Category Archives: Startups

The three-year-old bootstrapped startup, originally a consultant called Etrix, finds the market more favorable for its goods in Europe

Unlike bandwidth-intensive and hard to deploy AR applications, Scotty uses WebGL, a JavaScript API, to render graphics on a compatible browser

The invention of a Bengaluru company helped to deal with it at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated. After two and a half months of a lockout, Wuhan will be coming out of quarantine on April 8, with new infections dropping to zero. As a Chinese official said to Bloomberg in February, “It’s like fighting a war.

Some of the steps Wuhan took was to set up on a war footing emergency medical centres. Ventilators were critical and many were from Huber & Ranner, a German manufacturer. The problem was that technicians had been unable to go to Wuhan to help mount them. That is where BlinkIn, based in Bengaluru’s Nasscom CoE, came into the scene.

To provide visual feedback from Pocking in Germany, Huber & Ranner used BlinkIn’s AR (augmented reality) app Scotty. Staff at the Wuhan hospital simply had to click on a button to get tech help. While pointing a phone at the ventilator and installation point, AR markers helped determine what to do as a technician talked to them about the process.

“WebGL lets you access the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) of a cell phone to run algorithms for computer vision. That is how we offer AR interactions through the Web rather than a smartphone device, “explains BlinkIn’s CEO and co-founder, Harshwardhan Kumar.

The concept behind a lightweight app like Scotty is to have only enough AR for tech support “to get the job done then and there.” Unlike a full-fledged AR app, this involves limited computing resources and will entail heavy downloading and finding out how to use it.


“Our strategy differentiates us from other businesses who are stuck in a showcase trip to create cool AR / VR experiences that are rarely rolled out. We’re really trying to understand a issue and create value for a customer, “says Josef Seuss, the German co-founder and MD of BlinkIn.

“What I do on a daily basis is create communication between us and our customers,” adds Reinhard Kurz, who is overseeing business development for BlinkIn. One difficulty, for example, was making a live video call when connectivity was poor. “We came up with an instant picture chat solution.”

Seuss was a digital transformation consultant to companies in Germany when he first linked to Kumar in order to do a project for one of his clients. Later, when BlinkIn was at last year’s iCreate accelerator programme in Ahmedabad, Kumar told him they were developing a smart visual bot.

He saw much interest in the drug when Seuss started asking around in Germany. He ended up moving to Ahmedabad to participate and becoming a co-founder of the BlinkIn founders in the accelerator programme.

Although Scotty opens doors to businesses with easy-to-use AR, BlinkIn’s deep-tech tool is the AI-powered visual bot Houston. Imagine an automated call to video conferencing that is getting smarter as it progresses. Houston can be deployed in multiple scenarios.

One of the early users is the German automotive association Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC). The bot will help a consumer do an oil-level inspection in his vehicle, fit a child’s safety seat, and so on. “We will be doing a broader pilot around Europe with an automotive business,” Seuss says.

An Indo-German startup is taking advantage of the best of both worlds. AI and AR talent in Germany are limited and costly so the engineering side is in Bengaluru. And Europe is the main target market where Seuss and his team will directly communicate with potential customers.


After the Ahmedabad programme, the Indian creators of BlinkIn — Harshwardhan Kumar, Nitin Kumar, and Dhiraj Choudhary — went with Seuss to join an acceleration program for insurtech in Germany. They linked there with insurance firm VKB, which now runs a pilot to see if a visual bot can enhance the process of claims and reduce the time taken.

The three-year-old bootstrapped startup, originally a consultancy called Etrix, found the market to be more favourable for its goods in Europe. “We reached out earlier to companies in India that are eager to take our goods forward.

We have reached out to investors willing to invest in us. Yet after having a taste of the German environment, we had to rethink what we could lose in equity by raising funds in India or entering into agreements with Indian customers, “Choudhary says.

“We learned from day one to work remotely and to trust each other in both India and Germany,” Seuss adds. “We don’t have to sit next to each other all the time.”

  • Late-stage and stage companies plan to make a profit over the next four years
  • With the COVID-19 outbreak, start-ups and large companies have experienced a concentrated impact on their businesses, especially in the travel segment

A recent 2020 survey conducted in February shows that many Indian companies have prioritized growth over profitability, but that could change because of the COVID-19 outbreak that has affected thousands of businesses around the world.

