Every week, more than a dozen startup secure funding and many get acquired. In this weekly series, we bring the latest deals from the Indian startup ecosystem consolidated at a single page.
The headlines this week were dominated by Tata Digital made big inroads into the healthtech sector with its acquisition of 1MG and a big investment in Curefit, which is seen as a precursor to a majority stake acquisition as well. Tata is certainly becoming a major source of funding and mergers & acquisitions for startups in India over the past few months, following its acquisition of BigBasket.
In terms of the funding amount, though, SaaS startups Whatfix and Zenoti led the way with their respective rounds. While Whatfix joined the club of Indian startups backed by Softbank with its $90 Mn Series D round, Zenoti raised $80 Mn from TPG in its Series D funding round.
Founded in 2013 by Khadim Batti and Vara Kumar, Whatfix enables enterprises to maximise productivity over digital tools and project management applications or software besides enabling employees to automate parts of their workflow. It claims to increase the return on investment (ROI) on enterprise software by mapping non-use or overuse of software, while also enabling the training of employees in various processes.
The bulk of this funding, cofounder Batti told Inc42, would go towards strengthening the tech platform, and building artificial intelligence innovations for personalisation that will offer Whatfix a competitive moat in this space.
Zenoti is valued at $1.5 Bn after the funding from global alternative asset fund TPG. Zenoti will deploy the fund for M&As and provide ESOP liquidity to employees, said the company. The total funding raised by Zenoti till date stands at about $331 Mn.
Post its unicorn status in 2020, Zenoti told Inc42 that the company will be looking to increase its workforce from 580 to 900 by next year, by hiring across the board with a deeper emphasis on core engineering or product roles.
Besides these two big rounds, Curefit raised $75 Mn from Tata Digital this week in a transaction that will see Curefit founder Mukesh Bansal join Tata Digital as its president.
Note: This funding report is based on startups that disclosed funding amounts
Now here’s a look at some of the acquisitions and buyouts that made the headlines this week
Startup M&As In India This Week
Mergers & acquisitions (M&A) are on the rise in the Indian ecosystem, particularly with corporate giants looking to snap up startups to bolster their digital operations.
Tata Digital Acquires Majority Stake In 1MG
Tata Digital, the digital services subsidiary of Tata Sons, announced a majority stake acquisition in Delhi NCR-based epharmacy and telemedicine startup 1MG. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
In April, the Mumbai-headquartered multinational conglomerate infused INR 100 Cr ($13.3 Mn) in 1MG through a venture debt investment. The company was valued at INR 1,770 Cr or $240 Mn in the debt round.
Tata MD Acquires San Francisco-Based Startup
Tata Medical & Diagnostics (Tata MD), the Tata Group’s healthcare and medtech venture, has acquired AccessBell, a San Francisco-based enterprise solutions startup, in an effort to bolster its telemedicine and remote healthcare services.
Founded in March 2020 by Stanford MBA graduates Martin Aguinis, Josh Payne and Kamil Ali, AccessBell offers fully-managed video conferencing and teleconferencing services to various sectors, particularly in healthcare and education. In a LinkedIn post announcing the acquisition, the AccessBell team said, “Tata Medical & Diagnostics group plans to use our software to provide teleconferencing services to deliver healthcare services.”
According to its website, the startup’s healthtech solution AccessBell Telehealth integrates with existing electronic health record systems, medical devices and software endpoints running off-the-shelf hospital or healthcare management software. “We secure your real-time video in our cloud or yours, enabling multiple use cases for virtual care, including rural ambulatory, maternal fetal medicine, pediatrics, and high-demand specialties, such as neurology, cardiology, and psychology,” the company claims.
BharatPe Acquires Loyalty Platform PAYBACK
Fintech startup BharatPe has acquired loyalty and rewards platform PAYBACK from American Express and ICICI Investments Strategic Fund for an undisclosed amount. According to reports, the transaction is worth $27 Mn (INR 200 Cr).
According to BharatPe, the acquisition will also help in building a lucrative set of offerings for end customers, that will enhance footfalls at merchants and accelerate the growth of their businesses. All current PAYBACK employees will now be part of the BharatPe group. Former PAYBACK CEO and MD and now group president at BharatPe Gautam Kaushik, Suhail Sameer, who is also the group president at BharatPe, along with Sumeet Singh, General Counsel, BharatPe, have joined the board of PAYBACK India.
BharatPe says the acquisition is part of its strategy to build a network of over 20 Mn small merchants by 2023. It will also enable the company to enhance its value proposition for the merchant partners.
Curefit’s cult.fit Acquires Smart Bike Maker
Curefit-owned omnichannel fitness and wellness platform cult.fit has acquired Bengaluru-based connected fitness startup TREAD, which recently launched a smart fitness-bike. The acquisition will help cult.fit launch its hardware-at-home business vertical.
TREAD’s smart fitness bike is similar to Peloton but is said to be sold at one-third the price and suitable for the Indian market. Users can compete with each other and participate in virtual tournaments while working out on the bike without a separate tracker and also enjoy rides in scenic locations such as Hawaii, French Riviera Promenade and others.
TREAD will fit into the company’s live virtual workout operations along with a suite of smart fitness hardware products, which will be launched by cult.fit. These will include smart bikes, benches and other connected fitness hardware.
Neobanking Startup Niyo Acquires PFM App Index
Bengaluru-based neobanking startup Niyo has acquired personal finance app Index for an undisclosed amount. This is Niyo’s second acquisition in the span of a year, after the company acquired Goalwise in mid-2020.
Niyo plans to integrate Index’s personal finance tracking features into its products especially NiyoX to offer customers a 360-degree view of their earnings, savings, investments, insurance policies. NiyoX is a zero-balance account and is especially designed for millennials and comes with a full wealth management suite. Customers will also get the nudges to plan their expenses, pay bills and save. The Index team including Anand Krishna and Kumar Siddhartha, founders of Index, will join Niyo.
Founded by Krishna and Siddhartha, Index has been backed by SOSV Investments and offers insights to customers around their financial data. By connecting their email account, users can see unlocked statements, hidden subscriptions, forgotten bills and more.
Masai School Acquires UI/UX Skilling Platform Design Shift Academy
Edtech startup Masai School, has made its first ever acquisition, Bengaluru-based design institute Design Shift Academy. The company claims the acquisition will help strengthen Masai School’s existing curriculum by introducing courses on UI & UX design, and product management, besides the existing full stack web and android development courses.
Design Shift Academy was founded in 2017 by Preeti Sheokand and Sudhir Mor, and offers weekend skilling courses in UI/UX design. It claims to have a student base across India, Turkey, Australia and other countries. Design Shift will continue to operate independently post the acquisition. Masai School’s new design courses will include six projects with portfolios, and live projects which offer learners the experience of collaborative work between digital designers and software developers.
Edtech Giant BYJU’S Gets CCI Nod To Acquire Aakash
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has given edtech giant BYJU’S the green light to acquire Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL). BYJU’S is said to be acquiring Aakash Educational, the 33-year-old chain of physical coaching centres for competitive exams such as NEET and IIT-JEE for $1 Bn, making it India’s biggest edtech deal, after BYJU’S acquisition of WhiteHat Jr for $300 Mn last year.
“The proposed combination will result in merger of AESL into BYJU’S, as a consequence of which, BYJU’S will be the surviving entity. As such, BYJU’S shall effectively acquire complete and sole control over AESL,” CCI said.