Startup Digest: Paytm's shares surge for third day, Udaan forays into grocery play, & Instagram chief to testify before Congress

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Startup Digest: Paytm’s shares surge for third day, Udaan forays into grocery play, & Instagram chief to testify before Congress
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Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Paytm shares extend gains to third day in a row after weak listing

Paytm parent One97 Communications’ shares rose on Thursday, continuing to strengthen for the third back-to-back session following a weak debut. This helped Paytm shares inch towards their issue price of Rs 2,150.

On BSE, the Paytm stock was up 2.5 percent at Rs 1,796.6. The One97 scrip was up 2.6 percent at Rs 1,797.9 on NSE.

In the first two days of its journey in the secondary market, the digital payment platform’s stock had shed 36.7 percent of its value compared to the issue price, emerging as one of the weakest debutants of recent times. At the current level, Paytm shares are available at a discount of around 16 percent to its issue price.

B2B unicorn Udaan forays into grocery play: Report

Udaan, the B2B ecommerce major is entering the consumer-focused grocery business with a new platform called Price Company, according to an ET report.

Udaan’s small retailers outside the top 30 cities will act as community leaders and place group orders for their neighbourhoods. The company wants to leverage its network of small retailers and kirana store owners to tap into the consumer demand, the report added.

It aims to take Price Company to 1,500 towns by December 2022.

Singapore’s Shopee clocks over 100,000 orders a day in India: Report

Singapore-based e-commerce online shopping platform Shopee, which which kick-started its operations just a month ago, has clocked 100,000 orders a day in India and has over one million app installs on the Google Play Store.

Industry sources told Moneycontrol that Amazon and Flipkart average 2-2.5 million orders per day. Shopee has tied up with Delhivery and Ecom Express as its lead delivery partners.

Ankit Upadhyay is heading the India business. According to his LinkedIn Profile, he joined Shopee Thailand as the head of supply chain management in February 2020. He is running a small team from India and has been given the mandate to grow the business five to seven fold in the next six months, the report added.

A report by Bain and Sequoia Capital, suggested that more than 100 millions of India’s estimated 572 million internet users purchase products online, with e-commerce swelling to a $30-billion industry in the fiscal year 2020.

LetsTransport partners with EVRE to provide charging, parking infra to 1,000 EV fleet

Tech-logistics company LetsTransport has partnered with EVRE, an EV Charging infrastructure provider, to provide parking and charging infrastructure for its 1,000-strong fleet across 12 cities.

Under the partnership, EVRE will set up 1,000 EV charging stations across India in the next six months, which will be utilised by LetsTransport and other EV fleet owners, the company said in a statement.

EVRE will manufacture and maintain the charging infrastructure along with providing the space for parking and charging this EV-fleet in 12 cities. It will also own and operate the technology for all the chargers. LetsTransport will help in demand assessment of where EVRE should set up charging stations for higher utilization, the firm added.

The phase-wise implementation will include EVRE setting up 200 charging stations in Bengaluru, 200 in Delhi-NCR and the rest in Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad among other cities by the end of 2022.

NITI floats idea of full-stack digital banks

Government think-tank Niti Aayog has proposed setting up of full-stack ‘digital banks’, which would principally rely on the internet and other proximate channels to offer their services and not physical branches, to mitigate the financial deepening challenges being faced in the country.

The Aayog, in a discussion paper titled ‘Digital Banks: A Proposal for Licensing & Regulatory Regime for India’, said digital banks (DBs) are banks as defined in the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 (B R Act), paper said.

“In other words, these entities will issue deposits, make loans and offer the full suite of services that the B R Act empowers them to. As the name suggests, however, DBs will principally rely on the internet and other proximate channels to offer their services and not physical branches,” it said.

However, the paper said as a natural corollary to being a bank in the full sense of its legal definition, it is proposed that DBs will be subject to prudential and liquidity norms at par with the incumbent commercial banks.”Creating a new licensing/regulatory framework is being proposed as regulatory innovation and not as regulatory arbitrage,” it clarified.

The paper noted that India’s public digital infrastructure, especially UPI, has successfully demonstrated how to challenge established incumbents.

