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News Roundup: 11 Startup Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [16 January – 21 January]

News Roundup: 11 Startup Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [16 January – 21 January]

Flipkart’s valuation had a rough 2016 and 2017 seems to have given it no respite either. Once again, US-based mutual fund investor T. Rowe Price has reduced Flipkart’s valuation by another 4% to about $9.9 Bn. T. Rowe Price had invested about $100 Mn in Flipkart, in December 2014, when the firm raised $700 Mn funding. In April 2016, it marked down its shares by 15%.

Next up, trouble for Amazon also continues in 2017. The etailer remained in the limelight this week for allegedly ‘disrespecting’ India’s national flag, and being called out for the same by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter. Days after this incident, the company got a warning from Shaktikanta Das, Secretary of Economic Affairs India for using Mahatma Gandhi’s image on slippers being sold on its website.

Important Developments Of The Week

TaskBob Shut Down

Mumbai-based home utility service provider, Taskbob has shut down operations. In February 2016, Taskbob secured $4.5 Mn (INR 28 Cr.) in its Series A round of funding led by IvyCap Ventures. It also saw participation from existing investors Orios and Mayfield. In May 2016, Taskbob was selected to be a part of the second batch of Indian startups that joined the Launchpad Accelerator programme at Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.

Amazon, Flipkart Bow Out Of Race To Acquire Souq

Recently, it was reported that Amazon and India’s ecommerce bigwig Flipkart were bidding against each other to acquire Dubai-based ecommerce portal However, reportedly these talks fell apart after the parties disagreed over price, according to two sources in the know.

Appointy Partners With Google

Online scheduling software firm Appointy has been chosen by Google as one of its initial launch partners for Reserve with Google, a feature targeted for scheduling appointments from within Google Search itself. The Reserve with Google feature allows a Google user to book appointments for spas, studios, and gyms directly through Google Search, Google Maps, and the Reserve with Google website. The programme is still in an early pilot phase and has been launched in the three cities of New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas.

NPCI Gives A Clean Chit To PhonePe

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Flipkart’s mobile wallet and UPI platform PhonePe had alleged that private sector bank ICICI had reportedly blocked its payments over ‘restrictive practices’ and ‘security concerns.’ However, in an about turn of events, the NPCI gave PhonePe a clean chit. It also instructed ICICI Bank to open up UPI Transactions.

Flipkart Unveils Project Nanjunda

To ensure greater safety for their Field Executives (FEs), popularly known as Wishmasters, Flipkart unveiled Project Nanjunda, a unique SOS button in the Field Executive’s mobile app. The Nanjunda Button will enable Field Executives to raise an alarm in the event of an emergency. The project has been named after the deceased Wishmaster, Nanjunda Swamy, who passed away under tragic circumstances recently in Bengaluru.

In an emergency, a Field Executive can trigger an SOS by pressing the button, which sends SMS and email notifications alerting the hub-in-charge and nearest Field Executives. To operate this feature, only mobile network connectivity is required, and not mobile data connectivity, thus making it effective in virtually any place within India.

India Value Fund Is Now True North

India Value Fund Advisors Pvt. Ltd. (popularly known as IVFA), a homegrown private equity firm, will be now known as True North (Managers). The firm has restructured its business and investment management teams as per sector specialisation – namely financial services, consumer, healthcare, and technology products & services. True North, over the years, has developed deep-rooted expertise in sectors like healthcare, consumer-focussed industries (like media and entertainment, radio taxi, retailing, food services) and financial services. It will now add technology products and services to its portfolio.

Paytm Introduces Sale Of Google Play Recharge Codes

Paytm has launched an option to buy Google Play recharge codes on its platform. This will enable Android users to buy a Google Play recharge code online and recharge their Google Play accounts in a quick and hassle-free manner. Paytm customers can select the ‘Google Play’ option on their Paytm app, enter their mobile number and the desired amount to receive a unique Recharge code via SMS and e-mail. This code can then be redeemed on Google Play to recharge their Google Play accounts instantly.

Jugnoo Introduces New Logo

Jugnoo, a hyperlocal startup, power-driven by its vast auto rickshaw network, has assumed a new brand identity as part of its re-branding initiative. It is also introducing a new User Interface (UI) along with additional features and services. The re-branding includes the unveiling of its new brand logo inspired by a magical wand whose design has been created by Jugnoo’s in-house product team. Apart from that, it plans to merge Jugnoo Fresh and Jugnoo Grocery as a single service, bringing more efficiency within the brand. The hyperlocal startup also plans to re-brand its autos by introducing more avenues within rides.

