India’s Swiggy nears $5 billion valuation in new $800 million fundraise

Swiggy has raised about $800 million in a new financing round, the Indian food delivery startup told employees on Monday, as it looks to expand its business in the country quarters after the startup cut its workforce to navigate the pandemic.

In an email to employees, first reported by Times of India journalist Digbijay Mishra, Swiggy co-founder and chief executive Sriharsha Majety said the startup had raised $800 million from new investors including Falcon Edge Capital, Goldman Sachs, Think Capital, Amansa Capital, and Carmignac, and existing investors Prosus and Accel.

“This fundraise gives us a lot more firepower than the planned investments for our current business lines. Given our unfettered ambition though, we will continue to seed/experiment new offerings for the future that may be ready for investment later. We will just need to now relentlessly invent and execute over the next few years to build an enduring iconic company out of India,” wrote Majety in the email obtained by TechCrunch.

Majety didn’t disclose the new valuation of Swiggy, but said the new financing round was “heavily subscribed given the very positive investor sentiments towards Swiggy.” According to a person familiar with the matter, the new round valued Swiggy at over $4.8 billion. The startup has now raised about $2.2 billion to date.

Swiggy had raised $157 million last year at about $3.7 billion valuation. That investment is not part of the new round, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

He said the long-term goal for the startup, which competes with heavily-backed Zomato and new entrant Amazon, is to serve 500 million users in the next 10-15 years, pointing to Chinese tech giant Meituan, which had 500 million transacting users last year.

“We’re coming out of a very hard phase during the last year given Covid and have weathered the storm, but everything we do from here on needs to maximise the chances of our succeeding in the long-term,” wrote Majety.

Monday’s reveal comes amid Zomato raising $910 million in recent months as the Gurgaon-headquartered firm prepares for an IPO this year. The last tranche of investment valued Zomato at $5.4 billion.

A third player, Amazon, has also entered the food delivery market in India last year, though its operations are still limited to parts of Bangalore. At stake is India’s food delivery market, which analysts at Bernstein expect to balloon to be worth $12 billion by 2022, they wrote in a report to clients earlier this year. Zomato currently leads the market with about 50% market share, Bernstein analysts wrote.

“We find the food-tech industry in India to be well positioned to sustained growth with improving unit economics. Take-rates are one of the highest in India at 20-25% and consumer traction is increasing. Market is largely a duopoly between Zomato and Swiggy with 80%+ share,” wrote analysts at Bank of America in a recent report, reviewed by TechCrunch.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#accel, #asia, #falcon-edge-capital, #food, #funding, #goldman-sachs, #prosus-ventures, #swiggy

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Brainly raises $80M as its platform for crowdsourced homework help balloons to 350M users

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a major upswing in virtual learning — where some schools have gone (and stayed) remote, and others have incorporated significantly stronger online components, in order to help communities maintain more social distancing. That has in turn led to a surge in the usage of tools to help home learners do their work better, and today, one of them is announcing a growth round that speaks to the opportunity in that market.

Brainly, a startup from Poland that has built a popular network for students and their parents to engage with each other for advice and help with homework questions, has raised $80 million, a series D that it will be using both to continue building out the tools that it offers to students as well as to hone in on expansion in some key emerging markets such as Indonesia and Brazil. The news comes on the heels of dramatic growth for the company, which has seen its user base grow from 150 million users in 2019 to 350 million today.

The funding is being led by previous backer Learn Capital, with past investors Prosus Ventures, Runa Capital, MantaRay, and General Catalyst Partners also participating. The company has now raised some $150 million and while it’s not disclosing valuation, CEO and co-founder Michał Borkowski confirmed it is “definitely” an upround for the company. For more context, Pitchbook estimates that the company was valued at $180 million in its last round, a Series C of $30 million in 2019.

That C round was raised specifically to help Brainly grow in the U.S. It currently has some 30 million users in that market, and it happens to be the only one in which Brainly is monetising users. Everywhere else, Brainly is currently free to use. (In the U.S. there are also some formidable competitors, like Chegg, which has strong traction in the market of helping students with homework.)

“Brainly has become one of the world’s largest learning communities, achieving significant organic growth in over 35 countries,” said Vinit Sukhija, Partner at Learn Capital, in a statement.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Brainly was finding an audience with students — primarily those aged 13-19, said Borkowski — who were turning to the service to connect with people who could help them with homework when they found themselves at an impasse with, say, a math problem or getting to grips with the sequence of events that led to the revolutions of 1848. The platform is open-ended and is a little like a Quora for homework, in that people can find and answer questions they are interested in, as well as ask questions themselves.

