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Before Zoom went IPO, not many people spoke about the company and not many knew of their story. Zoom which was exclusively known for its video communication product, struck the most successful public offering. Launching at 36$, currently valued at 92.53 USD as of today. Zoom is leading the IPO race against Pinterest, Uber, Slack, Fiverr and the lot. So, what is Zoom’s story? Rolling back to 1987 in China. Eric, who is currently the CEO of zoom, had a girlfriend who stayed miles away from him. Eric had to take a train to meet her and it used to take him 10 hours for this. He used to think to himself how great it would be if he had a device that let him talk to her and also in a sense be with her without traveling so far. Little did he know that those daydreams would eventually become the basis for Zoom. Anyway, fast forward 10 years from his days in China, he moved to Silicon Valley and joined Webex, a video communications company. Eric was quite happy in WebEx working on something that he was truly passionate about. This continued for a while. Then came a day when Webex got acquired by Cisco. Eric became the VP of engineering in Cisco taking care of WebEx. He felt the tool to be complex and outdated. Just clunky and difficult to use. Being the VP of Engineering, he took that opportunity to interact with customers on a regular basis and got to know that the customers never really liked the product as much. He was not happy about this. According to Eric, customer happiness was the most important goal to go behind and they were failing to do that. Eric thought that webex at that time was not solving newer problems faced by the customers and were penalizing customers who used their software. He wanted to build a software that customers would enjoy using! That would make the customers happy. He quickly moved out of Cisco and started Zoom in 2011. Mostly out of the sheer motive to bring joy to customers. As much as we love the story of how Zoom started, owing to the theme of Mind the Gap, let’s move along and look at growth, marketing and customer experience learnings from Zoom’s story. And don’t worry even though there is a LOT to learn from Zoom, we have condensed our learnings into three most important lessons to make it snackable. Let’s zoom right in. Number one. Product led growth - One thing different about Zoom is how much they chose to stick to things that worked for them without following trends and fads. When Eric first decided to launch Zoom, he had his team work on the product for two full years before getting out to the market. In a world where startups talk about launching first and failing fast, Zoom has been pretty old school in terms of doing one thing extremely well and getting it right the first time. Also, an interesting observation is that Eric decided to disrupt an already noisy industry. The video collaboration domain was filled with enterprise players like WebEx, Skype, Go to meetings etc. Zoom not only launched a product in a crowded market but did a damn good job at outperforming existing players. They were able to achieve all of this because they put their bucks on the product. Zoom launched as a product that was ready to grow. Scalability, stability and performance were things that the company focused on. Zoom was a product that did not spend a lot of money on paid advertising and let the product walk the talk. Most of their traffic is organic, through word of mouth, through their content, and through their hardware integrations. The only time they actually spent money was to set up a billboard. That too because Eric liked the attention it created when his neighbours came and told him that they spotted his company’s billboard on the way and that it was pretty cool. The second strategy might seem trivial but I feel it’s the most important takeaway - “Listening”. The two years that Eric’s team spent on creating a product, they made sure that they spoke to more and more people to understand their pain points, their preferences, and their feedback on whatever tool they were already using. Most importantly they “heard them out”. After all, this is a company that cared the most about customer happiness over anything else. Interestingly, in one of Bloomerg’s interview with Eric, when they asked him about Cisco catching up in terms of features and what Eric is planning to do in terms of dealing with competition, this is what he had to say. They don’t have any strategy against competitors. As long as they listen to customers and make them happy, they don’t have to worry about anything. The third and final strategy of Zoom’s was the same as Airbnb’s. We already made an episode on Airbnb’s story. Don’t forget to tune in to that episode after this one. Now, back to the story — Zoom’s strategy was to go behind making their existing customers happy instead of going behind new customers. Retention over acquisition — classic but brave move. For zoom, their customer support team forms the main pillar of the company. As I mentioned previously, feedback and feature suggestions are taken extremely seriously at Zoom. Their philosophy is to make the existing customers happy first. So happy that they would want to spread the love through word of mouth. A mutual setup, the more happy your customers are, the more happy you get, you know, even in terms of bottom line. Zoom’s story is quite different from every other brand story we’ve ever heard. When every other brand wants to prove itself as a misfit or a rule breaker and a challenger of the status quo, Zoom was a little different. When Eric was asked about rules, he jokingly said, oh no. We love rules and we make sure that we follow them. Slowly and truly, Zoom grew to become different in its own way by embracing what worked for them and not following trends. Not just that, there have been a lot of talks around how Zoom’s philosophy is not about growing fast but to stay as a company that meets customer needs constantly. Ironically this is what led to their fast growth. Zoom is a living proof that when you strive for customer happiness, you are never going to be disappointed at the returns. Currently, there are about half a million unique business domains, millions of individuals, spending 18 billion minutes annually on Zoom. That’s 18 billion minutes of happiness sold. Reference - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICgehQ1xd24 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xqog63KOANc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H-TsqT1GUk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja9VMe18sh8

Aug 2019

8 min 3 sec

Ally raises $8M Series A for its OKR solution OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, are a popular planning method in Silicon Valley. Like most of those methods that make you fill in some form once every quarter, that employees find rather annoying and a waste of their time. Ally wants to change that and make the process more useful. The company today announced that it has raised an $8 million Series A round led by Accel Partners, with participation from Vulcan Capital, Founders Co-op and Lee Fixel. The company, which launched in 2018, previously raised a $3 million seed round. Most companies that adopt this methodology, though, tend to work with spreadsheets and Google Docs. Over time, that simply doesn’t work, especially as companies get larger. Ally, then, is meant to replace these other tools. The service is currently in use at “hundreds” of companies in more than 70 countries, Vellore tells me. Simon Data hauls in $30M Series C to continue building customer data platform As businesses use an increasing variety of marketing software solutions, the goal around collecting all of that data is to improve customer experience. Simon Data announced a $30 million Series C round today to help. The round was led by Polaris Partners . Previous investors .406 Ventures and F-Prime Capital also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $59 million, according to the company. Companies tend to use a variety of marketing tools, and Simon Data takes on the job of understanding the data and activities going on in each one. Then based on certain actions — such as, say, an abandoned shopping cart — it delivers a consistent message to the customer, regardless of the source of the data that triggered the action. They see this ability to pull together data as a customer data platform (CDP). In fact, part of its job is to aggregate data and use it as the basis of other activities. In this case, it involves activating actions you define based on what you know about the customer at any given moment in the process. RedDoorz raises $70M to expand its budget hotel network in Southeast Asia Singapore-based budget-hotel booking startup RedDoorz is tiny in comparison to fast-growing giant Oyo. But it is holding its ground and winning the trust of an ever-growing number of investors. The four-year-old startup announced it has raised $70 million in a Series C financing round, less than five months after it closed its $45 million Series B. The new round, which is ongoing, was led by Asia Partners and saw participation from new investors Rakuten Capital and Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth FundRegardless, the new funds will help RedDoorz fight SoftBank-backed Oyo, which is already aggressively expanding to new markets. Oyo currently operates in more than 80 nations. The startup operates in 80 cities across Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam, and plans to use the new capital to expand its network in its existing markets, said Saberwal. At least for the next year, RedDoorz has no plans to expand beyond the four markets where it currently operates, he said. Twitter leads $100M round in top Indian regional social media platform ShareChat ShareChat, a four-year-old social network in India that serves tens of million of people in regional languages, just answered that question with a $100 million financing round led by global giant Twitter . Other than Twitter, TrustBridge Partners, and existing investors Shunwei Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, SAIF Capital, India Quotient and Morningside Venture Capital also participated in the Series D round of ShareChat. The new round, which pushes ShareChat’s all-time raise to $224 million, valued the firm at about $650 million, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. ShareChat declined to comment on the valuation. This investment will help ShareChat grow and provide the company’s management team access to Twitter’s executives as thought partners Moving on to acquisitions: Salesforce is acquiring ClickSoftware for $1.35B Just days after closing the hefty $15.7 billion Tableau deal, salesforce opened its wallet again, this time announcing it has bought field service software company ClickSoftware for a tidy $1.35 billion. This one could help beef up the company’s field service offering, which falls under the Service Cloud umbrella. In its June earnings report, the company reported that Service Cloud crossed the $1 billion revenue threshold for the first time. This acquisition is designed to keep those numbers growing. What else caught our eyes- Developers accuse Apple of anti-competitive behavior with its privacy changes in iOS 13 A group of app developers have penned a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, arguing that certain privacy-focused changes to Apple’s iOS 13 operating system will hurt their business. In a report by The Information, the developers were said to have accused Apple of anti-competitive behavior when it comes to how apps can access user location data. With iOS 13, Apple aims to curtail apps’ abuse of its location-tracking features as part of its larger privacy focus as a company. Today, many apps ask users upon first launch to give their app the “Always Allow” location-tracking permission. Users can confirm this with a tap, unwittingly giving apps far more access to their location data than is actually necessary, in many cases. There will now be a new option upon launch presented to users, “Allow Once,” which allows users to first explore the app to see if it fits their needs before granting the app developer the ability to continually access location data. This option will be presented alongside existing options “Allow While Using App” and “Don’t Allow.” The app developers argue that this change may confuse less-technical users, who will assume the app isn’t functioning properly unless they figure out how to change their iOS Settings to ensure the app has the proper permissions.

Aug 2019

4 min 15 sec

One of the biggest funding this week was raised by online reseller network Meesho, gaining $125 Mn in a round led by Naspers, with participation from Facebook and existing investors SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway. This fund raise will help it to make deeper inroads in areas outside India’s major metro regions, by creating more entrepreneurs, and as a result, reaching remote customers not serviced by traditional e-commerce marketplaces. Also, rumours are rife that the Japanese conglomerate is reportedly looking to invest $200 Mn in the company as well. Another major round was raised by ShareChat, adding $100 Mn in its latest Series D round of funding. Twitter and TrustBridge Partners are two new investors joining this latest funding round, while existing investors participating in this round include Shunwei Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, SAIF Capital, India Quotient and Morningside Venture Capital. The round took the total funding raised by ShareChat to $224 Mn. Bengaluru-based AI startup Parentof raised $1 Mnin a seed funding round led by V Srinivas and other existing investors. Parentof is a decision sciences organization which provides insights into child growth and decision analytics. With this, total funding raised by Parentof is $2 Mn. The funds will be used towards further evolving their technology, as well as expanding their partner network. Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending startup Faircent raised a fresh round of funding from Das Capital and Gunosy Capital. Existing investors Starharbor Asia and M&S Partners have also participated in the round. The startup will use the funding to strengthen its technology backend, expansion of its product offerings and reach. Chennai-based conversational AI startup Uniphore Software Systems raised $51 Mn in its Series C funding round led by March Capital Partners. Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures), Sistema Asia, CXO Fund, ITP, Iron Pillar, Patni Family also participated in the round. The funds will be used to accelerate its go-to-market in North America, invest in research and development for the next wave of innovation on its platform and grow its talented employee base globally. Robotics startup Emotix, popularly known as Miko, which develops educational and recreational robot toys for children, announced to raise an INR 53.42 Cr ($7.5 Mn) Series A led by Chiratae Ventures. YourNest Venture Capital, investor Bruno Raschle and a group of angel investors are also participating in Emotix’s latest round. The company said it would be using the funding to expand internationally to North America, UK and the Middle East. A portion of the funds would be allocated for developing new products and R&D in the areas of emotional and artificial intelligence, which form a crucial component of the Miko emotive robot toy. Easy Home Finance: Real estate and lending tech company Easy Home Finance Limited announced a strategic partnership with Harbourfront Capital, a group company of Das Capital. The VC firm will invest an undisclosed amount in the real estate financing company. Easy will be utilising the funds from Harbourfront in expanding its assets under management (AUM) base and for further investment in its technology platform. Gurugram-based credit card bill payment startup Cred raised a bridge Series B round of INR 27.55 Cr ($4 Mn) from Sequoia Capital India. The company issued 20,179 Series B CCCPS shares priced Rs 13,653.31 each. The company said in its filings that the Bridge Series B funds will be used for growth, expansion, marketing and general corporate activities of the company. Moving on to acquisitions: Bengaluru-headquartered coworking space provider CoWrks acquired The UnCube for an undisclosed amount. The Gurugram-headquartered UnCube provides on-demand workspace solutions. Post-acquisition, CoWrks will rename the combined entity to CoWrks Go. CoWrks is now expanding its network of productive spaces by bringing on board a chain of cafes, restaurants, hotels, business lounges, etc. Ola acquihired Pikup.ai, a Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence startup. The deal value remains undisclosed, however, Pikup.ai founders — Inder Singh and Ritwik Saikia — along with its team will join Ola. With the acquihire, Ola aims to advance the application of machine learning and AI to identify deep insights that can lead to improved mobility outcomes. What else caught our eyes? Mukesh Ambani announced free Jio connectivity and Jio-Azure cloud services for tech startups in India by 2021. Startups will have to register on the Jio portal to access these services, which are expected to be available from January 2021. To provide these cloud services, Reliance Jio has announced a partnership with the tech giant Microsoft and its Azure cloud vertical.

