We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
Most Important News Of The Week:
India is going through an economic slowdown and to better the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly asked for suggestions from startups, tech experts and electronics manufacturers. He has specifically said that any idea about how to increase the pace for setting up fifth-generation (5G) network and how to make India a $5 Tn economy by 2024 will be highly appreciated.
In a three-hour-long meeting held earlier this week, many representatives from the startup ecosystem told PM Modi that Indian startups are facing difficulties in raising funds from Indian banks. The shortage of funds from banks force startups to sell their stakes, thereby leading to dilution of equity.
Ending the year on a positive note, PM Modi also highlighted the success of the government’s skill development schemes in his Mann Ki Baat radio talk show. He urged Indian youths to take part in various development programmes. The prime minister cited examples of numerous individuals who made it big utilising the government’s skill development initiatives.
Particularly, he highlighted the government’s skill development programme called Himayat scheme, which is currently being operationalised in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. PM Modi said that the state so far has trained 18K individuals in over 77 industry verticals. “It has helped 5K individuals get employment,” he added.
PM Modi also spoke about women self-help scheme called Grameen Aajeevika Mission, where he gave an example of a female entrepreneur starting her own private label footwear brand equipped with a modern manufacturing facility.
On January 3, 2020, celebrating the achievements of science and technology in the country, PM Modi urged young scientists to innovate, patent, produce and prosper. Speaking at the 107th Indian Science Congress, PM Modi said that if the innovators can bring faster development, the country can thrive at a much faster rate.
Further, praising the contribution of innovators in India, PM Modi said that the country has reached the fifth position from fifty-second in the Innovation Index 2019.
With the upcoming budget around the corner (February 1, 2020), the Indian government is now looking to bring additional tax incentives for startups. Accordingly, the department for the promotion of industry and internal Trade (DPIIT) suggested the government include tax incentives to incubators registered startups under Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), goods and service tax (GST) benefits, employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) options, among others.
Ola Deploys Safety And Records Trips On New Year’s Eve
The ride-hailing unicorn Ola deployed a special fleet of ‘safety scouts’ and ‘quick response teams’ across Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata for new year’s eve. Ola collaborated with police authorities to support their on-ground efforts for the safety of passengers and commuters, across cities.
Ola also shared a report on January 1, 2020, that showed more than 30% of total bookings being made to and from the airport. The company revealed that people travelled over 20 Mn kilometres on new year’s eve. The rides ending in residential areas witnessed a spike of 20% as compared to last year, indicating an increase in the number of house parties organised during the new year celebration.
Swiggy Raises Commissions From Restaurants
In an attempt to expand its service offerings and boost the revenue, the foodtech unicorn startup Swiggy is increasing the commissions from restaurants in areas where the services are higher in demand. The restaurant owners claimed that the decision to raise commission comes at a time when the company has already rigorously been pushing the restaurant partners for advertisement on the Swiggy platform. Swiggy has also increased delivery fees it charges the customers.
Swiggy told Inc42 that it is business as usual and denied any unusual increase in commissions for any specific restaurant partners based on regions that are higher in demand. The company said that it charges restaurants at an individual level on factors such as average order value, delivery costs among others.
Paytm First Games Launched
Paytm’s online gaming wing Paytm First Games recently launched a Gamestat 2019 report. The report stated that the total time spent on Paytm First Games app by users stood at 7700 years. With over 200 games on the platform, the company said that most users were engaged with games like First Captains, Rummy and other strategic or battle-centric games. It also highlighted that 45 Mn users were added to the online gaming platform in 2019.
Reliance Jio To Launch Mutual Funds
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio is planning to launch mutual funds among other financial products in 2020. Currently, the Reliance Jio’s payments app JioMoney allows users to donate, send and receive money. It also allows users to pay bills, recharge mobile phones and DTH connections, among other services. The company is testing the products before its official launch.
BharatPe Creates ESOP Pool Of Around $20 Mn
Delhi-based BharatPe has created an employee stock options (ESOP) pool of around $20 Mn. The Merchant-focused payments and lending platform will allow employees to vest 25% of their pool after completion of the first year and 75% post that over the next three years.
BharatPe aims to attract top-level talent from the industry across sectors, including commerce, financial services and FMCG. The company has already given out shares worth $5 Mn to 22 existing employees and will be giving out shares from the pool to ten employees, who will be then hired soon to lead BharatPe’s business verticals. It plans to build out the entire top management across lending, technology and products to drive the next round of growth.
UPI Ends 2019 On A Positive Note
The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions ended 2019 with 1.31 Bn transactions in December 2019, a 7.37% MoM growth from 1.22 Bn transactions in November 2019. The National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI) data showed that the value of UPI transactions for December was INR 2.02 lakh Cr, a 7.07% MoM growth against INR 1.89 Lakh Cr in November 2019.
Reliance Jio Enters Online Grocery Market
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance has finally entered the grocery delivery market with its new hyperlocal retail e-marketplace, Jio Mart. The company is currently operating in Navi Mumbai, Kalyan and Thane. In the coming days, it plans to spread its operation across India. Earlier last year, the chairman of Reliance had hinted its entry into the ecommerce segment. With this latest venture, Jio Mart plans to connect three crore, offline retailers, to more than 20 Cr households.
Flipkart Partners With Govt To Help SMEs
The ecommerce giant Flipkart recently partnered with the Indian government’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM). The initiative is headed under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, a social and poverty alleviation project. It is currently operational in 22 states across India.
Through this partnership, Flipkart will be helping in the skilling of the underserved section of society and will also bring them to the ecommerce platforms. It is said to enable self-help groups (SHGs) like local artisans, weavers and craft products, and producers of raw and organic food items, which will offer small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the market access, training and support.
Indian Railways Ropes In Ecommerce Companies
The administrative wing of the ministry of railways, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) is in talks with ecommerce companies to help railways use their logistics hubs. The decision by DFCCIL is expected to reduce parcel delivery time significantly.
Xiaomi To Invest Heavily In AI, 5G and IoT In 2020
The Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi will be investing ¥50 Bn ($7.18 Bn) in artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and AIoT (artificial intelligence of things) over the next five years. Apart from smartphones and smart TVs, the company is planning to venture into other connected devices. The CEO and cofounder Lei Jun said that 2020 will be a year of breakthroughs for its 5G business and a critical year for a “smartphone+AIoT” strategy.
Amid The US Pressure, India Allows Huawei For 5G Trials
In the recent past, the US government had alerted the Indian government about the risks which might come by allowing Chinese networks to operate in the country. The US claims that these telecom companies help Chinese authorities to spy. However, India has decided to allow the participation of all the stakeholders to show use-cases of 5G in India, including Chinese telecom networks such as Huawei and ZTE.
Alibaba’s Ant Financial Applies For Digital Banking Licence
Ahead of the speculated follow-on investment in Zomato and the launch of its India and Southeast Asia-focussed fund, Alibaba’s Ant Financial has applied for a digital banking licence in Singapore. With this, the company plans to promote financial inclusion globally. This move also comes after a year when Indian payment standards like UPI have forayed into the Singapore market.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Roundup!