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[Funding roundup] Qarmatek, Un1Feed, AppX, MyCaptain, EduFund, others raise early-stage rounds

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Refurbished electronics startup Qarmatek raises $3M led by GVFL, Caspian Debt

Qarmatek Services Pvt. Ltd., a refurbished and renewed electronics category, announced that it has raised $3 million in a funding round led by GVFL (Gujarat Venture Finance Limited) and Caspian Debt. 

In the preliminary stage, the funds will be utilised towards expanding and digitising operational capabilities, scale across key domestic markets, and foray into B2C operations with MOBEX, a brand by Qarmatek that is emphatically customer centric. 

Qarmatek Co-founders

The investment will also enable Qarmatek to align with its grander vision of creating a tech-enabled circular economy for e-waste in India while also enhancing the customer experience from sales to purchase touchpoints. Qarmatek intends to use a portion of the funds towards creating an all-purpose technologically forward infrastructure that will ensure a seamless experience of an embellished B2C journey for the end-user, while offering the best prices and exceptionally high-quality products.

Tech startup Un1Feed raises $1M in pre-seed round

Un1Feed, the tech startup founded by Hardik Patil and Ansh Nanda that allows users to override and edit their social feed algorithm, has raised over $1 million in a pre-seed round led by Neo, a Silicon Valley based community focused venture capital fund.

The others investors in this round include Tribe Capital, Great Oaks, Global Asset Capital, and angel investors. Un1Feed plans to use this funding for product development and hiring.

AppX raises $1.3M in its funding round led by Y Combinator

Delhi-based startup AppX, which enables creators to run their online businesses from their own storefront, has raised $1.3 million in a recent funding round led by Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital, Rocket Internet, Soma Capital, Shrug VC, Lenny Rachitsky, James Beshara, and TDV Partners. 

The company plans to utilise the fresh funds to increase its product offerings to help more creators monetise, roll out their token, as well as expand internationally. 

AppX Co-founders

Founded in January 2020 by Sameer Sadana and Anuj Gupta, AppX helps its creators monetise via their own personal mobile applications and websites, wherein creators can run their own online businesses such as ebooks, courses, NFTs and ecommerce businesses. The company is currently targeting creators with over 10,000 followers on platforms like Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube, and more such social media outlets.

Online mentoring platform MyCaptain raises $3M in Pre-Series A round

MyCaptain, a Bengaluru-based startup focused on reimagining the future of work, has raised $3 million in Pre-Series A round led by Ankur Capital. The round also saw participation from IPV (Inflection Point Ventures), Firstport ventures, IIM Calcutta Angels Network, Singapore Angel Investors, and other Super Angels. 

Co-founded by Mohammed Zeeshan, Sameer Ramesh, and Ruhan Naqash, MyCaptain, an online mentoring platform has become a platform where students can learn directly from young professionals, discover new career options and build practical skills through over 30+ beginner to advanced live cohort based courses. 

These courses range from content writing, social media management, fashion design to entrepreneurship and even advertising. As market leaders in the segment, MyCaptain has been able to train, mentor and facilitate monetizable outcomes for more than 150,000+ paid learners so far, coming right from metro cities like Bangalore to small towns like Guntur in Andhra Pradesh.

Homegrown consumer electronic startup Mivi raises funding from N+1 Capital Inbox

Mivi has raised an undisclosed amount from N+1 Capital in the debt funding round. The fresh capital will further bolster the company’s in-house capabilities, helping it expand its presence across new verticals.

Headquartered in Hyderabad, Mivi is a one-of-a-kind company specialising in the audio gadgets category, with its products ranging from TWS (True Wireless Earphones) to speakers to address the audio needs of today’s tech-savvy, music-loving Indian population. Realising the lack of homegrown high-quality audio gadgets in the Indian market, the brand strives to elevate its consumer electronics industry to the next level through its high-quality “Made in India” gadgets at affordable prices.

