For a brief while, it looked as if the Indian startup story was on a slowdown. There weren't just as many funding announcements as we had gotten used to in the earlier years. But it has picked up pace again and the first half of 2017 already beat the total funding for 2016 to hit US$5.2 billion.
Today, we bring you five startups that caught our eye among the many that announced fresh funding rounds this year.
Most small businesses and retailers in India don’t have card-swiping machines. Mumbai-based startup Mswipe tackles that problem with a point-of-sale device that can turn any mobile phone into a card reader. The merchant just has to hook up his phone to the device, launch an app, and use it to swipe cards.
Mswipe has raised series D funding of US$31 million from UC-RNT Fund – a joint venture between business tycoon Ratan Tata's RNT Associates and the University of California. Existing investors Matrix Partners India, Falcon Edge Capital, and DSG Consumer Partners participated in the round.
Hyderabad-based startup Darwinbox has an HR management suite on the cloud. The SaaS (software-as-a-service) product covers the whole spectrum of HR-related activities – from recruitment, onboarding, employee management, payroll, leave, transfer, and performance management to exit management. The startup targets mid-size to large enterprises, with a headcount of 500 employees or more, and notched up 40 big clients within a year of launching its product.
Darwinbox has raised series A funding of US$4 million led by Lightspeed India Partners. Earlier investors Endiya Partners, 3one4 Capital, and Startupxseed Ventures also participated in the round.
Bangalore-based startup Unbxd brings the power of machine learning and AI to product discovery and recommendations on ecommerce sites. It validated its SaaS product in India before expanding to the US. Its founder Pavan Sondur told Tech in Asia in an earlier interview that he also saw great potential in serving US offline retailers moving into ecommerce "who have big ambitions and want to compete with Amazon."
Unbxd has raised US$12.5 million in series C funding from Eight Roads Ventures, the investment arm of Fidelity International. Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan participated in the round, along with existing investors IDG Ventures, Inventus Capital Partners, and Nirvana Ventures.
Fintech startup LoanTap disburses personal loans to salaried folks. LoanTap calls them EMI-free loans as it used simple interest calculation to arrive at monthly interest to be paid back.
LoanTap claims to have a proprietary risk analysis platform that lets it to automate a large part of the credit evaluation process. It had raises US$4 million in funding from Kae Capital, India Quotient, IFMR, MAS Financial Services, and a few angel investors.
VoxWeb is a social network for millennials who shun Facebook and other older social media. It lets its users share pictures captioned with voice. The startup calls them “speaking pictures.”
The app, available on iOS and Android, will let you create and share selfies that speak when tapped. VoxWeb calls these selfies “Voxies.”
The startup was founded by Yash Mishra, a former research analyst with JP Morgan, in Mumbai in 2015. It has raised US$1 million from individual investors to “strengthen backend technologies and add innovative and engaging front-end features to cater to the new generation of social media users termed as Facebook-Nevers,” VoxWeb said in an announcement.