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daily roundup (Jan 24, 2022)

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Ezetap recognises a strong leadership team, elevates Byas​ Nambian​ to ​co-​founder

Ezetap has announced that Byas Nambisan, CEO since 2019, has now been elevated as a Co-founder by the Board. This is in recognition of his leadership in bringing the company to the forefront of India’s dynamic fintech landscape. 

The Board has also recognised Arjun Ramesh, Vice President International Sales, UAE, and Tamal Das, Vice President Customer Solutions & Software Engineering QA, as members of the Founding Team. In the past six months, the company also promoted Vineet Suneja to Chief Revenue Officer to spearhead business development and alliances with the leading merchant acquiring banks, fintech partners, and retail channels.

Ezetap has shown strong growth over the past few years and has expanded its partnership to now cover ​seven leading banks in India and has most of the marquee enterprises as its clients. The company grew over 90​ percent YoY as of December 2021. It processes $8 ​billion in annualised GTV through 4 lakh retail points and is aiming to reach Rs 7,500​ crore in annual revenue by 2024.

Flipkart Grocery expands its service to 1,800 cities across India

Flipkart, India’s homegrown ecommerce marketplace, has ramped up its ​grocery operations to now service consumers in 1​,​800 cities, including Ajmer, Amritsar, Bhuj, Bokaro, Daman & Diu, Dehradun​,​ and Kanyakumari, among others. With this expansion, Flipkart is now present in 23 states across the country taking its reach to 10,000 pincodes.

Consumers will now have an option to purchase high-quality value-driven grocery products with a selection of more than 6​,​000+ in a safe and seamless manner. At the same time, the expansion will help support local farmers as they leverage the platform to become part of the digital economy. As the third wave of C​OVID-19 becomes imminent, customers across these cities will be able to get groceries safely delivered at the doorstep, without having to leave their homes.

Flipkart has made deep investments in its grocery business for the last two years, and today caters to its pan-India customers through 22 grocery fulfilment centres. These centres are spread across 25.2 ​lakh sq. ft. in total, creating thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities and boosting local employment.

Mensa Brands acquires majority stake in gardening solutions brand, TrustBasket

​In its third partnership of 2022, Mensa Brands has invested in homegrown online gardening solutions brand TrustBasket. 

TrustBasket offers a range of gardening solutions catering to different consumer segments — from gardening kits for hobbyists to compost makers and speciali​sed soils for professionals. 

Founded in 2015 by Santhosh Appaji, Santhosh Kumar N​,​ and Shekar N, the brand​ claims to have served over 1.2 million customers in the last ​six years. TrustBasket’s products are available on its D2C website and Amazon and other e-commerce platforms.

ISB Executive Education collaborates with Eruditus to upskill professionals in Business Analytics

The Indian School of Business (ISB Executive Education) has announced the launch of the next cohort of the 12-week Advanced Business Analytics Programme with Eruditus. The programme will start from February 14, 2022.

The Indian Big Data Technology and Service Market has grown significantly in recent years with an expected CAGR of 35.1​ percent in the forecast period 2021-2026. By 2022, 90​ percent of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency. As per a report by Gartner, nearly 33​ percent of large organisations will have analysts catering to decision intelligence and decision modelling by 2023. 

Launched in April 2021, over 568 professionals have completed the programme already. 

​Spinny plans to ​expand to more than 30 cities by end of this year

​Used car retailing platform ​Spinny​ announced the launch of a #WithExtraCare initiative to achieve a completely contactless car buying and selling experience for customers​.​ 

​The startup aims to expand to more than 30 cities by the end of 2022 and will strengthen its online deliveries to simplify the used car buying process for consumers. The ​company​ plans to bring more technological advancement and modern solutions with contactless home deliveries this year in line with increasing consumer shift towards safety, convenience, and environment-friendly personal mobility. 

Presently, Spinny is​ operational​ in 22 cities, including Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, B​e​ngal​uru​, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Indore, Kochi​,​ and Coimbatore. 

