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

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Cofounders of Venture Catlysts also known asVCats

Early-stage startup investor Venture Catalysts (VCats) Group has big plans to invest in about 150 startups next year, with an overall fund corpus of Rs 1,000 crore.

The Mumbai-based company, which runs an incubator and a SEBI-registered accelerator fund 9Unicorns, made the highest number of deals at 102 this year, compared with 63 a year ago.

VCats was founded by Apoorva Sharma, Anil Jain, Anuj Golecha, and Gaurav Jain in 2016.

The bullishness to write the first cheque in companies comes in at a time when India is emerging as one of the fastest-growing startup hubs globally.

Apoorva Sharma, cofounder of Venture Catalysts, said. “In the September quarter alone, the VC investments have more than doubled and India still remains an attractive market for VC investors.”

Several professionals with great experience in running MNCs are opening up their own businesses after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

In today’s environment where starting a business has achieved a greater social quotient, Covid-19 induced job losses have emerged as a push to startups.

VCats has invested more than Rs 700 crore through syndication in several idea-stage businesses, up from Rs 500 crore in 2019.

For the second consecutive year, VCats has also made it to the list of top 10 global most active incubators and accelerators.

It is now in the third position behind only — YCombinator and Techstars and has surpassed popular accelerators such as Plug&Play, 500 Startups, and Antler Global in terms of the number of deals done.

The fund’s portfolio includes Dukaan, Mitron TV, GetVantage, BharatPe, SuprDaily, Beardo, Resolve AI, and RoundLabs. This year, the firm has witnessed a 33.3% increase in the number of cumulative exits from 36 deals.

Now it plans to invest beyond India, along with markets such as the US, UK, and West Asia.

This news is certainly a positive indicator among all the negative news in the startup ecosystem. The ecosystem was marred with businesses shutting down and VCs tightening their purses.

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

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Inficold

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

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Alphaics

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

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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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