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News Roundup: 11 Startup Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [19 September – 24 September]

News Roundup: 11 Startup Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [19 September – 24 September]

Flipkart claims to have crossed the 100 Mn registered customers mark and claims to be the first ecommerce company in India to do so. It also claims to offer more than 40 Mn products across 80+ categories.

Company’s Big Billion Day shopping festival will be held from October 2 to October 6, 2016. Preparations for the flagship sales event this year are being led by Kalyan Krishnamurthy. It has also launched a no-cost EMI payment option for high-priced items and has facilitated product exchange schemes for customers.

Important Developments Of The Week

Amazon India To Open Seller Cafe’s; Six Private Label Brands

Amazon India is reportedly opening ‘seller cafes’ across 24 cities and towns in India. The aim is to provide real-time on-ground assistance to the sellers associated with the platform. Amazon has added 20,000 new sellers in the past two months through its new initiatives.

The company also plans to launch private fashion label, in order to boost sales and margins in the fashion category. Amazon is also planning to launch six private labels on its platform. The first, ‘Symbol,’ was launched by Cloudtail India, Amazon’s largest-seller, earlier this month. Symbol is a western wear brand for men that has a collection of formal and casual wear.

Now Aadhaar Is Mandatory For Everyone

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has mandated all the Union and State Ministries to inform the regulatory body regarding services, benefits, and subsidies which will now be accessed only using the unique identification number i.e Aadhaar, issued by the Government of India.

Peepul Capital Accuses VSoft Technologies Of Fraud

US- and Hyderabad-based software company VSoft Technologies has been accused of fraud by private equity firm, Peepul Capital. Peepul Capital is also an investor in the former.

DoorMint Shuts Down

Mumbai-based home services platform Doormint has shut down its operations. As of 19 September, DoorMint will not be accepting any new orders. All the orders in the system will be processed. Inability to manage unit economics and cash crunch were cited as major reasons for shutdown.

Paytm’s Payment Bank Partners With BFSIs; Plans To Invest Big In Ecommerce Business

Paytm has collaborated with IndusInd Bank, ICICI Prudential, and HDFC Mutual Fund in order to offer services in the area of banking, insurance, and mutual funds. Its payments bank is expected to partner with a few more BFSI (Banking Financial Services and Insurance) companies to facilitate cross-selling of banking products for its customer-base.

The company is also reportedly planning to invest $120 Mn- $149Mn to develop its ecommerce business, Paytm E-commerce Pvt. Ltd. The latest funding round will take about two months to close but the management has decided the marketplace is a key business, and new investors will plough in money into the ecommerce entity.

Twitter To Lay Off 80% Work Force In Bengaluru

Twitter India is in the process of laying off 80% of its employees based in Bengaluru. It has decided to stop the global engineering work at the Bengaluru development centre. Twitter will continue to maintain a presence in Bengaluru with staff from other functions.

Alibaba Launches Trade Facilitation Services For SME’s

Alibaba has launched a programme called Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC). The proposed TFC programme will allow Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to avail special benefits, dedicated support and customised value-added services besides providing dedicated facilities.

Snapdeal Shifts Business Model

Snapdeal has created a wholesale unit under the name of E-Agility Solutions Pvt. Ltd. The unit will be used by the online marketplace to sell products on its ecommerce platform, according to sources close to the development. This move is a significant shift from its previously-adopted marketplace model of business, where the company acted as an intermediary between sellers and buyers.

IITs Skip Startups For Early Placement Slots

The Indian Institutes of Technology are giving preference to the public sector undertakings (PSUs) this year instead of startups.  Even with PSUs offering lesser packages than private companies, a few institutions are planning to invite about 100 PSUs each.  IITs are also trying to persuade the Ministry of Human Resource and Development to facilitate the participation of Maharatna and Navaratna companies in the current placement rounds.

EX-Ola Driver Reveals System Loopholes

A driver who worked with Ola before switching to Uber got into a conversation with a passenger, Neha Garg, that led to a confession by the driver that puts into light the scam he ran on Ola. According to the thread, Ola managed to track all the culprits and further blacklisted 11,600 cabs.

Other Developments

Government To Provide $30 Mn Funding For Urban Reforms

The Central Government of India has recently released the third list of smart cities that will receive funding from the Government in order to facilitate urban reforms. Currently, 60 Indian cities are selected under this initiative. Each city will be given $30 Mn (INR 200 Cr) funding for infrastructural reforms in their respective cities.

