My Favourite Funding News from Last Week (w20)

There is a slow recovery in the funding of early-stage startups. We are still a long way away from the heydays of 2018-19, but the growing pace of activity in angel networks & early-stage funds are promising signs.

After shortlisting the early-stage deals for week 20 from Traxcn, Inc42, and YourStory, we picked out the following as the best funding picks for the last week:

 

Name: Vernacular.ai

Amount Raised: USD 5.1 mn led by Exfinity Ventures and Kalaari Capital

What does Vernacular.ai do?

Edited from Traxcn: Vernacular.ai is an AI platform to manage customer engagement and call center automation solutions. It provides multi-lingual chatbots for automating customer service operations of enterprises using natural language processing and deep learning. Natural language processing helps the bots to extract meaning, context, and entities of incoming messages, thereby enabling companies to interact and engage in any language with customers.

Deep learning helps in pre-training the bot with domain corpus and augmenting with enterprise-specific data to achieve maximum accuracy for the same. The bots developed using the platform can be deployed to multiple omnichannel platforms, including Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Website, Mobile, among others. Some of the supported languages include Hindi, Gujarati, English, to name a few. Clients include Vistaar, Shriram General Insurance, Exide Life Insurance, and Barbeque Nation.

Why do I like Vernacular.ai?

Voice AI has enormous applications in a world where customer service standards aren’t keeping up with the expectations of customers. Customers want to get personalized treatment and in a language that they are comfortable conversing in. As an early investor in vPhrase, I have seen the vast revenue potential of applying artificial intelligence for customer communication.

 

Name: Mintoak

Amount Raised: USD 2 mn led by Pravega Ventures

What does Mintoak do?

Edited from Traxcn: Mintoak offers a POS solution called DOV that enables merchants to accept digital payments. The solution involves a POS hardware device along with software solutions. Merchants can accept various types of card payments, such as magstripe, EMV, NFC, and secure PIN. It also enables the acceptance of UPI payments. Merchants can also accept payments without internet connectivity through their patent-pending technology that allows a POS to the transaction to be completed using the voice channel, thereby improving transaction completion rates. It also offers a consolidated view of all transactions handled by the device.

Why do I like Mintoak?

Except-Jio, most mobile operators operate on seriously inadequate infrastructure to handle the bandwidth demands of India fintech companies in urban centers. I shudder to imagine how vendors in Bharat, where the network infrastructure is weaker, would cope up. Mintoak attempts to use a data-light technology to process transactions, thereby decreasing costs and improving efficiency – an actual Bharat-focussed tech play.

 

Name: MetaMorphoSys

Amount Raised: Undisclosed amount led by Good Capital

What does MetaMorphoSys do?

Edited from Traxcn: MetaMorphoSys Technologies provides a software suite for the insurance industry. It offers solutions for product development, claims management, risk management, and more. It also features software for insurance quoting, sales & marketing, underwriting, and more.

Why do I like MetaMorphoSys?

Insure-tech will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the post-COVID environment. A CRM focussed on increasing the sales & marketing ability of insurance agents will be a need-to-have utility. Hitting a ₹50 lakh monthly SaaS revenue will be the first port-of-validation for MetaMorphoSys!

My Funding Picks of Last (two) Weeks (w13 & 14)

After the turbulence of the last few weeks, I finally carved out the time to share my funding picks of Week 13 & 14 of 2020.

My team and I shortlisted the deals for week 13 & 14 from Traxcn, Inc42, and YourStory and we jointly picked out the following as the best funding picks for 17th March to 29th March 2020 period:

 

Name: Qtalk

Amount Raised: $1.6 million from Accel India & Lightspeed Venture Partners

What does Qtalk do?

Edited from Traxcn: QTalk is a mobile application that provides calling for friends and family members. It allows users to make affordable local and international calls using phone internet/network or WiFi technology. Its features include call recording/history/remainders, caller ID, spam blocking, calendar integration, and others.

Why do I like Qtalk?

Qtalk brings an interesting tech layer on top of a regular dialup app providing smart features like silence overrides, shared browsing, and call intent. The app offers WiFi calling, which is a much-needed feature to overcome the overloaded network infrastructure in India today.

 

Name: MedCords

Amount Raised: ₹7 crores from InfoEdge India

What does MedCords do?

Edited from Traxcn: Medcords is a medical record management solutions provider for patients, doctors, pharmacies, and lab centers. Prescriptions, bills, personal information, etc. can be uploaded to the mobile app. Doctors can view the past medical history of patients and can access other medical records of the patients. Patients can view all information related to their health, and also pharmacies and labs can access the record to provide services to patients. Also, uses analytics and provides trends to doctors and patients

Why do I like MedCords?

Maintaining medical records is painful. To aggregate one’s medical information, prescriptions, blood reports, and past medical history into one space are even more painful. MedCords aims at solving this problem. It provides a one-stop solution for one’s medical needs, and once it reaches critical mass, the data analytics layers will pay rich dividends for the investor.

 

Name: PitStop

Amount Raised: $2.5 million from Group Landmark, Blume and Goldbell Group

What does PitStop do?

Edited from Traxcn: PitStop is a closed marketplace for car service providers. It provides an estimated cost of service and offers the option for doorstep pickup and delivery. Provides status tracking after booking service. They claim to have the service done in 2 hours. Pitstop has expanded to several locations including Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and others.

Why do I like PitStop?

I am not a big fan of the fragmented vehicular maintenance space. However, Pitstop’s substantial revenues numbers put them a cut above the rest. That is the reason why it is on my list. Pitstop wants to use the data reservoir created from its vast customer base to offer services like vehicular insurance, etc. If it can continue its phenomenal growth in the post-Corona phase – this one could be one to watch out!

 

PS: Artha Venture Fund invested in Agnikul, a deal that got announced a couple of weeks back. While I am a big fan of the team and the deal, I keep our investments outside the purview of these picks.

You can read Vinod and my reasons for investing in this detailed blog: Why We Invested in Agnikul?