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News Roundup: 11 Indian Startup News Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [29 October-03 November]

News Roundup: 11 Indian Startup News Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [29 October-03 November]

According to World Bank’s Doing Business Report (DBR, 2019), India ranks 77th in ease of doing business across the globe

India-Japan Prime Ministers launched Startup Hub between India and Japan, India-Japan Business Platform among other initiatives

Google India had remitted a total of $2.18 Bn (INR 16,119.6 Cr) towards expense on “purchase of advertising space”

This week, the biggest news in the country was India improving its ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report (DBR, 2019) 23 positions. Ranked 100 in 2017, India has jumped to the 77th position among 190 countries assessed by World Bank.

The World Bank report noted that India has improved its rank in 6 out of 10 indicators and has moved closer to international best practices (Distance to Frontier score) on 7 out of the 10 indicators.

Another boost for the country and especially startup ecosystem came when during the 13th Annual Bilateral Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, continued to show a commitment towards working together along with giving evidence of strategic cooperation between the two countries. The countries launched Startup Hub between India and Japan, India-Japan Business Platform among other initiatives.

Image Credit: One India

Important Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week

SEBI Looks To Change Certain Norms For Startup Listing

The regulator, in a discussion paper posted on its website on September 26 has proposed to rename Institutional Trading Platform (ITP), the listing platform for startups, as Innovators Growth Platform (IGP); and has also suggested to make certain certain policy changes in the startup listing eligibility, among others.

In another development, reports surfaced that SIDBI will now fund venture capital firms after rating them. Mohammad Mustafa, chairman and managing director of SIDBI, said that the idea is to ensure transparency, efficiency and lower subjectivity in making investing choices. With this, SIDBI looks to introduce predictability in the deployment process, as the VC firms will be able to know if they are eligible to get money under the fund of funds scheme or not.

Amazon India Agrees To Data Localisation Norms

Payments companies had requested that they be allowed to store a copy of the data outside India as well. However, the RBI shot down their proposal. “Compliance with local laws and regulation is a top priority for us in all the countries we operate in. We continue to work closely with the regulator towards this,” Amazon spokesperson told Inc42.

Paytm Mall Limits Product Return Claims By Sellers

Paytm Mall changed its policy last week. As per Paytm Mall’s policy of non-delivery or return of products, it states: “Where the product has not been delivered/has been returned due to any reason/fault attributable to seller, then Paytm ecommerce shall on behalf of the seller refund to the buyer the selling price paid by the buyer to purchase the product and seller shall be liable to pay Paytm ecommerce.”

Paytm Mall To Offer Cashbacks Worth $33.7 Mn During Festive Sale

Delhi Court Bans Flipkart From Selling Products Under MarQ Label

Delhi-based electric appliances maker Marc Enterprises had earlier alleged that Flipkart was selling similar goods under the brandname MarQ, which is similar to Marc Enterprises, and had filed a case of trademark violation against the company. The case had been running for the past 10 months at Delhi’s Patiala House district court and then in the Delhi High Court. In January, the district court had restrained Flipkart from use the MarQ label till February 5.

DoT Directs To Stop Aadhaar-Based Verification

Now the telecom companies such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have to operate on time taking and costly physical methods for verification of the user until an alternative method is implemented. The DoT has advised the companies to prepare and adapt an alternative digital method, which may include using a customer acquisition form (CAF), live picture of the customer, and scanned images of a proof of address and identity, aimed at making the entire authentication process paperless.

In another development, the Payments Council of India (PCI), an apex body representing companies in payments and settlement system, has also asked the regulator to extend the deadline for converting minimum-KYC accounts to full-KYC accounts to February 28, 2020, on account of the recent restrictions on the use of eKYC.

Mastercard Protests PM Modi’s Promotion Of RuPay

In a letter to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in June this year, Mastercard’s vice-president for Global Public Policy, Sahra English, stated that the PM “associated the use of RuPay cards with nationalism, claiming that it serves as a kind of national service.”

Ola May Be The Next To Enter Grocery Delivery Market

It is being speculated that Ola has been working on a grocery-specific platform for the last five months and aims to launch it in early 2019. The Bengaluru-based company is also in talks with major retail chains and cash-and-carry companies across the country to work on a few partnerships and plans to offer retailers a revenue-sharing model.