Aug 2019

4 min 35 sec

This episode we have a couple of interesting bits to talk about. Starting with a company that offers a safety net to digital nomads, the world’s largest internet restaurant company and most interesting of all, keep listening to know if SpaceX is turning into Uber for space? Stay tuned to know more. So, last week’s startup funding scene. We had a total of 283 funding rounds, $6.6 billion total funding, 175 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $11.2 billion. Let’s dive right into the highlights now. SafetyWing raises $3.5M seed to offer medical insurance to ‘digital nomads’ They’ve got quite an interesting pitch. They claim to build safety nets for digital nomads. People used to be limited to working locally. Now the internet and recent technologies have made it possible to hire and work for companies globally, allowing people to live wherever in the world they choose to, free from the physical restraints of an office location. “Unfortunately, social safety nets like health insurance are national and only available in one’s home country. Millions are left to figure this out on their own with the majority going uninsured. To solve this problem, we are building the first global social safety net: a welfare state on the internet.” SafetyWing’s first product is focused on medical travel insurance, with the promise to provide medical cover for anybody who works outside their home country. The cover is flexible, too, sold as a 28-day rolling subscription that can be paused at any time. Cover starts at $37 every 4 weeks. Meanwhile, to support its mission of providing a safety net for digital nomads and to develop further products, the 2017-founded company, whose other co-founders are Sarah Sandnes (CTO) and Hans Kjellby (COO), has raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Leading the round is Nordic and Baltic-focused VC byFounders, with participation from Credit Ease Fintech Fund and DG Incubation. SafetyWing’s previous backers include YC and The Nordic Web Ventures. The ‘world’s largest internet restaurant company’ quietly raised $125 million this month Rebel Foods formerly known as Faasos, a once-small Pune, India-based company that now prepares a variety of foods in its cloud kitchens. The growth of the nine-year-old company is a bit breathtaking — and instructive. According to Bloomberg, Rebel — which this month raised $125 million in fresh capital from the Indonesian delivery service Go-Jek, Coatue Management and Goldman Sachs — now operates 235 kitchens across 20 Indian cities. And it’s processing two million orders a month. (It calls itself the “world’s largest internet restaurant company.”) While it began life as a chain of kebab restaurants, that original concept, Faasos, is now just one of eight other brands that Rebel operates, including a tea brand called Kettle & Kegs; a Chinese concept called Mandarin Oak; a pizza brand called Oven Story; and a brand called Behrouz, through which Rebel makes and sells slow-cooked biryani rice dishes. Still, it’s little wonder that Rebel is racing headlong into new markets as fast as it can. According to Bloomberg, the company is currently planning to build 100 cloud kitchens in Indonesia over the next 18 months, with Go-Jek’s help. It also expects to open 20 cloud kitchen facilities in the United Arab Emirates by December. Babylon Health confirms $550M raise at $2B+ valuation to expand its AI-based health services Babylon Health, the U.K.-based startup that has developed a number of AI-based health services, including a chatbot used by the U.K’.s National Health Service to help diagnose ailments, has confirmed a massive investment that it plans to use to expand its business to the U.S. and Asia, and expand its R&D to diagnose more serious, chronic conditions. It has closed a $550 million round of funding, valuing Babylon Health at more than $2 billion. The round brings together a number of strategic and financial investors, including PIF (Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund); a large U.S.-based health insurance company (which reports suggest to be Centene Corporation, although Babylon is not disclosing the name); Munich Re’s ERGO Fund; and returning investors Kinnevik and Vostok New Ventures. (Previous investors who do not appear to be in this round also include Demis Hassabis, the AI expert who co-founded DeepMind, which is now a part of Google.) That additionally gives Babylon (and others in digital health) a big opportunity to break down some of the more persistent problems in healthcare, such as providing services in developing economies and remote regions: one of its big efforts alongside rollouts in mature markets like the U.K. and Canada has been a service in Rwanda to bring health services to digital platforms for the first time. Trueface raises $3.7M to recognise that gun, as it’s being pulled, in real time Trueface is a U.S.-based computer vision company that turns camera data into so-called “actionable data” using machine learning and AI by employing partners who can perform facial recognition, threat detection, age and ethnicity detection, license plate recognition, emotion analysis and object detection. That means, for instance, recognising a gun, as it’s pulled in a dime store. Yes folks, welcome to your brave new world. The company has now raised $3.7 million from Lavrock Ventures, Scout Ventures and Advantage Ventures to scale the team growing partnerships and market share. Trueface claims it can identify enterprises’ employees for access to a building, detect a weapon as it’s being wielded or stop fraudulent spoofing attempts. Quite some claims. The company announced today that is has received signed agreements from D1 Capital Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Light Street Capital, Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake Partners to fund a $525 million tender offer that will allow Unity’s common shareholders — the majority of which are early or current employees — to sell their shares in the company. What else caught our eyes- SpaceX is expanding its launch offerings with a new, more affordable and consistent option for small satellite operators looking to put lighter payloads into orbit. The new service offering is designed to work for customers who can take advantage of a “rideshare” launch, sharing space on a Falcon 9 with other small satellites being sent up. The rideshare option will be offered on a regular, defined schedule, and SpaceX says that it’s designed for flexibility, offering customers the ability to pre-book a spot, and ensuring that if they’re ready to launch when their rideshare comes up, the rocket will indeed go up — with or without other payloads also booked that may not be ready in time. SpaceX’s new service is designed somewhat like rideshare programs here on Earth: Passengers who are ready get to ride, and the company looks to fill seats by offering bookings both in advance (12 or more months out) and much closer to launch time (between 12 and 6 months out) with a possibility of even tighter turnaround, though SpaceX hasn’t publicly posted pricing for that option, which means it’ll probably be costly. As for those with plenty of notice, they get the biggest price break: Launches start at just $2.25 million for payloads of up to 150 kg (330 lbs), or $4.5 million for those weighing up to 300 kg (660 lbs). That sounds like a lot, but consider that the lowest cost for a current SpaceX launch is currently somewhere around $57 million.

Aug 2019

5 min 37 sec

This week US-based ecommerce company eBay is investing $160 Mn in Indian ecommerce company, Paytm Mall, valued at $2.86 Bn post-investment. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings accessed by Inc42, Paytm E-commerce private limited is issuing 1,28,028 equity shares at a price of $1,249.73 per share to eBay Singapore Service Pvt Ltd. Further, Bengaluru-based digital payments company PhonePe received INR 697.9 Cr ($101.5 Mn) equity infusion from its Singapore-based parent, PhonePe Private Limited Singapore. Interestingly, the investment has come after PhonePe founders— Rahul Chari Vardha and Sameer Nigam— increased their equity stake in the company. In April, Vardha picked up 1.67 Mn equity shares and Nigam picked up 6.63 Mn shares at a nominal value of INR 1. Gurugram-based home services marketplaceUrbanClap raised a $75 Mn Series E funding round led by Tiger Global. Existing investors Steadview Capital and Vy Capital also participated in this round. Prior to this, UrbanClap raised INR 149 Lakh ($216K) in fresh fundingfrom ex-Flipkart CTO Mekin Maheshwari and Avaana Capital founder Anjali Bansal. This transaction is said to be split into two parts, a primary round which resulted in a share subscription by the investors and a secondary share sale by some early institutional investors. Veri5Digital: Bengaluru-based software services provider Veri5Digital raised $2 Mn in Series A funding led by California-based Khosla Ventures. Veri5Digital plans to use the funding to scale its identity solutions for the Indian market and also build new identity and Digital India related products and services. It is also close to launching its identity related products in the US and Asia markets. Indifi: Gurugram-based B2B lender Indifi Technologies raised INR 145 Cr ($21 Mn) in its Series C funding round, led by the CDC Group. The company also has additional investors like Accel India, Omidyar Network, Fair Finance Fund and Elevar Equity. The company aims to utilise the funds to modernise and expand the existing business into new areas of business, develop infrastructure, capital expenditure, repay debts and general corporate expenditure to meet objectives. Pocket Aces: Digital entertainment company, Pocket Aces raised an INR 100 Cr ( $14.34 Mn) funding round from Sequoia India, DSP Group, and 3one4 Capital. Pocket Aces will utilise the funding to expand its content library and technology platform, and to acquire more talent. Further, it will also continue to invest into its live gaming platform Loco with an aim to hit 50 Mn users in the next two years. Easy Home Finance: Real estate and lending tech company Easy Home Finance Limited announced a strategic partnership with Harbourfront Capital, a group company of Das Capital. The VC firm will invest an undisclosed amount in the real estate financing company. Easy will be utilising the funds from Harbourfront in expanding its assets under management (AUM) base and for further investment in its technology platform. Gurugram-based credit card bill payment startup Cred raised a bridge Series B round of INR 27.55 Cr ($4 Mn) from Sequoia Capital India. The company issued 20,179 Series B CCCPS shares priced Rs 13,653.31 each. The company said in its filings that the Bridge Series B funds will be used for growth, expansion, marketing and general corporate activities of the company. Moving on to acquisitions: Robotic process automation company, Automation Anywhere, announced theacquisition of Paris-based Klevops for an undisclosed amount. Post-acquisition, Automation Anywhere fast forwards the RPA category to Attended Automation 2.0, where managers can easily orchestrate workflows across a team of employees and bots. This enables customers to automate more processes with the same level of central governance, security and analytic capability. What else caught our eyes? Bengaluru-based food delivery unicorn Swiggy which is definitely turning into a generic trademark these days, you know a verb for ordering food online. Is reportedly close to raising a $700-$750 Mn funding round led by its existing investor Naspers. Naspers will be investing around $350 Mn along with a group of Korean investors such as STIC Investments and Korean Omega Investment who are said to co-invest about $50 Mn. While, the rest is said to be raised from the other existing investors of Swiggy.

Aug 2019

5 min 7 sec

In total, this week, 20 startups raised $75.89 Mn funding and one startup acquisition took place. In a major announcement this week, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank launched its second technology-focussed investment corpus, SoftBank Vision Fund II, with an outlay of $108 Bn. The fund claimed to have received commitments from technology majors such as Apple and Microsoft. Other investors in the fund include National Investment Corporation of National Bank of Kazakhstan, Standard Chartered Bank, and some undisclosed investors from Taiwan. Further, SoftBank will be investing $38 Bn in the fund along with other committed investors including Foxconn, MUFG, SMFG and Mizuho. The objective of the fund is to facilitate the continued acceleration of the AI revolution through investment in market-leading, and tech-enabled growth companies. Bengaluru-based gaming company Playshifu raised $7 Mn in Series A funding. The round was led by Chiratae (formerly IDG Ventures India), Inventus Capital and Bharat Innovation Fund (BIF). Existing investor IDFC-Parampara Fund also participated. The company plans to use the funds to invest further towards tech innovation, research on unique phygital interactions and new product developments. Mumbai-based online insurance brokerage platform Coverfox received a INR 40 Cr ($5.89 Mn) capital infusion from its existing investors. According to Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Coverfox issued Series C5 compulsorily convertible preference shares (CCPS) to investors such as International Finance Corporation, Aegon Digital Investments, Transamerica Ventures, Accel India and SAIF Partners. Bengaluru-based online classifieds marketplace Quikr raised INR 20 Cr ($2.9 Mn) in debt funding. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings, the company has raised debt by issuing 200 compulsorily convertible debentures to Trifecta Capital in May. The company had received INR 13.9 Cr in a capital infusion from its Mauritius-based entity in May. Mumbai-based SME lending startup Drip Capital raised $25 Mn in a Series B funding round led by Accel Partners with participation from existing investors Sequoia India, Wing VC, and Y Combinator. New investors in this round include GC1 Ventures and institutional investor platform Trusted Insight. The funds will be used to expand its global footprint, launching in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico in 2019. Mumbai-based robotics startup emotix raised $2.69 Mn (INR 18.58 Cr) in a fresh funding round from Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures), Technology Venture Fund and Yournest India. Sources close to the development indicated to Inc42 that the investment is a part of a larger funding round. The fresh funds will be invested towards company’s research and development requirements. Delhi-based vernacular real-money gaming platform WinZO Games raised $5 Mn in Series A funding. The round was led by Kalaari Capital and messaging and payments platform Hike. The company claims to have more than 7 Mn registered users across Tier 2/3/4/5 cities. It claims that users are currently spending more than 55 minutes inside the app on average every day. Moving on to acquisitions: Mumbai-based conversational AI platform Haptik acqui-hired Los Angeles-based AI startup Convrg. Additionally, the company has hired Timothy Carey, a technology industry veteran with over 20 years of experience across AI and enterprise software, to serve as its General Manager for the region. Convrg’s founding team— — will report to Carey and will help drive Haptik’s business in the US respectively serving as VP of Strategic Partnerships, VP of Growth, and VP of Technology Solutions. What else caught our eyes? Apple has paid $1 Bn to acquire Intel’s smartphone modem chips business, which was one weak area in the electronic giant’s plans to release next-gen iPhones ready for 5G networks. As part of the acquisition, 2,200 Intel employees will be joining Apple by the end of the year and Intel will also sign over close to 17K patents to the Cupertino company. American private equity firm Blackstone has reportedly invested $250 Mn in Kishore Biyani’s Future Group which owns supermarket chains such as Bigbazaar, Brand Factory, EasyDay and more. The investment is said to be a mix of equity and structured debt, and be used for the capital expansion of Biyani’s discounted fashion retail chain Brand Factory.

