilege of making a real difference in the lives of 1000+ customers. Over the next couple of months, we will be taking up marquee projects with offices and private and public schools to reach out to more people and make a bigger impact on their overall health”.

“As per a recent report, the $335B global market for Indoor Air Quality Solutions is now expected to grow at 8.28% in the next 4 years and Covid-19 has been a key driver for this growth. The pandemic has brought global attention to the issue of indoor air quality and the need to manage it to prevent airborne transmission of the virus. A product like ours can make a significant difference to millions of people”.

Startup: Venwiz

Sector: SaaS

Amount: US$8.3 million

Led by: Sorin Investments

Venwiz, a SaaS enabled marketplace in the Capex and MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operations) services domain, has raised $8.3 million in Series A round of funding led by Sorin Investments with participation from previous investors, Accel & Nexus Venture Partners. JAFCO Asia, Riverwalk Holdings & Force Ventures have also participated in this round, with angels like Sanjeev Rangrass (ex-CEO ITC Agri Business), Anshuman Sinha (Partner, AT Kearney), Prabhav Kashyap (Partner, Bain & Co) and others. The company has earlier raised $3 million in seed funding, bringing the total capital raised to $11.3 million. The funds will be used for product enhancement and team expansion.

Rajesh Reddy, co-founder and CEO of Venwiz, said, “Venwiz was conceived with the vision of streamlining the capex lifecycle of a manufacturing company, in an end to end manner- be it vendor discovery, service procurement or job execution. It is a complex problem statement to solve, but the gains to our clients in terms of time & cost savings are immense.”

The company has contracts with marquee companies like Nestle, TVS, ITC, Tata Coffee, Kohler Power and many others, and plans to deepen the client engagements after this round of funding.

“Venwiz is addressing a huge white space in the manufacturing segment of different industries – procurement of industrial services for capex and MRO needs. On the back of their own professional experience, the founding team understands the pain points very well and have the insights to solve the problem through tech in an end to end fashion. The strong adoption of the Venwiz platform from enterprise clients and vendors demonstrates the need for such a solution,” added Mandar Dandekar, Partner at Sorin Investments.

Startup: LoanKuber

Sector: Fintech

Amount: US$2 million

Led by: Inflection Point Ventures

Fintech company LoanKuber, a digital mortgage platform for Micro-SMEs, has raised $2 million as part of its ongoing Series A round led by Inflection Point Ventures. The round also saw participation from Accolade Holdings, LetsVenture, Family offices, and Marquee Angel Investors including Prashant Tandon (Founder 1Mg ). Pankaj Vermani (Founder, Clovia), and PE Veteran Vishal Gupta (TA Associates) The funds will be used to rapidly scale AUM, improve the existing technology stack as well as to build and expand the team.

Mitesh Shah, Co-founder, Inflection Point Ventures says, “Over last year, LoanKuber has successfully built an extremely capital efficient and profitable business. We’re deeply impressed by the LoanKuber Team and their meticulous execution. We have invested in the Company from their Pre Series A stage and continue to back their vision as they grow at a healthy rate and address a huge financing gap which exists today in the Indian MSME sector.”

Saurabh Nagpal, CEO, LoanKuber says, “The funds will be used to further fuel our mission of offering innovative and affordable mortgage solutions to micro-SMEs and the next half billion Indians. The current fundraising will help us further invest in the team, technology, and operations to fulfill our mission.  We are not just building a mortgage lending business; we are also transforming the lives of the Next 500 million people by unlocking the economic value of semi-urban and rural properties with our mortgage solutions.”

Startup: COGOS

Sector: Logistics

Amount: US$1.2 million

Led by: Vivriti Capital

COGOS, an Indian tech-logistics startup has raised $1.2 million debt financing from Vivriti Capital, a fintech NBFC. The credit line issued will be utilised by COGOS as they head towards an aggressive expansion, since their operations are now active across the country.

Vivriti Capital is known for providing debt to mid-market corporations in India. COGOS, a rapidly growing intra-city logistics player has witnessed an uptick in its demand, and the debt funding raised from Vivriti Capital will be used to expand its national footprint and for hiring purposes.

