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News Roundup: 11 Startup Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [26 September – 1 October]

News Roundup: 11 Startup Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [26 September – 1 October]

Google has been busy turning 18 this week. At the second edition of its signature Google for India event, it announced five new products that are tailored for expanding access to the Internet for Indian users. This includes YouTube Go, faster browsing, Google Station WiFi platform and new data-saving features in Google Chrome for mobile.

Google has also announced that it will soon open a new cloud region in Mumbai. The region is expected to be live in 2017. The India cloud region is aimed at offering the Google Cloud Platform services to Indian developers and enterprise customers.

Important Developments Of The Week

BankBazaar Infuses Growth Capital In Singapore Arm

Chennai-based online financial marketplace, BankBazaar announced the addition of $736K (SGD 1 Mn) growth capital in its Singapore arm – BankBazaar International. The funds will be used to scale technology, and strengthen the expansion strategies, as well as to establish its first financial marketplace in Singapore.

Walmart And Flipkart To Ink Deal

Walmart Stores Inc plans to form an alliance with Flipkart to ante up against Amazon. The US retail giant is exploring an equity partnership with Flipkart.

Jugnoo Closes Auto Pilot In Bengaluru

Jugnoo has shut down its ride-hailing services pilot programme in Bengaluru. Also, Jugnoo launched its B2B hyperlocal logistics service – Dodo Deliveries (operates only in B2B segment) and Fresh (earlier named fatafat, which operates both in B2B & B2C) in Bengaluru.

Astro Denies Buyout Again

Despite constant intervention from the government, suicide threats by employees, and legal notices by vendors, Astro Group denied the management buyout offer of AskMe MD Sanjeev Gupta, for the third time. The valuation that Gupta has offered is less than $100 Mn, which is just sufficient for paying salaries and debt.

Amazon Invests In India’s Wholesale Vertical

Amazon has decided to invest a fresh capital of $17 Mn in its wholesale arm, With this round of investment, the total capital raised by the wholesale arm would amount to $23 Mn (INR 155 Cr).

SmartSpends Rebrands As ETMONEY

Times Internet-backed personal finance app SmartSpends rebranded as ETMONEY. The move came in line with the team’s vision to create a mobile-first home for all the personal finance needs of the people in India.

Yes Bank Launches Yes:Head-STARTUP

Yes Bank has launched a banking proposition for tech-enabled startups, called YES:Head-STARTUP. The programme will offer startups a customised current account, digital cash management solutions, trade-forex advisory services, startup-focussed branches, personal banking products, credit cards, loan products (business & personal), and event partnerships.

Tamil Nadu Government Extends Support To Startups

Tamil Nadu’s Government revealed its plans to offer maximum support to startups, provided they follow mandatory rules and regulations in order to create a fair economic system in the state.

Flipkart Hands Out ESOP’s To Employees

Flipkart handed out employee stock option plans (ESOPs) to over a third of its work-force. The move aims to retain ‘critical talent’ in the company. About 30-40% of the employees will be benefited from stock options this year, which is almost double the last year’s percentage.

Other Developments

Next Bike Partners With Chartered Speed

Ahmedabad-based transport company Chartered Speed has entered into a partnership with Germany-based bicycle rental startup Nextbike. In this joint venture, the two companies will together launch a digital cycle-sharing platform in 100 Indian cities.

Zenatix Launches WattMan

Gurugram-based IoT startup Zenatix launched its new product WattMan, with an aim to help retail and BFSI businesses save up to 20% of their energy bills. WattMan will also ensure governance, quality of service, and risk mitigation across the distributed infrastructure through automated and intelligent controls.

Ola Announces Location And Mapping Innovations

Ola launched three new features on its app to bolster user experience. Ola Hotspots will proactively suggest ‘Hotpots’ closest to the customer’s location and send it to the driver in the form of text, vis-a-vis a geographical location. Snap to historic pickup uses a customer’s past rides as a reference point when triangulating the user’s historic pickup point vis-a-vis booking point. Share Directions allows users to feed in the landmark closest to their pick up location that will be communicated to the driver instantly.