Aug 2019

5 min 8 sec

We had a total of 316 funding rounds, $8.4 billion total funding, 93 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $63.9 billion. Let’s dive right into the highlights now. Standard Cognition lands $35M at $535M valuation to battle Amazon Go EQT Ventures, Initialized Capital, CRV and Y Combinator have fueled Standard Cognition with another $35 million to help retailers battle Amazon. The deal values the San Francisco-based autonomous checkout startup, founded in 2017, at $535 million. Standard Cognition implants its AI-powered computer vision platform, which enables the autonomous checkout process, in brick-and-mortar stores. To date, the company has installed its hardware in five stores in the U.S. and Japan, with plans to expand globally using the new investment. Standard Cognition announces its Series B financing just eight months after closing a $40 million Series A. Suswal, justifying the lightning-fast growth, said 2019 has been Standard’s “year of deployment,” next year will be “the year of repeatability” and 2021 will be “the year of scale.” The company has raised a total of $86 million in venture capital funding. Muzmatch adds $7M to swipe right on Muslim-majority markets Muzmatch, a matchmaking app for Muslims, has just swiped a $7 million Series A on the back of continued momentum for its community-sensitive approach to soulmate searching for people of the Islamic faith. It now has more than 1.5 million users of its apps, across 210 countries, swiping, matching and chatting online as they try to find “the one.” Unity, now valued at $6B, raising up to $525M Unity’s private valuation is climbing, but it’s growing unclear whether the company’s leadership is planning to take the 15-year-old gaming powerhouse public anytime soon. The company announced today that is has received signed agreements from D1 Capital Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Light Street Capital, Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake Partners to fund a $525 million tender offer that will allow Unity’s common shareholders — the majority of which are early or current employees — to sell their shares in the company. The company also confirmed that it wrapped up a $150 million Series E funding round in May that doubled the company’s valuation to $6 billion. The announcement confirms the valuation we reported in May, though at a higher amount of capital raised. Fintech decacorn Nubank raises $400M led by TCV What’s a decocorn? Well I had to google this as well - It is a word used for those companies valued over $10 billion. Hectocorn is for companies valued over $100 billion. Brazil-based Nubank, which offers a suite of banking and financial services for Brazilian consumers, announced today that it has raised a $400 million Series F round of venture capital led by Woody Marshall of TCV. The growth-stage fund is best known for its investment in Netflix but has also made fintech a high priority, with over $1.5 billion in investments in the space. According to Nubank, the company has now raised $820 million across seven venture rounds. Leveraging unique technology, David Vélez and his team are continuously pushing the boundaries of delivering best in class financial services, grounded in a culture of tech and innovation. Nubank has all the core tenets of what TCV looks for in preeminent franchise investments. Airbud raises $4 million to add a voice interface to your website Amazon’s Alexa ushered in a new dawn of user interfaces, bringing voice into the mix as a viable option. Dozens of companies have sprouted because of this, not least of which being Airbud.io. Airbud allows any company to add a voice interface to its website. The company just closed a $4 million round led by Hanaco Ventures, with participation from ERA and Spider Capital. By allowing companies to add voice/chat bot utility to their websites, Airbud hopes to increase retention of end-users on sites and give them easier access to the information they seek. Krush says that Airbud is focusing on websites that you have to be on, rather than the ones you want to be on. That means Airbud clients are mostly in the healthcare space and travel space, helping end-users find a physician or book a flight using their voice. Moving on to mergers and acquisitions - Apple has announced the acquisition of chip-maker Intel's smartphone modem business for $1 billion. Approximately 2,200 Intel employees will join Apple, along with intellectual property, equipment and leases, the Cupertino-based iPhone maker said in a statement late Thursday. "This agreement enables us to focus on developing technology for the 5G network while retaining critical intellectual property and modem technology that our team has created," said Intel CEO Bob Swan. "We're looking forward to putting our full effort into 5G where it most closely aligns with the needs of our global customer base, including network operators, telecommunications equipment manufacturers and cloud service providers," he added. Apple will hold over 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from protocols for cellular standards to modem architecture and modem operation. What else caught our eyes- Dark has been keeping its startup in the dark for the last couple of years while it has built a unique kind of platform it calls “deployless” software development. If you build your application in Dark’s language inside of Dark’s editor, the reward is you can deploy it automatically on Dark’s infrastructure on Google Cloud Platform without worrying about all of the typical underlying deployment tasks. The company emerged from stealth today and announced $3.5 million in seed funding, which it actually received back in 2017. The founders have spent the last couple of years building this rather complex platform. In Dark, you’re getting the benefit of your editor knowing how the language works. So you get really great autocomplete, and your infrastructure is set up for you as soon as you’ve written any code because we know exactly what is required Source - Techcrunch, Crunchbase

Jul 2019

6 min 32 sec

In total, this week, 11 startups raised $136.5Mn funding and three startup acquisitions took place. One of the biggest funding rounds in the Indian startup ecosystem was Seattle and Pune-based software company Icertis. It raised $115 Mn in a funding round led by US-based venture capital firm Greycroft and PremjiInvest. With this round, the company has achieved a valuation above $1 Bn and joins the ranks of SaaS unicorns such as Freshworks and Druva. The company said it will utilise the capital to strengthen its product, invest in new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning and expand its global footprint. Gurugram-based online grocery delivery startup Grofers received an infusion of $14.2 Mn from its Singapore-based entity, Grofers International. With this investment, Grofers International has been allotted 812 equity shares in the grocery delivery startup. The company has also raised an additional $10 Mn in its ongoing Series F round. This investment has come from an Abu Dhabi-based entity Capital Investment LLC. Noida-based ecommerce platform Paytm Mall raised an undisclosed amount from US-based ecommercecompany eBay. In a strategic partnership, eBay picked up a 5.5% stake in the Indian ecommerce marketplace. Through this partnership, eBay inventory will be made accessible to the active customer base of Paytm Mall, a subsidiary of the Indian fintech unicorn Paytm. It would also enable eBay sellers to reach new customers in the rapidly growing Indian market. Bengaluru-based online premium tea brand Teabox raised an undisclosed amount of funding. Teabox founder Kausshal Dugarr told Inc42 that Dubai-based NB Ventures, the family office of Neelesh Bhatnagar has invested in the round. The company’s existing investors such as Accel partners also participated in the round. Electronics maker, boAt received a commitment of $2.9 Mn in venture debt from BAC Acquisitions, which was cofounded by the Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal. boAt claims to have acquired over 1.2 Mn consumers, and is currently selling over 8K units per day at an average of 5 units per minute. New Delhi-based all-in-one procurement platform Procol raised a seed round of $1Mn from Blume Ventures and Rainmatter Capital (Zerodha). The funding will help Procol scale their procurement platform and start deploying other applications around it. Procol helps food retail and FMCG companies reduce their procurement and related supply chain costs. Moving on to acquisitions: Mumbai-based data analytics firm Ugam has been acquired by the US-based data-driven marketing agency Merkle, which is owned by the digital marketing multinational Dentsu Aegis Network. Post acquisition, Ugam will become a Merkle company and the company’s cofounder and CEO Sunil Mirani will report to Merkle’s America head. Further, reporting structures for the rest of the management team of Ugam will remain unchanged. US-based software company Ebix and Gurugram-based travel and ticket booking platform, Yatra Online have signed a definitive agreement for a merger. For the merger, each ordinary share of Yatra will be entitled to receive 0.005 shares of a new class of preferred stock of Ebix. Following the completion of the transaction, Yatra will become part of Ebix’s EbixCash travel portfolio alongside Via and Mercury and will continue to serve customers under the Yatra brand. What else caught our eyes? Ola Electric becomes India’s newest unicorn with new $250 million investment from SoftBank India’s Ola is further widening its lead over Uber in the nation — and getting the help it needs from their mutual investor. Ola Electric has raised $250 million from SoftBank as India’s largest ride hailing firm pushes to scale its electric vehicles business in the country. The infusion comes as New Delhi looks to take a serious step in electrifying the existing fleet of cabs and scooters in the country as it attempts to curtail air pollution and carbon emissions. The country has set an ambitious goal to convert 40% of the fleet to electric by 2026.

Jul 2019

5 min 9 sec

So, last week’s startup funding scene. We had a total of 385 funding rounds, $17 billion total funding, 145 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $17.1 billion. Let’s dive right into the highlights now. Swit, a collaboration suite that offers ‘freedom from integrations,’ raises $6 million in seed funding The app combines messaging with a roster of productivity tools, like task management, calendars and Gantt charts, to give teams “freedom from integrations.” Originally founded in Seoul and now based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Swit announced that it has raised a $6 million seed round led by Korea Investment Partners, with participation from Hyundai Venture Investment Corporation and Mirae Asset Venture Investment. Even though the market is heavily saturated with great unicorns, many companies need multiple collaboration apps and there is nothing that seamlessly combines them, so users don’t have to go back and forth between multiple platforms. Many employees rely on Slack or Microsoft Teams to chat with one another, on top of several project management apps, like Asana, Jira, Monday and Confluence, and email to communicate with people at other companies. Most businesses use at least two messaging apps and four to seven collaboration tools. Swit’s goal is to cover all those needs in one app. It comes with integrated Kanban task management, calendars and Gantt charts, and at the end of this year about 20 to 30 bots and apps will be available in its marketplace. GetAccept’s workflow and e-signature platform for sales secures $7M Series A funding Many years ago every sales deal was sealed with a handshake between two people. Today, digitization has moved into the sales process, but it hasn’t necessarily improved the experience. In fact, it’s often become a more time-consuming affair because information and communications are scattered across multiple channels and the number of people involved in a deal has increased. That means lots of offers and quotes get lost in the mix. GetAccept is a startup that provides an all-in-one sales platform where video, live chat, proposal design, document tracking and e-signatures come together to simplify the life of a sales team. The new capital will be used to scale sales and marketing, and accelerate product innovation for GetAccept’s industry-leading document workflow solution for sales. Kencko chugs down $3.4M to help you get more fruit and vegetables in your diet Kencko, a company that wants to help people eat more fruit and vegetables in their daily life, is entering feast mode after it announced a $3.4 million seed round for growth and product development. Kencko develops plant-based products that help people eat healthily without having to suffer the pain of horrible-tasting food or other extreme eating. That’s to say that its fruit drinks, the company’s first product, include the pulp and vitamins absent in pressed juice but come in a convenient sachet that has been flash-frozen and slow-dried to retain all the goodness. Beyond products, Kencko is also using the new capital to develop its direct-to-consumer strategy. A big focus is on its mobile app, which is currently in beta with early customers but will get a full launch this year. Moving on to mergers and acquisitions - Laundrapp and Zipjet merge to form largest on-demand laundry service in UK, seal new funding Two of Europe’s biggest on-demand laundry startups are merging today. Laundrapp from London and Zipjet from Berlin are confirming the completion of a previously-rumored merger through which the combined business will become the largest on-demand laundry business in the UK. What else caught our eyes- Google’s SMILY is reverse image search for cancer diagnosis Spotting and diagnosing cancer is a complex and difficult process even for the dedicated medical professionals who do it for a living. A new tool from Google researchers could improve the process by providing what amounts to reverse image search for suspicious or known cancerous cells. But it’s more than a simple matching algorithm. Part of the diagnosis process is often examining tissue samples under a microscope and looking for certain telltale signals or shapes that may indicate one or another form of cancer. This can be a long and arduous process because every cancer and every body is different, and the person inspecting the data must not only look at the patient’s cells but also compare them to known cancerous tissues from a database or even a printed book of samples. In a study of pathologists given the tool to use, the results were promising. The doctors appeared to adopt the tool quickly, not only using its official capabilities but doing things like reshaping the query box to test the results or see if their intuition on a feature being common or troubling was right. “The tools were preferred over a traditional interface, without a loss in diagnostic accuracy,”

Jul 2019

4 min 47 sec

Change is the only thing that’s constant. We all know that. Managing change is the biggest challenge that most of the growing companies face. Change is what makes most companies fail. So imagine the strength it takes for a company to not just manage change but also endure it and win over it. That’s Disney for you. Disney was founded in the year 1923 by Walt Disney. It initially started as an animation studio called Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. They started with silent Alice Comedies short films featuring a live-action child actress in an animated world. They slowly started creating short animated films, then moved on to rebrand themselves as the Walt Disney studios in 1929. That’s a story that all of us know. In today’s episode we are going to focus on Disney’s growth and marketing strategies that helped them not just reach the top place but also sustain it for so long. Also, we’ll be talking a little bit about how they make their customers happy! As we like to call it - 96 years of disney in 9.6 minutes.