A majority of startups in India still tend to expand quickly and users on a rapid scale, rather than increasing profitably, reveals a survey undertaken by InnoVen Capital, a venture debt capital provider. About 79 percent of InnoVen’s surveyed start-ups showed a strong bias towards growth over profitability.

Both late-stage startups and nearly 91 percent growth stage startups surveyed said they planned to be profitable over the next four years. Although 82 percent of consumer brands and 53 percent of fintech companies claim to be profitable in the next 1-2 years or at least expect profitability.

This notion of growth over profitability prevails, even as the report highlighted that startup founders in India are anticipating a weaker venture funding climate in 2020. Approximately 75% of founders surveyed by InnoVen said they had a favorable financing experience in 2019, but approximately 58% of founders expect fundraising to be more difficult in 2020.

InnoVen’s survey also showed that most founders will see funding and improving top management as the top priorities in 2020. Certain goals include enhancing suitability for the product market and concentrating on productivity, the survey showed.

Just 14 percent of the funders surveyed by the venture debt firm said profitability is a top priority for 2020, compared with about 27 percent who said fundraising was the top priority.

Read Startups by 2020: Key questions asked

Although a majority of the founders (57 percent) surveyed believe the most likely exit scenario would be through mergers and acquisitions and secondary exits, many founders are now beginning to look at IPO’s as a viable exit choice. Approximately 42 percent of the founders said an IPO could be one of their 2020 exit choices, which is a small increase from 38 percent in 2019.

Approximately 54 percent of growth and late-stage start-ups foresee a 5-year exit, with 62 percent suggesting IPO as a possible exit. Over 50 percent of Fintech start-ups surveyed said IPO is the most likely exit mode. 60 percent of start-ups in e-commerce think that secondary exits are most likely, while 64 percent of start-ups in the consumer sector feel that a merger or acquisition could be the most possible way out.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, however, startups and large companies have seen a concentrated effect on their industries, especially in the travel segment as many countries have approved foreigners ‘ travel bans and visa curbs. Venture capital firms have encouraged startups to hold cash and likely prepare for a downturn in funding.

Sequoia Capital, one of the most involved VC firms, said in particular supply chain disruptions are inevitable with a market slowdown. The firm has also advised investors and businessmen in an unpredictable world to challenge their cash cushion, fund-raising, revenue projections, headcount and capital spending.

Ashish Sharma, CEO, InnoVen Capital India said in a statement that the survey was conducted in February when the impact of Coronavirus was largely concentrated in China and that “it is reasonable to assume that the feeling has become more unfavourable in the past week.”

  • Leading car rental companies Zoomcar and Drivezy both cut short their current financing rounds
  • Zoomcar, which for its Series D round was supposed to raise up to $500 million, has now cut the funding round to just $100 million

Over the last two years, vehicle leasing companies running four-wheeler fleets have been facing a tough period. After their arrival in India in 2012-13, the startups have experimented with multiple business models, such as subscriptions and franchise. Now, investor pressure on car rental startups is mounting as they try a sustainable business model, taking a toll on financing.

Leading vehicle rental companies Zoomcar and Drivezy both shortened their ongoing funding rounds, three people said they were aware of the progress and requested not to be called. According to sources, Zoomcar had also discussed an opportunity to combine with its competitors.

Drivezy had discussions with SoftBank and Amazon in 2019 but both conversations fell through. Then, according to one of the people listed above, Drivezy cut its funding round from the $100 million it was targeting in early 2019 to less than half.

The company is now projected to collect only around $35-40 million to a valuation of $135 million, the individual said. Currently Drivezy is worth around $200 million.

In an emailed response Drivezy reported the developments. Digital news portal Entrackr announced in February that Zoomcar was having separate merger talks with Revv, a car rental startup based in Gurgaon.

But Revv and Zoomcar declined to hold talks.

Zoomcar, which was supposed to raise up to $500 million for its Series D round, has now cut the funding round down to just $100 million, two people added. The company recently said in a round led by Sony Innovation Fund, it raised $30 million with plans to raise another $70 million in the immediate future.

