My Funding Picks For Last Week (W22 & 23)

Every Monday, I sit with my team to review the funding activity of the previous weekFrom that list, I pick out 3 companies that I would have loved to invest in or find founders that are doing similar things. Click here to know about my rationale behind this weekly exercise 

 

Another week for the lockdown to end (probably more for metro cities) should improve investment spirits. Deal activity continues to temper, but it hasn’t completely stopped. Last week saw 13 startups raise $50 million. Out of the 13 deals, 11 were in the early-stage rounds.  

I expect deal activity to pick up over the next few weeks as the economy reopens with founders and funders finally get to their rubber meeting the road moment.  

After sifting through the news (aggregated from TracxnInc42, and YourStory,) I picked out these 2 as my favorite funding news from last week!  

 

NameRemedo Clinitech 

Amount Raised: Undisclosed from AngelList, Mohit Satyanand, Mitesh Dagaand Aditya Vij 

What does Remedo do? 

Edited from TraxcnRemedo Doctor is a cloud-based platform for medical record storage. It allows patients, doctors, and clinics to connect with each other and access relevant data. It enables patients to upload and store their medical records online. Available on Android and iOS platforms. Also, it allows doctors to generate insights through dashboards based on analytics. 

Why do I like Remedo? 

My thesis on telemedicine and recordkeeping has undergone a significant shift during this economic lockdown and its aftereffects. Platforms such as Remedo will become the mainstay of Indian healthcare as we practice social distancing but with better record keeping and tabs on our health.  

 

NameSwifLearn 

Amount RaisedUndisclosed from Stellaris Venture Partners and Venture Highway  

What does SwifLearn do? 

Edited from TraxcnSwiflearn is an online platform that provides live tuitions for K-12 students. It offers classes in small batches of 5 students. It offers crash courses for math & science for the upcoming year-end exam. 

Why do I like SwifLearn? 

Another product accelerated to the market due to the COVID lockdown. I like their premise, i.e., replace the in-person tutor experience by creating the same experience online. It increases the productivity of the tutor (and they don’t have to leave home!) but also provides them a more significant reach.  

There is better control over the learning experience online, and the broader reach makes it affordable for students. Their pricing policy is exciting too. Definitely, one to watch out. 

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 week (w18)

Fundraising activity continues to slow down; therefore, my team and I had a tough time shortlisting our favorite picks with just a handful of deals to choose from. After shortlisting all early-stage deals activity for week 18 from Traxcn, Inc42, and YourStory, we jointly picked out the following as the best funding picks for the last week:

 

Name: QuillBot

Amount Raised: $4 Mn in a round led by GSV Ventures and Sierra Ventures

What does QuillBot do?

Edited from Traxcn: Millions trust QuillBot’s full-sentence thesaurus to get creative suggestions, rewrite content, and get over writer’s block. QuillBot uses state-of-the-art AI to rewrite any sentence or article you give it.

Why do I like QuillBot?

My team and I are Grammarly power users processing tens of thousands of words for our investment notes, meeting minutes, emails, blogs, private chats, and more. I believe that there is space for a Grammarly competitor, especially one that understands the Indianized English – also, can Quillbot (or Grammarly) build a plugin for PowerPoint, please!

 

Name: YAP

Amount Raised: $4.5 Mn led by BEENEXT

What does YAP do?

Edited from Traxcn: YAP offers a white label program management platform. They also issue a Yap Tatkal wallet, which allows their clients to provide their customers physical or virtual prepaid cards linked to their products. They also offer a QR payment solution in the mobile wallet.

Why do I like YAP?

The lockdown caught the banks with their pants down due to unpreparedness to go digital. The post-lockdown scenario is bleak for physical banking, and banks must prepare themselves to fully service their customers from the palm of their hands. YAP is building APIs to bridge that gap hence one to look out for.

 

Name: Mindhouse

Amount Raised: ~$680K from BTB Ventures, GGV Capital, Aartieca Family Trust, and Angels

What does Mindhouse do?

Edited from Traxcn: Standalone mental fitness and wellness center brand

Why do I like Mindhouse?

The COVID19 virus reserves it’s worst for those with weakened immune systems. Therefore I expect that fitness (physical or mental) will be on the priority list of most in the post-virus era. Mindhouse attempts to enter the space that mind.fit is operating in. Will it succeed?

My Favorite Funding News of Last Week (W16)

After a lull in funding to gauge the impact of the Covid19 pandemic, the fundraising activity is starting to pick up. Most of the rounds are investors topping up their investments into their investee companies to ensure survival through this period. However, a marked drop in valuations has also encouraged investors to return with the cheque books.