Jul 2019

8 min 39 sec

So, let’s start with last week’s startup funding scene. We had a total of 391 funding rounds, $9.2 billion total funding, 146 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $12.5 billion. Let’s dive right into the highlights now. Used car marketplace Motorway picks up £11M Series A Motorway, the U.K. used car marketplace, has raised £11 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Marchmont Ventures, the fund managed by Hugo Burge and Alan Martin (the former CEO and CFO of Momondo Group, respectively), along with participation from existing backer LocalGlobe. Founded by the team behind Top10 — the mobile and broadband comparison site that exited to uSwitch in 2011 — Motorway has set out to make it easier to sell your used car online. The website lets car sellers instantly see live offers from multiple car buying services and specialist dealerships. Indonesia’s EV Hive raises $13.5M and expands into co-living and new retail WeWork’s battle to win co-working in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, is intensifying after one of the U.S. firm’s key rivals issued a slew of announcements to double down on its business. EV Hive, an Indonesia-based co-working startup, said today that it has raised $13.5 million and expanded into new verticals. The company is putting off plans to foray into new countries in order to prioritize growth opportunities at home. The four-year-old company, which started as a project for seed-stage VC firm East Ventures, has rebranded to CoHive as part of the strategy to diversify its business. That’ll see it add new services for living spaces (CoLiving) and retailers (CoRetail), in addition to its core co-working and events businesses. Duffel raises $21.5M in Series A from Benchmark for its travel platform Ten months ago London startup Duffel hinted that it would be “a new way to book travel online, aiming at the booking experience ‘end to end,’ ” and announced a healthy $4.7 million funding round, but not much else. Last week, Duffel announced a funding of $21.5 million in Series A from U.S. VC giant Benchmark, which also backed Snap, Twitter and Uber. Benchmark is joined by Blossom Capital and Index Ventures, which participated in Duffel’s $4.7 million seed round last year. Duffel appears to be building a new software stack for travel, in the same way that challenger banks started from scratch to make themselves more agile than the laggard banks. SafeAI raises $5M to develop and deploy autonomy for mining and construction vehicles Startup SafeAI, powered by a founding talent team with experience across Apple, Ford and Caterpillar, is emerging from stealth today with a $5 million funding announcement. The company’s focus is on autonomous vehicle technology, designed and built specifically for heavy equipment used in the mining and construction industries. What SafeAI hopes to add is an underlying architecture that acts as a fully autonomous (Level 4 by SAE standards, so no human driver) platform for a variety of equipment. Said platform is designed with openness, modularity and upgradeability in mind to help ensure that its clients can take advantage of new advances in autonomy and AI as they become available. Two Sigma leads $12m series A for expert knowledge network NewtonX NewtonX is a “knowledge access platform” which attempts to intelligently answer questions posed to it by business clients. Clients answer a carefully calibrated series of questions to properly vet and scope a query, and then NewtonX farms it out to it network of experts for insight. That rapid-response network has now gotten the attention of Two Sigma Ventures, the venture wing of the high-flying algorithmic-trading hedge fund, which led a $12 million Series A round into New York City-based NewtonX. That’s a follow up to a $3 million seed round co-led by Third Prime Capital and Xfund last year. Moving on to acquisitions - WordPress management site WP Engine acquires Flywheel as it moves to a $1B valuation and IPO WordPress now accounts for 34 percent of all websites globally, and today one of the key companies that helps handle the creation and management of some of those WP-hosted sites is getting a little bigger through some consolidation in the wider ecosystem. WP Engine, which works with businesses to build and manage their WordPress-hosted sites, has aquired Flywheel, a smaller competitor. Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, WP Engine, as Brunner describes it, focuses largely on mid-market and larger businesses, while Flywheel — founded and currently based out of Omaha — has focused on smaller businesses. That makes the two natural complements to each other, but Brunner notes that there will be more gained from the union. What else caught our eyes- Facebook just reinvented digital currency with its Libra cryptocurrency that will launch early next year. No they’re not calling it Zuckerbucks. Libra is like cash that lives inside your phone. Starting in 2020, you’ll be able to purchase Libra through Libra wallet apps on your phone or from some local grocery and convenience stores. You cash in your local currency like dollars and get nearly the same number of Libra coins, which are represented by wavy three-line emoji instead of the $ symbol. But first you’ll have to verify your identity with a photo. You’ll then be able to spend your Libra while online shopping, or potentially pay for things like Ubers or your subscription for Spotify, since those companies have partnered with Facebook to make Libra popular. Since it’s almost free to digitally move Libra from one account to the other, you won’t have to pay high credit card processing fees that can add almost 4% to your total. And some Libra wallet apps and shops will give bonus discounts or free coins for signing up and paying with Libra.

Jun 2019

6 min 15 sec

In total, this week, 15 startups raised $378.77 Mn funding and four startup acquisitions took place. One of the biggest funding rounds in the Indian startup ecosystem was raised by Druva, marking the entry of cloud data protection firm in the unicorn club. Druva raised $130 Mn in a funding round led by Viking Global Investors. The funds will be used to invest in innovation as well as for strategic acquisitions. Bengaluru-based healthtech platform Practo raised $17.2 Mn (INR 120 Cr ) from Trifecta Capital and other internal investors. The company had floated an offer of INR 70 Cr ($10 Mn) debt from Trifecta. The first tranche has come in this month and the second tranche is expected to come in by December 31, 2019. Bengaluru-based agritech platform Ninjacart raised $10 Mn to close its ongoing Series C round from a clutch of investors, including company’s existing investors Tiger Global, debt venture fund Trifecta Capital, along with Tanglin Venture Fund, Steadview Capital, and ABG Capital. The company will use this investment to expand its supply chain and warehousing capacity. Alteria Capital, which claims to be India’s largest venture debt fund, said to have invested $11.4 Mn (INR 80 Cr) in digital lending startup Lendingkart in the form of venture debt funding. The funds raised will be used to grow the company’s ability to service the MSME community across the country and bring them into the financial mainstream. AI-focussed fintech startup Active.Ai raised $3 Mn from InnoCells, the Barcelona-based innovation hub and corporate venturing vehicle of Banco Sabadell in a Series A follow-on round. Kalaari Capital, Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures India) and Vertex Ventures also participated in the latest funding round. This will help the fintech startup to further expands its international footprints. Moving on to acquisitions: Mumbai-based IT services company Hexaware Technologies acquired US-based digital services firm Mobiquity. The stock exchange filing showed that it was an all-cash deal worth $182 Mn. The transaction involves an upfront payment of $131 Mn and deferred payouts of $51 Mn. Bengaluru-based Dailyhunt acquired Local Play, a hyperlocal video content and news content application. The acquisition underscores Dailyhunt’s aggressive strategy of attracting new users, residing in the real ‘Bharat’ – the tier 2, 3 and 4 Indian cities and towns—who are always hungry to stay updated on all the latest hyperlocal happenings. What else caught our eyes? The Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched Cultiv8 Accelerator Program to foster the growth of early-stage tech startups. The program has selected 11 tech startups in its first cohort ranging across healthcare, fintech, industrial IoT, cybersecurity, and agritech, among others.

Jun 2019

3 min 44 sec

In total, this week, 15 startups raised $378.77 Mn funding and four startup acquisitions took place. One of the biggest funding rounds in the Indian startup ecosystem was raised by Druva, marking the entry of cloud data protection firm in the unicorn club. Druva raised $130 Mn in a funding round led by Viking Global Investors. The funds will be used to invest in innovation as well as for strategic acquisitions. Bengaluru-based healthtech platform Practo raised $17.2 Mn (INR 120 Cr ) from Trifecta Capital and other internal investors. The company had floated an offer of INR 70 Cr ($10 Mn) debt from Trifecta. The first tranche has come in this month and the second tranche is expected to come in by December 31, 2019. Bengaluru-based agritech platform Ninjacart raised $10 Mn to close its ongoing Series C round from a clutch of investors, including company’s existing investors Tiger Global, debt venture fund Trifecta Capital, along with Tanglin Venture Fund, Steadview Capital, and ABG Capital. The company will use this investment to expand its supply chain and warehousing capacity. Alteria Capital, which claims to be India’s largest venture debt fund, said to have invested $11.4 Mn (INR 80 Cr) in digital lending startup Lendingkart in the form of venture debt funding. The funds raised will be used to grow the company’s ability to service the MSME community across the country and bring them into the financial mainstream. AI-focussed fintech startup Active.Ai raised $3 Mn from InnoCells, the Barcelona-based innovation hub and corporate venturing vehicle of Banco Sabadell in a Series A follow-on round. Kalaari Capital, Chiratae Ventures (formerly IDG Ventures India) and Vertex Ventures also participated in the latest funding round. This will help the fintech startup to further expands its international footprints. Moving on to acquisitions: Mumbai-based IT services company Hexaware Technologies acquired US-based digital services firm Mobiquity. The stock exchange filing showed that it was an all-cash deal worth $182 Mn. The transaction involves an upfront payment of $131 Mn and deferred payouts of $51 Mn. Bengaluru-based Dailyhunt acquired Local Play, a hyperlocal video content and news content application. The acquisition underscores Dailyhunt’s aggressive strategy of attracting new users, residing in the real ‘Bharat’ – the tier 2, 3 and 4 Indian cities and towns—who are always hungry to stay updated on all the latest hyperlocal happenings. What else caught our eyes? The Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched Cultiv8 Accelerator Program to foster the growth of early-stage tech startups. The program has selected 11 tech startups in its first cohort ranging across healthcare, fintech, industrial IoT, cybersecurity, and agritech, among others.

Jun 2019

3 min 44 sec

In total, this week, 12 startups raised $35.7 Mn funding and one startup acquisitions took place. This week, this week one of the biggest funding rounds in the Indian startup ecosystem was raised by Bengaluru-based digital application provider for micro-merchants OkCredit. The startup raised $15.5 Mn in a Series A funding round led by New York-based investment fund Tiger Global. Morningside Venture Capital, Lightspeed India Partners, Venture Highway and Y Combinator also participated in this round of funding. The startup will use the funding to further scale its merchant user base, grow its team and execute on its product roadmap. Bengaluru-based social commerce startup Meesho raised an undisclosed amount of funding from social media company Facebook. The deal size is said to be “very significant”, however, there is no official communication on the same. The funding will help it further its efforts to enable independent entrepreneurs to build businesses and grow their customer base via social channels. Gurugram-based GroMo raised $576.7K (INR 4 Cr) seed funding led by Ramakant Sharma, cofounder, Livspace and Utsav Somani of AngelList India as well as other prominent angel investors. The company is planning to utilise the funds to fuel its growth, strengthen its core technology platform and operations team. Retail technology startup Arzoo raised $1 Mn Pre-Series A funding led by Jabbar Internet Group, that founded Middle East’s largest ecommerce platform Souq.com and a consortium of Investors from India and the United Kingdom. The startup plans to expand its retail category by integrating 500,000 retailers by 2022. Authentic Ayurvedic organic handmade skin care products provider Cosmeto Food raised $143K (INR 1 Cr) from Risers Accelerator. The products by the company are made from ECOCERT Certified organic ingredients with tested and authenticated proven formulations. An interactive platform to connect with avid readers in real time Vowelor raised $143K (INR 1 Cr) in a pre-series A round led by angel investor Dr Sanjeev Juneja. The startup will use this funding to develop, implement and market this app to target 150k+ downloads on its app and 200k monthly website hit. Vowelor further plans to partner with Publishers and Bookstores to create an inclusive and organized ecosystem to bridge the gap between readers, authors, and other stakeholders. Moving on to acquisitions: Go-Jek acquired Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence startup AirCTO. The financial terms of the deal are yet to be disclosed. According to the company, the AirCTO team will now join Go-Jek with immediate effect as a part of this deal. The acquisition aligns with Go-Jek’s focus on hiring premium talent to support the development of its ‘Super App’ which can be used for availing various services such as ordering food, commuting, digital payments, shopping, and hyper-local delivery through one app. What else caught our eyes? About ten months into acquiring a majority stake in Flipkart, Walmart has decided to use $1.2 Bn of its cash reserves to fund the operations of the Indian ecommerce marketplace. According to the statement, of the $2.7 Bn ending April 30, 2019, approximately $1.2 Bn can only be accessed through dividends or inter-company financing arrangements subject to approval by Flipkart minority shareholders. The Karnataka Cabinet has decided to amend the Karnataka Startup Policy 2015-2020 in line with the national policy. The state government is amending its policy accordingly by including turnover limit and year limit that is there in the central policy, he told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. Also approved was the 'Chief Minister Grameena Sumarga' programme to maintain priority village roads in the state in a good motorable condition. For this programme using a scientific method, 24,246 kms are selected as priority village roads based on the criteria of connectivity, Gowda said.

Jun 2019

4 min 57 sec

Last week’s startup funding scene was quite interesting. We had a total of 373 funding rounds, $8.4 billion total funding, 116 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $30.7 billion. PayFit raises $79 million for its payroll service French startup PayFit is raising a new $79 million funding round (€70 million) from Eurazeo and Bpifrance. The company first started with a payroll service for small and medium companies in France. It has evolved into a full-fledged HR solution for multiple European countries. PayFit uses a software-as-a-service approach so that small companies can easily manage payroll and HR information from a web browser. Everything stays up-to-date and compliant with labor regulation. While it’s easy to build an HR giant in the U.S., it’s a bit more complicated in Europe as labor laws vary so much from one country to another. But the startup has managed to launch its service in France, Spain, Germany and the U.K. — Italy is coming soon. The company says that it has developed its own programming language called Jetlang in order to transform labor code into computer code. London’s LocalGlobe just closed on two funds totaling $295 million Seven months ago, TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear reported that LocalGlobe had begun the fundraising process for two separate funds. The London-based seed-stage venture firm was raising yet another seed-stage venture fund, O’Hear said at the time; he also noted that LocalGlobe was also expect to raise its first opportunities fund. Fast-forward and today, the firm, founded by father and son duo Robin and Saul Klein, says it has closed both, having secured $115 million in capital commitments for its seed fund and $180 million in capital commitments for the second fund, dubbed “Latitude,” which it says it will use to support its “winners” at the Series B and later stages. LocalGlobe remains even more active on the pre-seed and seed-stage front, where it has funded hundreds of startups over the years. Among the very newest of these is a bet on Yapily, a two-year-old, London-based maker of an API for connecting enterprises to banks that just raised $5.4 million in seed funding co-led by LocalGlobe and HV Holtzbrinck Ventures. Maker of VR hit 'Rec Room' announces $24M in funding from Sequoia, Index The quest to create a social auditorium in virtual reality has eaten many VC dollars over the years. While plenty of contenders have emerged, it’s likely Against Gravity’s Rec Room has been the most creative in its approach to capturing a niche market while plotting how to build a sustainable business based on users in VR headsets talking to one another. The Seattle startup has told TechCrunch exclusively that it has bagged $24 million over two rounds of funding. The studio’s Series A was led by Sequoia and their Series B, which just recently closed, was led by Index Ventures . Against Gravity has a bevy of top investors that also participated in the rounds, including First Round Capital, Maveron, Anorak Ventures, Acequia Capital, Betaworks and DAG Ventures. The company didn’t break down the specific details of the rounds. Against Gravity was authorized to raise up to $15.4 in its Series B at up to a $126 million post-money valuation, according to Delaware stock authorization docs we got from PitchBook. The company didn’t comment on the valuation. Helium launches $51M-funded ‘LongFi’ IoT alternative to cellular With 200X the range of Wi-Fi at 1/1000th of the cost of a cellular modem, Helium’s “LongFi” wireless network debuts today. Its transmitters can help track stolen scooters, find missing dogs via IoT collars and collect data from infrastructure sensors. The catch is that Helium’s tiny, extremely low-power, low-data transmission chips rely on connecting to P2P Helium Hotspots people can now buy for $495. Operating those hotspots earns owners a cryptocurrency token Helium promises will be valuable in the future… The potential of a new wireless standard has allowed Helium to raise$51 million over the past few years from GV, Khosla Ventures and Marc Benioff, including a new $15 million Series C round co-led by Union Square Ventures and Multicoin Capital. Stride raises $2.5M from JetBlue, NFX for its guided trips marketplace Group travel — it’s something you either love or hate, but Stride, which describes itself as a marketplace for “experiential multi-day and multi-destination packaged trips planned by experts,” wants to change this perception. The service, which was co-founded by former Starwood Hotels and Viator executive Gavin Delany, today announced that it has raised a $2.5 million seed round from JetBlue Ventures and NFX. In addition, it rolled out its new TripFinder feature, which makes it easier to find the right tour from the more than 30,000 travel itineraries from its partners in its database. Moving on to mergers and acquisitions, VMware announces intent to buy Avi Networks, startup that raised $115M VMware has been trying to reinvent itself from a company that helps you build and manage virtual machines in your data center to one that helps you manage your virtual machines wherever they live, whether that’s on prem or the public cloud. The company announced it was buying Avi Networks, a six-year-old startup that helps companies balance application delivery in the cloud or on prem in an acquisition that sounds like a pretty good match. The companies did not reveal the purchase price. Avi claims to be the modern alternative to load balancing appliances designed for another age when applications didn’t change much and lived on prem in the company data center. What else caught our eyes last week? Shyp is preparing for a comeback under new management Once one of the hottest on-demand startups, Shyp shut down in March 2018 after missing targets to expand to cities outside of San Francisco. When it first launched in 2014, Shyp initially offered on-demand servicefor almost anything customers wanted shipped, charging $5 plus postage to pick up, package and bring the item to a shipping company. Eventually it introduced a pricing tier in 2016 as it tried to find new approaches to its business model, before closing down two years later. Fifteen months after shutting down, Shyp is getting ready to launch again. The startup tweeted today that “We are back! We’re hard at work to rebuild an unparalleled shipping experience