Nonetheless, a Zoomcar spokeswoman called Sony’s investment a “pre-series” round and denied that it will raise more money and slash funding.

All Drivezy and Zoomcar initially launched as an aggregator, buying vehicles directly from banks and other lending institutions on their balance sheets either through equity capital or through financing options. Nevertheless, as these companies started to grow, both companies switched to new business models to minimize capital (capex) spending on vehicle procurement.

In April 2016, Zoomcar had launched its’ Zoomcar Associate Program’ (ZAP), a model where private vehicle owners— individuals, fleet operators, dealers, etc.— could list their own vehicles on the website. For this, Zoomcar was reducing the vehicle production costs.

In 2019, too, Drivezy launched a similar franchisee model in which private owners were permitted to list directly on the website. The ZAP model, however, hasn’t scaled as planned, a mobility space investor who assessed Zoomcar said, asking not to be mentioned.

“In order for ZAP model to succeed on the supply side, you first need a lot of people who own cars to go and list on the platform for the weekend at least,” the investor said.

In 2018 Zoomcar launched a subscription service to solve this issue, enabling users to subscribe to a car for 6, 12, 18, and 24 months.

  • Companies are now looking to serve customers with longer-term commitments, rather than leasing individual desks or seats
  • As reported by JLL India, the share of co-working in overall office leasing increased from 8 percent in 2018 to 14 percent in 2019.

After a rapid expansion process, co-working Fundraising startups are looking to raise fresh capital and turn profitable to fund the next growth step, as demand for collaborative workspaces in India remains high.

The dynamics of shared workspaces are also evolving and shifting towards long-term dedicated enterprise customers and creating personalized goods, rather than pursuing smaller startups and entrepreneurs and leasing individual desks or seats.

Top providers, including WeWork India, Smartworks Space Coworking Pvt. Ltd, Awfis Space Solutions Ltd and Table Space Technologies, together with smaller firms such as IndiQube and CoWrks, account for more than 80 percent of flexible space leasing and pursue strategic expansion through an asset-light or revenue-sharing model to burn less energy.

Refer: The representation of women in Indian businesses is rising

“Today’s co-working market is mainly driven by the multi-city presence of top operators. Growth has so far been the priority, but now that it is a proven form of business, they are looking at profitability, capital raising, and the operational component. It’s a volume-driven market, so operators look at prime locations, bigger customers, “said Knight Frank India, national director of office transactions, Viral Desai.

Indique, which raised capital from WestBridge Capital India Advisors in 2018, is looking to raise $30-50 million to boost capacity, as the Bengaluru-based company looks to nearly double its 2.5 million sq.ft operational space in the next 12-15 months.

“Larger companies are seeking larger spaces. The momentum has built up and for more growth, we need a new round of funding. We are undertaking buildings that can be renovated or transformed into office spaces as well as distress properties trapped with lenders, “said IndiQube, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Rishi Das.

This year, WeWork India has added 5,000 seats and is aiming to hit 10,000 seats by June. However, there are also a lot of riders on the fundraising plans it announced last October to promote growth. The New York-based Indian subsidiary We Co. is also planning to turn profitable this year.

“While we keep growing and holding on to our market share, the greater focus is on productivity. Capital is a big driver, how quickly or slowly we expand. Unlike before, when we tried to grow rapidly, we are now looking at deals where landlords finance the desks we are adding, in fully-funded management contracts or revenue sharing, “said Karan Virwani, who heads WeWork India.

Even CoWrks based in Bengaluru, who said it would raise $50 million last year, is still self-funded and so far has not raised any external money. According to Abhishek Goenka, CEO, CoWrks, though this year it will add 15,000-20,000 seats, no one is building more speculatively and shifting towards facilities that are designed to fit.

The co-working segment of India has seen tremendous growth in recent years and is now a hub for new workspaces. According to JLL India figures, the share of co-working in overall office leasing increased from 8 percent in 2018 to 14 percent in 2019.

Coworking Space smart works Pvt. Ltd, which turned profitable last year and last year raised $25 million from Singapore’s Keppel Ground, follows the conventional landlord offer and has begun to take up larger spaces across the top nine Indian cities. “Everybody today focuses on productivity rather than simply reaching the topline and there is no unreasonable expansion,” said Neetesh Sarda, founder of Smartworks.

