Meritnation.com Raises INR 30 Crore Funding From Info Edge

meritnationE-learning website Meritnation.com, has received an investment of Rs. 30 crore from Info Edge. Prior to this, Info Edge had invested Rs 31 crore in Meritnation over three earlier rounds. Meritnation.com plans to utilize the funds to build the brand, expand geographically and develop new educational solutions.

Pavan Chauhan, Founder, Meritnation said,”Traffic to the site continues to grow impressively and has grown by 100% over last year. The space offers exciting opportunities to scale up. We will continue to invest to further strengthen our leadership position. The funds will be largely used to build our brand, expand geographically, offer new boards and create new products for existing customers.” He further added,”The digital landscape is witnessing a rapid change, students are increasingly looking for ‘anytime anywhere’ content. We are aggressively investing in developing device agnostic educational solutions and are keenly looking at being at the forefront of this change.”

Meritnation provides multimedia tutorials, interactive exercises, assessment tools and exam help for school children and serves across seven countries. In the coming academic year, Meritnation plans to extend its comprehensive offering to IB, IGCSE and nine other state boards. This year it has made a foray into the lucrative test preparation space by adding online IIT-JEE and NEET courses to its portfolio. It is further planning to strengthen its presence in the test prep market by upgrading its offerings in CPT, NDA, hotel Management and BBA preparatory courses. Currently the website claims to have more than 7500 new registrations daily.

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Zomato.com Receives INR 55 Crore Investment From Info Edge (India) Ltd

zomatoOnline food and nightlife guide Zomato has received a further investment of INR 55 Crore from Info Edge (India) Ltd. Prior to this round Info Edge had invested INR 31 Crore in Zomato over three rounds. As per the BSE filing, the fresh investment has been made through ordinary shares of Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd.

Commenting on this Info Edge Founder & Executive Vice Chairman Sanjeev Bikhchandani said,”Zomato is fast emerging as one of the finest Indian consumer internet businesses. It has a great team, a great brand, a super user experience, a dominant market share, an excellent revenue scale up with a known path to profit and a global opportunity. When the founders invited us to invest in the next round we were delighted to grab the opportunity. We are excited to partner with Zomato to build up the company further.”

Zomato will be utilizing the investment to strengthen its market share in its existing markets while continuing to scale sales operations in its dominant markets – India and UAE. Besides this Zomato is also planning an entry into the Philippines and South Africa in the next few months.

Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO of Zomato said, “We plan to use these additional funds for product development, scaling up our sales team in various locations, and further international expansion. India is already a profitable business for us, and our UAE business is very close to breaking even. Info Edge has been a great partner for us – we are excited about deepening this relationship with an aim to build a global internet business out of India.”

Founded in 2008, Zomato currently operates in 5 countries: India, United Kingdom, UAE, Sri Lanka, and Qatar with plans for further international expansion. In India, the operations span 13 cities. The website and mobile app provide in-depth information (menu, contact details, pictures, directions, ratings and reviews) for over 75,000 restaurants across 19 cities in 5 countries.

Zomato has a dominant traffic share in India with an estimated 70% traffic share. Its mobile app is one of the most popular apps in India with over a million downloads across different platforms. More than 50% of Zomato’s traffic comes from its app.

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Exclusive Interview: Mohsin Khan, General Partner with Hyderabad based Seed Fund and Business Accelerator Utthishta

Moshin KhanWe spoke to Mr Mohsin Khan, General partner at Hyderabad based seed fund and business accelerator Utthistha on their growth plans.

Mr. Mohsin Khan holds a Masters in Engineering from US and has also completed the Advanced Management Program (AMP) from Indian School of Business. He started his career in General Motors, USA as an engineer and grew to a Manager position, While working there he handled strategically important projects spread across different countries. He joined CNO Financial Group (previously known as Conseco Inc) in US (a Fortune 500 company) as Managing Director for its India Operations and grew the company from 1 person to 370 people. He started his entrepreneurship journey by negotiating a minority stake in CNO India, which he sold back to the parent company CNO Financial Group, Inc on mutually agreed terms. He headed the operations of the subsidiary – CNO IT Services (India) Private Limited at Hyderabad in the capacity of a Managing Director. He is currently the Charter Member of the Hyderabad Chapter of the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). He is also a Member of Hyderabad Angels and is actively involved in the Hyderabad chapter of the CEO Clubs.

WD: What is Utthishta all about? What problem are you solving?

Mr. Mohsin: Utthishta, as the name suggests, has been launched to facilitate the spectacular rise of start – ups. We are a seed fund and a business accelerator.  We invest in companies that are built around upcoming technologies like web, mobile, cloud and software products. Utthishta Yekum Fund is organized as a trust under Indian laws and is registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a Category I AIF under the SEBI Regulations, 2012

The problem that we are trying to address is that of availability of funding to startups at an early stage. In India, startups still rely on the age old norm of approaching Friend, family and fools for the 1st  round of investment, as there are not many alternate avenues available. We at Utthishta intend to address this problem. We provide the incubatee company with a capital of Rs.10lakhs for equity of 15%. Also, there is a lot of scope for seed funds in India because currently there are hardly any funds operating in that space.