Jun 2019

7 min 3 sec

Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency helping companies leverage the latest and greatest marketing strategy to fuel their businesses. In the past he has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Sales Force, Mint, Intuit among several others When he’s not working 13 hours a day for 6 days a week, you can find him racing cars or motorcycles Of even jumping out of a plane. This podcast is going to be all about growth and content, or even better - looking at content as a growth engine.

Jun 2019

39 min 47 sec

We had a total of 304 funding rounds, $5.7 billion total funding, 129 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $32.1 billion. Let’s dive right into the highlights now. Modern Fertility raises $15 million to sell its hormone tests — and gather more fertility data from its users A San Francisco-based company, modern fertility, sells fertility tests directly to consumers, but increasingly, those customers will be educating the company, too. Indeed, the two-year-old startup now plans to develop a database of anonymized data about its largely younger demographic. What do they do? They sell a kit from its website that’s sent to women’s doorsteps and allows them to gauge their levels of eight different reproductive hormones by using a finger prick. More specifically, the startup sends off its customers’ panels to CLIA-certified labs, where the tests are conducted, and most prominently, those tests are looking at the women’s level of AMH, or anti-mullerian hormone. Modern Fertility has now raised $22 million to date. Among its other backers are Maveron and Union Square Ventures as investors. That being said, Fertility startups have been on a fundraising gala recently. The global fertility services market is expected to exceed $21 billion by 2020. Colombian point-of-sale lender ADDI nabs $12.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz ADDI picked up $12.5 million in new financing in April of this year as the company looks to expand its lending services online. Like Affirm, ADDI lets its borrowers apply for credit at the moment of purchase. The company likens its service to the layaway and credit plans that already exist in Colombia — but involve pretty onerous requirements to use. Company co-founder and general partner both commented on how, in some cases, Colombian shoppers have to have three people vouch for a borrower before a store will issue credit or agree to a layaway plan. The difference between an ADDI loan — or any loan — and layaway is that an installment payment plan doesn’t charge interest (and even with the fees that installment plans do charge, they are often still cheaper than taking out a loan). Providing supplemental educational videos for healthcare online nets Osmosis $4 million With over one million YouTube subscribers and 500,000 registered users for its supplemental educational videos, Osmosis, which bills itself as the Khan Academy of healthcare, has raised $4 million in new funding. By reimagining medical education, Osmosis is addressing a critical impending global crisis: the need to develop and retrain tens of millions of healthcare professionals over the next decade to meet growing demand. Using a library of over 1,100 videos produced by the former Khan Academy Health and Medicine team — which were poached by Gaglani — students can get supplemental materials providing tutorials on subjects ranging from basic knowledge to the soft skills required on the job. Vectra lands $100M Series E investment for AI-driven network security Vectra, a seven-year-old company that helps customers detect intrusions at the network level, whether in the cloud or on premises, announced a $100 million Series E funding round led by TCV. Existing investors, including Khosla Ventures and Accel, also participated in the round, which brings the total raised to more than $200 million, according to the company. As company CEO Hitesh Sheth explained, there are two primary types of intrusion detection. The first is end point detection and the second is his company’s area of coverage, network detection and response, or NDR. He says that by adding a layer of artificial intelligence, it improves the overall results. Moving on to mergers and acquisitions, we have Google acquiring analytics startup Looker for $2.6 billion Google made a big splash when it announced it’s going to acquire Looker, a hot analytics startup that’s raised more than $280 million. It’s paying $2.6 billion for the privilege and adding the company to Google Cloud. Google Cloud has been mired in third place in the cloud infrastructure market, and grabbing Looker gives it an analytics company with a solid track record. The last time I spoke to Looker, it was announcing a hefty $103 million in funding on a $1.6 billion valuation. Today’s price is a nice even billion over that. What else caught our eyes last week? Based on data we know that this is the season of Healthcare, Cyber Security and Knowledge Sharing startups bagging fundings. Last week four security companies changed hands. Security stays hot as Imperva grabs Distil Networks. The shopping spree continued this week with CDN company Imperva announcing it was buying bot mitigation startup Distil Networks. The companies did not share the acquisition price. Last week was an incredible M&A whirlwind with four security companies getting acquired over just a three-day period On Tuesday, FireEye bought Verodin, a five-year-old startup that helps measure the effectiveness of your cybersecurity defenses for $250 million. On Wednesday, Palo Alto Networks entered the fray, buying not one, but two Israeli security startups. The big prize was container security company Twistlock for $410 million. It also snagged serveless security company PureSec. Reports in Israeli media pegged that deal at between $60 and $70 million. If that wasn’t enough for you, private equity firm Insight Partners bought 10-year old threat intelligence company, Recorded Future for $780 million. If you’re thinking about starting a technology company, you may want to consider focusing on cybersecurity. I’ll leave you with that thought!

Jun 2019

5 min 48 sec

In total, this week, 14 startups raised $111.86 Mn funding and three startup acquisitions took place. This week, one of the biggest funding rounds in the Indian startup ecosystem was raised by Bengaluru-based real estate platform NoBroker.com. The company raised $51 Mn in Series C funding led by General Atlantic, along with existing investors BEENEXT and SAIF Partners also participated in the round. The company looks to use the fresh funds for expansion and improving the user experience. This brings the total funding raised by NoBroker to $71 Mn. Gurugram-based Pristyn Care raised $4 Mn in Series A funding round from Sequoia India. The company will use the capital to improve its medical capabilities, invest in technology and expand its team of medical professionals. The startup is currently operational in 20 clinics across Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, and plans to expand its clinic network to 50 by December 2019. Bengaluru-based self-publishing platform Pratilipi raised $15 Mn (INR 105 Cr) in a funding round led by China-based venture capital Qiming Venture Partners. The startup’s existing investors including Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network India, Shunwei Capital, Contrarian Vriddhi Fund and WEH Ventures had also participated in the round. With this fundraise the company will be focusing primarily on improving the technology infrastructure including its recommendation and personalization engines and on expanding the number of writers on the platform. Ola-backed scooter sharing app Vogo raised $3.6 Mn (INR 25 Cr) from Alteria Capital. The company positions itself as a cost-effective alternative to cabs and autos for short distances. It will use this investment to further fuel its growth. Delhi-based budget hotel chain FabHotels raised INR 54 Cr (around $7.8 Mn) from existing investor Goldman Sachs along with marquee venture capital firms Qualcomm Ventures, and Accel Partners India, who is one of the early backers of the company. FabHotels had raised a total of $42.8 Mn funding till now. Moving on to acquisitions: Mumbai-based motor insurance provider startup Acko acqui-hired Mumbai-based automotive company VLer Technologies. The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed yet. Following this acquisition deal, both the VLer founders, Sanjay Bharti and Akash Saxena have joined the Acko Technology team. CleanseCar announced its acquisition of Carnanny, a subscription-based daily car wash and car care services, in an all-stock deal. The acquisition was mediated by CleanseCar’s investor and Carnanny’s mentor Dhianu Das, Founder, Alfa Ventures. What else caught our eyes? Paytm is reportedly in talks to acquire Mumbai-based online insurance startup Coverfox for $100-120 Mn in an all-cash deal. Reportedly the Paytm board is in the process of finalising the deal. ShareChat may raise $100 Mn at $600 Mn – $650 Mn valuation. Reportedly, the investment is likely to come from new investors, the microblogging site Twitter and Hong Kong-based investment management firm Hillhouse Capital, with backing from existing investors including Xiaomi, Shunwei Capital and Morningside Venture Capital. Rising traffic congestion and longer urban commutes are leading people to look for alternative ways to reach their destination in the most convenient, affordable, and time-efficient manner. This might show an increase in startups that leverage micro mobility to solve commuters problems. Micro-mobility vehicles like bicycles, skateboards, skates, mini-scooters, e-bikes, small electric vehicles with one or two seats —  is making headlines around the world, not only for the huge sums of money raised (over $5 billion) but also for the concerns regarding safety and operational viability of these businesses. Will this be the next shift in ride hailing apps in India? Let’s wait and watch.

Jun 2019

4 min 10 sec

Who doesn’t like Airbnb? Their style, idea, creativity, meaning, and most of all their story. A true customer brand, as I would like to call it. The thing about Airbnb’s story is that throughout their journey they did multiple growth hacks for survival. Be it “three clicks to booking” inspired by Steve Job’s iPod design of three clicks to get to a song. In 2007, designers Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia faced the lowest point in their life. They couldn’t afford the rent on their San Francisco apartment. They had to think about ways to survive and not burn out. They thought about the options they had. What if they flipped the switch and turned their problem into an opportunity? They decided to use their house to pay for itself. Why not share the space with strangers and make them pay for the experience? A pretty weird, or rather bold idea. But they had no choice, they had to survive. To make their ends meet, they decided to turn their loft into a lodging space. But they did not want to make this feel impersonal and disconnected. It shouldn’t look like they were doing something for the heck of it. They did not want to list their house on Craigslist because of this reason. There was a design conference coming to town and the hotel space was limited and expensive, so they set up a simple website with pictures of their loft-turned-lodging space—complete with three air mattresses on the floor and the promise of a home-cooked breakfast in the morning. They designed an experience and decided to sell that. The following spring, they enlisted former roommate and engineer Nathan to help them get Airbed & Breakfast off the ground. They planned the launch around another conference to capitalize on the resulting lack of hotel space. Fast forward seven years, and that folks is how Airbed and Breakfast got a name and identity, a brand which we all hold dearly today - "Airbnb". Tune in to know more about their growth hacks and customer experience story.

Jun 2019

9 min 23 sec

This week, 15 startups raised $117.74 Mn. This week, one of the biggest funding was raised by Bengaluru-based electric two-wheelers maker Ather Energy. The investment of $51 Mn was led by Flipkart cofounder Sachin Bansal’s who poured in $32 Mn. For this round, Hero MotoCorp has converted its convertible debt of $19 Mn and InnoVen Capital has extended an $8 Mn venture debt. The company plans to use the funds to enter an expansion phase and has already lined up Chennai as its next city of operations. It plans to eventually expand it to 30 cities by the end of 2023. Bengaluru-based social commerce startup GlowRoad raised $11.5 Mn in a Series B+ funding round from South Korea-based Korea Investment Partners (KIP) and Singapore-based Vertex Ventures. The company is now looking to ramp up hiring across technology and customer care operations. Bengaluru-based online marketplace for perishable goods FreshToHome raised $11 Mn in Series A funding round led by CE Ventures. The funds will be used to expand its operations in all Tier 1 cities of India and strengthen the sourcing supply chain. Gurugram-based travel commerce startup Airblack raised $1.5 Mn in a seed funding round from Asia-focussed venture capital firm, SAIF Partners. The funds will be used to launch its consumer product, which is currently available on an invite-only basis. The company is also looking to ramp up its traveller and influencer community features and recruitment for its core team. Delhi-based HRTech startup Hyperhire raised $200K seed funding from Seoul based early-stage venture capital firm Springcamp and supported by Korean government. The funds will be used to launch its job platform JOBKET in the country. Moving on to acquisitions: Patna-based agritech startup, DeHaat acquired Noida-based VezaMart, a platform which builds farm management solutions for farmers for an undisclosed amount. Bengaluru-based printing retail startup Printo acquired custom online printing marketplace Inkmonk for an undisclosed amount. Post-acquisition, Chennai-based Inkmonk’s founders Isaac Wesley and Surya Sankar will join the Printo management. Inkmonk will continue to grow as an independent brand. What else caught our eyes? Alibaba has reportedly invested $100Mn in a short-video sharing app VMate to increase its foothold in the Indian market. VMate was launched in India in 2016 by Alibaba subsidiary UC Web. VMate has 30Mn global users and will use the funding to scale its business in India. Gurugram-based eyewear startup Lenskart may raise $350 Mn from SoftBank Vision Fund. The funding is expected to hike the company’s valuation by 162%, reaching a valuation of $1.3 Bn from $495.5 Mn at the last round. Gurugram and New York-headquartered online travel company MakeMyTrip has announced its performance for the quarter and the year ending March 31, 2019. In its last quarter, MakeMyTrip raked in $120.17 Mn in revenue taking the yearly revenue to $486.01 Mn. The company’s unaudited financial results show that the losses for Q4 increased 39% to $40.39 Mn, as against $29 Mn in Q3. The loss for the year was reported at $167.88 Mn overall. On a Y-o-Y basis, the FY19 losses have improved considerably by 23.7% as against $220.24 Mn in the previous year.