EduFund raises a $1M in seed round led by Anchorage Capital Partners

EduFund, India’s first company that covers a child’s higher education journey from savings (rupee and dollar) to immigration, has raised $1 million in its seed round led by Anchorage Capital Partners, along with additional investments from ViewTrade Holding – Corp and other angel investors. The funds will be used to augment the product offerings and expand the market presence.

Founded in June 2020, EduFund provides a holistic planning tool to help every parent plan for their child’s higher education journey and reduce the financial burden associated with quality higher education.

EduFund Co-founders

The company has entered into multiple counsellor partnerships, including – OnCourse Global, Zsoldos Coaching, Reva Education Consultant, and Overseas Education Consultancy. EduFund is also a Registered Investment Advisor regulated by SEBI. Furthermore, it ensures 100 percent privacy and confidentiality to keep users’ personal information safe. The company has also partnered with a prominent US broker-dealer to offer investments in US dollar-related products.

T-Hub bags Rs 5 Cr from Startup India Seed Fund

T-Hub which leads India’s pioneering innovation ecosystem, on Tuesday announced that it got selected under the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme by DPIIT, GOI to disburse Rs 5 crore among eligible startups with an objective to support and fuel early-stage funding in startups.

With an aim to provide value-driven and effective growth for the startups, T-Hub this year announced its focus on providing funding avenues for its startups and receiving the Startup India Seed Fund is one of the steps towards this focus. The fund will be disbursed to the eligible startups through debt or convertible debentures instruments. The fund will be utilised to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry, and commercialisation.

T-Hub will be disbursing this fund to 15 startups in the span of three years.

The seed fund allocated to T-Hub is sector agnostic and will focus on supporting technology startups and innovations which are Minimum Viable Product (MVP) ready and need funds for their early growth.

HUVIAiR raises $3.2M in Series A round led by Chiratae Ventures

HUVIAiR Technologies raises $3.2 million in its Series A round of funding, led by Chiratae Ventures. Other investors taking part in this round include SOSV, RMZ Management LLP, and Artesian Venture Partners. 

 

Huviair is a pioneer of remote monitoring and management software for construction projects. Their flagship SaaS platform CONSTRA, derives insights from images and videos (of building exterior and interior) to help immensely through the planning, building and inspection stages of construction projects.

With this new round of funding, HUVIAiR expects to hire key people, build newer product features, scale customer acquisition in India and a few strategic markets overseas, including the USA.

Ice cream brand Get-A-Whey bags an investment of Rs 1 Cr on Shark Tank India

Get-A-Whey, a healthy ice cream brand founded by two siblings, Jash Shah and Pashmi Shah Agarwal, along with their mother Jimmy Shah, has bagged an investment of Rs 1 crore for 15 percent equity in the first edition of Shark Tank India.

 

The investors included Ashneer Grover, MD and Co-founder, BharatPe; Aman Gupta, CMO and Co-founder, boAt; and Vineeta Singh, CEO and Co-founder, SUGAR Cosmetics.

Available in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Surat, Hyderabad, and Chennai across supermarkets, their website and online platforms, the brand is available in 12 international flavours and also sells four keto-friendly flavours. 

Aerostrovilos Energy secures Rs 3.5 crore as part of its seed round

Aerostrovilos Energy, an IIT Madras-incubated organisation and Mumbai Angels’ portfolio company, on Tuesday secured its seed round of funding of Rs 3.5 crore from Tube Investment of India, a Murugappa Group Company. 

Working on developing Micro Gas Turbines (MGT) with the National Centre for Combustion Research (NCCR) at IIT Madras, Aerostrovilos Energy is building an MGT-based powertrain solution for heavy-duty trucks and power generation at reduced costs. 

The company will be utilising the funds for the completion of its solution, prototype manufacturing, and a trial run of MGT-based heavy vehicles.

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Cyber Monday shopping expected to set record but annual growth has slowed | Adobe

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Cyber Monday shopping sales hit at least $6.3 billion through part of the day in the U.S. today, according to the latest online shopping data from Adobe Analytics.