Square Yards Deepens Presence In Australia

Global real estate transaction platform, Square Yards has announced the opening of a new office in Melbourne, Australia. This will be Square Yards’ second office in Australia after Sydney. With this move, the company has added another distinct name in the expansive list of its international presence that includes London, Dubai, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Doha, Hong Kong, Muscat, Sharjah, Toronto, and Vancouver. Square Yards’ major growth strategy in Australia will be focussed on developing a network of local agents.

Other Developments

Housejoy Increases Services Through Strategic Alliances

On-demand home services Housejoy recently entered into strategic alliances with 3M, Asian Paints, Hindware, OYO Rooms, and Treebo. Housejoy has estimated revenue of $1.5 Mn and, with these associations, aims to achieve 20% of overall sales from B2B and B2C partnerships.

Now Purchase Mutual Funds Through FreeCharge

FreeCharge, a digital payments platform, has announced the launch of Mutual Funds on its platform in partnership with Reliance Mutual Fund. With the launch of the facility, users can seamlessly invest in a money market mutual fund that targets higher returns than those available on savings bank accounts. FreeCharge, known for its 10-second payments, is offering instant redemption of mutual funds at the click of a button. The entire process from investing to redemption is paperless – all the customer needs is his PAN or Adhaar card number. Customers also benefit from zero transaction charges and zero charges at redemption.

The All New Ixigo Flights App Is Here

Online travel company ixigo has launched an all-new version of its already popular flights app. Available on both Android & iOS, new features of the ixigo flights app include a Holiday Calendar which highlights upcoming long weekends & festivals and also lets one know of the upcoming dates with lowest fares, ‘Fare Alerts,’ ‘Flight Tracking,’ ‘Auto Web Check-in etc.

Snapdeal Announces Kitchen Fiesta!

Online marketplace Snapdeal has introduced an online carnival Kitchen Fiesta – an exclusive store curated for kitchen essentials. With more than 1 Lakh products to choose from, this exciting extravaganza is all set in motion from January 12, 2017 and will remain operational till January 24, 2017.  The brands available are Prestige, Wonderchef, Corelle, Pigeon, Milton, Pureit, Kent, Bajaj.

Ola, Apollo Create ‘Lifesaver’

Ola has partnered with Apollo Hospitals to create India’s first-ever comprehensive medical programme for driver-partners. Under this programme, Ola drivers will be equipped to provide medical assistance in case of on-road emergencies. Driver partners will also be able to opt for a ‘My Apollo Card’ which will provide them with medical benefits; while Apollo Munich will entitle them to accident insurance at discounted rates. The programme will be conducted in five cities including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai; and will be expanded to other cities over the course of the next few months.

YepMe Onboards Fynd

Fynd, the unique fashion ecommerce portal has got fashion retailer Yepme on board its platform. Through this strategic partnership, all the 3,000+ products listed on Yepme will now be made available on Fynd. Through this association, Fynd has unlocked access to the Yepme warehouse, located in Gurugram. This will help Fynd to offer the latest in-store inventories online and generate maximum excitement among its users.

Mobikwik Registers 10,000% Growth In Transactions

Indian mobile wallet major, MobiKwik today announced that the company has registered 10,000% growth in transactions from oil & gas sector. MobiKwik powers digital payments for all major Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil petrol pumps in 20 Indian cities. In early January 2017, MobiKwik had announced zero surcharge on all transactions from oil & gas sector. The company has also been investing hugely in promotions to drive adoption from the sector. MobiKwik’s recent free petrol drive in Delhi-NCR registered over 20,000 transactions within two hours of activation.

MoneyTap Hits 100k Installs In Record 3 Months

MoneyTap, an app-based credit line, has crossed 1,00,000 app installs in three months since its launch, becoming the fastest app-based lending startup to achieve the feat. The company has also lowered minimum salary eligibility to INR 20,000 per month and made the service available to consumers living in shared accommodation.

Delta ID Introduces Iris Scanning Technology To Automotives

Delta ID Inc. has introduced its iris scanning technology for automotives at CES® 2017, in collaboration with Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX). Both demonstrated a rearview mirror that scans the iris of the driver upon entering the vehicle and gets ready to drive. Only if authorised, the driver is able to start and drive the vehicle. In India, this rearview mirror can also be configured via Aadhaar authentication to ensure that an authorised driver is indeed driving the taxi or Uber, or Ola car. Additionally, in private vehicles, the same feature can be used for in-cabin personalisation and other use cases such as payments at petrol pumps and other drive-through stores.

Rubique Enters Paris Fintech Forum 2017

Fintech company Rubique has been selected from India to participate in the second edition of the Paris Fintech Forum. The event is slated to be held in the heart of the city of lights from January 25-26, 2017. Rubique is one fintech company among the 120+ participants across 40+ countries to have made it to the prestigious international event.