Portea Enters Wellness Segment

Bengaluru-based home healthcare firm, Portea Medical has expanded into the wellness segment with its new offering Portea Activ. The programme was launched 15 days ago and is currently being offered through Portea’s corporate tie-ups with about 30 companies, across three cities.

Roads Ministry Meets Online Cab Aggregators

The Ministry of Roads, Transport, and Highways called a meeting with representatives of the online cab aggregator industry in India such as Ola, Uber, Baxi, Rapido and NOW. The meeting aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict between Indian Ministries, State Governments, and online cab-hailing platforms operational in the country.

Uber’s New Trip Scheduling Service

Online cab aggregator Uber has launched a new service, where users will be allowed to schedule their trips in advance, using the app. The new service is currently available in 20 cities across India. Riders can schedule an uberX or an uberGO from 15 minutes to 30 days in advance.

TV Actor Ashish Kapoor Launches AddaBooking

Television actor Ashish Kapoor has launched an online platform for booking venues called Addabooking.  It will provide users to book a venue based on various factors such as amenities, services, price, location, availability, ratings, etc.

Razorpay Launches Unified Payment Interface

Bengaluru-based payment gateway Razorpay launched Unified Payment Interface (UPI). It claims to be India’s first payment gateway to do so. The new payment option will allow Razorpay’s users to access online payments via UPI with added services like net banking, wallets, and credit/debit cards as well.

PayPal Extends Refund Period By 120 Days

Payments platform PayPal announced an extension of the time available for filing a refund claim from 60 days to 180 days to facilitate easy refunds for customers and merchants. The extended refund period will be applicable for all PayPal users and will cover both goods and services. With the extension, merchants will get more time to alleviate customer concerns and process refunds in a smooth and efficient manner. This will allow them to manage queries independently and, in turn, reduce the number of escalations thereby helping them to control their fund flow.

AppsFlyer Launches DeviceRank

AppsFlyer, the global leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics, launched a new anti-fraud technology called DeviceRank. The technology provides an unparalleled level of protection for mobile app advertisers by automatically “cleaning” fraudulent devices from marketers’ campaigns aimed at driving app installs and post-install activities.

Industrybuying Launches Franchise Partnership Programme

B2B ecommerce company Industrybuying launched its Franchise Partnership Programme for industrial goods retailers with a special focus on Tier II and Tier III cities. Through this programme, the company aims to enable and empower the industrial retailers using the shared economy model. The company will partner with resellers who have local presence, resources and the right knowledge to serve SMEs & SMBs better. The partners under this programme will get a fixed and guaranteed commission for each product they sell to their customers by placing the order on Industrybuying.

DriveU And Zoomcar Announce Strategic Alliance

On-demand driver aggregator for private car owners DriveU announced a strategic alliance with India’s leading self-drive car rental company, Zoomcar. With this partnership, Zoomcar customers will now get a vehicle delivered and picked-up by DriveU drivers at a location of their choice, be it office, home, or otherwise.

TripXOXO Ties Up With CyberPlat

Online go-to-destination portal for fun-tastic activities and trips TripXOXO has tied up with integrated e-payment processing company CyberPlat for a 360-degree content distribution across India. TripXOXO has over 25,000 tours, activities and experiences available for booking from over 140 countries. CyberPlat services over 300+ partners and reaches out to over 500,000 touch points in the B2B and B2C space covering retail networks, online websites, mobile-based businesses, self-service kiosks, POS-terminals, cash desks, amongst others, both in rural and urban India.

Ola Gets More Cabs On The Road With Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi

Ruckus Wireless Inc., now part of Brocade, announced that Ola Cabs has deployed its network to improve and grow its cab network in India. Ola Cabs has a network of over 200,000 cars across 85 cities. Proof of concept tests were conducted using Ruckus Wireless and a competitor’s wireless access points (APs) to determine which performed better in the outdoor environment. Following the tests, Ola Cabs selected Ruckus Wireless. Ola Cabs has also deployed the Ruckus ZoneDirector™ 1200 to centrally manage its Wi-Fi network.

Orsuq Launches Online Operations, an Indian brand for gold & diamond jewellery has launched its online operations. It offers ready-made BIS hallmarked (916) gold pieces, diamonds verified by Solitaire gemological laboratories and on-demand jewellery at price points favouring different customer profiles. Apart from the wide assortment of designs available on the catalogue, Orsuq customers can buy gold and diamond jewellery by ordering a specific design or by booking an appointment with a jewellery designer and getting access to expert advice.

