“Seeding Kerala is primarily a platform for those who want to invest in startups and the first objective is bringing this community together. We provide a platform and an opportunity for them to meet the most promising startups and interact with them and take a call on their own.” – M Sivasankar IAS, principal secretary, electronics and IT, Government of Kerala.
Talking during the inauguration of Seeding Kerala 2020, Sivasankar added that this makes networking more organic for investors and startups and in turn, helps in finding the right connection.
Among a gathering of the top HNIs and investors from Kerala, innovative startups showcased their products and services, thus also showcasing the funding opportunities in the state.
Present at the event were many leading names from the investor community such as Anil Joshi, managing partner, Unicorn India Ventures, Raveendranath Kamath, angel investor, Kerala Angels Network, Sachin Karnik, president, Mumbai Angels Network and more.
Acting as a testimony to the efforts of the government towards the funding needs of Kerala startups, many of the investors and other funds made announcements at Seeding Kerala 2020 about their fresh funding deals. Here is a quick look at the funding received by the startups:
A startup for sports enthusiasts, Sporthood positions itself as ‘a neighbourhood sports club’. The startup present at the Seeding Kerala 2020, received funding of over $500K led by SEA fund.
While making the announcement, Manoj Kumar Agarwal, managing partner, SEA Fund said, “We signed up with the Kerala government as a part of their fund of funds scheme and we started investing exactly 20 months back. This is the fourth investment we are announcing in Kerala, out of our seven investments.”
Present in 21 locations across Bengaluru and Kochi, and claiming to have onboarded 30K users, since its inception in 2013, Sporthood aims to make a difference in one hyperlocal community at a time.
Rahul Thomas, cofounder and CEO, Sporthood, said, “We are today South India’s largest network of neighbourhood sports clubs. We are a sports tech startup which helps people from all age groups engage with sports of their choice. Right from five-year-olds, initiating them into sports, to a lot of corporates and adults. We even have 50 to 60-year-olds who come and play regularly with us.”
Aiming to provide a healthier and more sustainable alternative to the diapers, this startup scored an investment of $140K from Kerala Angels Network (KAN). Additionally, it is the first investment announcement of KAN.
During the announcement, Ajit Moopan, president, KAN, said, “It took a while but we just concluded our first deal.” He also elaborated that the round was led by Kamath.
Founded in 2013, the startup is bringing back the usage of soft cloth for baby diapers, additionally, these products are inexpensive and affordable. Talking about his product Kutti Krishnan, founder, Bumberry, said, “We launched our product when the ecommerce was actually taking off, in 2013. There were easy opportunities and platforms to start showcasing our product as very small entrepreneurs.” He further went on to add that this was the startups’ first funding.
I Love 9 Months
The third announcement of funding was for the women-led maternity care startup which has also earned backing from Kerala Startup Mission. I Love 9 Months was founded in 2016 by Anjali Raj.
Announcing the deal was Binuraj S, partner, Equifin Venture Partners, a fund that is based out of the US and focusses on early and seed-stage startups. “We were primarily focussed outside India, primarily in the US. This is our first investment in this part of the world,” said Binuraj.
Additionally, Binuraj also announced a partnership with the startup to help it scale.
Raising an undisclosed amount from the fund, I Love 9 Months aims to provide more mothers with relief from the many issues they face post-pregnancy.
Thanking the support provided by the Kerala government and KSUM, I Love 9 Months founder Anjali Raj said, “We support pregnant moms, post-pregnant new mothers and infants and we are trying to bring the IMR (infant mortality rate) and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) down. We are trying to empower women to make informed decisions in the journey of motherhood.”
An HRtech startup providing solutions to the hiring needs of corporates and businesses, ZappyHire, founded in 2018, scored an undisclosed amount of funding from SmartSparks. Announcing the funding was Vinay James Kynadi, chairman, SmartSparks, who mentioned ZappyHire to be the fourth announcement of the network in the state but first in HRtech space.
Elaborating on his product during the announcement, Jyothis S, founder, ZappyHire, said, “We work with banks, hospital chains and talent management companies. We manage the entire recruitment process from the sourcing until onboarding through automation lanes. So we automate the hiring process which would help the companies reduce the hassles and the costs of the hiring.”
Clickastro.com received an undisclosed amount of funding from Matrimony.com. The startup provides multi-lingual personalised astrology content and software. Announcing the investment were the managing director, Arjun Ravindran and CEO, Arun Nair.
During the announcement, Nair said, “This happens to be the first time that Astro-Vision is raising funds. It also happens to be the first time that Matrimony.com is investing in a company. And perhaps in the Kerala context, this is the first time that a publicly listed company is investing in a company in Kerala.”
Another announcement from the Kerala ecosystem came from edtech company, Entri, founded in 2015. A learning app in local languages, Entri claims to have 1.6 Mn users and announced that it has raised a seed round of over $1.4 Mn led by Good Capital.
A public safety startup, Red Button received the corporate social responsibility (CSR) fund of INR 9.4 Lakhs of Pavizham Oil and Rice. Starting with Trivandrum and Thrissur, the project aims to install a robotic system in public areas to ensure public safety and also bridge the gap between the police and the public.