Awfis Space Solutions Ltd is planning to set up centers in even smaller cities such as Kochi, Ahmedabad and Indore, one of the biggest and well-funded co-working startups.

UiPath plans to grow its business in India as companies seek ways to automate daily processes to save costs and increase employee productivity.

The multinational software company, currently valued at over $7 billion, has received a total of over $1 billion in funding from investors such as Sequoia, Capital G, Accel and the Madrona Venture Group to date.

It closed a Series D in its latest round in April, raising Coatue-led $568 million and joined by others such as Dragoneer, Wellington and Sands Capital.

In addition to the private sector where it has made strong inroads, UiPath in India works on pilot projects from government organizations such as India’s Provident Fund and Coffee Board, Bharti said.

“While we are at very initial stages, the level of interest is high,” he said.

Founded in Romania and headquartered in New York, UiPath has historically had a strong Indian connection as it first realized the country’s RPA potential when Sutherland, a Chennai-based BPO company, asked for a solution to a problem, Bharti said. Today it counts among its Indian customers some of the top companies such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Star TV, Piramal Group, Tata Steel, Kotak Mahindra Bank and HDFC Bank.

Overall, the UiPath market is divided into five geographies – US, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Japan, Asia Pacific (APAC), and India. “India’s value as a market is obvious from the fact that it is considered as a separate market. Together, Japan, APAC and India contribute over 30 percent of our total revenue,” Bharti said.

Bengaluru is also one of the company’s three regional innovation centres. There are two others in Romania in Bucharest, and in Seattle in Bellevue.

UiPath closed December, with an annual recurring revenue (ARR) of $360 million, up from $100 million in ARR in July 2018. It has a global client base of 6,000 organizations and a community of nearly 750,000 RPA developers worldwide.

India ranked 52 out of the 57 countries surveyed in the Women Entrepreneurs ‘ Index 2019

The ORF researches suggested that Indian women entrepreneurs need better access to finance and networks

The ambitious Startup India initiative by the Centre, Stand-up India, has failed to attract women entrepreneurs. According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, just 43 percent of the 27,084 recognized startups in India had a woman director as of January 8.

Women’s participation remained low even in those states that were top performers in terms of state-wise distribution of recognized startups — Delhi, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, according to the survey.

India also ranked 52 out of the 57 countries surveyed in the Women Entrepreneurs Index 2019.

What’s worse, the number of funded startups with at least one female co-founder decreased from 17 per cent in 2018 to 12 per cent in 2019, according to Innoven Capital, a venture debt and lending site. “Apart from the lack of credit insurance, women have no risk covering possibility financially. For first time visitors, there is a lack of formal support system and they give up even on the smallest challenge. Overall, one needs to get help from families in a stressful climate, “said Ranjana Kumari, director, Social Research Centre.

According to industry-wise distribution of known startups, IT services accounted for 13.9 percent followed by health and life sciences (8.3 percent) and education (7.0 percent), the economic survey shows. “Women make up 70% of the global health workforce and are the primary carers for elderly people and children. Given their strong predominance in healthcare, investor interest in women’s health startups remains limited,” said Savitha Kuttan, CEO, health-tech startup Omnicuris. “Whilst Startup India has helped budding entrepreneurs engage with industry leaders, formulate and execute business plans, we need to focus on promoting women entrepreneurs in the science and healthcare sector.”

The government said that while startups are driving economic growth, creating jobs, and cultivating an innovation culture, it does not seem to help women enterprises.

“Women are lacking in the initiative of Startup India, because many women who start their initiatives are not in the limelight or are professionally mentored.

Can view :

Additionally, when it comes to funding, women are not only scrutinized about how they ‘d manage their businesses, but also their families in parallel, which isn’t a filter men are put through, “said Riya Saxena, innovative finance associate, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).“ Thus women need to break through to filters to raise capital and grow their businesses.

A recent research paper published by Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a think tank on public policy, concluded that low rates of female entrepreneurship are part of a wider gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.