That platform, however, took on a whole new dimension of importance with the shift to virtual learning, Borkowski said.

“In the western world, online education wasn’t a big investment area [pre-Covid] and that has changed a lot, with huge adoption by students, parents and teachers,” he said. “But that big transition, switching from offline to online, has left kids struggling because teachers have so much more to do, so they can’t engage in the same way.”

So with “homework” becoming “all work”, that has effectively led to needing more help than ever with home studies. And while many parents have tried to get more involved to make up the difference, “having parents as teachers has been hard,” he added. They may have been taught differently from how their kids are learning, or they don’t remember or know answers.

One thing that Brainly started to see, he said, was that with the pandemic more parents started using the app alongside students, either to work out answers together or to get the help themselves before helping their kids, with a number of these being from parents of kids younger than 13. He said that 15-20% of all new registrations currently are coming from parents.

Brainly up to now has been mainly focused on how to build out more tools for the students — and now parents — that use it, and has so far been about organic growth for those communities.

However, there is clearly scope to expand that to more educational stakeholders to better organise what kind of questions are answered and how. Borkowski said that the company has indeed been approached by educators, those building curriculums and others so that answers might tie in better with the kinds of questions that they are most likely to ask of students, although for now the company “wants to keep the focus on students and parents getting stuck.”

In terms of future products, Brainly is looking at ways of bringing in more tutoring, video and AI into the mix. The AI aspect is very interesting and will in fact tie in to wider curriculum coverage based on more localised needs. For example, if you ask for help with a particular kind of quadratic equation technique, you can then be served lots of same practice questions to help better learn and apply what you’ve just been learning, and you might even then get suggested related topics that will appear alongside that in a wider mathematics examination. And, you might be offered the chance to meet with a tutor for further help.

Tutoring, he said, is something that Brainly has already been quietly piloting and has run some 150,000 sessions to date. Having such a large user base, Borkowski said, helps the startup run services at scale while still effectively keeping them in test mode.

“It will be about looking at what students are studying and how to map that to the curriculum in the country, and what we can do to help with that.” Borkowski said. “But it will require a heavy lift and and machine learning to pinpoint students” for it to work properly, which is one reason it has yet to roll it out more comprehensively, he added.

Tutoring and more personalization are not the only areas where Brainly is actively testing out new services. The company is also creating more space for adding in video to demonstrate different techniques (which I suspect is especially good for something like mathematics, but equally helpful for, say, an art technique).

There are “thousands per week” being added already, but as with tutoring “that, for us, is a testing stage,” added Borkowski. There should be more coming in Q1 about new products, he said.

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #brainly, #brazil, #e-commerce, #education, #europe, #funding, #gamification, #general-catalyst, #general-catalyst-partners, #homework, #indonesia, #machine-learning, #online-education, #poland, #prosus-ventures, #quora, #runa-capital, #subscription-services, #tc, #united-states

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Leading a $15 million round, Prosus Ventures makes the challenger bank Klar its first bet in Mexico

Klar, a new online bank based in Mexico City, has become the first big bet that Prosus Ventures (the firm formerly known as Naspers Ventures) is taking in Latin America outside of Brazil.

Founded by Stefan Moller, a former consultant at Bain & Co. who advised large banks, Klar blends Moller’s work experience in Mexico with his connections to the German banking world and the tech team at Berlin -based n26, to create a challenger bank offering deposit and credit services for Mexican customers.

The Mexican market is woefully underserved when it comes to the finance industry, according to Moller. Only 10% of Mexican adults have a credit card, something Moller said is the cheapest consumer lending instrument around.

That’s why Klar launched last year with both credit and debit services. The company has 200,000 banking customers and roughly 27,000 of those customers have taken out loans through the bank. A typical loan is roughly $110, according to Moller, and each loan comes with a 68% annual percentage rate. 

If that sounds usurious, that’s because it is — at least by U.S. standards. In the U.S. a typical credit card will run somewhere between 16% and 24%, according to data from WalletHub. In Mexico, Moller said the typical interest rate is 70% (no wonder only 10% of adults have credit cards).

Still, the opportunity to expand credit and debit services made sense to Prosus, which led the company’s Series A round alongside investors including the International Finance Corporation and former investors Quona capital, who led Klar´s SEED round, Mouro Capital (formerly Santander Innoventures) and aCrew.

Banafsheh Fathieh, the Prosus Ventures principal who led the investment for the firm, said that the commitment to Klar will likely be the first of many investments that her firm makes in the region — both in fintech and likely in Mexico’s tech ecosystem more broadly.