YES BANK Partners With Fintech Startup NiYO

YES BANK has partnered with fintech startup NiYO to revolutionise the employee benefits ecosystem in India. NiYO features an integrated solution comprising of a multi-pocket card, a mobile app and a digital account with multiple wallets. Under this partnership, YES BANK along with NiYO has rolled out the “YES BANK NiYO Benefits Card” that makes it easy for organisations to give employee benefits, and for employees to claim them. The solution will leverage the latest in mobile technologies and build on the IndiaStack initiatives including eKYC by UIDAI and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) launched by NPCI.

Paytm Enables IRCTC Rail Bookings And Two Wheeler Financing On Its Platform

Paytm has partnered with the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation) to allow Paytm users to book train tickets online on Paytm’s app and website. In recent months, Paytm has seen exponential growth in its travel marketplace. Its bus tickets business recently turned break-even while the hotels booking category is expected to start generating profits very soon. The flights booking service on Paytm has been growing at 4x rate month-on- month since its launch in May.

PharmEasy Announces Expansion Plans

PharmEasy, a digital facilitator connecting local pharmacies with consumers, plans to more than double its talent pool to 500 from current 200 in next six months.  This number will further grow by 10X over the next two years. It has been a diversified and prolific recruitment drive in PharmEasy, mainly catering to the two branches of tech and operations. In the former, back-end engineers, front-end engineers, Android developers, iOS developers and data scientists have been inducted while in operations, PharmEasy has incorporated process management, city operations, area operations, and strategic initiatives personnel.

Jabong Launches Social Intranet Platform On Mobile Devices

Jabong announced that it has collaborated with Facebook at Work to launch a social intranet on mobile devices for its employees. The platform, named Destination f is an endeavour to ensure workplace collaboration through on-the-go access to all the company policies, workflows, polls, project updates, team discussions, and other HR related activities. A majority of Jabong’s employees are millennials and this initiative also extends the brand philosophy of ‘Be You’ to encourage its employees to express and engage with the company beyond traditional emails. Partners With Uber has launched a first-of-its-kind in-app integration with Uber, an on-demand smart mobility app to make road travel hassle-free for its customers. Through this initiative, Uber will make it possible for customers of to book their local and intra-city transport directly through the Yatra app. Also, customers can now book Uber directly from Yatra app (both on iOS & Android), even if the Uber app is not installed on their devices.

MobiKwik Partners With Truecaller

Payments company MobiKwik has announced a partnership with the smart calling app, ‘Truecaller’. As part of this association, any user with a Truecaller account can instantaneously register on MobiKwik. The integration is aimed towards giving new users a quick and seamless experience while registering on the wallet.

ParkingRhino Unveils Hyperlocal Parking Finder App

ParkingRhino, a marketplace for providing parking space, in the country, announced the launch of its consumer-facing mobile app. The app will allow users to search for nearby parking spaces and for each such parking space listing view information such as hours of operation, parking capacity, availability of valet services, car wash facility, etc. The app currently lists more than 2000+ verified parking locations. ParkingRhino is also working on enabling bookings of parking spaces on their app. This will enable vehicle owners looking for a parking to search and book an available slot in a listed parking location. Booking facility is expected to commence by end of September this year.

Happay Launches Digital Marketing Expense Card

Happay, a Bengaluru-based startup, announced the launch of its new product Happay Digital Marketing Expense Card, a prepaid card designed to track, monitor, and control marketing spends and conversions on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The new card is exclusively designed to suit the monetary requirement of a marketing team and give them a detailed financial summary of expenses and track the transactions on real-time basis.

Practo And Ola Partner For India-Wide Mobility Access To Users Visiting Doctors

Practo and Ola have entered into a collaboration with each other. This will allow customers to book an Ola cab directly from the Practo app. Additionally, Practo users will also get a reminder an hour prior to the scheduled appointment, allowing them to make use of Ola’s ‘Ride Later’ feature to book a ride in advance. Enters Rural Market, a one-stop portal for farming and gardening needs, from Pune-based seed company Namdeo Umaji, who has invested $448K for its expansion and growth plans. Launched early this year, this startup focusses on the budding gardening and landscaping market by providing a voluminous range of organic and hybrid seeds, plants, pots, plant-care products, and essential gardening tools. The portal will now reach out to consumers across cities like Nashik, Nagpur, Surat, Kochi, Mangalore, Manipur, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Indore amongst others.