This week will be marked in the history of Indian startup ecosystem with words like ‘dark’, ‘grim’ and ugly.
In a most unfortunate turn of events, Stayzilla CEO Yogendra Vasupal got arrested under the charges of payment fraud. As he mentioned in his blog post on Medium, his entire team has been continuously threatened by their landlord (who happens to be a politician) and an advertising agency JigSaw Solution and Advertising. Also, another co-founder Sachit Singhi received a voodoo doll with his child pic. To everyone’s surprise, this time the entire media, and startup community took stand to protect Yogendra and his team from this mishap.
Later, Aditya CS, the proprietor of JigSaw, claimed that Stayzilla founders are fraudulent and the company never conveyed any deficiency in services to them.
Next on, an anonymous Medium user by the cheeky name of Indian Fowler, accused TVF co-founder, Arunabh Kumar of molestation and harassment. After she raised her voice through her blogpost titled “The Indian Uber – That Is TVF,” nine more women have come forward and made allegations of sexual misconduct against Kumar. In a recent turn of events, a third party police complaint has been filed requesting an FIR against him by a Mumbai-based lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee.
Things turned grim for Indian unicorn Shopclues, when Sandeep Aggarwal, Founder, Droom and ShopClues in multiple Facebook posts accused his wife and co-founder of ShopClues, Radhika Aggarwal, of taking away his ‘voting rights’ from the company and also, for having an illicit love affair with the co-founder of the company. Later, Shopclues’ board release a statement saying, “We are proud of fantastic progress made by the ShopClues team under Radhika & Sanjay’s leadership. The company’s differentiated business model and capital efficient approach has enabled it to become a market leader and has grown 30 times under this management. It is very disappointing to see an ex-founder, who disassociated from the company for his criminal wrong doing, is now engaged in a personal vendetta on a public forum. Our goal is to create value for all stakeholders and we remain focused on working closely with Radhika & Sanjay and the management team to continue to scale the company as it captures the massive opportunity which lies ahead of us.”
Important Developments Of The Week
DIPP To Replace Startup India Hub Website
DIPP will switch the Startup India Hub website to a ‘LinkedIn’-like networking platform. The platform will be known as a ‘Virtual Startup Hub.’ It is developed by Invest India and is expected to go live by the first week of April 2017.
Grab Opens First R&D Centre In Bengaluru
The move on Grab’s part aims to boost its payment platforms, especially its mobile wallet GrabPay. Prior to setting up its R&D centre in Bengaluru, Grab has already opened engineering units in five other locations, in Vietnam, US, China, Indonesia, and Singapore.
Myntra To Cash On Offline Too
Myntra has launched its first offline store in Bengaluru for ‘Roadster’. With a built up area of 4000 square feet, the new store is all set to enthrall visitors with a host of unique features and an integrated omnichannel experience.
Paytm Launches In Canada; VVS Joins Indian Billionaire’s Club
With this launch, users in Canada will now be able to pay for their cell phone, cable, internet, electricity and water bills with the help of new Paytm Canada app. In addition to this, users will also be able to pay for their insurance and property taxes. The app is available on both Android and iOS in Canada.
In a separate development, China-based research firm Hurun recently published its ranking of the world’s billionaires – the Global Rich List for 2017. According to the list, the richest Indian is Chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd, Mukesh Ambani. He is ranked number 29, with a cumulative wealth of $26 Bn. Also, Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma has managed to gatecrash the Indian billionaire’s club. On the other hand, Flipkart co-founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal are no more on the list.
The company also introduced recurring payments service, which will allow ventures such as content apps, websites, newsletters, utilities, and media companies can now use Paytm’s APIs, SDKs, and plugins to accept recurring payments, also known as Autopay from customers at stipulated intervals. It allows allows websites and apps to ensure repeated customer retention and increased traffic.
Snapdeal Founders Pocketed $24 Mn In 2015; Vendors Complaints of Dues
The founders of online marketplace, Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal sold 11,462 shares in their personal capacity in 2015 to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Both the founders sold 5731 shares respectively, earning individual profits of around $12 Mn each. Also, a group of merchants that represents small online sellers has claimed that its members are still waiting for their dues to be cleared by Snapdeal. The online marketplace has allegedly not cleared the payments for eight months.
RBI To Open Up UPI For Digital Wallets
Until now, the app has been functional for banks only and digital banks can access it via the partner banks. When implemented, this will allow users to directly send/receive money via digital wallets like Paytm, Freecharge without routing through the bank.
Bengaluru Ola Uber Driver Unions Plan To Launch Sewa Cab
Failing to reach a settlement with cab aggregators Ola and Uber, protesters from the cab drivers’ union in Bengaluru have decided to take matters into their hands. A section of the drivers are now planning to launch their own cab hailing app, Sewa Cab with the rest choosing to continue with the ride-sharing companies. As per a report by iGyaan, nearly 8,000 cab drivers are reportedly in favour of the move. The app is expected to launch on April 7, 2017.
Tamil Nadu Govt To Introduce New Rule Book
The rulebook will include guidelines about fares, safety standards, and driver regulation, etc. The proposal has been cleared by the state transport authority and is being deliberated by the state government now.
Tolexo Shuts Down
Noida-based IndiaMART InterMESH Ltd has shut down the retail B2B wing of its online business goods marketplace Tolexo due to flagging sales and underperformance following the government’s demonetisation move. Also, Tolexo was laying off 50% of its staff, of the 200 it employed at the start of the year.
Starbucks Launches Starbucks® India Mobile App
The new mobile app provides a fast and convenient way for customers to pay for in-store purchase and earn Stars through their My Starbucks Rewardsä account The move also makes Tata Starbucks the first major retailer in India to offer customers a mobile payment option linked to a loyalty program and further expands Starbucks robust global digital ecosystem. The app is available for download on iPhone and Android devices.
Other Developments Of The Week
RoomsTonite Shuts Down
A mobile app for last-minute hotel bookings, has closed down operations following a failed $1.5 Mn fundraising bid. The startup decided to draw the curtain around eight months ago when operating costs began to get out of control. Its mobile application is not available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store and its website is non-functional.
Anchanto Launches SaaS Application SelluSeller In India
SelluSeller offers ecommerce sellers a one-stop solution to manage thousands of products, inventory, promotions, kits, invoicing and orders on various local and cross-border online marketplaces. It has already integrated major online marketplaces like Amazon, ebay, Flipkart, Snapdeal and ShopClues in India, while already covering most of the marketplaces in South East Asia.
PropUrban Extends Its Global Reach
Headquartered in Bengaluru, PropUrban plans to rapidly expand its ‘glocal’ footprint and fasten hiring spree for all its offices across. It recently announced the opening of its London, Dubai, Chennai and Hyderabad offices today.
ZoomCar Expands ZAP Across India
After successfully launching ZAP in New Delhi. Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune, ZAP has now launched in Ahmedabad and Kolkata. In addition, ZAP is now also present across five Tier 2 markets, namely, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Mysore, Mangalore and Vizag. This brings ZAP’s presence across all 9 Tier-1 markets in total and 5 Tier-2 markets till date. ZAP allows individuals to purchase vehicles, list the vehicle on a dynamic basis on its platform, get bookings from Zoomcar’s huge customer base and then finally earn cash to help offset the monthly ownership costs (by sharing in the profit on a daily, weekly and monthly basis).