Prasad Sreeram, CEO & Co-Founder of COGOS said: “City-logistics is growing steadily and we are set to witness some high rise in demand, specifically from non-tier 1 cities. Immediate capital investment will help us combat this demand with complete efficiency. We are glad to have the support of Vivriti Capitals in issuing this credit line for us. We are determined to utilise it in our aggressive expansion plan, specifically in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.”

Gautam Jain, Chief Business Officer at Vivriti Capital said: “We are happy to engage with COGOS and support their essential expansion into Tier II and III cities. This partnership moves Vivriti one step closer to achieving its goals since we see a big market opportunity in the mid-sized sector and are always striving to close the funding gap between these businesses and the resources that are available. We at Vivriti have been able to deliver hassle-free flow of debt finance with maximum flexibility and short turnaround time because of the company’s strong technological and risk assessment foundation.”

Startup: NimbleS2P

Sector: SaaS

Amount: INR4 crore

Led by: Inflection Point Ventures

SaaS platform NimbleS2P has raised Rs 4 crore in a Pre-Series A round led by Inflection Point Ventures (IPV). The round also saw participation from other micro-venture catalysts and angel investors. The funds raised will be used for sales, marketing, partner relations, and product development.

Ankur Mittal, Co-Founder, Inflection Point Ventures, says, “MSMEs are the backbone of the economy as they contribute nearly 30% to the GDP. However, critical sectors like manufacturing, power and infra have remained largely untouched from digital transformation owing to lack of tailormade platforms for them. NimbleS2P allows them to leverage their product to make an efficient and structural model and organise their workflow. This market is huge (both in India and internationally) with visible benefits (both cost and time) to the clients at an early stage that should support stickiness and adoption. The founders have deep experience in the space and can build a scalable and profitable business. This encouraged us to make an investment in the company.”

Chandresh Sharma, CEO, NimbleS2P, says, “Our vision is to revolutionize supplier-buyer interaction through a fully-automated platform. In the next 2 to 3 years, we aim to establish a strong foundation and attract over 200,000 users, expanding our growth story from India to the Middle East, and South-Asia. In fact, we are confident that our partnership with IPV will be instrumental in driving significant value for our stakeholders and help us create a connected, automated, and well-networked supply chain.”

Startup: AdmitKard

Sector: EdTech

Amount: INR50 crores

Led by: GSV Ventures

AdmitKard, a leading EdTech company, has raised its Series A funding round of Rs. 50 Crores from GSV Ventures and other investors. The investment will be used to further expand the company’s product offerings and accelerate its growth. The funding round was led by GSV Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on investing in global education technology companies. Other investors include several prominent angel investors.

Piyush Bhartiya, Co-founder of AdmitKard, said, “We are thrilled to have GSV Ventures on board as we continue to build and scale AdmitKard. This funding will allow us to accelerate our growth and invest in our technology and product offerings, enabling us to better serve our students and partners.”

“As the world becomes more connected and global, education is becoming increasingly important, and AdmitKard is at the forefront of helping students navigate this complex landscape. We are excited to support AdmitKard in their mission to make education more accessible and help students achieve their dreams,” said Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner of GSV Ventures.

With this new funding, AdmitKard is well-positioned to continue its rapid growth and further cement its position as a leading player in the edtech space. The company plans to use the funds to expand its team, invest in new technology and product offerings, and continue to expand its presence in key markets around the world.

Startup: Crest

Sector: SaaS

Amount: US$800,000

Led by: IAN & IPV

Bangalore based automated inventory planning SaaS startup Crest raised US$800K in its pre-seed funding round, led by IAN and IPV, along with notable founders of companies viz. Delhivery, Shiprocket, Pickrr, Smytten, Samosa Party, and Sirona among others.

“Crest is built for D2C e-commerce and is focused on solving the fundamental issue of those businesses, i.e. reducing lost sales opportunities by increasing fill rate and helping optimise inventory through real time demand forecasting. By impacting the core of the business, Crest becomes a CXO priority and is not just another enabling software. In the fast evolving e-commerce and multi-shop retailing real time demand forecasting and inventory management is the need of the hour,” said Shantanu Ghosh & Vidit Nagory, IAN Lead Investors.

“We are excited by what Crest has built and the immense potential of the space, both in India and global markets. Crest is being led by founders who have deep working experience in supply chain & AI and who have seen success in their earlier venture in a similar space catering to large global brands. They are addressing a real need and enabling even small enterprises, access to AI-driven inventory optimisation across multiple channels and demand forecasting ability,” said Ivy Chin, Partner, IPV.