Embedded finance startup Falcon emerges from stealth; to hit $30M revenue by March ‘23

Embedded Finance startup Falcon has launched in India, announcing its target of hitting $30​ million in revenue by March 2023. Falcon has already received backing from a number of investors from the US, India, and the Middle East, indicating the interest of the global community in the $24​ billion market opportunity as companies rush to offer embedded payments and lending products.

Shamir Karkal (Founder, Sila Money), Abhay Hanjura and Vivek Gupta (Founders, Licious), Jeremy​ ​Solomon (Former CFO Affirm), Boling Jiang (Founder, Lithic), Rangarajan Krishnan (CEO, Five Star​ ​Finance), Deepak Shahdadpuri (MD of DSG Consumer Partners), Devesh Sachdeva (MD, Fusion​ ​Microfinance), among executives from Softbank, UAE Sovereign Fund, Silicon Valley Bank, Robinhood,​ and Facebook are early backers of the embedded finance platform.

Ex-Ola Head of Design Asis Panda joins employee wellness platform Nova Benefits

Nova Benefits, an employee wellness platform focussed on corporate health insurance, announced the onboarding of​ ​Asis Panda to its leadership team, as Director of Design.

​Asis ​comes with over 10 years of cross-functional expertise in design, insurance, and financial service, along with a deep knowledge of Product Design and Payments. Prior to joining Nova Benefits, he was the Head of Design at Ola, where he managed three key verticals, which included Ola delivery, Ola vehicle commerce, and Ola financial services. Before Ola, Asis was the Head of Design at Haptik – a SaaS company based out of Mumbai.

In his new role at Nova Benefits, Asis will lead the product design and creative teams, playing a vital role in enabling excellent customer experience.

Isthara acquires ‘Letsmobility’ to bolster technological solutions in the ​co-living and ​foodtech sectors

Isthara Co​living has acquired Letsmobility, a leading software product engineering company.​ ​ Through this acquisition, Isthara aims to leverage Letsmobility’s private cloud-based microapps platform, Livet, to digiti​se operations and introduce advanced tech solutions in the highly fragmented co-living and institutional cafeteria sectors.

Isthara aims to enhance its core technology by merging it with the proprietary machine learning framework developed by Letsmobility. Through the integration, Isthara will develop and advance into a pioneering Framework 2.0, which will enhance the digital interface of the company’s customer-facing applications. Additionally, the platform’s AI-powered suggestions, business reports,​ and custom workflows will enable the company to improve efficiency and streamline operations. 

​Qjobs crosses 2​M​ users; clocks 10x growth in a year

Qjobs, a jobs platform ​for blue and grey collar recruitment,​ claims to​ ha​ve​ achieved 10x growth amassing ​two million job seekers in a year. ​In a statement, ​Qjobs ​claims that it ​added the latest ​one​ million job seekers in a ​”​record time of 100 days​”​ and more than doubled jobs in Q3 FY22 itself, buoyed by the seasonal festive demand by ​enterprises and SMBs.

Qjobs was launched in November 2020 to efficiently address the recruiter and candidate hiring gap by offering verified jobs to job seekers and pre-screened and skilled candidates to recruiters. 

Backed and powered by Quess Corp, QJobs helps top companies in India get access to identity verified and pre-screened candidates to meet their intensive hiring needs. For job seekers, QJobs has verified job opportunities in 20+ industries across India to apply from. It has a strong network of top employers including Shadowfax, Rapido​,​​ among others.

Wadhwani Foundation and National Entrepreneurship Network announce the launch of “Wadhwani TakeOff”

Wadhwani Foundation and the National Entrepreneurship Network [NEN] announced the launch of the ​”​Wadhwani Takeoff​”​​ program​me, which ​aims to ​provide an incredible opportunity for shortlisted startups and entrepreneurs to secure an all-expense-paid trip to Silicon Valley, the global centre of technological innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The Wadhwani TakeOff programme will give shortlisted participants extensive exposure to the famed entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Valley through networking exposure with entrepreneurs, mentorship by business leaders and entrepreneurs, and​ the opportunity to pitch ideas to investors.