Jun 2019

4 min 11 sec

Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky just raised another $200 million for his newest company, Tempus Tempus has built a platform to collect, structure and analyze the clinical data that’s often unorganized in electronic medical record systems. The company also generates genomic data by sequencing patient DNA and other information in its lab. When serial entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky grows a company, he puts the pedal to the metal. When in 2011 his last company, the Chicago-based coupons site Groupon, raised $950 million from investors, it was the largest amount raised by a startup ever. It was just over three years old at the time, and it went public later that same year. Lefkofsky seems to be stealing a page from the same playbook for his newest company, Tempus. The Chicago-based genomic testing and data analysis company was founded a little more than three years ago, yet it has already hired nearly 700 employees and raised more than $500 million — including a new $200 million round that values the company at $3.1 billion. Password manager maker Dashlane has raised $110 million in its latest round of funding, the company. The company said Sequoia Capital led the Series D round, with partner Jim Goetz joining the board. Dashlane also said Lyft executive Joy Howard was appointed as its new chief marketing officer and will start in August. Dashlane said it will invest its latest funds back into its core product and will focus on addressing the needs of its consumer and business customers. Enterprise cybersecurity startup BlueVoyant raises $82.5M at a $430M+ valuation BlueVoyant — which provides managed security, professional services and, most recently, threat intelligence — has picked up $82.5 million in a Series B round of funding at a valuation in excess of $430 million. the company focuses on three areas of service for its customers: threat intelligence, managed security and professional services (with the latter focused specifically on those related to security implementations and operations). Healthcare data integration startup Abacus Insights lands $12.7M Series A Abacus Insights, an early-stage startup that wants to help coordinate healthcare information across systems, announced a $12.7 million Series A investment today led by CRV. Existing investors 406 Ventures and Echo Health Ventures also participated in the round. The company is trying to make it easier for health insurance companies to share data with various parties in the healthcare system, with the ultimate goal of lowering costs and helping participants across the system, from doctors to pharmacists and other healthcare practitioners, have a better understanding of the overall patient record. Diving into acquisitions, we have Foursquare that bought Placed from Snap Inc. on the heels of $150M in new funding Foursquare just made its first acquisition. The location tech company has acquired Placed from Snap Inc. on the heels of a fresh $150 million investment led by The Raine Group. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Placed founder and CEO David Shim will become president of Foursquare. Placed is the biggest competitor to Foursquare’s Attribution product, which allows brands to track the physical impact (foot traffic to store) of a digital campaign or ad. Up until now, Placed and Attribution by Foursquare combined have measured more than $3 billion in ad-to-store visits. FireEye snags security effectiveness testing startup Verodin for $250M The startup had raised over $33 million since it opened its doors five years ago, according to Crunchbase data, and would appear to have given investors a decent return. With Verodin, FireEye gets a security validation vendor; that is, a company that can run a review against the existing security setup and find gaps in coverage. What else caught our eyes last week? Just a quick shout out to all the companies that are joining the unicorn bandwagon. You know what? 2019 has already coined 42 new unicorns, like Glossier, Calm and Hims, a number that grows each and every week. For context, a total of 19 companies joined the unicorn club in 2013 when Aileen Lee, an established investor, coined the term. Today, there are some 450 companies around the globe that qualify as unicorns, representing a cumulative valuation of $1.6 trillion. However, with $100 million-plus rounds becoming the norm and billion-dollar-plus funds are standard, Unicorns aren’t rare anymore; and a lot of people are talking about rethinking the unicorn framework. Let’s see where that goes. We’ll definitely keep you updated.

Jun 2019

5 min 41 sec

This week, seven startups raised $23.37 Mn funding and two startup acquisitions took place in India. Good times! Let’s start with the biggest funding of last week, raised by Gurugram-based used car marketplace Spinny. It raised $13.2 Mn in Series A funding round led by Accel and SAIF Partners. Existing investors such as Blume Ventures and Simile Ventures had also participated in the round. The fresh funds will be used to strengthen its team across functions, improving inventory assortment and expanding the coverage and presence to newer locations. Noida-based edtech startup XploraBox raised $1 Mn in a Pre Series A funding round from Green Shoots Capital, Sucseed Ventures, JITO Angel Network, SWAN Angel Network and other angel investors including IIM alumni. Existing investor Metaform Ventures, USA, also participated in this round. The funds will be used to scale up in India, US and GCC countries. Bengaluru-based end-to-end home design and decor service provider Livspace raised an undisclosed amount from IKEA group franchisee, Ingka Group (Ingka Holding B.V and its controlled entities) for a minority stake. The funds will be used by the startup to develop new home interior solutions and products, market expansion and expanding offline retail footprint. Delhi-based fleet management startup BT TechLabs, the parent company of LocoNav, raised $4 Mn(INR 28 Cr) in a Series B round of funding. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings, the investment has come in from the company’s existing investor Sequoia Capital in two tranches from January to May 2019. Mumbai-based Online Media Network Private Limited, parent company of The Viral Fever (TVF), raised $4.97 Mn (INR 34.67 Cr) in a Series D round. The fresh funding has come in from existing investor Tiger Global. In a media report, paper.vc founder Vivek Durai said that TVF’s valuation is $82 Mn post this round. However, this doesn’t account for new Series D participants. Moving on to acquisitions: Chennai-based SaaS unicorn Freshworks which is where I’m recording this podcast from, acquired Silicon Valley-based customer success management software Natero for an undisclosed amount. Freshworks’s Natero acquisition would help the former strengthen its customer success vertical and create more visibility for customer needs among its operational teams. RP Sanjiv Goenka Group-owned Spencer’s Retail Limited is acquiring 100%stake in Godrej Industries Limited-owned Nature’s Basket. The transaction is, however, subject to approval of the shareholders of both the companies. Both the companies believe that with the acquisition of Nature’s Basket, Spencer’s will get access to the West of India through its 36 stores in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. What else caught our eyes? New Delhi-based ecommerce platform Snapdeal is inching closer to acquire its rival, ShopClues in an all-stock deal. If the 100% buyout deal is successful, all of ShopClues’ investors, including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, Helion Venture Partners, Tiger Global, Nexus Venture Partners and Unilazer Ventures will move to Snapdeal. India has moved up one place to rank as the world's 43rd most competitive economy on the back of its robust economic growth, a large labour force, and its huge market size, while Singapore has toppled the US to grab the top position. Economists regard competitiveness as vital for the long-term health of a country's economyas it empowers businesses to achieve sustainable growth, generates jobs and, ultimately, enhance the welfare of citizens. The IMD World Competitiveness Rankings, established in 1989, incorporate 235 indicators from each of the 63 ranked economies to evaluate their ability to foster an environment where enterprises can achieve sustainable growth, generate jobs, and increase welfare for its citizens. Markets watchdog Sebi has proposed a 'regulatory sandbox' for financial institutions wherein exemptions could be provided from various regulations for developing new products and services. "Sebi plans to introduce a framework, to be called the 'regulatory sandbox'. Under this sandbox framework, financial institutions regulated by Sebi shall be granted certain facilities and flexibilities to experiment with fintech solutions in a live environment and on real customers," the regulator said in a discussion paper. By participating in the sandbox regime, companies will get an opportunity to test their solutions on real customers/investors. On the other hand, it may help Sebi to frame policies that may reduce the time and cost of deploying new investor-centric solutions in the capital market.

May 2019

4 min 53 sec

This podcast will provide a 5 minute highlight reel of all that happened in the startup ecosystem last week. So let’s begin with the news around funding. So, guess what? This week’s startup funding scene has been quite great. We are talking about a total of 330 funding rounds, $6.7 billion total funding, 99 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $7.3 billion. That being said, let’s dive right into the highlights. Gokada a Nigeria based ride-hailing startup raises $5.3M In many large cities across Africa, motorcycle taxis are the most common mode of shared transport. That includes Lagos, Nigeria, where ride-hail startup Gokada has raised a $5.3 million Series A round to grow its two-wheel transit business. Gokada has trained and on-boarded more than 1,000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis and the company’s signature green, DOT– approved helmets. The startup has completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh — a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle and car transportation company. Zero raises $20 million from NEA and others for a credit card that works like debit Just ahead of the launch of the Apple Card, a startup that has its own take on modernizing the credit card industry, Zero, is announcing the close of its $20 million Series A. The new round of funding was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and brings Zero’s total raised to date to $35 million, including both equity and debt funding. Today, only 33% of millennials have a major credit card, a Bankrate survey found — largely because they’re wary of falling into the vicious debt cycle. Instead, this younger demographic often only carries a debit card. But that also means they’re missing out on credit card benefits — like points, rewards and cash back. Zero’s idea is to offer a rewards credit card that works like debit. The Zerocard itself is a World Mastercard, so it earns credit card cash back. But unlike a traditional credit card, it’s combined with an FDIC-backed checking account called Zero Checking. That means Zerocard and Zero Checking work together in the app, allowing cardholders to see one net number they can spend from. Hunters.ai raises $5.4M for its autonomous threat-hunting solution Hunters.ai, a Tel Aviv-based startup that built an AI-based threat-hunting solution, today announced that it has raised a $5.4 million seed funding round led by YL Ventures and Blumberg Capital. Sofar Sounds house concerts raises $25M. Sofar Sounds announced it’s raised a $25 million round led by Battery Ventures and Union Square Ventures, building on the previous $6 million it’d scored from Octopus Ventures and Virgin Group. The goal is expansion — to become the de facto way emerging artists play outside of traditional venues. The 10-year-old startup was born in London out of frustration with pub-goers talking over the bands. Now it’s throwing 600 shows per month across 430 cities around the world, and more than 40 of the 25,000 artists who’ve played its gigs have gone on to be nominated for or win Grammys. What else caught our eyes last week? Well, I mean anything bitcoin needs a mention. So, ya CoinBits launches as a passive investment app for bitcoin. Finman, who built his first company while still in high school, is launching a new startup called CoinBits, which allows users to passively invest in bitcoin. The idea, according to Finman, is to democratize access to the currency by letting everyday folks invest nominal sums through well-known mechanisms like roundups on transactions made with a credit or debit card or through regular transactions from a customer’s savings or checking account to bitcoin through CoinBits. That’s pretty great. The next thing I want to bring to your notice is this recent hike in non-alcoholic beverage startups around the world. In their recent article, TechCrunch talks about how millennials, according to various studies, are consuming less alcohol than previous generations and are therefore seeking non-alcoholic beverage alternatives. For example, we have Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirits company. Or Haus, launching this summer, an all-natural beverage distilled from grapes that has a lower alcohol content than most hard liquors. Haus, like any good consumer startup in 2019, is shipped directly to your door. Perhaps the most noted so far is Liquid Death, canned water for the punk rock crowd, I mean why not? I’m loving this trend. Liquid Death has attracted nearly $2 million in funding from angel investors like Away co-founder Jen Rubio and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. Then you have Bev, a canned wine business that recently raised $7 million in seed funding from Founders Fund, thinks marketing in the alcohol industry is the problem. Founder Alix Peabody designed a line of female-focused canned rosé. Peabody explained most alcohol brands cater to men, and that’s a problem.