Prosus is famous for making early bets on emerging technology companies in developing markets. Perhaps most famously the firm’s parent company was an early investor in Tencent — a multi-million dollar bet that has generated billions in returns.

Before this investment, Prosus had confined its work in the Latin American region to investments in Brazilian technology companies like Creditas and Movile .

“Prosus Ventures partners with entrepreneurs that are solving big societal problems with technology, in a uniquely local way. We invest in sectors of the economy where technology can lead to meaningful change in the lives of consumers. Klar has identified a massive need in the Mexican financial market and brings a unique solution through their credit and debit offering,” said Banafsheh Fathieh from Prosus Ventures, in a statement. “In less than a year, the team has shown an ability to build a world-class digital bank for the masses, one focused on financial access and inclusion. We are very excited to partner with them on that mission.”

#bank, #banking, #berlin, #brazil, #credit-card, #creditas, #economy, #financial-technology, #latin-america, #mexico, #mexico-city, #mouro-capital, #movile, #n26, #naspers, #naspers-ventures, #online-bank, #prosus, #prosus-ventures, #tc, #technology, #tencent, #united-states

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Prosus Ventures leads $13 million investment in Pakistan’s ride-hailing giant Bykea

Bykea, which leads the ride-hailing market in Pakistan, has raised $13 million as the five-year-old startup looks to deepen its penetration in the South Asian country and become a “super app.”

The new financing round, a Series B, was led by storied investment firm Prosus Ventures . It’s the first time Prosus Ventures has invested in a Pakistani startup. Bykea’s existing investors Middle East Venture Partners and Sarmayacar also invested in the round, which brings its total to-date raise to $22 million.

Bykea leads the two-wheeler ride-hailing market in Pakistan and also operates logistics delivery business and financial services business. The startup has partnered with banks to allow customers to pay phone bills and get cash delivered to them, Muneeb Maayr, founder and chief executive of Bykea, told TechCrunch in an interview.

“Pakistan is primed to experience extremely strong growth in internet services over the next decade, with a rapidly increasing middle class. This growth provides immense opportunity for companies like Bykea that are transforming big societal needs like transportation, logistics and payments through a technology-enabled platform,” said Fahd Beg, Chief Investment Officer at Prosus Ventures, in a statement.

“Bykea has already seen impressive traction in the country and with our investment will be able to execute further on their vision to become Pakistan’s ‘super-app,’ he added.

The startup works with over 30,000 drivers who operate in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore. (Two-wheelers are more popular in Pakistan. There are about 17 million two-wheeler vehicles on the road in the country today, compared to fewer than 4 million cars.)

The investment comes at a time when Bykea’s business restores the losses incurred by the coronavirus outbreak. Like several nations, Pakistan also enforced a lockdown to curtail the spread of the virus.

Maayr said the startup did not eliminate jobs and instead cut several other expenses to navigate through the tough time.

One of those cuts was curtailing the startup’s reliance on Google Maps. Maayr said during the lockdown time, Bykea built its own mapping navigation system with the help of its drivers. The startup, which was paying Google about $60,000 a month for using Maps, now pays less than a tenth of it, he said.

Starting August, the startup’s operations have largely reached the pre-coronavirus levels, he said.

More to follow…

#apps, #asia, #bykea, #careem, #food, #funding, #pakistan, #prosus-ventures, #transportation

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative backs Indian education startup Eruditus in $113 million fundraise

Mumbai-based Eruditus, which works with top universities globally to offer more than 100 executive-level courses to students in over 80 nations, said on Monday it has raised $113 million in a new financing round as it looks to further scale its business to reach more learners.

The Series D financing round for the 10-year-old startup was co-led by Leeds Illuminate and Prosus Ventures . Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and existing investors Sequoia India and Ved Capital also participated in the round, which brings Eruditus’ to-date raise to over $160 million. Eruditus is now valued at over $700 million, a person familiar with the matter said. Avendus Capital was the financial advisor to Eruditus on this transaction.

Eruditus maintains a tie-up with over 30 top-tier universities including MIT, Harvard, Columbia, Cambridge, INSEAD, Wharton, UC Berkeley, IIT, IIM, and NUS. The universities and Eruditus work to develop courses that are aimed at offering higher education to students. These courses cost anything between $5,000 to $40,000.

There’s no shortage of startups that offer similar courses to students for free or at the price of a cup of coffee. At a conference last year, Ashwin Damera, Eruditus co-founder and chief executive of Eruditus, said his startup provides a range of additional offerings including tailored learning and tracks the outcome of the course in a student’s life.