Mr. Ramakrishna and Mr. Mohsin KhanWD: Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced?

Mr. Mohsin: Utthishta was started as an initiative by Mr. Mohsin Khan and Mr. Ramakrishna, with Mr. PrabhakarRao as the anchor investor in the fund. The major challenge that we faced was getting the SEBI approval, which took almost nine months.

WD: Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

Mr. Mohsin Khan – as mentioned under question 3

The other founder is Mr. P Ramakrishna

Mr. P Ramakrishna is a commerce and law graduate from Andhra University and also a rank holder. He is Fellow member of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He has about 3 decades of rich experience across various domains including business development & strategic planning, auditing, accounting, process controls, risk management, corporate governance and compliance, tax structuring and succession planning. His functional expertise lies in deal making, valuations, due diligence, negotiation support, joint venture structuring and fund raising. He was formerly an Executive Director and the National Leader – Entrepreneurial and Private Client Service at PricewaterhouseCoopers Private Limited. He is a regular speaker at events conducted by CII, FAPCCI, ASCI, ICAI and ICSI. As a Lead Partner and Engagement Partner for Assurance, he has advised and reviewed various companies (business groups) which have grown many folds in a short span like Care Hospitals, Rain Commodities, Greenko, Lanco, GMR

WD: How is your Program different then other Investors  ?

Mr. Mohsin: Most of the VC companies in India are like High School / College. They generally invest in all domains/segments

There are four distinct aspects that differentiate us from our competitors:-

  • We are the Primary School for Entrepreneurs in India and are focussed on upcoming technologies like web, mobile, cloud and software products
  • We bet on complete strangers that are sourced from all across India based on merit and pre-defined selection criteria only – focus on very early stage
  • We focus first on business acumen / market risk and the second to that would be team risk and last would be technical risk
  • Our combination of two general partners where one is from technical, entrepreneur and operations growth side, and other from finance, audit side

WD: What kind of Startups are you looking to invest in ? What kind of Problems are you looking at Startups to solve and in what areas ?

Mr. Mohsin: We are a primary school for startups and hence we look to invest in teams that are at a very early stage of their business cycle. We are looking for companies that are working on upcoming technologies like web, mobile, cloud and software products. We would select a team based on the pain point that they have discovered and how they plan to address the same.

WD: What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years for the Startup community ?

Mr. Mohsin: There aren’t any specific other than we plan to fund around 20 or 25 startups each year.

WD: What is your take on the Indian startup scene ? How easy/difficult it is for the Investors/Startups in India ?

Mr. Mohsin: India is still at very nascent stage when we talk of the startup scenario. We will have to go a long way to match the kind of numbers and deals that we see at Silicon Valley but its catching on. We are seeing more and more students at professional colleges opting for entrepreneurship as a career via-a-via a secure job in an MNC. There are a lot of problems that need to be addressed in the Indian markets and we hope to see a lot more entrepreneurs coming up with ideas that could address these pain points.

It is not very easy for startups in India. They not only have funding issues but also the societal pressure is high. The Indian society has still not come to accept the idea of entrepreneurship being a viable career option. The entrepreneurs face a lot of pressure from their families and peers to confirm to social patterns and hence take up jobs in big companies.

The Investors do face hurdles in terms of sourcing good deals and also the regulatory hurdles that complicate the investing process. There are also some hurdles in terms of exits.

WD:  What are the different types of investment ?What should they do to secure fruitful investments ? How much equity they will require to dilute ?

Mr. Mohsin: We only do one type of investment as Utthishtai.e Equity funding.  We fund 10 Lakh Rupees and take 15 % equity.  That is our model.

 WD: How can the Indian Entrepreneurs reach you ? What is your process of selecting/investing in Indian startups ?

Mr. Mohsin: Our selection process in explained in details on the website. Please see the link below :

http://www.utthishta.com/selection/

Entrepreneurs should only apply through website as the data is directly stored in a database from there. We will contact the entrepreneur once they apply on website.

WD: Your suggestion for the Indian startups/entrepreneurs?

Mr. Mohsin: Focus on pain points that are not resolved yet and don’t just copy US business models in India because our problems are very different than those found in the west.  We need to focus on our problems then only the markets will reward us

WD: Finally your suggestion on how WirelessDuniya can be the connecting platform between startups, investors &mentors ?

Mr. Mohsin: Keep interviewing and publishing more articles from startups in the wireless space along with accelerators like us. That will help WD become the connecting platform.

 

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Learnpedia.in- Digitalized Content Provider For Engineering Test Preparations Secures Angel Investments from Ixora Ventures

learnpedia and ixoraLearnpedia, the Hyderabad based digitalized content provider for engineering test preparations has secured an undisclosed sum of investment from Ixora Ventures and a consortium of prominent angel investors.

