“India is on the brink of a massive surge in consumer consumption, but not until the underlying payments infrastructure is securely in place,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of Social Capital, while announcing a US$16 million funding round for fintech #startup Ezetap.
Ezetap is among a bunch of rising startups that raised funding to make the most of the increasing consumer power in India. Their domains range from payments to healthcare and travel.
In India, most mom and pop stores and other small merchants used to accept only cash payments until a few years ago when smartphones became widely popular and helped startups innovate with mobile payments. Ezetap was one of the first startups to do that.
Launched in 2013, Ezetap came up with its own gadget that attaches to a smartphone and allows retailers and merchants to process credit card transactions on their phones. This helped a lot of ecommerce companies, restaurants, and service providers to take the card payment option to customers’ doorsteps. It also offers its payments software as a service, with which merchants can support a digital transaction via any device or interface, including biometric, SMS, or digital QR code.
Ezetap claims to process US$135 million in transactions monthly with more than 15 million consumers having transacted on its platform so far. It has announced a fresh funding round of US$16 million led by JS Capital Management, the investment firm of Jonathan Soros. Ezetap’s existing investors Social Capital and Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures upped their stakes by pitching in the latest round.
Ezetap is “like a combination of Stripe, AWS, and Android, built for the complexities of the Indian market,” Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of Social Capital, said while announcing fresh investment.
Cure.fit coaxes users to adopt healthy habits with food, exercise, and meditation. It has three products – eat.fit, cult.fit, and mind.fit – for holistic wellness. Cult.fit and mind.fit offer workouts and meditation sessions offline as well.
The company announced funding of US$25 million from existing investors Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, IDG Ventures, and UC-RNT fund.
Curefit was founded by India’s fashion ecommerce leader Myntra’s co-founder Mukesh Bansal and former Flipkart executive Ankit Nagori in 2016. The company has made three acquisitions so far: a1000yoga, Cult, and Tribe fitness centers.
Travel startup Alienadv focuses on unusual adventures around the world – hiking Kilimanjaro on foot to a martial arts training camp in Thailand. It claims to have partnered with over 300 verified local operators in 110 destinations across 11 countries.
The startup, which launched its portal in mid 2016, recently announced raising an undisclosed amount to scale up and said that it was already profitable. The activities space is the last dinosaur standing in the travel market, according to Alienadv co-founder and CEO Ankit Jaini.
An avid traveller himself, Jaini feels there are three key issues in the adventure travel industry that Alienadv tackles:
- There is a lot of information asymmetry currently with multiple prices offered for the same activities across operators.
- Adventure travel involves putting yourself out there with the elements of nature. You need an assurance of safety.
- It’s difficult to trust local tour operator websites which ask you to wire US$2000 to their bank accounts halfway across the world to book.
Indiez is a community platform to recruit tech talent for short-term projects. Founded by Nitesh Agrawal, Ishan Shrivastava, Archit Kejriwal, and Amrose Birani – batchmates at IIT Bombay – in 2016, Indiez helps companies put together a virtual team and ensures that work gets done by matching tasks to those with the right skill sets and experience. It has a network of around 300 freelancers across 30 countries.
“The clients will be signing a contract with Indiez and we will ensure that high-quality delivery happens. This fully managed experience is something which is missing on most of the [freelance] platforms. When delivery is our responsibility, we have to ensure that things happen as they were supposed to happen, and that quality and timeliness are maintained,” Agrawal tells Tech in Asia. The startup claims to have a thorough verification process for all the freelancers it onboards. It checks over 20 data points ranging from skills and proficiency to time zones, past record, and whether the person is a solo player or team member, Agrawal says.
The company recently announced its seed funding round of US$500,000 from Haresh Chawla, Partner at True North (India Value Fund), and an unnamed investor.
Mobikon helps restaurants with marketing and customer engagement tools. Founded in 2012, the startup claims a client-base of 700 restaurant brands with 3,400 outlets. It gives them tech tools to capture data, get feedback, and perform analytics, to improve customer service, marketing, and therefore, revenue.
Now, Mobikon wants to expand further and hire teams in its existing markets such as India, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, and Singapore as well as new markets such as the United Kingdom and Australia. To aid the scaling up, the company has raised US$7 million in its series B round of funding. The investment was led by a three-member investor consortium – Sistema Asia Fund, C31 Ventures, and Qualgro – with participation from Mobikon’s existing investors, Jungle Ventures and Spring Singapore.
Mobikon has raised a total funding of US$12 million so far, and has made two acquisitions over the last two years: marketing tools trii.be and MassBlurb. It has also made a strategic investment in alcohol and coffee gifting portal Hipcask.
- Converted from Indian rupees at the rate of US$1 equals INR 63.90.