A VC Firm Steals the Startup Limelight in India

Alibaba and Nexus Venture Partners dominate our startup news from India today, though the first is a Chinese giant and the second is a venture capital firm. Also on our list is a company that helps prepare for government jobs and two others that makes the world a prettier and safer place for women. Read on.

Nexus

Nexus Venture Partners has raised US$450 million for its fourth fund, it announced today. This makes it the first Indian venture capital firm to cross US$1 billion in assets.

Nexus, based in Bangalore, is known to back seed and early stage companies. It counts OLX, Snapdeal, and ShopClues among its partners. The fresh funds will focus on technology- and data-led businesses in consumer retail, financial services, healthcare, education, and enterprise technologies, the VC firm said in a statement.

Most of the capital for Nexus’ newest fund came from long-term investors. "We are thankful to our investors who continue to back us and believe in our investment philosophy," said co-founder and managing director Naren Gupta.

Photo Credit: thephotographymuse

See: Indian VC firm smashes it, raises US$450 million

MockBank

Bangalore-based MockBank, which provides online mock tests for government job aspirants, has announced the acquisition of Litoro, a custom web and mobile product development startup.

From stenographers to IT officers, it helps aspirants in a range of government jobs. Public sector, banking, and insurance jobs are part of the roster.

MockBank says it is looking at a market of 20 million to 40 million job aspirants a year. The most popular offerings are online mock tests for banking exams. MockBank had raised US$400,000 in seed funding from Blume Ventures in September this year.

Litoro is based in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. The entire Litoro team has moved to Bangalore to be absorbed in MockBank.

See: Millions still aspire for government jobs in India. MockBank just acquired tech muscle to help

Myntra

Myntra, the online fashion arm of Flipkart, has closed the second quarter of the financial year with annualized gross merchandize value (GMV) of around US$500 million and 66 percent growth.

"Our GMV is around US$500 million. Our plan is to get to US$1 billion next year," Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan was quoted as saying. The latest GMV figure marks an increase of US$100 million since May.

Ananth attributed the improved financial performance to a decrease in discounting. "The scale has increased; so there is a lot more fixed cost absorption. We are now discounting less. Every e-commerce player has been on the drug of discounting. We are trying to slowly wean us off the drug," he said.

Alibaba

Photo Credit Charles Chan

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has launched SMILE, an online platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India, which is its second largest market after China.

SMILE is short for Small and Medium Industries Leveraging Export. It will connect Indian manufacturers with Chinese suppliers, provide Indian sellers trading support, and facilitate the global sales of Indian products through Alibaba.com.

Alibaba has teamed up with top names like ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Crisil Rating, Tally, Capital Float, Jeena, SGS, and Mypacco for the platform.

According to Alibaba, more than 4.5 million Indian SMEs are listed on it. "We are excited to team up with credible and capable local Indian enterprises to offer this SMILE program, helping SMEs from India expand their business footprint in an efficient way," said Timothy Leung, head of global business development, Alibaba.

Leaf Wearables

Wearable tech startup Leaf Wearables has raised US$250,000 in seed funding from angel investors like seasoned entrepreneur Ajeet Khurana and Jinesh Shah of Omnivore Ventures.

Vikram Chachra, co-founder of Eight Capital, Vijay Talreja, co-founder of Adapty Inc, and Aniruddha Malpani, director at Solidarity Investment Advisors, also took part in the round.

Delhi-based Leaf Innovation, which runs the startup, will use the money to improve its technology team, enhance product development and expand operations.

Leaf was founded earlier this year by Avinash Bansal, Ayush Banka, Chiraag Kapil, Manik Mehta and Paras Batra. Its best known product is Safer, a device for women’s safety, which can be used as a pendant or a bracelet, and can trigger an alarm in times of danger. It can send signals to a pre-stored phone number.

Leaf claims to have sold 1,200 units of Safer, and says it is getting international orders from the US, South Africa, Turkey, and Malaysia.

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