​It seeks to encourage and excite students already enrolled in the NEN entrepreneurship course and will simultaneously motivate new students to enrol in the course. ​Eligible participants who end up with a commercially viable idea/venture and get top certification by an independent global jury will make it to this all-expense-paid Silicon Valley trip.

Zypp Electric ​partners with EVs ​spare ​parts ​provider Mechanifyspares

​EV logistics startup Zypp Electric announced​ a partnership with Mechanifyspares, ​an online platform dedicated to providing auto components and spare parts for EVs​. ​The aim is ​to procure and repair the 5​,​000+ EVs currently on road, seamles​​sly. 

With Zypp Electric, Mechanifyspare aims to organise the disconnected electric two-wheeler (E2W) market by augmenting the existing supply chain and proprietary technology.

Under this partnership, Zypp’s dedicated team that handles repairs of its EVs will now be able to procure required spare parts by placing an online order and getting it delivered across the cities Zypp is present in. Further, Zypp will also enable Mechanifyspares in becoming a one-stop solution for all sorts of EV challenges related to maintenance and repairing.

Praveen Joshi, former Director Engineering, Sharechat, and Nitin Babel, Co-founder of Niki.ai join Lokal

Lokal, a hyperlocal social media platform, today announced the appointment of Nitin Babel as Vice President Operations and Praveen Joshi as Vice President Engineering. The appointment of both senior leadership roles is a critical step towards achieving Lokal’s vision of building India’s first super app for towns.

With this strategic move, Lokal aims to achieve operational excellence and a strong digital architecture to extend digital opportunities for India’s Tier II and III users in their native languages. Nitin Babel has featured in Forbes Asia 30 under 30 and honoured by IIT Kharagpur as Young Alumni Achiever. A Digital Bharat enthusiast, he brings years of expertise and research on understanding the needs of the next billion users.

As VP-Operations, Nitin will be responsible for devising the operational strategy and aligning all the business verticals to contribute towards the larger business vision. Nitin has been a part of the startup ecosystem for over seven years. In his previous role as Co-founder at Niki.ai, he was instrumental in establishing a user-first culture across the organisation. 

An industry veteran, Praveen Joshi comes with over 15 years of experience in architecting and delivering innovative large-scale technology platforms from conception to market. As VP-Engineering, he will focus on orchestrating a robust tech framework, facilitating the business to garner high-impact results through an integrated and unified digital strategy. Leading the team of developers, engineers and collaborating with product managers, Praveen will also closely mentor the tech talent at Lokal.

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Experts deliberate on technologies leading to the rise of gaming and content in India

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Technology is seeping into every aspect of the world and online gaming is no stranger to it. Over the years, online gaming and esports have been through a lot of changes and today this industry is more advanced and progressive. Technology has enabled a variety of changes which is why online gaming continues to grow in popularity.

To discuss these new-age technologies in depth and how they are changing the gaming landscape, a panel discussion was held on Playing to the fantasy: Rise of gaming & content in India at TechSparks 2022 featuring Gaurav Barman, Senior Business Development Manager, AWS; Vinayak Shrivastav Co-founder and CEO, VideoVerse; Ranga Jagannath, Senior Director – Growth, Agora; and Ratheesh Mallaya, Director of Products, Zynga.

Here are some of the key highlights from the discussion:

Tech enabling the growth of esports in India

The panel discussion started with understanding the rise of esports gaming in India. Despite being around for more than a decade, it’s only recently seen a boom in popularity. The current size of the Indian esports industry is Rs 250 crore and the forecast for the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to be 46 percent in the next four years. The esports industry is expected to see a growth of four-folds estimated to be Rs 1,100 crore by 2025.

Technology is a major propelling force that’s driving this rise. Gaurav of AWS shed more light by discussing a few of the technologies that AWS provides that help in building more interactive engagement for esports and gaming platforms.