The paper titled “India’s Women Entrepreneurs: What’s holding them back?” We observed that policies aimed at including more women in senior positions and leadership positions are needed to help them gain experience and knowledge, thereby enabling them to start their own businesses.

“In particular, women in rural areas are a potential gold mine when it comes to entrepreneurship and need to be supported through skills and handholding,” said Neha Rastogi, founder and CEO of the healthtech company, Agatsa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched on 15 August 2015 the initiative Startup India, Stand-up India, to encourage entrepreneurship among the youth. The initiative aimed to build an environment that is conducive to startup growth.

ORF reseachers also recommended that Indian women entrepreneurs need better access to finance and networking. Organizations such as NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Network, Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurship, and Zone Startups India’s Women in Tech Accelerator provide women entrepreneurs with dedicated support, he added.

Can view women startup’s here

What are the key tools and software for product managers in 2020? Update your gear with this tailor-made guide and shine through your product management Software and tools!

Humble beginnings legends in tech have become legendary. A few geniuses, a garage and an ambitious vision: all that’s needed to kick-start a digital revolution.

Would you think this is the way most people do it?

Face it, not all of us are destined to change tech’s face. Or perhaps we are; but the majority of us work hard, one day at a time. And you will appreciate every possible help. A great team, better management and a fresh product make things easier. But you can’t choose them for real. Most of the time, you’ll enter current projects with their difficulties and issues.

However, using the best software and tools for product management are things you can choose from. Find out which tools and software for product management can help you achieve PM excellence in 2020.

Considerations of before selecting for product management software and tools

Let’s just be transparent first of all. Essential to the budget. Product managers range from remote workers doing support work for various small businesses; to PM bosses in huge tech firms with branches all over the world. Clearly the budgeting will be different in both situations. You also need to be mindful of traditions: you may be at a big business, but perhaps management is used to using “freemium” solutions instead of charging for full services.

Now, as we’re talking costs; make sure you have top-notch protocols on defence. How much data do you want to share with third parties? A security risk is something that you simply won’t be able to handle when things escalate. Another important economic issue is whether the tasks you want to conduct with the product will be performed in your offices or in a third-party setting. In reality, who is your audience: outsiders; colleagues? What kind of team is it that will use these tools?

Such issues matter, as software for product management also has different levels of “users.” Those levels may determine access to different areas: Managers may only be concerned with some. Until choosing one form of product management method or another, keep Hierarchies in mind.

Finally: It’s about integrity. Have a debate with your squad. What is their level of competency? Do they understand interfaces which are “user-unfriendly”? Or would they prefer a slickly crafted programme? Talk to them, get opinions and make sure the team can use whatever you choose.

Once these issues have been resolved, go through the list and select the product management tool and program that best suits your needs.

Best Product Management Software and Tools Available For All Needs


This is an important exercise in Product Management. While PMs are known to be adaptable, mapping the route illuminates the kind of stakeholder negotiating skills and data-led planning that make brand management so successful.

According to the PMs experience we know, both Roadmunk and Restyaboard ( open-source alternative to Trello) are leaning on “making things easy” AHA is also useful and based on sound theoretical insight into the workings of product managers. Also, ProductPlan is good for those who prefer it to be lighter: it is web-based.

product management software


A Product Manager will have both a positive and a negative view. That is, they will know when to delete something that isn’t working. This is a very valuable skill: if you’re working alone, you’re saving time and money; if you’re working in a company like Google, you’re saving a lot of time and money.

Suggested tools include Trello, Restyaboard (helps the team choose between lines of action!), Airfocus, Kanbanize, Craft, Hygger, GridRank and Productific.

product management software

Task Management

That backlog on the rise, right? If you want to keep it down you need a good tool which shows you exactly what you need to do to get back on track, both visually and in terms of data.

Any of the product management tools suggested above for task administration work. Keep in mind, though, that certain tools align with specific methodologies. For example, if you aren’t dealing with small, Agile teams; they might not be helpful to your team. Restyaboard represents a perfect example. You may need to train the teams so they can work at full speed!

product management software


This methodology is used across many disciplines and tools belonging to other fields may be used by Product Managers. Tools like Restyaboard and Binfire are perfect enough for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Restyaboard offers a lot of features for larger operations, and Planbox integrates spaces for various teams to operate on the cloud. In short, it’s all about the goals. Would you like to invest in a richer, more dynamic framework for product management? And will you use that freemium software to support your Sprint along with more conventional text, data and presentation tools?