It’s not unusual for Cyber Monday and Black Friday online shopping results to break records, but it this economic climate it’s encouraging to see it happen. Still, growth has slowed from 2021 and 2020 holiday seasons.

Consumers spent $6.3 billion up through 3:00 pm Pacific time for Cyber Monday. Adobe expects that when the final tally is in, consumers will spend between $11.2 billion and $11.6 billion for the day, making Cyber Monday the biggest online shopping day of the year (and of all time).

Today, the top 15 hot sellers (not in ranked order) have included Legos, Hatchimals, Disney Encanto, Pokémon cards, Bluey, Dyson products, strollers, Apple Watches, drones, and digital cameras. Gaming consoles also remain popular, along with games including Mario Party, FIFA 23, Madden 23 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

Over the past weekend, the top sellers were included Hot Wheels, Cocomelon, Bluey, Disney Encanto, L.O.L. Surprise dolls, Roblox, and Fortnite in the toys category. Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 remain the top selling gaming consoles, with popular games including FIFA 23, God of War Ragnarök, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Madden 23, and NBA 2k23. Other hot sellers included Apple iPads, Apple MacBooks, digital cameras, Roku devices, drones, gift cards and Instapots.

Black Friday online shopping sales were $9.12 billion, up 2.3% from a year ago, and Thanksgiving itself came in at $5.29 billion, up 2.9% from a year ago. Those were above Adobe’s projections. Last year, consumers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday.

Strong consumer spend has been driven by net-new demand, and not just higher prices. The Adobe Digital Price Index, which tracks online prices across 18 product categories (complements the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, which also includes prices for offline only products and services like gasoline and rent) shows that prices online have been nearly flat in recent months (down 0.7% YoY in October 2022).

Adobe Analytics says Cyber Monday will set a record.

Adobe’s numbers are not adjusted for inflation, but if online inflation were factored in, there would still be growth in underlying consumer demand, the company said.

On a category basis, toys were a major growth driver in the days leading up to Cyber Monday, with online sales up 452% over the average day in October 2022. Appliances (up 305%) and baby/toddler products (up 289%) also saw strong demand, in addition to electronics (up 276%) and apparel (up 258%).

Shoppers will find record discounts today for computers (peaking at 27% off listed price). Deals will also be found in nearly all categories tracked, including apparel (19%), toys (33%), electronics (25%), sporting goods (16%), televisions (15%), and furniture (11%). Those looking to buy an appliance should consider waiting until Thursday (December 1), when discounts are set to peak at 18% on average.

Weekend spending remained strong

Consumers spent over a Black Friday’s worth of ecommerce over the weekend at $9.55 billion, up 4.4% YoY ($4.59 billion on November 26, up 2.6% YoY / $4.96 billion on November, up 6.1% YoY). Season-to-date (November 1 to November 27), consumers have spent a total of $96.42 billion online, up 2.1% YoY.

And while the big days (Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday) have reached new heights, consumers spent at record levels all season. Since November 1, shoppers spent over $2 billion every single day, with 19 days above $3 billion in online spend. Broad, early discounts were the main drivers for the shift in consumer spending.

“Shoppers have seen massive discounts this past week, which is the exact opposite situation from last season when supply chain constraints kept prices elevated,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. “While discounting will have an impact on margins for retailers, it is also driving a level of demand that can help brands build long-term loyalty and net some short-term gains.”

Additional Adobe Analytics Insights

Over the weekend, online sales of toys were up 383% (compared to average daily sales for the category in October 2022), with baby toys seeing strong demand (up 252%). Other categories that surged over the weekend include jewelry (up 230%), sporting goods (up 239%), and apparel (up 217%).

With online spending hitting new records and inflation impacting consumers, flexible payments have become a big story this season. In the last week (November 21 to November 27), “buy now, pay later” orders have risen 68% and revenue has increased 72%, when compared to the week prior.

Over the weekend, smartphones drove over half of online sales for the first time (52%, up from 48% last year). Adobe expects mobile shopping to dip on Cyber Monday however, based on historical trends. Many people are back at work and using laptops, which will be the preferred device for shopping online.