Learnpedia, founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneur Krishna Rao Akula, aims at narrowing the learning gap faced by students by providing high quality learning aids and test analytics across digital platforms: DVD and on branded tablets. Its flagship product, JEE Studymate, launched last year, has received praise from students and teachers alike.

“With the creation of a common national test for admission into engineering colleges across the country, it is estimated that over 2.8million students would require Learnpedia’s services. We aim to use the funds to improve content and add additional products to our offerings portfolio”, says Krishna Rao Akula

“Quality of content, strength in distribution, aggressive expansion plans and capabilities of the management team: Learnpedia has all the key ingredients to succeed in the unstructured test prep market in India” stated Nikhil Mulchandani, Partner at Ixora Ventures.

At present, Learnpedia employs a team of over 35 full-time professionals, including IIT alumni, and has partnered with over 70 teachers and student wizards who are on hand to respond to users’ questions and queries submitted within 24 hours. The company has already secured over 3,500 orders and is foreseeing an accelerated demand for its product as the year progresses.

 Learnpedia aims to utilize the funds raised towards improving content, ramping up sales activities as well as adding new products to their current portfolio.

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Mswipe Raises Funding From US-Based Matrix Partners

mswipe-logoMobile Point of Sales (PoS) company Mswipe has received its first round of investment from US-based venture capital fund, Matrix Partners. Mswipe enables merchants to accept debit and credit card payments using their mobile phones.

Manish Patel, Founder and Managing Director, Mswipe said,”Mswipe enables small and mid-sized merchants to accept regular credit and debit cards on their mobile phones with the same security and speed as conventional POS terminals at a very affordable price point and competitive card interchange fees. Other than conventional brick and mortar stores, Mswipe’s solution enables card acceptance by insurance agents, home delivery services providers etc. Merchants have access to their transaction records on their mobile phones as well as a host of online reports.”

MSwipe has applications for Java, Android and iOS devices, and its device plugs into a mobile phones audio jack to enable payments. It claims to have POS terminal deployments with 4000 merchants, in over 200 cities and towns across India.

mswipe

Mswipe has partnered with Prizm Payment Solutions and Axis Bank to provide merchants a comprehensive card acceptance service. It currently employs 40 people and has a pan-India direct sales agent network to provide after sales support to its customers.

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Tata Elxsi Launched incub@TE, For An Incubation Centre Program

incubateRecently, Tata Elxsi launched incub@TE, an incubation centre program to nurture and support aspiring entrepreneurs. The initiative is designed to create the next wave of product and service oriented technology start-ups in the areas of mobile, social, local, enterprise, cloud and embedded applications. Candidates can apply by registering online.

Commenting on the launch of incub@TE, Mr. Rajesh Kumar, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Tata Elxsi said,”This platform will enable start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs to convert their innovative ideas into commercially viable products and services, It will also help entrepreneurs associated with the program gain better market visibility, acceptance and credibility.”

Tata Elxsi is a design company that blends technology, creativity and engineering to help customers transform ideas into world-class products and solutions.

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Naya Ventures Launches New 250 Crore Rupees Fund Focusing On The Mobile And Cloud Markets

Naya Ventures, a new type of venture capital fund specializing in early stage companies in the mobile and cloud markets, has announced its first closing for its 250 Crore Rupees ($50 million) fund.

Combining the features of a venture capital fund with those of a private equity firm, Naya not only provides capital to early stage companies, but also the industry experience and relationships at the concept stage in their development to help jumpstart their growth to the next level and beyond. Naya helps connect entrepreneurs with the necessary key players in big companies, from internal product marketing and development all the way up to C-level executives, leveraging its own extensive operational experience, product development expertise and network of strategic relationships to help entrepreneursgrow their companies and accelerate value creation.

Naya Ventures is led by serial entrepreneurs who are veterans in mobile and cloud technology industryand who have collectively founded and sold mobile technology companies creating more than 2500 Crore Rupees ($500 million) in shareholder value.

The fund is headed by Dayakar Puskoor, a wireless industry visionary and former Microsoft executive whose background includes founder and CEO of JP Mobile and M2 Junction; Prabakar Reddy, an experienced global executive with more than 20 years of strategy and operational roles in Fortune 500 and innovative start-up companies including co-founder and CIO of Risemartand managing director of ANSR Group, and Gowri Shankar, CEO of SinglePoint Technologies and a founding member of the Sprint PCS launch team, which laid the foundation for Sprint PCS’s industry-leading enterprise sales strategy.

In operation since 2011, Naya’s current portfolio consists of seven companies in the mobile and cloud market. These include BoxFish (formerly Mixaroo), a better way to control TV, Zoomingo, a top rated shopping app platform that lets consumers find the best deals in their local stores or online from their smartphone or home computer; and Glympse, a mobile service that allows GPS-enabled mobile devices to share their location via a web app for a pre-set amount of time. Additional companies are currently in the pipeline or under evaluation.

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