ByteDance & ShareChat Lock Horns Over Google Ad-Word Row

ShareChat’s counsel, in its submissions to the court on September 26, alleged that when a user searched for “ShareChat” on Google search, ByteDance’s ‘Helo’ appeared as “one of the first search results”. The counsel also alleged Helo “not only copied the features, look and feel of the app, but also various icons” which appeared on ShareChat.

Madras High Court Puts Interim Ban On Sale Of Medicines For 10 Days

The order by Justice R Mahadevan comes after a plea moved by the Chennai-based Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association seeking a direction to authorities concerned to block links of websites that are selling medicines online. In its order, the court has directed the Centre to file its counterpoint and scheduled the next hearing on November 9.

Have A Look At Revenues/Losses In FY18 And FY19

  • Gurugram-based ecommerce marketplace ShopClues’ parent company Clues Networks Pvt. Ltd. announced the financial results for the fiscal year 2017-18, narrowing its losses by 40% to $28.17 Mn (INR 208.14 Cr).Total expenses for the year were $66.41 Mn (INR 481.44 Cr), a fall of 9.89%.
  • Online travel company Yatra has posted financial results for the second quarter of FY19 with a strong control over its losses by 48.6% reaching $2.2 Mn (INR 16.01 Cr).The company’s financial performance highlights for Q2 FY19 include 2.7 Mn Gross Air Passengers booked, representing YOY growth of 22.1%.
  • New Delhi-based digital retail payments platform Pine Labs Pvt. Ltd., popularly known as Pine Labs, announced its financial performance for the fiscal year 2017-18 reporting a 55% increase in revenues and 64.6% increase in expenses. PineLabs further recorded a loss of $342.8K (INR 2.51 Cr) in FY18.
  • Online insurance aggregator PolicyBazaar posted its financial performance for the fiscal year 2017-18, scoring a growth of 225% in its revenues and at the same time controlling its losses by 78%. As the company goes on its growth trajectory with entry into the unicorn club, it continued to invest heavily in marketing and promotional activities.
  •  Alibaba India Ecommerce Pvt. Ltd. reported its revenues for FY18 as $3.6 Mn (INR 27 Cr), a 73% increase since last financial year. The company further reported a net loss of $4.05K (INR 3 Lakhs) during the same fiscal. This is 89% decrease from the last financial year.
  • Online travel marketplace ixigo announced the financial results for the fiscal 2017-18 with a 209% growth in revenues reaching $9.41 Mn (INR 69.19 Cr). The net loss for the year was $5.62 Mn (INR 41.33 Cr), an increase of 108% against $2.69 Mn (INR 19.78 Cr) in the previous year.
  • Online travel aggregator Cleartrip Private Limited, popularly known as Cleartrip, posted financial results for its fiscal year 2017-18 reporting a jump of 17% in its revenues. At the same time, the company showed a marginal maintenance in its losses as it posted a fall of 2% in its losses reaching $8.47 Mn (INR 62.35 Cr) in this fiscal.
  • Flipkart has announced its financial results for both its B2B arm – Flipkart India and ecommerce platform – Flipkart Internet. The combined loss of the two Flipkart entities — Flipkart India and Flipkart Internet—  was recorded as $434.7 Mn (INR 3,200 Cr) in FY18.
  • Mumbai-headquartered online ticketing platform Big Tree Entertainment Pvt Ltd, under the brand name BookMyShow, has announced its financial performance for the financial year 2017-18, reporting a 20% jump in its revenues. The growth, however, was lesser than the 27% growth in FY17.
  • Gurugram and Korea-based True Balance reported a revenue of INR 5.97 crore in FY18, a 10.4X jump from INR 57.73 lakhs in FY17.
  • Bengaluru-based budget hotel chain Ruptub Solutions Private Limited, popularly known as Treebo, reported a jump of 130% in its revenues for  FY18. At the same time, the losses for the company were $15.67 Mn (INR 115 Cr), an increase of 56% compared to the previous year.
  • Digital payments giant Paytm’s ecommerce subsidiary Paytm Mall announced its financial results for fiscal 2018, reporting a jump of 104.42% in its revenues, which touched $105.76 Mn (INR 775 Cr). Paytm Mall also reported a net loss of $245.65 Mn (INR 1,800 Cr) during the same fiscal, nearly 150 times its net loss of $1.86 Mn (INR13.63 Cr) in the previous financial year.
  • Bengaluru-based food delivery app Bundl Technologies, which operates under the popular brand name Swiggy, recorded a 220% jump in its revenues for FY18. The company posted a net loss of $54.12 Mn (INR 397.3 Cr), a jump of 93% from the previous year.
  • Premium smartphone maker Apple announced its results for the financial year 2018 for its Indian entity and reported a surge in net profit by 140% reaching $122.54 Mn (INR 896 Cr).
  • Global ecommerce company Amazon has announced its financial results for the quarter ending September 30, 2018, and has recorded net sales of $56.6 Bn, a growth of 29% Q-o-Q. At the same time, the growth in international business, which includes India, slowed down to 13%, compared to 27% in Q2 and 34% in Q1.
  • Amazon Pay (India) Pvt Ltd, Indian digital payments arm of the global ecommerce company Amazon, announced the financial results for the fiscal year 2017-18 with a leap of 5100% in revenues and 88% in losses.
  • Twitter Communications India has announced a 14% decline in its revenues for fiscal year ending March 2018.  This indicates that Twitter India is further losing its market share in the Indian ecosystem, as the advertisers continue to prefer other social media platforms such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.

Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week

Google India May Face Taxes

Google India had remitted a total of $2.18 Bn (INR 16,119.6 Cr) towards expense on “purchase of advertising space”. The tax authorities have said that such transfers are not a cost or transfer of profit, but ‘royalty’, which is subject to tax. Google India will be liable to pay tax on the transfers until 2016, the year in which an indirect tax in the form of an equalisation levy was introduced.

Further, in a blog post on November 1, the company said that its team has worked hard to teach the Assistant on Google Home to understand Hindi and respond to the users with uniquely Indian contexts. “The Assistant is already available in Hindi on the smartphone and now can also get hands-free help at home in Hindi to get things done in your world,” the blog post added.

UPI Transactions Grow 19% In October 2018

At the same time, the value of transactions has increased by 25% as UPI recorded transactions value of $10.16 Bn (INR 74,948.27 Cr) in October, against $8.11 Bn (INR 59,835.26 Cr). Prior to this, the growth in transactions was 10% for the month of September.

According to data released by the NPCI, a total of 482.36 Mn UPI transactions were registered in October, of which Paytm claims to have contributed over 179 Mn payments. The Noida-based company also claimed to be a leader in P2P and merchant-led UPI transactions in terms of volume. The company is also engaged in enabling and promoting Paytm BHIM UPI for offline payments.

Myntra Launches In-House Plus Size Apparel Brand Sztori

Under this label, the fashion ecommerce platform will be selling designer wears which has been especially designed to suit a larger range of body shapes and sizes enabling customers to find perfect fit and multiple style clothing options at affordable rates. Both men and women will find various range of products including tees, denims, tops, dresses and more in Large (L) to 4 times large (XXXXL) sizes with their prices ranging from $10.8 to $27.17 (INR 799 and INR 1,999).

Vokal Launches Vernacular Video Q&A

With the idea that Video answering helps animate and humanize the Question & Answer format, Vokal launched vernacular Q&A for its users giving them a chance to ask questions with option to respond either in audio or video.

IAMAI Creates AR/VR Committee

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) formed a new industry expert committe  to evangelise AR/VR technology to drive economic growth, job creation, and skill development in the country. The committee would also closely work to develop potential sectors like Healthcare, Tourism, Auto, Agriculture, Education and Skill Development.The mandate of the Group is to identify opportunities and challenges to help India’s AR/VR ecosystem, in partnership with government, industry and startups.

Digit Insurance Partners With Mi Homes

New age insurance company Digit Insurance, a new age insurance startup, announced Mi Screen Protect Plan for Xiaomi’s Mi Home stores, under which users can avail screen damage insurance with screen replacement for up to two times in a year. The screen protection insurance is available across all 50+ Mi Home stores in India and can be availed at a starting price of INR 399 per year.

Drivezy Launches Services In Nagpur

Vehicle sharing marketplace Drivezy launched its car sharing services in Nagpu being the fourth city to be inducted by Drivezy this year. The company has launched operations in Kochi, Mysore, and Mangalore over the last six months.

Future Group Partners With Haptik

This integration has been live from June 2018 and has since then seen a significant improvement in overall customer engagement on the app. Future Pay used Haptik’s platform to enable two important new product features on their Android and iOS apps: a Quiz bot and a Shopping List bot.  Future Pay digital wallet can be used at 1000+ Future Group stores.

Stay tuned for the next week edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup News Of The Week!