The startup, which has offices in six countries and employs over 650 people, said it has enrolled 50,000 students in the past 12 months.

Eruditus is the second startup that Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has backed in India. Its first investment in the country, Byju’s, also operates in the edtech market. (In fact, it’s grown to become the most valued edtech startup in the world.)

“Eruditus serves as a critical innovation partner for top universities as they expand online course offerings in response to workforce needs and market demand,” said Vivian Wu, Managing Partner, Ventures, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in a statement. “We’re excited to support the growing partnerships between U.S. universities and those in India, China and Latin America that are making truly high-quality education accessible to a broad and diverse range of students.”

Eruditus said it will use the fresh capital to partner with more universities and expand in emerging markets. It said it also wants to invest in developing career-ready courses to help the workforce acquire the skills they need to survive in the post-pandemic world.

“Eruditus’ goals are a great match for ours — democratizing access of quality resources for a much broader audience. The value of the teachings of the great institutions has been rationed to those who can physically and monetarily access their facilities. Eruditus unlocks those assets and enables those institutions to help a whole new cohort of learners around the globe,” said Ashutosh Sharma, Head of Investments for India at Prosus Ventures, which has invested in six edtech startups including Byju’s.

#apps, #asia, #chan-zuckerberg-initiative, #education, #eruditus, #funding, #india, #prosus-ventures

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JioMart, the e-commerce venture from India’s richest man, launches in additional cities

The rationale behind the deluge of dollars flooding into billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms is beginning to become more clear as his e-commerce venture JioMart starts rolling out to more people across India.

An e-commerce venture between the nation’s top telecom operator Jio Platforms and top retail chain Jio Retail, JioMart just launched its new website and started accepting orders in dozens of metro, tier 1 and tier 2 cities including Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Bokaro, Bathinda, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, and Dehradun.

Before the expansion on Saturday, the service was available in three suburbs of Mumbai. The service now includes perishables such as fruits and vegetables, and dairy items in addition to staples and other grocery products as it makes its pitch to Indian households across the country.

Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $10 billion in the last month by selling a roughly 17% stake, has amassed over 388 million subscribers, more than any other telecom operator in the country.

The money comes as Ambani’s various companies begin entering a market already teeming with fierce competitors like Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart, BigBasket, MilkBasket, and Grofers.

Earlier this week the American e-commerce giant entered India’s food delivery market to challenge the duopoly of Prosus Ventures-backed Swiggy and Ant Financial-backed Zomato. Amazon is making a massive hiring push in India, and is looking to hire close to 50,000 seasonal workers to keep up with the growing demand on its platform.

Meanwhile, Ambani’s Reliance Retail, founded in 2006, remains the largest retailer in India by revenue. It serves more than 3.5 million customers each week through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns.

JioMart may have Amazon and Flipkart in its sights, but in its current form, however, the company is going to be more of a headache for Grofers and BigBasket, the top grocery delivery startups in India.

Reliance Industries, the most valued firm in India and parent entity of Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, plans to expand JioMart to more than a thousand districts in a year and also widen its catalog to include electronics and office supplies among a variety of other categories, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. A Reliance Jio spokesperson declined to comment.

The expansion to more cities comes a month after JioMart launched its WhatsApp business account, enabling people to easily track their order and invoice on Facebook -owned service.

Facebook announced it would invest $5.7 billion in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms last month and pledged to work with the Indian firm to help small businesses across the country. JioMart’s WhatsApp account currently does not support the expanded regions.

Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, first unveiled his plan to launch an e-commerce platform last year. In a speech then, Ambani invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s work and said India needed to fight another fresh battle.

A handful of firms have attempted — and failed — to launch their e-commerce websites over the years in India, where more than 95% of sales still occur through brick and mortar stores. But Ambani is uniquely positioned to fight the duopoly of Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart — thanks in part to the more than $10 billion in investment dollars the company recently raised from KKR, FacebookSilver LakeVista Equity Partners, and General Atlantic. In addition to scaling JioMart, the fresh capital should also help Ambani repay some of Reliance Industries’ $21 billion debt.

“We have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonization. For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India — in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian,” Ambani said at an event attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi .

#amazon, #ant-financial, #asia, #bigbasket, #ecommerce, #facebook, #flipkart, #grofers, #mukesh-ambani, #narendra-modi, #prosus-ventures, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio, #walmart, #whatsapp, #zomato

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India’s logistics aggregator Shiprocket raises $13M to expand overseas

Shiprocket, a New Delhi-based logistics aggregator that works with direct-to-consumer sellers including several social media influencers, has raised $13 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its platform overseas.

