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News Roundup: 17 Startup Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [28 August – 3 September]

News Roundup: 17 Startup Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [28 August – 3 September]

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has proposed a reality show for Indian startups. The idea came along the lines of Shark Tank – an American reality television series. As per a senior DIPP official, an agency would be hired to scout for startups and investors to feature on the show.  The winners will get also get funding.

Important Developments Of The Week

The Showdown Following AskMe’s Shutdown

Rajya Sabha member and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy sought the intervention of  Ministry of Corporate Affairs, to stop AskMe from shutting down its business. The Gurugram-based consumer Internet search platform closed down its operations on August 31, leaving more than 4000 employees astray.

Later the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) stopped Getit Infoservices from shutting down its ecommerce websites – AskMeBazaar, AskMeGrocery, and Mebelkart.

The enraged vendors too approached the Economic Offences Wing to register a case against the company. Allegedly, the company is accused of non-payment of INR 100-150 Cr of dues and has left more than 4000 employees with no options. The vendors have filed a written complaint naming 12 top executives of Malaysia-based Astro Group and AskMeBazaar officials.

Big Bazaar Direct To Shut Down

Future Group will soon shut down its B2C online retail venture Big Bazaar Direct as the business has become unviable.

Kishore Biyani launched Big Bazaar Direct in 2013 with 1000 franchises. It was based on a franchise model retail format with a target to reach 50,000 franchises by the year end. The platform allows customers to buy Big Bazaar products from their nearest retail outlet.

Snapdeal Launches Snapdeal Gold

Snapdeal Gold, which is applicable only for prepaid orders, is aimed to reduce CoD payments. It is a free service which needs no registration. It is available anytime a user pays for the purchase through net banking, credit/debit card, EMI or wallet at the time of booking the order.

Bengaluru-Based GoZoomo Shuts Down

GoZoomo (previously known as Zoomo), a marketplace for pre-owned cars returned more than half the funding it had raised – as it decided to shut down after not being able to strike the right unit economics.

It was a mobile-based peer-to-peer platform for to buy verified, pre-inspected cars directly from owners without paying any brokerage. It operated in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Pune, and Chennai.

Ratan Tata, Vijay Kelkar & Nandan Nilekani To Launch Avanti Finance

Avanti Finance is an online platform for loan disbursement has been termed as ‘a technology-enabled financial inclusion vehicle’. The portal aims to bring a change in the lives of the financially under-served segment of the country. It will leverage on the social sector presence of Tata Trust and the rapidly evolving India Stack (Jan Dhan–Aadhar–Mobile), UPI, and payments bank ecosystem.

Uber Completes Three Years In India

San Francisco-based taxi service provider, Uber parked its car in India three years ago. Starting from Bengaluru, it is now functional in 27 Indian cities.

Delhi HC Provides Relief To Taxi Apps

The Delhi High Court said it cannot stop app-based cab aggregators from giving discounts to the consumers. The application was filed by the taxi association which alleged that Ola and Uber were not complying with the court’s August 11 directions, and not following the rates prescribed by the government.

Flipkart Apologises For Racist Ad

After the members of the Gorkha community filed a petition against the company in Delhi court to stop airing the TV ad, Flipkart apologised to the Gorkha community for hurting their sentiments in its recently launched ad for Flipkart Assured.

Amazon India Launches ‘Used Books’ Store

The Amazon India online store has over 1,00,000 offers across genres such as literature, romance, biography, and textbooks. The books come from sellers on Amazon who have listed and sell genuine products. As a launch offer, customers who will purchase used books for over INR 399 from the same seller are being offered free shipping.

Ola Drivers Accused Of Rape

A 12-year-old girl was reportedly gang-raped and strangled by two men in an Ola cab in Kolkata.  Ola issued a statement, where it assured co-operation with the police with regard to the investigation.

Quikr Launches Dazzlr

Dazzlr is a talent discovery platform that aims at bringing together actors, casting professionals, directors and producers. It is developed by Quikr in partnership with Vivek Bohra, a filmmaker, and casting director, Aadore Mukherjee. It offers tailored solutions to cater to the needs of both artists and casting professionals for cinema, television, theatre, advertising, regional and international film production.

Snapdeal Launches Cloud Platform

Online marketplace Snapdeal has launched its own private cloud platform, Snapdeal Cirrus.