Data Management

A Product Manager without data is nothing. Your insight could even be based on decades of experience, but you are going nowhere without reliable analytics. On the surface, like a standard spreadsheet, Product Management tools like Airtable work. In addition, it can extend to become a fully-fledged database.

Google Analytics is a free and basic tool for tracking your metrics online, but if you want to go into more detail we recommend Mixpanel, where you can track user interactions and even run A / B testing. Salesforce also offers the adept user potent CRM tools.

All in all, if you put any effort into Product Management data analytics, a decent Excel or Google Sheet can be of great help.

User Knowledge

You need to hear the noise out there in this day and age.

First, you need tools to get customer feedback, understand and react. Zendesk is one of the most common out there; Freshdesk (with brand customization) and Userengage (adding CRM) are alternatives. Sadly, there are no good free options: customer management is still very much a premium service.

You will then need software to collect information about your goods. SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, Survey Anyplace and Typeform are useful for prompt customer requests. UXCam is an interesting view of how consumers use their products.

Restyaboard is a business-rich, open-source application designed to track and visualize the project’s progress. Using a simple and familiar task-based card format, users can combine Trello, Asana, Github,, Pipefy, Taiga, Taskwarrior, and Wekan boards into a single glass table.

Collect user reviews directly from within your app with Instabug, without affecting the app experience of your users. Send tailored surveys to different groups of users, and gain clear insights.

MailChimp and finally provide powerful tools to get in contact with your customers via email. MadMimi works if your ambitions are more modest; if you want to cover all corners Intercom is just fine.

Listening to your users is fundamental. Otherwise, you are developing your product in the dark!

product management software

Product Management Software and Tools for 2020

This list is not exhaustive. Yet its category division should make you think about your needs. What are your weaknesses? Think of them as the positions you can move from and boost the operations of your product management. You can do wonders for efficiency, connectivity, and performance by adding a new tool to your arsenal.

Switching and trying between different tools does not cause any harm. Never believe it’s too hard to change: we’re in the transformation market, after all! Obviously, if you need a better approach to all of this, you might need to look into Consumer Thinking. And freshen up your methodologies.

Also, Read Top 10 Kanban Tools in 2019 (Trello Alternative)

Startups by 2020: Key questions asked

As we prepare to move into a new year, in the coming days, unexpected events are likely to dominate and even accelerate. If you’re thinking of starting startups, a side hustle, or a small business to kick off the new decade, here are some key questions to consider before you launch.

The start of the year is usually a good time for reflection or to say, self-correction. 2019, to say the least, was a year of ‘ entropy, ‘ with unexpected events across the economic, political, and business landscape: Whether it is the scrapping of Article 370, the possible return of Cyrus Mistry to the Tatas or the cohesion of the arch-rivals in Indian telecommunications to survive.

It has shown us, if anything, that things don’t run according to a fixed plan-predictable and untouched. Or how we tend to over-emphasize the set-up – the optimum starting point – and interpret every small repair work as the plan’s fault. According to author Rolf Dobelli, the most common misconception about the good life is a stable state or situation, but the fact is, is, is accomplished by our ability to amend and overhaul or continuous readjustment.

And, as we plan to move into a new year, in the coming days, unexpected events will likely dominate, or even intensify. In the sense of the fast-paced Startup / VC tech environment and in the midst of the ever-changing world, having a perfect business plan, a perfect investment portfolio, a perfect training is nothing more than a myth, it is worth looking at some of the trends now.

How long will the Blitzscaling continue?

Losing money to win or what became known as the famous Silicon Valley growth theory-‘ Blitzscaling ‘ is a concept popularized by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, and Wasabi Ventures co-founder and investor Chris Yeh. By their definition, Blitzscaling (derived from Nazi General Heinz Guderian’s blitzkrieg or “lightning war” strategy) prioritizes “speed over efficiency” to achieve massive scale at incredible speed so as to seize the ground before competitors do and risks “potentially disastrous defeat to maximize speed and surprise.”