Esports companies in India can build engagement, which is much more interactive by offering players the ability to communicate with each other beyond linguistic or geographical boundaries. This can be done by providing multilingual, real-time, translation across geographies. Companies can also build real-time recommendation systems in terms of feed that the user sees, said Gaurav.

Vinayak of VideoVerse spoke about how technology that aids in the production of short-form content is going to play a key role in driving the popularity of esports.I think what’s important for all of us to see is that e-gaming as an entire market is just continuously changing. It’s going to continuously keep evolving over the next couple of years, he said. In such a scenario, Vinayak believes that the services that VideoVerse provides with their flagship product Magnifi will play an important role in amplifying the entire ecosystem.

Magnifi uses state-of-the-art AI and ML technology to auto-produce key moments and highlights from live matches within seconds. Such kind of short-form content is what Vinayak feels is the need of the hour and will drive the growth of the esports market as well.

Hits and misses in the industry

The panelists further deliberated what has been working well for the gaming industry and what has tanked completely. Ranga of Agora spoke in detail about real-time engagement and how greatly it has benefited the gaming landscape.

What we’ve seen is that apps and games which have embedded technologies that are truly real-time tend to be able to monetise much better and significantly more, as compared to games that either don’t have real-time engagement, or they have laggy real-time engagement. Games that have real-time engagement also tend to be more active with better user retention, he remarked.

He further explained that it doesn’t just stop at real-time engagement, but the ability for gaming companies to analyse what’s happening in that real-time engagement is what is working in their favour.

While it’s important to know what is working for the esports landscape, it’s even more important to understand what’s not. Ratheesh shared some pearls of wisdom from some of the failures that Zynga has faced.

When you’re looking to build local, there is definitely a big opportunity out there. But that has to be on top of a really strong core that is fun and engaging for the users. We launched a game around the time of Independence Day in India based on a match game, but it did not turn out the way we wanted it to because of this reason,he said.

Ratheesh highlighted that there is a great scope for games with Indian IP and in fact, according to a recent report, about 60 percent of the audience that doesn’t play games have said they will play if there is an Indian IP. But just building a game on something vernacular or Indian IP will not work out. He also pointed out how games that are currently top-grossing like Garena Free Fire, Coinmaster, and Candy Crush all have great visuals and quality and that’s what is enticing users to stay hooked on the game.

Talking about other hits, Gaurav emphasised how Web3 technologies and blockchain will hugely benefit the industry. Gaming companies are now looking at making digital assets interoperable and with the advent of the Metaverse, an entire make-believe world is possible where players can socialise, connect, and share content beyond the scope of gaming.

From my perspective, technology is going to play a pivotal role in the evolution of this industry. Be it blockchain, NFT, or metaverse, all of that will come together as a platform where interoperability is enabled through underlying technology and used to build these solutions at this point in time, he said.

Along with Web3 technologies, Vinayak shared how cloud-based video editing and streaming solutions will become pivotal for the overall growth of the ecosystem as they’ll make broadcasting, editing, and collaborating with peers in the industry much easier.

Microtransactions in the gaming industry

The panel ended by discussing microtransactions in the gaming industry where Ratheesh shared some useful insights on how transactions and in-app purchases have to be tailored according to the genre of the game. There are different monetisation strategies like subscription-based model, battle pass kind of monetisation strategy or an impulse buy. Those are all options available to you. But what strategy you deploy depends completely on the genre of the game, he shared. He also suggested that microtransactions on gaming apps must be personalised to the users’ needs and that they must be pivotal in framing up the monetisation strategy for any gaming app.

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Tattoo Removal Studio Will Remove Tats From Regretful Kanye West Fans for Free

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

After Kanye West, A.K.A. Ye, made antisemitic statements and false claims about George Floyd’s killing, a London-based tattoo parlor announced on Instagram that it would remove West-related tattoos for free.