It is a hybrid cloud, which expands seamlessly to the public cloud and allows various applications to be dynamically assigned to run in different parts of the cloud. It is a fully automated software-defined data centre and cloud platform, where infrastructure is built and managed as code.

NPCI Launches Bharat Bill Payment System

BBPS is the Reserve Bank of India-mandated system which will provide interoperable bill payment services to customers. In the first phase, BBPS will cover repetitive payments for everyday utility services such as electricity, water, gas, telephone, and direct-to-home (DTH).

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the organisation that governs the retail payment sector launched a pilot project for the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) across the country with 26 operating units.

Girnarsoft Launches BusesDekho

GirnarSoft’s is in the passenger commercial vehicle segment. It is aimed at filling the digitisation void in the passenger commercial vehicle segment. It also bridges the gap between manufacturers and bus owners in the domestic space.

With 189 models comprising of 156 buses, 18 vans, and 15 auto rickshaws, BusesDekho provides a platform for buyers and fleet owners to gather information about their choice of products. The portal also contains verified addresses of over 2000 dealers, 2500 service centers, 2500 spare part centres and 312 body makers across India.

MCA Identifies 200 fake Ecommerce Websites

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has identified about 200 fake ecommerce companies and has referred the matter to the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP). The names of the companies are not yet disclosed. All consumer complaints related to ecommerce companies will be addressed within two days via Twitter. Two officials will be assigned to run a grievance redressal mechanism along with the Commerce Ministry for ecommerce-related queries.

Delhi HC Asks DGCEI To Refund Travel Portals

The Delhi High Court asked the Directorate General of Central Excise and Intelligence (DGCEI) to refund the service tax collected from travel portals Ibibo, MakeMyTrip and eBiz within four weeks. According to the HC, the DGCEI had acted with “undue haste and in a reckless manner.” The court also added that the arrest of MakeMyTrip’s Vice-president MK Pallai earlier this year was contrary to the law and violated his constitutional rights.

Tax authorities were reportedly demanding that companies such as MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Cleartrip and Expedia pay tax because they are labelled as hotel service providers.

Other Developments

Online Platform Against Sexual Abuse Launched

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi launched an online platform POCSO e-box‘ (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences). It aims at encouraging child victims or adults to register complaints against child sexual abuse. The e-box is available on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) website. Also, pictorial options are available to make the procedure simple for young children.

US Startup Visa For Entrepreneurs

US President Barack Obama allowed foreign entrepreneurs to apply for temporary Startup Visas and to start a business in the US. It was formed under the country’s Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows temporary entry to people on a case-by-case basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.”

Under this rule, the startups will be initially entitled to a visa of two years if they fulfill certain eligibility criteria. After two years, one can apply for an additional grant of three years. After this, one can apply for existing visas such as EB2 Visa – an employment-based immigration visa.

Houzz Enters Indian Market

Palo Alto-based design and decor company Houzz  launched operations in India. It has appointed Babyoye’s former CEO Sanjay Nadkarni as the Country Head. India entry is part of the global expansion at Houzz, which started after their latest round of funding.

Nadkarni is aiming to set up a “nuclear team” of less than 10 people in India over the next 6-12 months as Houzz plans to increase engagement with local professionals in India.

Instamojo Integrates Digital Wallet

California and Bengaluru-based micro product and services sales platform, Instamojo, incorporated a digital wallet in its payment gateway. Users can accept payments from their customers via wallets using Instamojo. To enable this option, users are to visit the “App Store” on the Instamojo dashboard. After finding and clicking on ‘Digital Wallets’, they can select the plan of their choice and subscribe to it for just 50 credits/month.

GoPigeon Launches B2B Product Surface

Bengaluru-based on-demand first-mile logistics company GoPigeon launched a new product, ‘Surface,’ to cater to the logistics needs of the B2B segment. It is a customised tech product which allows companies to ship a package anywhere across the world without the hassle of dealing with multiple courier companies. It also provides other benefits such as budgeting, bulk order processing, multiple partners, insurance, automated MIS, and more.

LogiNext Boosts Global Logistics Industry

LogiNext achieved a milestone of amassing 200 million Data Points within the first two years of its existence. LogiNext achieved this feat by collating data from its five most prominent SaaS products, whilst adding value to different industry verticals by optimizing their logistics. Subsequently, the company channelised its resources in creating an IoT platform carrying the potential of supporting 100+ hardware and sensors.