Find one of the day’s most valuable companies-Amazon. Amazon prioritized growth over profitability to build a hugely technical, customer base and infrastructure advantage. Jeff Bezos has taken an unprecedented risk in his bid for hyper-growth, borrowing billions to finance his ambition. And as companies began to be “Amazoned,” Venture Capitalists and start-up founders picked up ‘ Blitzscaling ‘ as the new tech-monopoly slogan.

However, the recent drumming of some of the flagship startups, that rose to fame as torchbearers of this Silicon Valley strategy, in public market has raised serious questions on this growth-centric strategy.  Now there is a growing buzz among VCs about the feasibility and sustainability of ‘ Blitzscaling ‘ as a growth model. It remains to be seen whether 2020 could be at the turning point for VCs / Startups betting on ‘ Blitzscaling. ‘

Read The foundations of a good start-up

Should SoftBank change its plan for the investment?

The year 2019 has been the litmus test for SoftBank, as its famed Vision Fund reported a $6.5 billion loss – first quarterly, in the last fourteen years – due to failure of its marquee investments, Uber, Slack and WeWork.  It is now being called out the investment thesis of building monopolies by prioritizing growth backed by virtually limitless capital with an end-game to control market and prices by killing competition.

There are plenty of comments claiming that SoftBank may be gearing up to change its strategy, funding hypergrowth, while others expect the late-stage investor’s famous demise. Often our judgment, however, is biased by ‘ heuristic availability, ‘ i.e. biased with the information available in front of us. It can turn out the reality is quite different. Should we foresee a future without the benefit of Softbank-the answer is a confident “yes” or a “no.”

Can startups of high value grow and monetise?

We’ve seen tremendous growth in technology space over the last decade, driven by innovation and massive capital. It is now time to consolidate and to monetise. First, there are increasing soundbites coming around that several startups are considering listing, such as Freshdesk, Pepperfry or an Ola. Who will first float the public and which markets will they choose – a NASDAQ listing or Indian bursary listing – is yet to be seen.

Second, many tech-unicorns that have ramped up through multiple business lines are looking for opportunities to merge their core and non-core businesses–including UberEats with Zomato. Consolidation would help the Consol-entities gain a greater share of the market, create market dominance and better control of the industry in an effort to move towards profitability.

Can 2020 really marks the beginning of mergers and acquisitions through high-value start-ups to consolidate the market and prioritize profitability overgrowth, and opt for public listing – on home markets as well. Who’s the first to bite the bullet?

Zoomcar Raises $30 Million From Sony's Fund

The Bengaluru self-driving car rental platform plans to raise an additional $70 million in the current round. Zoomcar lets users use their mobile app and website to book vehicles and pay online

In its ongoing Series D round led by Sony Innovation Fund, Zoomcar’s self-drive car rental platform raised $30 million and other existing investors, it said on Monday. The mobility startup, based in Bengaluru, plans to raise another $70 million in the ongoing round.

In June 2019, Japanese electronics giant Sony formed the Sony Innovation Fund in collaboration with Daiwa Capital Holdings to invest in growth-stage technology enterprises.

Zoomcar plans to deploy the capital for growth, improve its infrastructure for technology and data science, in addition to upgrading its IoT capability that is currently being used for its subscription service. The startup has been on the market since April 2019 to raise $500 million in the Series D round, but, according to a company statement, cut the round to $200 million. Zoomcar was valued at around $170 million in February 2018, when it closed its Series C round.

Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M), Ford Smart Mobility, Sequoia Capital and debt investors like InnoVen Capital and Trifecta Capital back up the mobility startup. To date, Zoomcar has leveraged around $130 million from strategic investors, including the current round.

American duo Greg Moran and David Back had founded the seven-year-old startup. Nevertheless, Back left the firm early in 2015 for personal reasons.

Zoomcar lets users use their mobile apps and website to book vehicles and pay online. It has over 10,000 four-wheelers on its fleet, including cars from Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Renault.

It launched an associate program in April 2016, which allows users to lease their own cars under a revenue-sharing model on the platform. It also has a rental program, which allows users to sub-lease four-wheelers for periods of 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. The platform has issued roughly 15,000 subscriptions to date.