The paper also recommends a two-stage approach, with a digital business bank license to begin with and Digital (Universal) Bank license after policymakers and regulators have gained experience from the former. Focus on avoiding any regulatory or policy arbitrage and giving a level playing field is an important recommendation.

While the RBI is the final arbiter of what numerical value constitutes “proportionate”, the paper has proposed a ladder for minimum paid-up capital by way of illustration. “Based on the comments received, the paper will be finalized and shared as a policy recommendation from Niti Aayog,” he said. The last date for sending comments is December 31, 2021.

Triller launches its India exclusive talent IP

AI-powered global platform driving engagement and monetization for creators Triller has launched its India exclusive talent IP – Triller Iconz.

With this initiative, Triller aims to give the next generation of digital stars a launchpad and support them on their journey to stardom. A panel of two mentors from the entertainment and influencer industry, Ashnoor Kaur and Siddharth Nigam will evaluate the creator’s content and guide them as the contest progresses, the company said in a statement.

The final 15 will also meet international Triller influencers Markell Washington, Aisha Mian, and Azra Mian. Triller Iconz is also joined by Radio Mirchi where Mirchi influencers would create fun and interesting challenges for audiences following along.

Startup displays India’s first privately developed cryogenic engine

Spacetech startup Skyroot Aerospace has successfully demonstrated the country’s first privately developed cryogenic rocket engine named Dhawan-1.

The rocket engine, named Dhawan-1 in honour of Indian rocket scientist Satish Dhawan, has been developed using 3D printing technology and is fuelled by liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen—a high-performance, low-cost and clean rocket fuel, according to reports.

Skyroot is backed by the promoters of renewable energy firm Greenko Group, explosives manufacturer and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) supplier Solar Industries and Curefit founder Mukesh Bansal. The company is looking to develop and manufacture rockets that will hurl small satellites into space at an extremely low cost and with quick turnaround times, reports added.

In September this year, the company became the first space tech firm to formally enter into an agreement with ISRO to utilise its facilities and get access to its expertise for testing and qualification of its small satellite launch vehicles, the first launch of which is scheduled for 2022.

NBCUniversal launches DreamWorks & E! Entertainment in India with JIO

NBCUniversal International Networks and Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) on Thursday announced the launch of DreamWorks and an E! Entertainment branded zone for Jio subscribers in India.

Jio subscribers will be able to enjoy abroad selection of territory premieres anda vast catalogue of compelling programming from DreamWorks and E!, alongside a companion package of on-demand content on Universal+, the company said in a statement.

The offering will include DreamWorks franchises: Trolls: The Beat Goes On!All Hail King Julien, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Dawn of the Croods, SpiritRiding Free and Voltron Legendary Defender.


Baidu, approved for robotaxi services in Beijing

Chinese tech group Baidu and self-driving startup have won approval to launch paid driverless robotaxi services that will see the firms deploy not more than 100 vehicles in an area in China’s capital Beijing.

The state-backed Beijing Daily newspaper reported on the approvals on Thursday, citing a ceremony held by the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, where the 60 square kilometre-large area (23 square miles) is located.

Baidu said in a statement that this would be its Apollo Go service’s first commercial deployment on open roads. Customers will be able to hail one of the daily service’s 67 cars at more than 600 pick-up and drop-off points in both commercial and residential areas, it said. It will charge fares similar to the level of premium ride-hailing services in China., backed by Toyota Motor also confirmed that it had received the approval for its Xiaoma Zhixing service from Beijing on its official Weibo account.

Tencent must get approval from Chinese regulators before publishing new apps and updates: Report

Tencent must get approval from Chinese regulators to send out updates for its apps, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The move comes after regulators found several apps made by China’s most valuable technology company violated data protection rules on a number of occasions this year.

Tencent’s app approvals are currently suspended. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology must review any new apps and updates before they can be launched. This could take seven days, CCTV reported, without citing any sources.

The latest move is another blow for Tencent which has felt the impact of China’s regulatory crackdown.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri to testify before Congress for the first time

Instagram’s chief executive Adam Mosseri is expected to testify before Congress for the first time the week of December, CNBC reported.