My team and I shortlisted the deals for week 16 from Traxcn, Inc42, and YourStory, and we jointly picked out the following as the best funding picks for the last week:

Name: AknaMed

Amount Raised: $7 million from LGT Lightstone Aspada

What does AknaMed do?

Edited from Traxcn: Technology-enabled supply chain platform, which increases transparency and optimizes costs for both hospitals and manufacturers.

Why do I like AknaMed?

I expect a significant shift in supply chain logistics in the post-COVID19 world with platforms like Zilingo, Coutloot, and Aknamed acting as the tech bridge to reduce cost and increase transparency for retailers or service providers. A significant impediment for the B2B supply chain space would be providing credit for the last mile. Whether Aknamed intends to solve that inhouse or through a financial institution tie-up will be interesting to track.

 

Name: Joynt

Amount Raised: Undisclosed from SOSV’s MOX accelerator

What does Joynt do?

Edited from Traxcn: Joynt is a social selling platform. It provides a platform that allows users to create content and connect with the audience and make money through sell subscriptions, digital products & more. It also provides an Android app.

Why do I like Joynt?

Joynt is the excellent cross between an artist discovery, artist booking platform with additional features like booking video lessons & video calls with your favorite performers. They rely on short videos instead of text to help buyers to discover artists, which is a step above the text-heavy platforms today.

 

Name: Plop

Amount Raised: Undisclosed from Better Capital, EaSyndicate, Rohit Chanana, and others

What does Plop do?

Edited from Traxcn: Plop now is a platform for fiction stories. It provides stories under various categories, including horror, romance, mystery, drama, and steamy. The stories are told in the form of messages or text, and Plop monetizes its platform through subscription.

Why do I like Plop?

Content platforms are making hay in the COVID19 lockdown, which explains the 400% rise in Plop’s traffic. However, I choose Plop over other content platforms for their unique delivery style over reading a book. I will keenly follow whether Plop can maintain this engagement in the post-COVID19 period.

 

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?

My funding picks from last week (w05)

There were 15 deals in week 5 of 2020 that were available on Traxcn, Inc42, and YourStory,
I sat with our funding team, and after some enlighting discussions, I have shortlisted my picks to:

Name: InterviewBit
Amount Raised: $20 million
Investors: Tiger Global Management & Sequoia India
What does InterviewBit do?
Edited from Traxcn: InterviewBit is an online platform for tech interview preparation. The platform offers gamified lessons with video tutorials, primer problems, and guided solutions for programming, scripting, databases, system design, puzzles, etc. The platform also enables the candidates to get connected with the right companies worldwide based on skills and preferences.
Why do I like InterviewBit?
I like focussed vocational plays. Last year I had picked out GreyAtom as a funding pick as it provided an upskilling platform for data science and web development employees. Therefore picking it isn’t a surprise that InterviewBit got selected even though the $20 million round from Tiger & Sequoia is bigger than a typical Series A round in India.
InterviewBit solves an exciting problem of finding, interviewing, and evaluating tech talent, which is the Achilles heel of the best of Indian start-ups. The CAC for such plays is quite high, but considering the 18-35 lakh rupee salary bracket they target, the rewards may outweigh the costs.
Only request – can someone create a platform for finance and accounting employees! 😊

Name: AdonMo
Amount Raised: Rs. 21.4 crores
Investors: Bace Capital, Astarc & Mumbai Angels
What does AdonMo do?
Edited from Traxcn: Adonmo provides an in-transit cab advertising platform for advertisers to reach their target audience. It enables advertisers to place their ads on top of the cab and select the target location and relevant time slots to display advertisements and track their ads in real-time. It uses a proprietary computer vision and hyper-local technology to identify its viewers and advertise.
Why do I like AdonMo?
It was unbelievable that I had created a business plan to provide contextual ads based on geo-location on top of taxis during a 6-7 months stint in Kolkata in 2012 or 2013. I had reached out to taxi-top display manufacturers in China who could provide the hardware required for this service. These plays were very popular for advertisers in Africa as most homes did not have electricity – therefore, taxi-top displays were the primary distributors of advertising. But AdonMo is precisely doing what I could not i.e., EXECUTE on the idea.
I am excited about AdonMo as it disrupts the hold billboard owners have enjoyed for several decades. A moving billboard provides better and deeper reach to advertisers with exhaustive reporting and must work out to be of much better value than a billboard.

