We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
In one of the most important developments this week, the department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) has proposed to reduce the compliance time for Indian startups in its drafted Startup India Vision 2024 document.
To boost the tech industry in India, the government has laid out plans to offer incentives to 324 companies including US-based automotive and energy giant, Tesla and UK-based pharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to set up manufacturing units. Not only this, in the next five years, SEBI will be spending INR 500 Cr in IT infrastructure and technological innovation.
In another interesting development, Raebareli (Uttar Pradesh) railway coach factory is set to be modernised with the introduction of humanoid robot ‘Sona 1.5’ to transport documents and greet visitors. The humanoid robot was built by Club First Technologies, who also demonstrated the product on November 18.
Important Startup News
Doodhwala Vendors Turn To Police
Around 35 vendors had filed an FIR for unpaid dues against Doodhwala founders. Over a dozen employees have alleged that the company owes up to INR 20 Lakh in salaries. Doodhwala had been unable to raise funds and had to wind down operations in October.
From The Government Corridors
- A rift seems to have emerged between Niti Aayog and health Ministry following the faulty hip implant case involving US-based Johnson and Johnson. Niti Aayog had proposed for legislation for medical devices and an independent regulator for this industry with the Draft Medical Devices (Safety, Effectiveness and Innovation) Bill, 2019, which health ministry believes is not needed.
- To promote entrepreneurship at the grassroot level, the Indian government may soon set up a dedicated cell for agriculture startups and small entrepreneurs. Through the platform, the government will ensure different technologies are uploaded and shared with the public. The idea is to encourage more startups in the agritech sector.
- Karnataka plans to formalise a legal framework for a regulatory sandbox is now expected to boost the tech startup ecosystem further. On the lines of the regulatory sandbox being tested by RBI, the Karnataka government’s initiative will allow technology entrepreneurs to test the viability of products in a live situation before going for the launch of their startups.
- Startup India claims threefold growth in registrations of startups. There are nearly 25K startups at present, under this programme. The department of promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) also said that it recognises 26 startups everyday.
What Social Media Players And Apps Were Up To?
- Minister of IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad shared his proposal about linking Aadhaar with social media accounts of individuals. The issue came to light after a petition was filed on July 2018 at the Madras High Court. The petition also included the issue related to message traceability to stop cybercrimes and intermediary liability.
- Google removed ‘2020 Sikh Referendum’ from its Play Store after Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh raised concerns with the government about the app promoting anti-national activities.
- At Facebook’s annual South Asia Safety Summit held on November 19, the company announced its collaboration with the ministry of women and child development (MWCD) to promote digital literacy to ensure women’s and children’s safety online.
- Tech giant Google launched cloud-based gaming platform Stadia on Tuesday (November 19). However, it is yet to be launched in India, and the gaming enthusiasts may have to wait.
- The government cybersecurity body, CERT-In on November 16 alerted WhatsApp users about a new vulnerability on the encrypted app which the attacker can exploit through MP4 files, and this file is said to be in a compressed form, which can be an image, video, audio or subtitles files among others.
From The World Of Fintech
- Google has entered the India’s entry-level job search market by revamping its Google Jobs platform. Its new feature is now available on Google Pay application, under ‘Jobs’ section. It now allows its users to create their job profiles by linking it with LinkedIn, Naukri.com, Monster.com and other portals.
- One97 Communication’s Paytm has partnered with Twitter to increase user engagement. Paytm will integrate Twitter moment on the messaging service to allow users to access news, astrology, events, trending tweets and others.
- The National Payments Corporations of India’s (NPCI) payments service, UPI now partners with the income tax department after launching its platform into the international market, Singapore. This collaboration will allow individuals to pay their income tax using UPI enabled applications, and through other digital payment modes such as credit cards and mobile wallets.
- Aditya Birla Idea Payments Bank, which had planned to shut shop in July 2019, is heading towards liquidation. According to RBI’s notification, the Bombay High Court has passed an order on September 2019 related to the voluntary winding up of application by the company.
From Digital Entertainment Players
- One of India’s largest OTT platforms may bring Disney’s video-on-demand streaming service, Disney+ to India soon. It is said to be launched mid next year.
- The Swedish company, Spotify has launched its original audio-based content for the Indian market called ‘Spotify Podcasts Originals.’ The category has more than 2 Mn Indian-based podcasts. The company is betting on localised content which is specifically targeted at Indian audiences.