“After bombshell reports about Instagram’s toxic impacts, we want to hear straight from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that push poisonous content to children driving them down rabbit holes to dark places, and what it will do to make its platform safer,” Blumenthal, chair of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, said

The news, first reported by The New York Times, comes after Instagram has faced heightened scrutiny after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen released thousands of pages of internal documents from parent company Facebook (which recently rebranded to Meta) to the Senate, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several news outlets.

Among the findings in the documents was that Instagram had conducted research on how its platform impacted the mental health of young users and found negative effects on a portion of that userbase. The company has since downplayed its own research, claiming a small number of respondents can’t be extrapolated to the whole userbase.

S.Korean game producers chase NFTs in real-money boost for players and firms

South Korea’s mobile and online game producers are luring players with services using non-fungible tokens (NFTs), jumping on a trend the firms see as the future of the sector and sparking a sharp rally in their shares in recent weeks.

However, South Korean regulators have banned NFT-applied games in the country on concerns these new services could fuel gambling addiction among teens and the very young. For now, these games are accessible only offshore.

“It’s not the blockchain technology that we are banning,” an official at South Korea’s Game Rating And Administration Committee told Reuters.

Despite the local regulatory hurdle, other South Korean game developers are also looking to cash in on the NFT boom. Earlier this month, NCSoft Corp said it is readying release of a game that includes NFT and blockchain elements next year. Its shares jumped to the daily limit of 30% on November 11 when the firm made the announcement. Krafton Inc, the maker of the blockbuster “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds”, also soared by as much as 22% since November 11 after the company said it is reviewing the integration of NFTs into games.

Spain’s market regulator scolds soccer star Iniesta for promoting Binance

The Spanish market regulator scolded soccer star Andres Iniesta on Wednesday evening after he promoted cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“I’m learning how to get started with crypto with binance #BinanceForAll,” the player said on his social media accounts, with photos of himself in front of a laptop computer apparently making transactions on Binance’s website.

The posts did not give any indication whether or not the content was paid for by the company.

In a tweet released a few hours after Iniesta’s, the Spanish market regulator told him he should be thoroughly informed about cryptocurrencies before making any investment in them or recommending others to do so.


WaterBridge Ventures closes its Fund II at $150M

Early stage VC firm WaterBridge Ventures has raised $150 million for its Fund II, 50% more than the planned size.

The second fund seeks to invest $500,000 to $3 million each in 25 startups across seed and Series A rounds. It will also reserve capital for follow-on investments in best-performing companies. As per a report by the Mint, the fund has made 10 bets already and has more than $250 million in assets under management.

The final close has come within a year for the firm which announced its first close in 2020. The fund, that has backed companies such as Atlan, Bijnis, CityMall, Chalo, DoubtNut, Magicpin, PocketPills and Unacademy among others, now has a total AUM of more than $250 million.

Xponents bags $1.56M in seed funding

Xponents has raised $1.56 million in a seed funding round led by a UAE based venture capitalist.

The company plans to allocate the funds to create and enhance its upcoming AI-based platform that creates synergy between the ecosystem across multiple industries and build teams for each growth industry, it said in a statement.

With access to more than 4000 business families, Xponents is looking to create landing pads for global startups and take Indian companies to global markets, through family-managed businesses, it added.

“India is the largest FMB ecosystem and 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world and they don’t speak the same language. If these two ecosystems talk we will be able to surpass the $5 trillion mark and possibly aim at $10 trillion. We are building an ecosystem via a platform to enable all the stakeholders like FMBs, startup founders, investors, and mentors to synergize and grow exponentially,” said Sarth Jain, Co-Founder, Xponents.

Drona Pay raises Rs 3.2 Cr in seed funding

Fintech startup Drona Pay has raised a seed round of Rs 3.2 crore from Varanium Capital, Credit Saison, fintech veterans including Kunal Shah, Jitendra Gupta, Amrish Rau, among other investors.

The Seed round will help the company expand its technical and product teams and strengthen its offerings. It will also help it penetrate the Indian banking and fintech space, the firm said in a statement.

The startup provides an end-to-end framework covering real-time risk scoring, and case management and analytics to help BNPL, banks, payment processors and fintechs, and integrate new rules and models to tackle risk patterns.

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