May 2019

6 min 36 sec

Dennis Brown is a podcaster, an author and a serial entrepreneur who is a LinkedIn evangelist and consultant. Being big fans of his podcast Growth experts, we decided to bring him over to chat about one thing he’s truly passionate about - growth using LinkedIn. In this podcast, we have documented our chat with Dennis Brown on LinkedIn Marketing. LinkedIn is used more than a plain networking site. Many brands and individuals use LinkedIn for lead generation, engagement, branding and so on. It’s a complete marketing genie if you get an effective hang of the platform and learn to use it optimally. After all, users spend an average of 17 minutes only on LinkedIn daily. Dennis tells us how to best leverage LinkedIn to grow your brand presence and succeed in your marketing efforts. Listener notes 6.36 - Dennis' story from detesting social media to becoming a LinkedIn consultant 13.55 - Creating a solid LinkedIn Profile - A picture is worth a thousand words 20.37 - Improvement on LinkedIn 22.22 - Abishek & Dennis on LinkedIn messaging 27.57 - Advantages and disadvantages of Sales Navigator 30.31 - Keyword optimization for LinkedIn. Yay or nay? 34.05 - LinkedIn algorithm - virality and engagement of content on LinkedIn 39.05 - Customer market using LinkedIn 45.56 - Thoughts on LinkedIn ad & paid advertising 48.58 - Tech stack recommendations for Linkedin

May 2019

47 min 35 sec

Last week, nine startups raised $205.39 Mn funding and one startup acquisition took place in the Indian startup ecosystem. (This funding report is based on startups that disclosed funding amount.) The largest funding round was raised by Gurugram-based online grocery startup Grofers. It raised a $200 Mn in Series F round led by SoftBank Vision Fund. The company also raised capital from existing investors Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital as well as new investor KTB. Grofers is looking to utilise the funding to expand into new markets, build out its supply chain, improve warehousing infrastructure and expand its private label portfolio. Mumbai-based fashion retail startup Disrupt raised an undisclosed amount in Pre-Series A funding from Fynd cofounders Harsh Shah and Farooq Adam Anil Gelra and Mumbai-based VC firm First Cheque. The funds will be used to further invest in strategic collaborations, research and development, executive appointments, talent acquisition and offline retail expansion. Further, the funds will also be utilised for expanding its sales and marketing efforts. Patna-based agritech startup DeHaat secured $2.84 Mn from venture debt firm Trifecta Capital. DeHaat plans to use the funds for piloting of financial services, such as credit and insurance, for existing farmers on its platform. Epigamia: Mumbai-based food startup Drums Food International, parent company of Epigamia, raised an undisclosed amount from Deepika Padukone, Verlinvest, Danone Manifesto Ventures, and DSG Consumer Partners. With the investment the company aims to ramp up distribution to 50K outlets in more than 25 cities. New Delhi-based content startup GIFkaro raised $250K in angel funding from Pranay Gupta and Dr Ekika Singh. GIFkaro said it plans to expand its product portfolio with the new funding. Moving on to acquisitions: New York-based game publisher and studio Rockstar Games acquired Bengaluru-based game development studio Dhruva Interactive for an undisclosed amount. The company’s existing client projects will continue the same but the team will now operate as part of Rockstar India. What else caught our eyes? She Loves Tech, is entering India this year in a partnership with Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM). KSUM will be organising the competition in India and is inviting applications from women-centric startups to participate in the global challenge. In a bid to support growing agritech ecosystem, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has launched INR 700 Cr ($99.6 Mn) venture capital fund. The fund will make equity investments in agriculture and rural-focussed startups. The fund has a proposed corpus of INR 500 Cr ($71.1 Mn) with an option to retain over-subscription of INR 200 Cr ($28.4 Mn) also known as the greenshoe option. MobiKwik Grows 100% In FY19, Announces INR 184.6 Cr Revenue The company's exit revenue grew 3.5x in March 2019 Gurugram-headquartered digital financial services platform MobiKwik has said that it earned revenues of INR 184.6 Cr in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. The company has continued to post over 100% growth in its revenue for the last three years. According to reports the digital payment industry is expected to reach $1 Tn by 2023. However According to the ‘Indian Tech Startup Funding Report 2018, last year saw a sharp decline of 51.6% in the amount invested in fintech startups as compared to 2017, which is an indication of saturation in the Indian fintech sector, where licensing is going to be a decisive factor for VC investments in startups.

May 2019

5 min 2 sec

This week’s startup scene was definitely in its top shape. We are talking about a total of 397 funding rounds that’s hundred more than last week, $31.2 billion total funding which is almost 5 times last week, 153 acquisitions recorded, and a transaction of a total acquisition amount of $9.3 billion. That being said, let’s dive right into the highlights. Feather, a New York-based company that offers contemporary, higher-end furniture on a subscription basis raised $12.5 million in a Series A round led by Spark Capital. Prior seed investors Fuel Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, PJC, Kleiner Perkins, and Y Combinator followed on in the round, according to Crunchbase. Algorithmia raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Norwest Venture Partners. Algorithmia, based in Seattle, is building infrastructure for the final step of the machine learning workflow: integrating a predictive model into a production code environment. Basically, what the company calls its “AI Layer” is a software environment that automatically produces a model-specific API the data scientist can call. DNA Script has raised $38.5 million in new financing to commercialize a process that it claims is the first big leap forward in manufacturing genetic material. DNA Script is focused on the manufacturing of synthetic DNA using a proprietary template-free enzymatic technology. The company aims at accelerating innovation in life science and technology through rapid, affordable and high quality DNA synthesis. The company said the money would be used to accelerate the development of its first products and establish a presence in the United States. Trendy luggage brand - Away, packs on $100 million funding and rolls past a valuation of $1.4 billion. The capital will be used to build additional brick-and-mortar stores, as well as add to Away’s portfolio of merchandise with an eye toward expanding into generic travel gear. To date, Away has sold more than 1 million suitcases. Moving on to acquisitions, HP enterprise announced it was buying Cray (a global supercomputer leader) for $1.3 billion, giving it access to the company’s high-performance computing portfolio, and perhaps a foothold into quantum computing in the future. VMware announced today that it’s acquiring Bitnami, the package application company that was a member of the Y Combinator Winter 2013 class. The companies didn’t share the purchase price. The company can now deliver more than 130 popular software packages in a variety of formats, such as Docker containers or virtual machine, an approach that should be attractive for VMware as it makes its transformation to be more of a cloud services company. Sisense announced today that it has acquired Periscope Data to create what it is calling a complete data science and analytics platform for customers. The companies did not disclose the purchase price. Sisense, which has raised $174 million, tends to serve business intelligence requirements either for internal use or externally with customers. Periscope, which has raised more than $34 million, looks at the data science end of the business. What else caught our eye last week? Fiverr files to go public, reports revenue of $75.5M and a net loss of $36.1M for 2018 Freelance marketplace Fiverr has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Their mission is to change how the world works together. They started with the simple idea that people should be able to buy and sell digital services in the same fashion as physical goods on an e-commerce platform. On that basis, they set out to design a digital marketplace that is built with a comprehensive services catalog and an efficient search, find and order process that mirrors a typical e-commerce transaction. Next, let’s take a peek at the Revenue based finance (RBF) model that’s on the rise. What exactly is RBF you ask? It’s a relatively new form of funding for tech companies that are posting monthly recurring revenue. Here’s how Lighter Capital, which completed 500 RBF deals in 2018, explains it: “It’s an alternative funding model that mixes some aspects of debt and equity. Most RBF is technically structured as a loan. However, RBF investors’ returns are tied directly to the startup’s performance, which is more like equity.”

May 2019

5 min 58 sec

This week Bengaluru-based hyperlocal grocery startup, BigBasket, finally closed its $150 Mn Series F funding round. With the latest round, the company has comfortably landed on the unicorn club.The company will use the funds towards growth through further penetration into existing markets with more investments in the first mile, scaling-up of its supply chain and for developing new reseller channels. Further, Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori-led fitness startup Cure.fit raised $75 Mn from Piramal Group’s Anand Piramal, Accel Growth, Kalaari Capital, IDG Ventures India. Cure.fit uses an online-offline model to offer physical fitness (Cult.fit), mental fitness (Mind.fit), nutrition (Eat.fit), with a primary care vertical (Care.fit) coming soon. Gurugram-based digital nutrition platform HealthKart raised $25 Mn from Sofina in a fresh round of financing. The company said it would use the funds to further expand its store network, and plans to use data science and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve its customer-facing offerings. Bengaluru-based logistics optimisation startup Locus secured $20 Mn in a funding round led by New York-based hedge fund Falcon Edge, VC firm Tiger Global and its existing investors. The details around the funding round and fund allotment are yet to be disclosed. The latest round takes the total funding of Locus to $26.75 Mn. Ola Electric Mobility, the electric unit of Indian ride hailing unicorn Ola, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons. The company plans to use the latest funding to fund its mission to make electric mobility viable at scale. Bengaluru-based lifestyle brand Chumbak raised $10.02 Mn in a Series D round. The round was led by private equity fund Gaja Capital with participation from venture capital funds Matrix Partners and Seedfund. The company plans to double the number of stores by next year and will focus on metros primarily. The funds will also help the company expand its presence in Tier 2 cities. Last but not the least, Bengaluru-headquartered hyperlocal concierge app Dunzo raised $713.9K from Centrum, through its private equity fund, Kalpavriksh. The startup is currently looking to raise nearly $50 Mn from investors. It was also closing INR 80 Cr Series C funding round to further its business. Tune in to listen to more on acquisition and trends!

May 2019

4 min 21 sec

What's with Uber's IPO scene? Let's dive into fundings - Recruiting company humanpredictions landed $1.16 million from investors. The round was led by Network Ventures. The company wants to help hiring managers fill their shortages of tech roles, from software engineers to data scientists. The company claims it wants to discover “hidden tech talent outside of LinkedIn” by using data and machine learning. Real estate startup Reali raised a $9 million “Series B2,” adding to its initial round of $20 million. The way Reali works is to hire its own licensed real estate agents, who are salaried and not paid on commission. Buyers and sellers pay a flat rate of $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the price of the property, rather than a several percentage commission. Toronto-based Lane, which calls itself a workplace experience platform, said it would use a $2.5 million funding to expand into the U.S. The five-year-old company raised the money from Alate Partners, Panache Ventures and Colliers/Techstars. Lane said its modular technology integrates with an existing building “to create a tailor-made workplace experience that dramatically increases the overall ROI of any office with the use of a technology-driven assistant.” Its goal is to streamline traditional building management by “providing instant access to software, services, and amenities.” Mint House, which wants to help business travelers have a more “tech-rich” experience, announced a $15 million Series A led by Revolution Ventures. The New York-based company promises “tech-forward accommodations,” including a mobile app for check-ins and messaging with customer service. Learn more about what happened at the Google IO 2019 conference as well. Tune in!

May 2019

5 min 13 sec

This episode is on a showstopper brand. A brand that rewired e-commerce. The one and only brand that comes to your mind when you think of buying shoes online - Yes, we’re going to talk about Zappos today. You know what’s the most annoying part about shoe shopping? Somehow the brands don’t get it right. The most difficult thing on earth is to buy the right kind of shoes. The same thing happened to Nick in the year was 1998. He was walking around a mall in San Francisco looking for a certain pair of shoes. Hours passed by, but he was not able to find what he wanted. One store had the right style, but not the right color. Another had the right color, but not the right size. Nick spent the next couple of hours in the mall, walking from store to store, but just couldn't find the right pair of shoes. He finally went home empty-handed and frustrated. Not wanting to give up, Nick went home and started checking out e-commerce stores. He had no luck there as well. There were a lot of small-scale stores selling shoes online, there were no major online retailers that specialized in shoes. His frustration grew out of proportion. Being a frustrated customer is not something new. It happens to all of us, time and again. What do you do when you’re angry with a brand? I usually write an angry email to the support folks or tweet out to the brand online. But Nick was a different person. He started looking for meaning in his frustration. He was angry as hell that he couldn't find the right pair of shoes, but he was patient enough to look through the opportunity there. Imagine the number of people who would be looking for the right pair of shoes, where would they all go? Bingo, that’s a huge opportunity. Seeing both a market need and a business opportunity, Nick quit his day job and started an online shoe retailer called Shoesite.com. Not wanting to prevent the business from being able to expand into other product categories, he wanted to change the name of Shoesite.com. What’s the most handy thing you can do when you want to name your brand? Look for options in other languages. That’s exactly what he did. He quickly thought of the Spanish word for shoes "zapatos" and wanted to call his brand "Zappos". And that ladies and gentlemen, is how Zappos.com was born in 1999. Yes, while the original idea was a little narrow, there is an interesting story that led to the pivot in the company’s mission. Listen to the podcast to get to know three of the most important milestones in Zappos lifecycle. Subscribe to Mind the Gap by Freshchat to listen to more such interesting brand stories. Tweet out to Freshchatapp to tell us what you liked about this story. Have a great day!

May 2019

6 min 25 sec

Funding Pesto raised $2 Million angel funding Pesto, a Gurugram based edtech startup raised $2 Mn angel funding led by Matrix Partners, with participation of a group of angel investors including — Swiggy founders, Innov8 founder; Posist founder and OIC Capital’s Jack Yeung. BlackBuck closed its $150 Mn Series D round Bengaluru-based logistics startup BlackBuck closed its Series D round of $150 Mn led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Silicon Valley-based Accel. Zenoti raised $50 Million in a series C funding Washington-headquartered SaaS startup Zenoti raised $50 Mn in a Series C funding round led by Tiger Global Management. Acquisition Gurugram-based hospitality chain OYO committed to acquire Amsterdam-based vacation rental company @Leisure Group. With this acquisition, OYO’s capabilities of asset management and technology will be combined with the presence, local know-how and category-specific expertise of the @Leisure Group in the sphere of vacation rentals. Gurugram-headquartered online travel company MakeMyTrip acquired a majority stake in Mumbai-based corporate travel management startup Quest2Travel for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will help the company to extend its service offerings to large corporates for their travel requirements. Hyderabad-based healthcare technology firm Suvarna Technosoft is acquiring a controlling stake in Mumbai-based laboratory information management systems (LIMS) solutions provider MedPrecinct Solutions.

