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News Roundup: 8 Startup Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [20 February – 25 February]

News Roundup: 8 Startup Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [20 February – 25 February]

Even with rising interest in the online traveltech space and investor confidence, Bengaluru-based Indian homestay network Stayzilla suspended its operations. The founders are now keen on rebooting the concept, with an increased focus on the supply side with the inbuilt specialised solutions such as ‘Stayzilla Verified Homestays.’

Furthermore, ecommerce and payments platform Paytm announced its plan to invest about $90 Mn (INR 600 Cr) to expand its QR code-based payment network. The investment will enable merchants across India for acceptance of digital payments using its QR code-based payment solution. The investment will be used to scale up manpower and technology, and to educate merchants about digital transactions.

Next up, Indian unicorn Snapdeal’s troubles seem to have no end. After laying off 600 employees, and with the founders reportedly taking a 100% pay cut, on its way to becoming a profitable entity in the next two years; online sellers have asked the commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman to intervene in the matter and safeguard their money.

Important Developments

Freshdesk Launches Freshdesk Marketplace

Freshdesk’s newly launched marketplace allows customers to discover and install apps to help maximise their helpdesk capabilities. Developers will have direct access to create apps that have an audience of 100,000+ global customers. Currently, the marketplace has over 100 apps including Teamviewer, Slack, Salesforce, Jira, Skype, and G-Suite covering key categories from collaboration to telephony.

Microsoft Announces Skype Lite and Project Sangam

The announcement was made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, at the company’s flagship technology and business conference Future Decoded in Mumbai. Satya discussed many success stories made possible by its cloud solution and also announced a slew of India-centric measures – one being an Aadhaar-enabled version of Skype Lite and another being ‘Project Sangam’– a skilling initiative that uses Azure services and the power of LinkedIn’s job searches.

Ola-Uber Strike Called Off

After the drivers staged a protest outside the residence of Transport Minister Satyendra Jain, a meeting had been called between the protesting cab drivers and representatives of both cab aggregators by the Government. After the Delhi Government intervened in the matter and the strike by the Sarvodaya Drivers’ Association of Delhi (SDAD) was finally called off on Day 13.

NPCI Launches Bharat QR Code

The initiative has been launched in association with Visa and Mastercard. BharatQR code is a quick response (QR) code and is mandated by the government to enable digital payments without card swiping machines.

Microsoft Partners With Flipkart

Flipkart will adopt Microsoft Azure as its exclusive public cloud platform. The deal is in line with Microsoft’s mission to support Indian entrepreneurs to create businesses of global scale.

Other Developments

Now Free Anti-Virus For All

The Information and Technology ministry, on February 21,launched anti-malware analysis centre which will facilitate free antivirus for personal computers and smartphones in India.

Ola And Uber Partner With Namma Metro

Uber announced a partnership with the BMRC across 12 key Namma Metro stations providing last-mile connectivity to everyday commuters in Bengaluru. Starting April 2017, one can find Uber booking kiosks at Namma Metro stations. Also, Namma signed a deal with Ola, where, as part of the agreement, Bengaluru Metro stations will have exclusive Ola Kiosks.

Nasscom Inks Deal With ITAC, Japan

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) signed an MoU with the IoT Acceleration Consortium (ITAC) – Japan. The MoU will see both Nasscom and ITAC, collaborating to address digital technology shifts and accelerate IoT adoption at a global level across the industry. Expands Into Home Automation

The business vertical has been launched in partnership with Silvan Innovation Labs. Equipped with a team of solution experts, CapriCoast can deliver complete solutions with specialised on-site installation and configuration. Pegged at INR 8,000 cr, the home automation solutions market in India is witnessing a 50% growth year-on-year.  The CapriCoast-Silvan partnership will focus on selling directly to consumers, providing ‘Retrofit’ solutions that can be deployed into both existing and move-in ready new homes as well as ‘Designed-in’ solutions for under-construction homes.

Wishfin Launches Wish Experts

‘Wish Experts’ is a panel of highly qualified and experienced consultants guiding customers in making informed decisions to fulfill their financial goals. Conceptually, it goes beyond mere customer service or relationship management, but is envisioned as an end-to-end ‘enabler.’ A Wishfin customer has to express a desire for a financial product and choose a Wish Expert from the panel. He will then lead the customer with answering queries, helping choose a financial product, guiding through the application process and expediting disbursal.

Reliance Jio Partners With UBER

As part of the partnership, Jio and Uber will work together and explore various opportunities to progressively enrich and enhance the Digital Life experience of their users through complementary programmes. For instance, now Uber riders can pay for their rides using JioMoney.

Andhra Pradesh Signs MoUs with VISA, Thomson Reuters

As per the MoU between Visa and the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the parties intend to collaborate to develop a robust digital payment ecosystem in Vishakhapatnam through a multi-level approach that targets several stakeholders. Thomson Reuters (TR) Corporation is a provider of news and information for a range of professional markets. The company operates through three segments: Financial & Risk, Legal, and Tax & Accounting. Its open platform technology and access to global best practices, will provide the right enablers and expertise to the Andhra Pradesh government as they pursue the goal of building a global fintech hub.

Gaana – Now On Android Auto

The Android Auto version will allow users to stream their favorite music via Android Auto-compatible phones, vehicles and aftermarket radios. Android Auto allows anyone with an Android phone (running 5.0 or later) to use a driver friendly interface to access the key stuff needed on the road directions, communications, music, etc. without the distraction of things that aren’t essential while driving. Gaana is the first Indian music streaming app that allows users to experience a non-stop, distraction-free, and safe music experience using Android Auto.

ONE Co.Work Inaugurates Third Coworking Hub

The new coworking space, based in Gurugram, is part of the company’s countrywide expansion plans and is aimed at increasing its brand visibility and service penetration in the region. The company is now planning to launch its services in other key geographies across the country, including Bengaluru and Mumbai, as it ramps up its pan-India presence.

Al Namal Group Partners With Indian Startup Square Plums

Bahrain-based Al Namal Group is a multinational conglomerate founded by NRI Varghese Kurien. With this deal, it is entering the co-living homes sector in India. As part of the agreement, Kurien-led Al Namal Group plans to build 2 million sq. ft. of co-living homes in Indian metro cities. The group has earmarked an investment of INR 300 Cr for this foray.

DJUBO Launches Cloud PMS

DJUBO CloudPMS has a host of applications for hotel operations management including PoS applications for managing front office, restaurant, spa, travel desk, laundry kitchen, order tracking etc. With this launch, DJUBO has further strengthened its hotel tech offering by becoming the only player, globally, which covers a vast footprint of hotel tech products.

Voylla Debuts In Ludhiana

With plans to open 100 franchise outlets in the next five years, fashion jewelry brand Voylla has entered the franchise business after opening 100 successful company owned stores in December 2016. Considering the fact that Punjab is one of the most versatile fashion-centric markets, the company’s debut franchise store has opened in Ludhiana, and will spread across the country in the coming financial year.