Zeta Introduces New Digital Tax Optimiser Solutions

Tax optimising solution provider Zeta, introduced three new digital solutions, namely Fuel & Travel, Communications and Books & Periodicals, as part of its employee tax benefits product portfolio. The options will allow employees to save tax as per legal provisions on fuel reimbursements or allowances, mobile phone and internet bill reimbursements, and books & periodicals reimbursements.  Launches Hotelbids – Stay @ Your Price App In India

California-based Hotelbids Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of US Company Hotelbids, Inc. has launched its app in India. It has a presence in over 2500+ hotels in 69 cities. The app targets last-minute hotel bookings. To use this platform, a customer uses the app to request hotels in a particular city. This request is broadcast to all hotels in the Hotelbids network, which can respond immediately to accept the offer. Customers can then review the specifics of the hotel before making their decision.

Udacity Launches VR Developer Nanodegree Programme

Edutech company Udacity in collaboration with Google VR, HTC Vive, and Upload aims to build a world-class curriculum that gives the latest insights into the fast-changing world of virtual reality. It recently announced the launch of its VR Developer Nanodegree course. This specialised course can help students engage directly with the content and act upon environments both real and imagined. Udacity is the first edutech company to launch  a virtual reality based program at a global level.

Ola Leads Shared Mobility; Expands To 10 cities, Slashes Fares To INR 3/km

Cab aggregator Ola announced the expansion of Ola Share, to three new cities – Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad, increasing its presence to 10 cities. The per kilometre fare for Ola Share has now been optimised to just INR 3. While Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Mumbai have emerged as top markets with some of the best ‘user-matching algorithms’ and minimal en-route deviation percentages; Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, lead the race in terms of volume of transactions per day.

American Express Collaborates With Uber

American Express has announced a tie-up with on-demand mobility solutions provider, Uber in India. The tie-up allows AmEx to integrate its Corporate Card programmes with Uber’s corporate platform ‘Uber for Business’.  American Express is the first card to be accepted on the central pay platform of Uber.

Jugnoo Launches ‘Web Booking’ Feature

Autorikshaw aggregator app Jugnoo has launched a ‘Web booking’ feature. With this launch, auto rides can now also be booked using laptops and desktops. Jugnoo users can now book their rides by simply logging on to the Web at via any connected device. In the Jugnoo web feature, the current location of the user is picked by the driver either through their device’s IP address or GPS if the device is GPS enabled.

Droom Partners With CashCare

Online automobile transactional marketplace Droom has entered into a partnership with CashCare, a consumer lending platform where short-term loans are provided on a real-time basis.  This association hopes to make the buying process completely hassle-free for customers. To ease out the financial burden, Droom and CashCare have also decided to offer pre-approved loans to eligible buyers. Loans of up to 70% of the value of the vehicle are available with a loan period of 3-12 months.

MobiKwik’s Auto Recharge Service Registers 100K Users

MobiKwik’s auto-recharge feature has registered over 100,000 users. The service allows users to automate their phone and DTH recharge and postpaid bill payment. The function takes away the worry of interrupted data and phone network.  Auto recharge was launched by MobiKwik in August 2016 to further accentuate the users’ experience while recharging or paying bills using MobiKwik.

OYO Introduces Sunrise Check-in From 6 AM

OYO has launched a much-needed solution assuring early check-in up to seven days prior to booking. This is sharp disruption – to the prevalent industry norm across the world, with each hotel having its own arbitrary check-in time (usually 12 noon), and guests left stranded and helpless. With this launch, OYO has become the first hotel brand in the world to offer guaranteed early check-in to guests.

GoDaddy Launches Affordable Cloud Hosting Services In India

GoDaddy expanded its hosting services with the launch of Cloud Servers and Cloud Applications for small businesses in India. The new offerings are designed to help the web developers to quickly build, test, and scale cloud solutions for their SMB customers. With a 54-second or less provisioning, the GoDaddy Cloud Servers allow developers to build, test and re-provision the virtual instances instantly. The easy-to-use solution is available at an industry leading price of INR 0.50 paisa per hour.

Ola Adds Siri And Maps integration for iPhone, iPad Users

Ola rolled out its latest update for iOS 10 that will include Siri and Apple Maps integration. With this, using just their voice, iPhone and iPad users running iOS 10 can simply say, “Hey Siri, get me an Olacab” to book their next ride. Also, they can book a ride without ever opening up the Ola app to track a ride’s progress and view ride estimates and trip progress in a rich notification.

Ola has also launched an independent app on Apple Watch.