The funds will be deployed to broaden Crest’s product offerings and scale the operations. Furthermore, in light of the current global economic slowdown, Crest seeks to assist brands in maintaining their financial stability by implementing efficient inventory practices to optimise their working capital.

Startup: Blingg

Sector: Discovery

Amount: US$100,000

Led by: DVC (Decentralized VC)

The direct-to-consumer (D2C) Discovery platform – Blingg has raised a pre-seed round of US$100k from DVC (Decentralized VC ), a collective of specialized syndicates that invest in companies from pre-seed through pre-IPO. Pavan Kumar, founder of 3PM Ventures, and other angel investors also participated in the round.

Jeroen Bertrams, General Partner at DVC, said “Most D2C brands struggle with online marketing and need new channels to reach customers. Blingg caught our attention as it offers brands in the segment a new and cost-effective way to reach their target group and receive detailed data on their campaigns along with valuable feedback on their products. Sanil has a proven successful track record in the industry, has built a great team at Blingg and the response to the new concept has been very encouraging. All combined hit the trifecta and we were eager to invest.” 

“We are thrilled to have the support of DVC as we continue on our mission to democratize discovery for D2C Brands. In India, where most e-commerce marketplaces remain search-first, our discovery-first sampling platform and marketplace offers a crucial solution for SMB D2C brands struggling to get noticed. 

We are currently developing an industry-first technology that will enable D2C brands to reach their Ideal Customers in a 10X more effective way, addressing the industry-wide concerns around customer acquisition costs. Our current fundraise will boost efforts towards launching our proprietary matchmaking technology for product sampling. We are excited about the future and the impact we can make in the D2C world” Sanil Jain, Founder – Blingg also added. 

Startup: Relevance Lab

Sector: Digital transformation

Amount: US$700 million

Led by: CSP Fund II

Relevance Lab, a provider of digital transformation services, announced that it has secured the backing of US$700 Million CSP Fund II, a technology-focused private equity fund. With this investment Rajeev Srivastava and Sanjay Chakrabarty from CSP Fund II, will join the Board of Relevance Lab. This comes on the back of the recently announced merger of CIGNEX and Excellerent with Relevance Lab.

The merged entity now has significant presence across North America, India and Ethiopia with a headcount of 1,500+ employees. The merger provides the platform with an integrated approach to address all the dimensions of digital transformation from its global development centers.

Vasu Sarangapani, recently appointed President and CEO, Relevance Lab, said, “I believe that with the backing of CSP Fund II, we will have the ability to accelerate business growth in our focus markets and execute on identified opportunities for M&As. This will also give us the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell within their larger portfolio”.

Speaking on behalf of CSP Fund II, Rajeev Srivastava said, “Our core competency is in bringing small to mid-sized companies together under a unified platform and accelerating growth. We believe that this strategic merger, along with Vasu as President & CEO, provides the necessary impetus to scale Relevance Lab.”

Startup: EaseMyAI

Sector: Artificial Intelligence

Amount: INR1.8 crore

Led by: Inflection Point Ventures

EaseMyAI raised Rs 1.8 Cr in a Seed round led by Inflection Point Ventures (IPV). Started with an aim to develop innovative products with AI adoption, EaseMyAI emphasizes on creating simple, user-friendly products with drag & drop options to empower businesses to customize their solutions. This approach can help make AI more accessible to businesses of all sizes and sectors.

Madhukar Bhardwaj, VP, BD & Investments Inflection Point Ventures, says, “Majority of the companies, be it small or large, use CCTV or physical staff to do manual monitoring of safety, compliance and operations which is prone to error, cost ineffective and not scalable. EaseMyAI is tapping into this segment and is at the forefront of tech adoption using its computer vision and AI solutions across sectors thus accelerating rapid AI adoption. Their solutions and the platform is highly scalable and empowers companies with much smaller operations or even large ones with legacy systems to be next-gen tech ready thereby helping them grow faster.”

EaseMyAI has catered to over 30 clients with some marquee names like Hitachi, Ericsson, Mundra Port, ICICI Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Treasure Inc. (a Japanese entity). Raising funds for growth, they are planning to further expand catering clients in Sri Lanka, UAE, Japan, and Singapore directly and the rest of the world through partners.

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