- Amazon Prime Music recently launched ad free plan for its non Prime users. However, for Prime users, it will continue providing the premium service across all the other channels.
- YouTube Music, on November 18, announced to offer prepaid plans for its music services in the country. It allows indian users to purchase either one-month or three-month prepaid plan to enjoy YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium benefits.
- Amid the real-estate market slump, Square Yard, a proptech startup, on November 19 announced that the company has recorded 56% annual growth in revenue for Q2 FY20, touching INR 75.5 Cr.
- For the last few months, the auto industry is going through a turmoil. However, Jaipur-based auto-tech startup CarDekho reported a significant growth of 30% in H1 FY20.
- Food aggregator startup FreshMenu reported a revenue of INR 140.96 Cr, a 13.9% in FY19, compared to FY18, INR 123.9 Cr. In terms of overall expenses, the company grew 2.09% reaching INR 171.12 Cr from INR 167.6 Cr in FY18. In terms of losses, the company has reduced the losses by 31.28% from INR 43.8 Cr to INR 30.15 Cr in the previous year.
- Indian OTT startup ALTBalaji claimed 3x growth in revenue in Q2 FY20 compared to Q2 FY19. It has cut down on losses from INR 39.2 Cr in Q1 FY20 to INR 31.19 Cr in Q2 FY20. In terms of overall expenses, there is a point percentage increase, i.e Q1 FY20 was 52.30 Cr and INR 52.27 Cr in Q2 FY20.
- The furniture rental company Urban Ladder has recorded overall revue of INR 434 Cr, a 1.87x growth as compared to last year. The company has also noted 2.08x increase in operational revenue and has reached INR 298.17 Cr from INR 96.64 Cr in FY18. Moreover, when it came to employee expenses, the company has reduced its expenses to 3% in FY19 compared to last year INR 53.66 Cr.
Opinions From The Industry Leaders
- Telangana IT and Industries Minister, KT Rama Rao, in his opening speech for Indiajoy 2019, on November 20, said that the state is poised to become a hub for the South Asian industry in the gaming, technology and entertainment space with world-class technicians, post-production facilities, VFX and post-production work for Hollywood movies
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been working in areas of healthcare, sanitation and financial services for underprivileged people. Speaking on his latest visit to India, Gates talked about technology intervention in TB vaccines. Gates counted the work being done in green mobility as one of India’s strengths
- Future’ Group’s founder and CEO Kishore Biyani said that online and offline retail, especially small stores, are different models altogether. He believes that the corner shop will not vanish because “convenience and contingency buying will always be there”. However, he feels that the problem of the limited inventory at these small scale traders encourages the customers to move to ecommerce.
- Bengaluru is the youngest city and every person here is a techie. The adoption rate for tech products is much faster, believes cofounder of Ola Cabs Bhavish Aggarwal. He shared these sentiments during a panel discussion at the recent Bengaluru tech summit.
From The World Of Ecommerce
- Traders’ body CAIT, on November 20, announced ‘National Protest Day,’ against Amazon and Flipkart, among other ecommerce platforms, where more than a lakh traders joined the protest seeking an immediate ban on the ecommerce platforms, spread across 700 cities in the country. The traders blamed it on the online platforms engaging in deep discounting, predatory practices and not complying with the newly updated foreign direct investment (FDI) policies, which has affected the offline brick-and-mortar stores to a large extent.
- Online fashion portal Myntra is working on new initiatives such as stylists on call, an embedded fitness tracker called the myntra Move, and hyperlocal services in partnership with Mumbai-based Pretr. The decision came as an attempt to be different from Amazon and parent Flipkart.
- Amazon and Flipkart is on a hiring spree. Amazon currently leading the campus drive, is followed by Flipkart, where both the ecommerce giants are fighting their ways to hire the right talent from top technical and b-schools in the country, includes NIT and IIMs.
- The Indian government is now redefining the ecommerce, where it plans to make policies that ensure the protection of consumer rights across all segments. It is looking at bringing both product and services companies under one umbrella. For instance, the government now has decided to bring B2C internet companies across segments such as MakeMyTrip, Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato, BigBasket among others, under a new ecommerce draft policy.
- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2020 is crucial for the company. As the new policy is under its way, it becomes imperative for ecommerce giant to build a strong relationship and stability in the country to ensure smooth operation of its business in India. It is said that Bezos will be visiting the country to attend the annual event for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Bezos is optimistic about gaining regulatory stability in India, as he believes that the company has been growing rapidly in the country and seeks clarity.