Silicon Valley-based investment firm Tribe Capital led Shiprocket’s Series C financing round. Innoven Capital and existing investor Bertelsmann India Investments also participated in the round, which brings the three year-old startup’s to-date funding to $26 million.

Shiprocket works with more than a dozen courier companies in India and negotiates terms such as the fee and shipment tracking with them on behalf of its sellers, Saahil Goel, co-founder and chief executive of the startup, told TechCrunch in an interview last year.

The startup today works with more than 35,000 sellers in India and processes about 2 million shipments each month. It also helps sellers with tackling items that get lost during the shipment and enabling cash on delivery, the most popular payment option among customers in India. Gillettte, beauty product chain Mamaearth, beer franchise The Beer Cafe, coaching institute Aakaash Institute, and craft beer maker Bira are among some brands that use Shiprocket’s service.

Shiprocket has also become one of the top selling partners for social media influencers in India who have to take care of the items they sell to their fans themselves. In recent years, a wave of social commerce startups such as Meesho, backed by Prosus Ventures and Facebook, and Simsim have emerged in India as they attempt to reshape how people think about buying online.

“One of the reasons why the United States and emerging economies have thrived over the last 50 years has been a healthy dynamic of small to medium entrepreneurial businesses alongside consolidation and scaling corporations,” said Arjun Sethi, co-founder of Tribe Capital, in a statement.

“We invested in Shiprocket because they empower the small to medium businesses that truly represent the heart and soul of any emerging economy. Today, the SME segment lacks capital finance and credit, infrastructure, technology, and marketing strategies. Shiprocket has enabled these businesses to grow at a time of emerging competition enabled by mobile internet and corporations,” he added.

Shiprocket says it will use the fresh capital to expand its data science and engineering teams and focus on new initiatives including its international expansions. The startup already ships shipment overseas, it claims it delivers in more than 26,000 zip codes in India and 220 additional countries and markets.

The startup said it was profitable in the financial year that ended on March 31, 2019 and has an annualized revenue run rate between $25 million to $30 million. It did not comment on the impact coronavirus pandemic has had on its business.

#arjun-sethi, #asia, #facebook, #funding, #innoven-capital, #logistics, #meesho, #prosus-ventures, #simsim, #tribe-capital

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Indian education startup Byju’s is fundraising at a $10B valuation

Byju’s, an education learning startup in India that has seen a surge in its popularity in recent weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak, is in talks to raise as much as $400 million in fresh capital at a $10 billion valuation, said three people familiar with the matter.

The additional capital would be part of the Bangalore-based startup’s ongoing financing round that has already seen Tiger Global and General Atlantic invest between $300 million to $350 million into the nine-year-old startup.

That investment by the two firms, though, was at an $8 billion valuation, said people familiar with the matter. Byju’s was valued at $5.75 billion in July last year, when it raised $150 million from Qatar Investment Authority and Owl Ventures.

If the deal goes through at this new term, Byju’s would become the second most valuable startup in India, joining budget lodging startup Oyo, which is also valued at $10 billion, and follow financial services firm Paytm that raised $1 billion at $16 billion valuation late last year.

The talks haven’t finalized yet and terms could change, said one of the aforementioned people. This person, along with the other two, requested anonymity as the matter is private.

A spokesperson of Byju’s and Prosus Ventures, the largest investor in the startup, declined to comment. A spokesperson for Tiger Global did not respond to a request for comment.

Byju’s has seen a sharp surge in both its free users and paying customers in recent weeks as it looks to court students who are stuck at home because of the nationwide lockdown New Delhi ordered in late March.

The startup told TechCrunch last month that traffic on its app and website was up 150% in March and it added six million students to the platform during the month.

Other edtech startups, including Unacademy, which was recently backed by Facebook, and early-stage startups such as Sequoia Capital India-backed Classplus, and Chennai-based SKILL-LYNC, have also seen growth in recent weeks, they told TechCrunch last month.

Through its app, tutors on Byju’s help all school-going children understand complex subjects using real-life objects such as pizza and cake. The app also prepares students who are pursuing undergraduate and graduate-level courses.

Over the years, Byju’s has invested in tweaking the English accents in its app and adapted to different education systems. It had amassed more than 35 million registered users, about 2.4 million of which are paid customers as of late last year.

#asia, #byjus, #education, #facebook, #funding, #general-atlantic, #india, #owl-ventures, #prosus-ventures, #qatar-investment-authority, #recent-funding, #sequoia-capital, #startups, #tiger-global, #unacademy

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