Zoomcar said in his statement that it planned to add about 100,000 vehicles to its fleet over the next 18-24 months, as urban mobility has seen a sharp rise in metro cities among commuters.

Several mobility startups, such as Bounce, Vogo, Yulu, and Drivezy, have been experimenting with easing last-mile commuting problems through two-wheeler rental services in the past year alone.

Mobility space investors and creators have been betting on a two-wheelers pay-per-use model that allows users to pick and drop vehicles inside city limits. Users use a mobile app to find the closest cars and pay for the distance travelled.

In 2018 and 2019, a large portion of the funding in shared mobility platforms focused on two-wheeler rental startups based in Bengaluru — Bounce, Vogo, and Yulu.

Out of that, Bounce, backed by Accel and B Capital, leads the pack, mopping up $250 million over the last two years.

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Learning App

Tiger Global invests BYJU’s $200 million; the value jumps to $8 billion

  • The investment will increase the valuation of India’s third-largest startup by around 45% to around $8 billion.
  • The company is on track to double its revenue in the current financial year to about ₹3,000 crores, Raveendran says.

Tiger Global Fund, based in New York, will invest $200 million in Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd, the learning technology firm owned and operated by Byju’s learning app, the startup said on Thursday. The investment will raise the valuation of India’s third-largest startup by about 45 percent to about $8 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The latest investment from Tiger Global is stand-alone financing, unlike previous rounds when multiple investors bought into Byju’s together. Its last funding round saw an infusion of $150 million led by the Qatar Investment Authority in July last year, the above-mentioned person said on anonymity condition.

Byju’s has raised approximately $995 million from investors like Naspers, Tencent, Verlinvest, Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Aarin Capital since its founding in 2011.

“We are delighted to partner with a powerful Tiger Global Management investor. They share our sense of purpose and this partnership will accelerate our long-term dream of making an impact by changing the way students learn,” said in a statement founder & CEO Byju Raveendran.

Tiger Global is one of the most active investors in consumer internet space and has supported around 14 companies in India till date.

The investment firm has also begun to focus on the Business-to-Business (B2B) segment and has recently invested $90 million in Ninjacart’s agri-tech startup. It has also invested in companies like NestAway, Grofers, and Razorpay payment company.

Raveendran, a former school teacher, was one of the early entrants when he started the company into the online learning space in India. Byju’s learning apps offer kindergarten-wide programs for high school students.

The company’s apps target students for a variety of programs including competitive exams such as the Common Aptitude Test and the Indian Administrative Services entrance. The cost of such online courses ranges from ₹5,000 to ₹100,000.

Its registered users have risen to 42 million, while it has another 3 million paid subscribers, a level that, according to industry officials, will allow the company and its subsidiaries to break into profits early

Byju’s says that in the financial year ended March it turned profitable, with revenue tripling year-on-year to a crore of ₹1,480. However, the company still recorded a net loss of some ₹15 crores in FY19, including its subsidiaries, compared to a loss of some ₹37 crores in the previous fiscal year.

Founder Raveendran said the company is on track to double its revenue in the current financial year to about ₹3,000 crores and is working on Indian language programs to make it accessible to learners in smaller towns. Additionally, in the coming months, the startup will launch’ Byju’s Online Tutoring.’

The company faces a number of challenges despite its positive track record, an analyst said.

“The biggest issue facing Byju’s is customer acquisition and customer retention,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, analyst and chief executive officer at Greyhound Research.

“While there may be an increasing number of registered users, the percentage of renewals is significant. Most learners have a tendency to drop out,” said Gogia.

“Secondly, the content assumes a certain knowledge standard, so it is necessary to improve the applicability of the content,” added Gogia. “For example, the level of all students in the sixth grade may not be the same, but the content is standard.”

Byju’s need to enhance student engagement as it “has not figured out individual learning paths,” the analyst said.

Scott Schlifer, Tiger Global’s partner, said the firm is optimistic about the company as it “has emerged as the leader in the Indian education technology sector” and is “pioneering technology that shapes the future of learning for millions of school students in India.”

According to the government-backed India Brand Equity Foundation, India’s online learning market is expected to double to $5.7 billion by 2020.

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