- Fueling the agitation against against ecommerce platforms, the CAIT once again demands Indian government to introduce a uniform policy for discount, related to the implementation of minimum operating price on offers and discounts.
- This festive season, ecommerce giants Flipkart and Amazon combined, recorded gross transaction value of $4.3 Bn (INR 31K cr) in India. However, the numbers fell short of expected $5 Bn in sales, as per RedSeer Consulting. Flipkart reported INR 1.9K followed by Amazon at INR 1.4K. It has to be noted, Flipkart led with 64% share of the combined gross sales, while Amazon continued to show higher net promoter score (NPS), on the basis of customer loyalty aspect towards its platform.
- Gurugram-based Zomato denied merger talks with its food delivery competitor, Swiggy. Zomato told Inc42 that the business has been profitable and it is not looking for merger or acquisition. The situation came to light after the two platforms in one of the media reports had plans to merge to take on Amazon’s new food aggregator Prime Now, which is expected to be launched next month.
- The food aggregator startup, Swiggy believes that cloud kitchens are the future of food delivery business.It said that its cloud kitchen programme, Swiggy Access plans to host 1000 such cloud kitchen restaurant partners across India. Through this, Swiggy will be offering restaurants with the space and infrastructure to run a remote kitchen which is expected to expand into Tier 2, 3 cities, including Guwahati, Surat, Kochi and more.
Other startups News:
MakeMyTrip Plans Big To Take On Airbnb
The online travel aggregator MakeMyTrip (MMT) plans to expand its reach in the growing homestay market in India by adding more private properties, villas and apartments in the next one year. The decision came to light after MMT decided to aggressively capture the market on par with US-based Airbnb and startups alike. The company plans to focus on leisure destinations such as Goa, Coorg and Manalu, apart from its metro cities expansion plans.
Homegrown Ola Is Now Popular Worldwide
The popularity of Ola’s ride sharing application comes to light after its launch in the international markets, including markets such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand. It currently operates in more than 20 international cities. Launched in 2010, the company has come a long way from where it all started. The Bengaluru-based cab sharing application has now entered the list of top five ridesharing and taxi apps downloaded globally.
According to one of the media reports, Ola is the fourth most downloaded ride-sharing app internationally. On Google Play Store, the app was also the third most downloaded app.
WhatsApp vs Government
- In a never-ending saga between the government of India and Whatsapp over Pegasus breach. The minister of IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad on October 31 had said that the government seeks clarity on the breach, and blames on WhatsApp for not informing the seriousness of the issue. However, WhatsApp now claims that it had informed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), on September 5, 2019, about the vulnerability of the breach led by Pegasus spyware.
- The question of the government’s involvement with NSO Group, the developer of Pegasus spyware, is now being answered. The minister of state for home affairs G Kishan Reddy has admitted to it. The minister said in one of the statements that the government has the authority to monitor digital communication and also decrypt the encrypted communication if required. He added in his response that it has to be done in order to maintain the interest of national security and to maintain friendly relations with foreign states.
RSS Urges The Government To Pass Personal Data Protection Bill
K N Govindacharya, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has urged the government to expedite the passing of the personal data protection bill (DPB). Govindacharya wrote a letter to Shashi Tharoor, the chair of the parliamentary standing committee of IT that the WhatsApp matter must not be buried like other spying incidents.
Recently, Govindacharya filed a petition in the Supreme Court after the WhatsApp spying controversy. In the petition, it urged WhatsApp to give a reply within four days, and he also proposed data protection law is getting skewed, day by day.
Samsung Enters The Smart TV Market In India
South Korean tech giant Samsung plans to return to television manufacturing business in India. The company is said to give competition to Xiaomi and Vu which are making smart TVs in the country. To take this forward, Samsung plans to partner with Indian television manufacturer Dixon Technologies. Further, the company looks for other TV OEMs in India to increase its television production in the country.
TikTok Parent ByteDance To Enter Music Streaming Service
The parent company of short-video app TikTok and vernacular social media platform, ByteDance will be entering the music streaming market soon. The app is expected to be launched early next month. Conversely, the Chinese company ByteDance is already in talks with the three major record labels — Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music, for licensing deals. These record labels control nearly 90% of the global music industry.
Once launched, ByteDance will be listing all their tracks on its streaming platform. The music streaming platform will be made available in India, Indonesia, Brazil and the US.