ViktoriiaNovokhatska | Getty Images

Naama Tattoo parlor said its offer to remove tattoos of the controversial rapper was a “natural extension” of its “second chances” project, which offers free tattoo laser removal to people seeking to rid themselves of certain types of ink — gang tats or an ex’s name. The procedure, which can cost roughly $2,400 elsewhere, has prompted several customers to contact Naama about having their Ye tattoos lasered off.

The Washington Post reports:

“We understand that tattoos can be triggering for some people and not everyone can afford to remove their tattoos,” the company told The Washington Post in an email Thursday. It noted that one of the people who took them up on the offer said she was being trolled for her Ye-inspired tattoo.

The store said several people have contacted it in recent weeks to have their Ye tattoos lasered off — a procedure that can cost up to 2,000 pounds (about $2,400).

Ye was dropped by brands including Adidas and Gap and locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts over his past comments and posts. On Thursday, he appeared on Alex Jones’s Infowars clad in a full-head balaclava. He doubled down on his past statements, telling Jones, “I like Hitler,” and, “Every human being has value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”

Naama told the Post that “there are a few former fans with tattoo regret,” stating that three clients are already in the middle of the tattoo removal process, and ten more are ready for consultations. Following Ye’s comments on Infowars, that number seems likely to rise.

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Here’s how technology and innovation are driving the growth of Arista Vault, India’s first smart luggage brand

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It was a crisp winter evening in October 2017 when Purvi Roy, an ace designer who studied at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, presented her high fashion fall winter collection – Warriors Alley- at India Runway Week. The collection was powerful and the show was a great success. At the after-party, she crossed paths with Colonel Krishan Kumar Singh and finance expert Atul Gupta.

After a brief conversation with Purvi, the Colonel suggested that maybe it was time for her to do something for the regular masses which would serve a larger purpose. They began brainstorming and after much deliberation, hard work, and perseverance Arista Vault was born.

Arista Vault is an innovative tech company creating concept-based products to make human life easy, simple, and safe. The company is headquartered in Delhi with offices in Gurugram, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Goa. One of their first offerings was a smart wallet with inbuilt anti-theft and anti-loss features, that would keep your most valuable belongings safe and protected while travelling.

“Arista is a Sanskrit word that means ‘unhurt’ or safest, and vault is a safe. We particularly chose a Sanskrit word for the name because while we go global it will always depict the roots which are Indian; so Arista Vault is a proud Made in India brand,” reveals Purvi.

As a D2C brand, it is also India’s first smart luggage company having filed six patents with one of them being an internationally published patent. The company is the perfect amalgamation of indigenous technology and in-house design that attempts to make customers feel the luxury as well as the safety of carrying a smart wallet.

Backed by Purvi’s years of knowledge and experience as a designer, the wallet while being the best at technology also has the slimmest silhouette which gives it a very luxurious look, making it a great gifting product. Purvi always wanted to make sure that the aesthetics of the product felt opulent, hence it has a jewel packaging with a matte-finished box.

The logo which is a power button inside a hexagon has a touch of gold to it, symbolic of a sense of pride and luxury. So you have a plush feeling when you own an Arista Vault smart wallet along with complete security of your wallet and its belongings.

Making traveller’s life hassle-free

If you had a penny for every time your heart skipped a beat while you frantically searched your pockets thinking you had lost your wallet, you’d probably beat Elon Musk’s wealth!

While that is a far-fetched reality, safeguarding your wallet is not. Arista’s Smart Wallet, with its many features, offers customers the relief to travel hassle-free even in crowded areas like trains and buses. The wallet has a power button which when pressed activates its features.

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Its main USP is the anti-loss and anti-theft features. It comes with an abundance of technologies such as an anti-theft alarm, built-in power bank, two-way tracker, remote selfie feature, RFID protection. The wallet also has a 20-meter separation alarm with two-way connectivity to your mobile phone. This way the phone can ring the wallet and vice versa. This feature especially comes in handy if your phone is either lost or stolen.

To enable such a high level of technology in a product as simple as a wallet would mean a dedicated amount of research and development.