Name: YoloBus
Amount Raised: Rs. 4.28 crore
Investors: Undisclosed
What does YoloBus do?
Edited from Traxcn: Yolobus provides an online-based platform for booking intercity tickets. Users can book tickets by giving details like location, date, time, etc. It offers features like real-time tracking, in-cabin Wi-Fi, Toilet, Pantry, CCTV cameras, etc.
Why do I like YoloBus?
There are several intercity bus services. So what is interesting about just another intercity bus service?
There are several intercity bus ticket booking platforms – So what is interesting about just another intercity bus ticket booking platform?
India is home to the world’s largest and fastest-growing middle-class population. India’s growth pulled 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016. It is only a matter of time before India’s per capita income will cross $4000 with and a majority of the Indians will belong to the middle to upper-middle class i.e., aspirational class.
This vast majority of people will have a very different consumption basket and preferences compared to the sustenance living Indian, and services like YoloBus cater to a growing section of the Indian audience.
While Yolo may get considered a bit ahead of its time, if it can keep its costs of operation and customer acquisition in control and sustain – there is a big market for it to capture!
One question, though – why are the investors undisclosed? The first time for me to see a release in which the amount gets disclosed but not the investors!  

My funding picks from last week (w03)

There were a lot of excellent deals last week for me to choose my picks. After shortlisting 15 deals from Traxcn, Inc42, and YourStory, I sat with our funding team, and after a lot of enlighting discussions, I have shortlisted my picks to:

Name: Numocity Technologies
Amount Raised: undisclosed
Investors: Ideaspring Capital, Rebright Partners, and ABB Technology Ventures

What does Numocity do?
Edited from Traxcn: Numocity Technologies is an early-age tech enterprise focused on providing digital solutions for electric mobility infrastructure. The company offers products for EV fleets like fleet chargers, central management systems, and battery swap programs.
Why do I like Numocity?
EVs are the future. I have a sizeable exposure to mobility tech through Everest Fleet, Rapido, and Oneway Cabs. I want us to grow our portfolio in EV, especially in the charging infrastructure space, which should do exceptionally well in the times to come – especially for large EV fleets like the one Numocity is targeting.

Name: Instoried
Amount Raised: Undisclosed
Investors: SOSV

What does Instoried do?
Edited from Traxcn: Instoried is an AI-based content optimization tool that evaluates writing standards. The platform analyses your written content provides a scorecard and feedback on how you can improve their written communication. The platform aims to monetize this through paid subscriptions.
Why do I like Instoried?
I am a Grammarly power-user, and I will refuse to write an email, blog post, or media article until Grammarly will approve it. Grammary offers a contextual scanner telling me whether my written post is information, official, negative, positive, or casual. What I like about Instoried (from its explainer video) is that it goes one step ahead and points out which words the scanner is getting its context from and how that can be improved. It is an intelligent tool but will have to see if it can be an intelligent company too!
 
Name: GoFloat Technologies
Amount Raised: 9 lakhs
Investors: Jito Angel Network
 
What does GoFloat do?
Edited from Traxcn: Manufactures and exports flotation and other water safety devices for emergency rescue situations. Their tools are compact, portable, and cost-efficient in comparison to life jackets.
Why do I like GoFloat?
Since there isn’t a demo product or video available on their website, the idea could be pre-product, and with the small funding round, I should have kept this deal out of this week’s list. But I can see a market for a GoFloat due to my love for water sports, liveaboards, and cruises as an avid scuba diver.
 

My Funding Picks from Last Week (W01)

The first week of 2020 was understandably slow for deal announcements with Yourstory reporting a 73% drop in funding from last week. It was slim pickings for me to choose my funding picks, and I decided to choose just one.
Aeron Systems raised ₹2 crores from Bharat Forge
What does Aeron Systems do?
Copied from Traxcn: Aeron Systems focuses on the development of technology, applying its expertise in embedded electronics to domains encompassing aerospace, automotive, renewable energy, and agriculture. The company offers products in two technology segments, Inertial Sensors, and M2M devices. The IoT solutions include wireless data loggers, wireless data gateway, vehicle health monitoring systems, and a wireless weather monitoring system.
Why do I like Aeron?
Artha manages 5 renewable energy projects, and for a long time, I had an analyst to log weather data sourced from weather.com with each daily generation report. We would find trends that gave us a good idea of the next day’s generation. However, the weather.com data wasn’t accurate as it did not capture the weather at the project location but from their closest available weather station.
Therefore and in all honesty, it was their Weather Monitoring Station for Solar Power Plants that lured me into learning more about the company. I asked the Artha Energy Resources team to reach out to them and get a demo for our current and future projects and see if it is cost-effective.
Looking at their product portfolio, getting investment from Bharat Forge is a masterstroke!

I liked FarmERP investment as I am interested in Farming as a Service. However, there was nothing shared on the amount of financing, and since the company is over 14 years old it outside the contours of how I would define an “early-stage” start-up.