Forecast for Cyber Week

Adobe expects Cyber Week (the five days from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday) to generate $34.8 billion in online spend, up 2.8% YoY, and represent 16.3% share of the full November through December holiday season.

Cyber Monday is expected to remain the season’s and year’s biggest online shopping day, bringing in between $11.2 billion and $11.6 billion. Black Friday generated a record $9.12 billion in online spend, up 2.3% YoY, while Thanksgiving brought $5.29 billion in online spend, up 2.9% YoY.

Adobe analyzes direct consumer transactions online. The analysis covers over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories.

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Snowflake 101: 5 ways to build a secure data cloud 

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Today, Snowflake is the favorite for all things data. The company started as a simple data warehouse platform a decade ago but has since evolved into an all-encompassing data cloud supporting a wide range of workloads, including that of a data lake

More than 6,000 enterprises currently trust Snowflake to handle their data workloads and produce insights and applications for business growth. They jointly have more than 250 petabytes of data on the data cloud, with more than 515 million data workloads running each day.

Now, when the scale is this big, cybersecurity concerns are bound to come across. Snowflake recognizes this and offers scalable security and access control features that ensure the highest levels of security for not only accounts and users but also the data they store. However, organizations can miss out on certain basics, leaving data clouds partially secure. 

Here are some quick tips to fill these gaps and build a secure enterprise data cloud.

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1. Make your connection secure

First of all, all organizations using Snowflake, regardless of size, should focus on using secured networks and SSL/TLS protocols to prevent network-level threats. According to Matt Vogt, VP for global solution architecture at Immuta, a good way to start would be connecting to Snowflake over a private IP address using cloud service providers’ private connectivity such as AWS PrivateLink or Azure Private Link. This will create private VPC endpoints that allow direct, secure connectivity between your AWS/Azure VPCs and the Snowflake VPC without traversing the public Internet. In addition to this, network access controls, such as IP filtering, can also be used for third-party integrations, further strengthening security.

2. Protect source data

While Snowflake offers multiple layers of protection – like time travel and fail-safe – for data that has already been ingested, these tools cannot help if the source data itself is missing, corrupted or compromised (like malicious encrypted for ransom) in any way. This kind of issue, as Clumio’s VP of product Chadd Kenney suggests, can only be addressed by adopting measures to protect the data when it is resident in an object storage repository such as Amazon S3 – before ingest. Further, to protect against logical deletes, it is advisable to maintain continuous, immutable, and preferably air-gapped backups that are instantly recoverable into Snowpipe.

3. Consider SCIM with multi-factor authentication

Enterprises should use SCIM (system for cross-domain identity management) to help facilitate automated provisioning and management of user identities and groups (i.e. roles used for authorizing access to objects like tables, views, and functions) in Snowflake. This makes user data more secure and simplifies the user experience by reducing the role of local system accounts. Plus, by using SCIM where possible, enterprises will also get the option to configure SCIM providers to synchronize users and roles with active directory users and groups.

On top of this, enterprises also should use multi-factor authentication to set up an additional layer of security. Depending on the interface used, such as client applications using drivers, Snowflake UI, or Snowpipe, the platform can support multiple authentication methods, including username/password, OAuth, keypair, external browser, federated authentication using SAML and Okta native authentication. If there’s support for multiple methods, the company recommends giving top preference to OAuth (either snowflake OAuth or external OAuth) followed by external browser authentication and Okta native authentication and key pair authentication.

4. Column-level access control

Organizations should use Snowflake’s dynamic data masking and external tokenization capabilities to restrict certain users’ access to sensitive information in certain columns. For instance, dynamic data masking, which can dynamically obfuscate column data based on who’s querying it, can be used to restrict the visibility of columns based on the user’s country, like a U.S. employee can only view the U.S. order data, while French employees can only view order data from France.