“We are backed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and were incubated at the Electropreneur park and IIITD. We work in two world-class labs – Power lab and Fab Lab, which have state-of-the-art technology where the design, research, and technology integration are done. We also have a dedicated tannery and product design manufacturing unit where the integration of technology is done into the product after three layers of quality control,” Purvi says.

Along with technology and design, the co-founders were clear on maintaining the highest level of safety for the smart wallets. Hence all wallets are ISO certified with their privacy policy in compliance with the IT Act of the Government. As of the last quarter of this year, 6,000 smart wallets were sold amounting to Rs 2.6 crore.

Challenges along the way

It’s the trailblazing technology that makes the smart wallets of Arista Vault stand out. But this technology was not easy to develop. Purvi says that it took over a year of R&D to develop a prototype finally, but by this time all the seed fund had been exhausted.

“We knew we had a great product but for further research, innovation and product marketing more capital was needed. So all the three founders decided to put their savings and I supported the company with the earnings of my fashion venture that had initially incubated Arista Vault,” Purvi adds.

The company ran a pilot of their wallets on Amazon Launchpad and those were all sold out within three days. They used all the feedback received to further improve the product. The turning point in their entrepreneurial journey came in 2019 when the company got funding and support from the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology under Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM), with Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) & Electropreneur Park.

Using this support, Arista Vault was able to scale their venture sustainably to build world-class smart wallets that eventually got them recognition from Amazon with the Viewer’s Choice award as an Emerging Brand in 2019. In 2021, the company received the prestigious Star award for Most Innovative Brand Year. They were also able to enter the international market by exporting their products to Germany, Chile, Dubai, and other gulf countries and finally to the USA.

This year the company achieved a major milestone in its journey when it became one of the few smart luggage brands in India to raise funding from Germany-based MainStage Angel Network and UK-based Pontaq VC.

Establishing itself in a new segment

Purvi says that while the funding was a great boost both financially and morally, the true journey of the company has begun now. The capital raised is being used to scale the business and establish itself as a market leader in a fairly new segment of smart luggage.

To do this, the company has grown its distribution model and channel partners to cover various cities across the country where Arista Vault products are being sold in a brick-and-mortar model. They have forged partnerships with relevant stakeholders like the Goa government to enter the travel and tourism sector as well, with their smart products.

In October when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 5G services in India, Arista Vault was one of the few tech companies to exhibit their smart products. They are also coming up with a series of 5G-implemented products.

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Going ahead, the company wishes to build a strong presence in the smart luggage market in a B2B model. For that, they recently launched their Switch2Smart range which has a variety of smart business bags, business trolleys, laptop bags and file holders. These bags have features like GPS live and lost location which makes it almost impossible for them to be lost or stolen. They also have other features like smart charging for mobile phones, geofencing and anti-skimming.

“Nowadays from our homes to watches, everything is smart. So why should our bags be left behind? The Switch2Smart range of Arista Vault will give travellers the luxury to be free and not worry about their luggage,” Purvi says. The company has already started generating sales with B2B orders displayed in DIW 2022 Gift Expo.

In FY 2020-2021, the company generated revenue of Rs 3.59 crore and now they are well on their way to achieving Rs 12-15 crore in this financial year showing more than 4X growth in business.

Along with the sales generated on Amazon, Flipkart and their own website, this festive season Arista Vault also got into corporate gifting for occasions like Diwali and has completed bulk orders from companies such as Bharati Cement, Mitsubishi, etc. They also recently started with Amazon.com in the US and UAE.

“Going forward, both B2B and B2C have their specific areas to serve. Our products are innovative and new and require consumer awareness which is possible primarily through B2C. However at a certain level to reach a wider audience, B2B is a preferred mode of business,” Purvi adds.

Arista Vault aims to establish itself as a market leader in the smart luggage category by bringing revolutionary technology to wallets, business bags, travel backpacks and much more. In the coming year, they wish to strengthen their brand presence in India as well as abroad by launching another 15 product categories worldwide.


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