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In this pandemic year, Indian startups raise $9.3 billion



A table in a startup

Indian startups have raised $9.3 billion (₹68,387 crore) from investors in 2020. These were through 1,088 rounds of funding in total. This is despite the COVID-19 pandemic creating havoc in almost all sectors of economy.

Fundraising has particularly picked up in the second half of the year, data from industry tracker Tracxn showed.

In December alone, $1.5 billion (₹11,030 crore) was invested among companies including Zomato, Delhivery, and InMobi’s Glance.

In comparison, 2019 had deals worth $14.2 billion (₹1,04,419 crore) across 1,482 rounds.

Rounds with deal size $100 million (₹735 crore) or more have come down from 26 in 2019 to 20. Their cumulative worth was about $3.6 billion (₹26,472 crore) compared to $7.5 billion (₹55,151 crore) last year.

Triumph amid tensions

The reason for slowdown in investment this year is not just because of the pandemic, but also due to the reduced participation from Chinese giants.

The tension between India and China following the border dispute has spilled over to many other aspects of the economy and manufacturing.

Alibaba’s Ant Group and Tencent had low participation this year compared to the last. SoftBank also released less capital, because firms including Paytm, Oyo Rooms and Ola did not raise money this year.

Some startups have seen their market and income grow following the pandemic. Byju’s, the learning app is now worth $11 billion (₹80,888 crore), from being an $8 billion (₹58,828 crore) company this January. It also acquired WhiteHat Jr for $300 million (₹2,206 crore) this April.

11 Indian startups namely Unacademy, Pine Labs, Glance, Razorpay, Firstcry, Nykaa, Postman, Zerodha, Cars24, Zenoti and Dailyhunt have achieved unicorn status this year. Among which Dailyhunt and Glance did it in the month of December.

Next year is predicted to show a comeback for startups who innovate during the new normal.

Many startups like Flipkart, Zomato and Policybazaar are on track to go public in 2021, with Paytm, Byju’s, PhonePe and Delhivery following them in near future.

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Cold chain startup Inficold raises $900,000 in Series A funding




Cold chain startup Inficold has raised $900,000 (₹6.5 crore) from RVCF and other undisclosed High Net worth Individuals (HNI).

This was Series A funding of the Noida-based Inficold which provides cold-storage solutions for the agriculture and diary sector.

Solar cooling solution

The startup was founded by Himanshu Pokharna and Nitin Goel in 2015. They have developed a retrofittable thermal energy storage technology for storing and cooling in a low-cost medium such as water to ice.

Inficold’s technology uses solar energy to make ice, which is then used for cooling processes. Without making any major changes to the existing hardware, Inficold’s product can be used for many cooling needs, such as milk, cold storage, air conditioning, and vaccine refrigeration.

For the last four years, Shell Foundation – an independent UK-registered charity organization has supported the company.

Also read: Cloud based logistics startup Pickrr Technologies raises $4 million

Rapid expansion

Speaking about the development, Gaurav Chowdhry, Vice President at RVCF said, “Inficold is focusing on energy-efficient cold chain solutions across India and other markets and has developed innovative products catering to the persistent problem of food wastage and distressed sales. We are excited to collaborate with Nitin and Himanshu in their journey”

Currently, the company has installations in more than 17 states of India, including a strong presence in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.

With the fresh capital, it aims to launch its operations in the international market, while it has already debuted in the African continent.

Inficold will also expand its portfolio to include products for horticulture, poultry, meat and cold logistics. It will ramp up the production capacity by over 10 times and sell over 1,000 units in the next two years.    

Also read: Food and meat delivery startup Licious plans to raise $80 million

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Edge AI startup AlphaICs raises $8 million in Series B funding




Bengaluru-based edge AI startup AlphaICs has raised $8 million (₹58 crore) in Series B round led by Endiya Partners and Emerald Technology Ventures.

Existing investors including ReBright Partners, 3one4 Capital, KARSEMVEN Fund, Aaruha Technology Fund, IREON Ventures, Canal Ventures, JSR Corporation, CBC Co Ltd, and the Whiteboard Capital, also participated in the round.

A new architecture

AlphalCs was founded in 2016, by Pradeep Vajram and Vinod Dham. It specializes in making AI chips for edge computing, which enables machine learning algorithms to process data generated by a hardware device at the local level.

The startup has not shared much information about its technology so far, but its proprietary architecture called Real AI Processor (RAP) makes use of a specialized Instruction Set Architecture (ISA).

New applications

Michal Natora, Investment Director at Emerald Technology Ventures, said “We observed a big need in the industry for machine learning applications at the edge. AlphaICs’ technology offers significant performance advantages for edge inference as well as for edge learning solutions.”

The startup will use the fresh funding for launching their first inference co-processor for vision applications with low latency requirement. It is also working with strategic partners in the industrial, automotive and surveillance sectors.

Speaking about the development, Pradeep Vajram, Chairman and CEO of AlphaICs said “AlphaICs innovative architecture will empower system integrators to create AI solutions, with a short time-to-market; while staying within the systems cost and thermal constraints.”

Also read : HR Management startup Darwinbox raises $15 million from Salesforce Ventures

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Fireside Ventures announces final close of second fund at $118 million



Early-stage investor Fireside Ventures has raised $118 million (₹863 crore) by final close of its second fund.

This is following the fund’s first close at $60 million (₹439 crore) in November 2019. Among the investments with the first fund, boAt and MamaEarth have already crossed over ₹100 crore ($13 million) in revenue.

Digital First

Fireside was started in 2017 by Kanwaljith Singh, a former partner with Helion Ventures. In four years it has invested in 22 direct to consumer (D2C) brands.

For the Fireside Fund II, major investors have taken part including Fund of Funds for Startups ( FFS), operated by SIDBI, Investment Corporation of Dubai, Nippon India Digital Innovation AIF, Bajaj Holdings and Investment Limited, ITC Limited, L’OREAL, Pidilite Group and Premji Invest.

“We are now eager to go all out and partner with young Indian entrepreneurs who are creating exciting new digital-first brands across the consumption spectrum, and are consciously building brands that focus on good for consumers and good for the world,” said Kanwaljit Singh, Founder and Managing Partner.

The fund will invest in 15-20 consumer brand startups focused on digital platforms.

According to a report by Avendus Capital, D2C brands could have a market worth $100 billion (₹7,31,725 crore) in the next five to seven years.

Also read: Venture Catalysts to invest Rs 1,000 crore in 150 companies in 2021

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