May 2019

3 min 21 sec

WorldCover raises $6M round for emerging markets’ climate insurance WorldCover, a New York and Africa-based climate insurance provider to smallholder farmers, has raised a $6 million Series A round led by MS&AD Ventures. Checkout, a quiet London-based payments startup just raised among the biggest Series A rounds ever in Europe Checkout raised $230 million in Series A funding at a valuation just shy of $2 billion co-led by Insight Partners and DST Global. Awair raises $10M to help customers like WeWork monitor their office environments Awair has raised a $10 million Series B led by The Westly Group with participation from iRobot, Altos Ventures, Emerson Electric and Nuovo Capital. The company has raised more than $21 million to date We have MongoDB to acquire open-source mobile database Realm for $39 million MongoDB announced today that it is acquiring Realm, an open-source database geared for mobile applications, for $39 million. Microsoft delves deeper into IoT with Express Logic acquisition Microsoft has never been shy about being acquisitive, and announced it’s interest in buying Express Logic, a San Diego company that has developed a real-time operating system (RTOS) aimed at controlling the growing number of IoT devices in the world. Facebook is rolling out what could be called an “aspirational redesign” known as FB5 Functionally, FB5 means placing Groups near the center of a freshly tabbed interface for both Facebook’s website and app, and putting suggestions for new ones to join across the service. “Everywhere there are friends, there should be Groups,” says the head of the Facebook app, Fidji Simo. Groups already has 1 billion monthly users, so Facebook is following the behavior pattern and doubling down. Sneaker market and fleet management startups joined the three comma club. Sneakers, in particular, are attracting investor interest as companies like StockX ramp up hiring.

May 2019

5 min 23 sec

More than 12 million people reach out to Buffer every month through your content and brand awareness campaigns. They have about 100 thousand new users acquired each month. Don't you want to know what happens behind the scenes? Kevan is the VP of marketing at Buffer. He started out as a content writer and has worn many hats since: product marketer, performance marketer, copywriter, and manager. Kevan is well known for his transparent and thought inspiring articles on social media marketing, content marketing and managing teams. In today’s episode we are going to make Kevan reverse engineer his strategies around marketing and decode content and social media marketing, the Buffer way. Listener notes - 1.31 -- What does a VP of marketing do at Buffer? A glimpse into Kevan’s everyday tasks. 4.38 -- Mitigating social campaign risks and instant crisis in a remote team 6.00 -- Brand awareness and content marketing strategy at Buffer 7.40 -- Ideal content marketing goals 10.25 -- Step-by-step walk through of the process of creating and promoting content 14.30 -- Updating and revising existing and non-performing content 16.30 -- Marketing for customers 20.28 - Future of content marketing 23.00 -- Is social media failing us? 26.00 - Hiring for a successful marketing team

May 2019

33 min 50 sec

Sean, founder and CEO of GrowthHackers, is a leading authority on growth hacking. He coined the term “Growth Hacking” to describe the sustainable growth approach used by hyper-growth companies like Facebook, Airbnb and Amazon. He has directly led growth at Dropbox, LogMeIn, Lookout, and Eventbrite and has also provided coaching and workshops to some of the world’s fastest growing companies. There are companies that grow and companies like Dropbox that spawn and sprout. Many of us have always wondered if we would ever be able to take the road taken by Dropbox, to be able to reach a revenue of $1billion in the blink of an eye. The answer is growth hacking. Growth Hacking is like AI - it’s everywhere but no one really understands it. You need an expert to put things into perspective, who better than the person who coined the term “Growth Hackers”. That’s why we invited Sean to help us debunk behind the scenes of growth at Dropbox, LogMeIn, Lookout, Eventbrite, and GrowthHackers. Listener's notes [01.40] -- Approaching growth hacking or growth marketing in 2019. What has changed over the course? [02.57] -- Looking at growth for a product inside a company vs. the company itself [03.45] -- Defining north star metric [04.52] -- The concept of growth pyramid. The milestones to be cleared before creating a customer-wide culture of growth [09.33] -- Growth as a function [11.43] -- Testing and scaling a startup - talking about product-market fit [15.38] -- Hiring for growth hacking [19.53] -- Learnings as a marketer

Apr 2019

34 min 46 sec

How many of you feel that your social media engagement is dropping constantly compared to before? With so much noise around social media and strategies for branding, marketing, and customer service on social, it’s high time we got some advice from an expert on how to truly deal with customer experience on social. In this episode, Dan unveils a winning formula to influence customer love on social also talks about how you can make your brand lovers be louder than your haters. Listener Notes - 1.06 - Social media’s growing role in the overall customer experience 3.20 - Using social media as a medium to test and scale marketing, positioning hypothesis 6.15 - Managing crisis on social 11.53 - Hiring for a stellar social media team and ensuring that they align with the marketing and support folks. 17.18 - Shift in focus from one-to-many broadcast to one-to-one messaging on social 21.30 A winning formula to influence customer love on social - how do you make the lovers to be louder than haters. 27.30 - One advice to sustain your social media strategy 30.02 - Dan’s take on influencer marketing and its impact on your branding efforts

Apr 2019

34 min 32 sec

As marketers, our job doesn’t end at getting people to our website. It’s when they perform a desirable action is when we actually hit our KPIs. If there’s one vehicle that can help us with this, it’s CRO. In this episode, we talk to Peep Laja, Founder of ConversionXL about: CRO advice for businesses at each stage Trends in CRO Behavioral design Why process matters over tactics in CRO The interdependency between CRO and SEO, and The right skills for a CRO expert

Oct 2018

16 min 34 sec

Video personalization is evolving to become the full proof solution for quality lead generation. The perceived limitations like spending $$$$ to outsource videos and thinking about videos for only a big brand campaign is a thing of the past now. Tyler joins us to talk about: How to build a culture where people aren’t intimidated to incorporate videos Why the goals for any video campaign shouldn’t be views but conversion How to associate videos to individual accounts How to increase the lifeline of videos, and How to take your video marketing to a next level: a 3-step approach Listener notes: [01.46] -- The evolution of video marketing [05.10] -- Targeted text emails and display ads don’t stand out [06.00] -- The key to ABM programs today [06.30] -- The case of one-to-one videos in sales [09.10] -- Leverage your own employees to produce video [10.32] -- How Vidyard has created a video culture [13.27] -- Proactively thinking videos [16.31] -- Now: “Video complements text.” Future: “Text supports video.” [19.12] -- Metrics to track for videos [22.05] -- How to maximize your BOFU metrics [24.20] -- Increasing the lifeline of videos [30.05] -- They ask you answer [31.05] -- MarketingProfs [31.37] -- Andrew Davis [32.16] -- Quality for modern marketers

Oct 2018

33 min 30 sec

This episode brings different perspectives together — on similar gaps but different approaches by different people. Taking the center stage are leaders from companies like Cisco, Typeform, ChartMogul, Mad Street Den, and Appcues. We talk to them about numbers in their domain, productivity hacks, secrets for hiring, learning resources, and more.

Sep 2018

22 min 12 sec

When a giant multinational conglomerate specializing in hardware and high tech enters the Saas business, things massively change. The center of all the change is the customer — new processes, touchpoints, and the need for a unified experience. David Sakamoto joins us to talk about: -How Cisco delivers customer success at scale Segmenting customers when the world is your audience Lessons smaller businesses can apply from Cisco’s customer success philosophy Why culture needs to be at the forefront of the change, and The most important trait needed in a customer success candidate

Aug 2018

27 min 24 sec

Search Engine Optimization. This relentless universe of researching, creating, curating, interlinking, auditing, analyzing, re-researching, and so on is at the forefront of every business. While the individual avenues of SEO are talked about in depth, there exists a gap in understanding how to look at SEO holistically and tie it to bigger marketing goals. There are also questions around quality vs quantity and finding a balance between the two – If 10 blog posts and 20 landing pages a month is really THE answer and if a search engine world exists outside of Google. (Yes, we just said that!) Our tete-a-tete with Dan talks about approaching SEO holistically, the biggest source of views on YouTube, and top 3 insights from interviewing close to 100 SEO experts on his podcast. Listener notes: [00.50] -- Two monumental changes in SEO in the last 10 years [01.35] -- Technical SEO Renaissance [03.37] -- Why 10 blog posts a week without a marketing reason can hurt your SEO [04.45] -- SEO tactics without business reasons [06.18] -- What SEO analysts miss today [08.56] -- Bringing the real, digital, and search world together [14.49] -- Optimizing your Linkedin profile [16.12] -- What your log files can tell you [17.38] -- SEO trends in 2018 [18.40] -- The biggest source of views on YouTube [21.18] -- Blind 5 year old [22.14] --SEMRush, Screaming Frog [22.23] -- Keywords Everywhere [24.05] -- Vegetable oil to fuel the car [25.30] -- Dan on the piano

Aug 2018

26 min 23 sec

At Typeform everything is centered around the customer and you will concur when you hear this: The customer success division in the company is responsible for sales, account management, and prospecting functions. And to evoke your curiosity a little further, the sales team operates without any quotas or commissions. David Apple, General Manager - US and VP of Customer Success at Typeform joins us to talk about how his team operates, competition, difficult customers, hiring for customer success, and the journey from football (Barcelona) to American football (Silicon Valley). Listener Notes: [00.23] -- Net retention has done more harm than good [01.20] -- Customer success is the champion of net retention, not owner [02.18] -- If you’re looking for a push sales guy, I am not your guy. [03.35] -- Sales team not commissioned at Typeform (to avoid negative incentive) [04.37] -- If self-service is what customers want, let it be [05.33] -- Typeform is more inward focussed [07.15] -- Breakdown of an email response to an unhappy customer [08.25] -- How to deal with an unhappy social-savvy customer [10.15] -- Proactive customer service: From firefighting to fire prevention [13.05] -- The SURF concept at Typeform [13.45] -- From Football to American Football (Barcelona to Silicon Valley) [16.41] -- Hiring for customer success (The great customer success skills are not so scalable) [18.40] -- Dan Steinman [19.17] -- High Output Management - Andrew Grove [19.48] -- Harvard Business Review on Managing Yourself [20.04] -- Spin Selling

Aug 2018

21 min 36 sec

If you’re a B2B product, chances are your lead generation strategy relies largely on inbound channels that ties closely to creating content. In the last 5 years, the cost to advertise and acquire customers have increased by significant rates – CAC increased by 50% in both B2B and B2C spheres. We’re also paying 20-40% more for content creation when compared to 5 years ago. (Source: ProfitWell). To top this all, content shock is real (Take one scroll through your Pocket account/bookmarks feed and you’ll concur in no time) and attention spans are faltering. Growing an audience and proving ROI on your content is a sporadic win and the kind of the advice on the internet is stale and unactionable. Ed Shelley shares with us a whole new perspective on the content process — journalistic and business case mindset for ideation, naturally high engagement for distribution, and hiring people for content who are not an obvious choice for the role. Listener Notes: [00.22] -- Journalistic approach to pitching stories [01.05] -- Thinking around the business case for a piece of content [02.18] -- Immerse yourself in the industry [03.40] -- Content is dissolving the same problem the product is [05.25] -- Distribution is an ever-evolving process [5.35] -- Producing content that can be naturally distributed [9.18] -- Distribution doesn’t involve deep work but short a buzz of activity [10.35] -- Splitting ownership of production and distribution between different people [11.20] -- Hire people who are traditionally not an obvious placement inside the team [12.30] -- Hiring for the content team: Traits [12.55] -- Picking from different disciplines [15.20] -- First Round Capital

Aug 2018

16 min 59 sec

A lot has been said and written about the journey that is entrepreneurship. What else are you going to hear that’s not unique? Hear us spill the beans: Every starting up story is personal, anecdotal, and unique. Ashwini’s entrepreneurial trajectory draws a distinction because of a) the niche market her product operates in b) the barriers she overcame while bootstrapping, raising funding, and maintaining inclusivity at work c) her perspective on the gaps in retail after working with several big brands and, d) the comfort she finds in being a process aficionado (and where it comes from) Listen to this episode for insights on Ashwini’s entrepreneurship ride, lessons on bootstrapping, the gaps and opportunities in retail today, and more. Listener notes: [00.55] -- Entrepreneurship is a lonely ride [02.44] -- Self-flagellation with the loneliness [03.44] -- Founding Mad Street Den with the neuroscientist husband: Natural and a synchronized dance [07.15] -- The essentials for bootstrapping [9.40] -- AI in retail: Textual to visual [13.26] -- 50% women in tech startup [14.11] -- Customers and investors don’t expect to see me [18.19] -- The journey of enterprise companies [20.18] -- Finding inspiration in silence [21.39] -- The a16z Podcast [22.01] -- The hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz [22.20] -- Jason Lemkin Podcast [23.09] -- Macy’s: Steering a ship away from an iceberg [24.32] -- Luxury brands are changing in ways we can’t imagine [25.23] -- The sharing economy market

Jul 2018

29 min 8 sec

If you’re a marketer, you probably spend a huge amount of your time slaying your acquisition strategy. The usual story goes something like this: You go behind a myriad of channels, spend heaps of dollars, craft the perfect message and call-to-action and wait for your potential buyers to land on your website. Several optimizations, personalizations, and conversations later, the visitor converts into a user. Phew! Happy ending? No. In a span of one week, around 86% of converted leads drop off and never come back (12.18 of this episode). Two words that can prevent this leakage from happening – Great Onboarding. Let’s look at some non-vanity metrics that can translate your acquisition costs into ROI – Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral. They are all by-products of one single thing – Onboarding. Limited to tooltips, siloed help centers, and transaction mailers, onboarding today has been tossed between customer success, product management, and product marketing. And most often, that one crucial metric that can have the biggest impact of onboarding goes unmeasured and unoptimized. Close the gaps in onboarding by tuning into this action-packed episode. We chat with Ty on: How GTM strategies today have transformed from an enterprise-based to consumer-based approach Onboarding in a world of self-service and freemium experience The ideal owner of onboarding: Whose court is the ball in, really? The metric that has the most impact on MRR and why it’s not acquisition or retention The nuance between user onboarding and activation The analogy between onboarding and dating How Canva gets onboarding right The written word and why it’s the most important quality for marketers

Jul 2018

21 min 58 sec