Both features are pretty effective, but they use masking policies to work. To make the most of it, organizations should first determine whether they want to centralize masking policy management or decentralize it to individual database-owning teams, depending on their needs. Plus, they would also have to use invoker_role() in policy conditions to enable unauthorized users to view aggregate data on protected columns while keeping individual data hidden.

5. Implement a unified audit model

Finally, organizations should not forget to implement a unified audit model to ensure transparency of the policies being implemented. This will help them actively monitor policy changes, like who created what policy that granted user X or group Y access to certain data, and is as critical as monitoring query and data access patterns. 

To view account usage patterns, use system-defined, read-only shared database named SNOWFLAKE. It has a schema named ACCOUNT_USAGE containing views that provide access to one year of audit logs.

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WhatsApp rolls out new ‘Message Yourself’ feature globally • TechCrunch

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To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

We’re joining the Cyber Monday fun with 25% off annual subscriptions to TechCrunch+ content and analysis starting today until Wednesday, November 30. Plus, today only, get 50% off tickets to discover the vast unknown and attend TechCrunch Sessions: Space in Los Angeles!

Okay, we haven’t done a newsletter since Wednesday, and while the U.S. team was chillin’ like villains, the rest of the team was hard at work, so here’s some of the highlights from the last half-week of TechCrunchy goodness! — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Talking to yourself just went digital: Instead of having that internal monologue stay in your head, now you can play out all of your thoughts to yourself in WhatsApp, Jagmeet writes. The messaging platform began rolling out an easier way to talk to yourself today after completing beta testing.
  • Great Wall of porn: That’s how Rita and Catherine describe the bot surge in China that is making it difficult to get any legitimate Twitter search results when trying to find out something about Chinese cities. Why, you ask? Rita writes that “the surge in such bot content coincides with an unprecedented wave of (COVID) protests that have swept across major Chinese cities and universities over the weekend.”
  • Your calendar, only more productive: Get ready for your calendar to be more than just a place to record things you have to do that day. Romain writes about Amie, a startup that grabbed $7 million to link your unscheduled to-do list with your calendar. The app also enables users to be social with coworkers.

Startups and VC

Dubai-based mass transit and shared mobility services provider SWVL has carried out its second round of layoffs, affecting 50% of its remaining headcount, Tage reports. The news is coming six months after SWVL laid off 32% (over 400 employees) of its workforce in a “portfolio optimization program” effort geared toward achieving positive cash flow next year.

There’s a couple of new funds in town, too! Harri reports that Early Light Ventures plots a second, $15 million fund for software ‘underdogs,’ while Mike writes that BackingMinds raises a new €50 million fund to fund normally overlooked entrepreneurs. He also writes about Pact, an all-women led VC for mission-driven startups, backed by Anne Hathaway.

And we have five more for you:

Lessons for raising $10M without giving up a board seat

Blackboard showing soccer strategy

Image Credits: Ihor Reshetniak (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Over the last two years, intelligent calendar platform Reclaim.ai raised $10 million “using a more incremental approach,” writes co-founder Henry Shapiro.

“We’ve done all this without giving up a single board seat, and Reclaim employees continue to own over two-thirds of the company’s equity,” rejecting conventional wisdom that founders should “raise as much as you can as fast as you can.”

In a TC+ post, Shapiro reviews the process they used to identify follow-on investors, shares the email template used to pitch the SAFE, and explains why “a larger cap table means more founder control.”

Three more from the TC+ team:

TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!

Big Tech Inc.

Amazon’s recent cost-cutting measures seem to be affecting more than just its delivery business. Manish writes that the company is shutting down its wholesale distribution business, called Amazon Distribution, in India. Amazon had started this unit to help neighborhood stores secure inventory. The company didn’t say why it was closing this particular business down, but Manish notes that this is the third such Amazon unit to be shuttered in India.

Meanwhile, Natasha L reports that Meta has gotten itself into trouble again with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (aka, the agency that regulates data protection). Facebook’s parent company is being hit with $275 million in penalties for what the agency said was breaches in data protection that resulted in some 530 million users’ personal information being leaked.

Now enjoy six more:



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