Lendingkart Partners With Unicommerce

The tie-up is aimed to provide working capital loans to Unicommerce retailers. The partnership will enable Unicommerce’s consumer base to get access to collateral-free working capital loans through Lendingkart Group’s NBFC within 72 hours of application at a discounted rate.

UpGrad Ties Up With Unmetric

HubSpot Academy, is the training division of the inbound marketing and sales platform, and Unmetric, a social media analytics platform developer. This partnership will ensure that students get access to an extremely diverse knowledge bank.

UpGrad is an online higher education platform aimed at equipping working professionals with employable skills. Founded by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Ravijot Chugh and Prabhav Phalgun, UpGrad has launched programmes in entrepreneurship, data analytics, and product management in addition to digital marketing so far.

Cube26 Launches New Brand Reos

With this new brand, the company plans to extend its data science capabilities across software and hardware products, making them more intuitive, accessible and easy to use for the new age, connected consumers. Under brand Reos, the company is launching a suite of smart apps for messaging, camera and music category, to help provide a clutter free, assistive mobile experience. In the hardware segment, Cube26 aims to strengthen its presence in the smart home segment with a new version of smart bulb: Reos Lite.

AppsFlyer Partners With Tencent Social Ads

AppsFlyer’s mobile attribution analytics platform is now available to track the effectiveness of app install campaigns on Tencent Social Ads. The first global third-party tracking service for Tencent Social Ads, AppsFlyer allows app marketers throughout the world to measure campaign results on the Tencent Social Ads platform – including WeChat and more – in order to optimise the lifetime value of their users and increase overall advertising effectiveness.

Housing Launches ‘Housing Go’ introduced ‘Housing Go’, a Progressive Web App (PWA). The upgraded site will now offer a seamless user experience to all smartphone users while they access and its features. ‘Housing Go’ is available on Android as well as iOS-powered mobile handsets and supports all modern browsers following the PWA guidelines.

Yahoo Rolls Out New Mobile Ad Format ‘Tiles’ In India

Yahoo Tiles is a new mobile ad format that brands can leverage to reach consumers through engaging, interactive content. It enables brands to tell visually compelling and immersive stories on mobile devices in a post-tap environment.

When consumers click on a mobile ad, they are taken to a custom mobile landing page that can feature 360-degree video and images, as well as dynamic and interactive features such as video, swipeable images, and social feeds.

Droom To Invest $15 Mn In Marketing Blitz

The new campaign is being launched for television, YouTube, print, digital and social media and will also be seen outdoors on billboards and external installations. The entire campaign is designed to drive traffic and increase consumer awareness and to enhance the sense of pride amongst Indian consumers when it comes to buying a pre-owned vehicle.

Ola Helps In Flood Relief In Varanasi & Allahabad

Ola deployed boats to help people in affected areas across the two cities in Uttar Pradesh. Manned by professional rowers, these boats will help rescue citizens from flooded zones to safer areas and in the distribution of relief material like food items, drinking water, and medicines. Ola is also introducing a special category ‘Donate’ on its app in Varanasi and Allahabad.

Teesort Enters US Market

Online fashion brand Teesort today launched operations in the US market from September 01, 2016. Teesort will introduce a range of premium, stylish and affordable men’s clothing and accessories under their brand name ‘Teesort Prima’ in the US, and will later launch a line of fashion clothing and accessories for women as well. The company defines its target market as urban Americans in the age group of 18-30 years and interested in premium-quality apparel at a value for money price.

Coursera Launches Coursera for Business

Coursera for Business is the company’s enterprise platform. It enables companies to utilise Coursera’s learning content, created by 145 world-renowned universities and other institutions, to help address the rapidly evolving training and development needs of their businesses.

Coursera has signed up leading companies including L’Oreal, Axis Bank, and Boston Consulting Group across key markets in the US, Europe, and Asia as its first customers. The launch marks Coursera’s entry into the multi-billion dollar global corporate online learning market, which is growing at the rate of over 10% a year.

Movie & Video Platform VMate launched in India

VMate, the video platform, offers HD-copyrighted movies at zero cost. It will actuate its journey with an exclusive launch of Bollywood actor Irrfan’s latest outing, “Madaari” (2016) on August 31, which is first and only available on VMate to watch on mobile.