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How B2B2C startup Hokart is helping organise the street vendor sector by providing digital access



In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, several street vendors across India lost their livelihoods in the subsequent lockdown as they were dependent on walk-in customers. 

At that time, Aakanksha Chaudhary, who had set up Mireya Foods and her brand Chaat Street in 2017 in Bengaluru, got back to the drawing board.

She along with her co-founders, Kavita Azad and Angad Bhalla, decided to set up Hokart, a B2B2C platform to empower street vendors by providing access to digital commerce, quality supply-chain, and infrastructure.

The platform, an independent vertical under Mireya Food Pvt Ltd, enables street vendors to launch and operate online stores with zero upfront investment, and enables multi-channel delivery options.

Hokart provides vendors with a 360-degree solution approach, including licences, marketing, product cataloguing, accounts, maintaining operational metrics and hygiene standards through training, to enable semi-literate or illiterate street vendors to conduct business online.

What does it solve for?

The platform addresses problems of the street vending sector at multiple levels, such as sourcing, operations, marketing, and customer experience. 

Akanksha says they have a supply-and-demand problem to solve, which is why the team is focusing on “developing a new sales channel to drive the next mobile users from Bharat to turn customers” through new mediums of engagement and demand fulfilment.

“We observed that most vendors have to haul their equipment and infrastructure to a selling point to make sales each day. They spend almost 40-50 minutes setting up the store and have to carry the equipment each day, adding to transportation costs. It is a strenuous task, one that ca be simplified or eliminated,” she says. 

A quick pivot

Hokart launched as an infrastructure leasing service in Bangalore in November 2020. The team built state-of-the-art kitchen-grade mobile carts; these were self-contained units with power, water, gas with burners, and garbage disposal features. 

The carts were rented out on a daily basis and were shipped (and picked up) to selling points on request, thereby reducing effort and capital needed by vendors to start a business. The service was an instant hit with vendors “lining up outside our office to make bookings”.  

“However, we were quick to learn the scalability issues with the model, and were unable to see impact being made at a large scale to make a difference. During field operations, we learned that vendors have rudimentary infrastructure in place and have been doing well.”

Aakanksha, Angad, and Kavita

“Immediate attention was needed to improve revenues, and going digital was the best way. We started setting up the digital infrastructure to accept orders on online food aggregator platforms and on-boarding street vendors,” Aakanksha says.

The Hokart team wanted to make selling online more friendly and easy for vendors. So, the idea was to launch street vendors as a “unified brand” and take care of all the backend nuances of running a business online. 

Activities such as licensing, online marketing, menu engineering, accounts, and sales are now handled by Hokart, which lets vendors focus on food preparation. The new business model started gaining traction as vendors just needed to submit an ID proof; the Hokart team “took care of the rest”. 

Revenue and growth 

Within 30 days of their re-launch, Hokart was able to on-board about 40 vendors purely by word-of-mouth marketing. 

Vendors saw a jump in daily sales by as much as 53 percent in some cases. Many features built into the business model make doing business very convenient for vendors – from fast settlements to customer support. The system is simple enough for a semi-literate street vendor to start operating immediately though the integrated vendor app.

“Since the relaunch in February 2021, we have already on-boarded about 160 street vendors and are growing 100 percent month on month. We relocated some of our existing partner vendors to their home locations during the second lockdown and enabled their operations during COVID, thus providing livelihood even during lockdowns. Some vendors managed to earn 100 percent of their offline revenues via online channels through Hokart,” Aakanksha says. 

The parent company Mireya, last year had earnings of Rs 100 on their first day; the brand is now seeing a revenue of Rs 5 crore. It has seven stores and one central kitchen in Bengaluru at present, and has an annual turnover of Rs 5 crore. The store’s EBITDA is pegged at 25 percent. 

Explaining the reasons that made her start up, Aakanksha says, “Traditionally, chaats are treated as an accompaniment to meals and are sold in big sweet shops as part of the menu. However, we quickly realised this was a category waiting to explode. People love Indian food, but are served burgers-pizzas-coffee by multinational companies. Additionally, with changing lifestyles, people are choosing to eat light meals more frequently during the day as well. This has resulted in a huge demand for Indian snacks offered in smaller portions during the day.” 

Market and the future 

Currently, Hokart competes with the likes of Swiggy, which has tied up with the Street Food Vendors programme in 125 cities under the Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNibhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme. This follows a successful pilot that Swiggy initiated with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in the cities of Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Chennai, Delhi, and Indore, through which it has already onboarded over 300 street vendors on its platform.

The Hokart team is expanding operations and scaling up their vendor fleet across Bengaluru, and will be launching in another city soon.

It has onboarded over 160 street vendors and is growing at 100 percent month on month run rate. The plan is “to add 600+ vendors by December 2021”.

“We are working on a unique engagement platform, the Hokart App, to redefine the buying experience of food online. This is due to be launched in October 2021,” Aakanksha says. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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Rumors confirmed, Street Fighter 6 kicks off in June 2023



Fighting Game fans are excited now that Capcom announced that Street Fighter 6 is coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S and PC on June 2, 2023. The game was initially announced in February 2022, but that reveal did not include a specific release date beyond 2023.

The trailer at The Game Awards focused on new mini games and the international setting. In addition to the 18 previously announced fighter, the trailer also confirms that several new fighters — Dee Jay, Manon, Marisa and JP — that will join the game’s roster.

Notably, the June 2 release date for Street Fighter 6 may be a strategic choice for Capcom. June is the very beginning of Q3.

The last installment of the franchise — Street Fighter V — released nearly seven years ago so fans have been eager for another installment. A day before The Game Awards, the game’s June release date was leaked via the PlayStation Store.

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5 Things to Do Now to Propel Your Business in 2023



Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurship is a daily leap of faith. In times of economic uncertainty, that leap may feel like a dive off a cliff. We are in one of those times. It likely will take months to fully re-adjust to the forces that have pummeled the world’s economy, and to entrepreneurs, months can feel like years.

With the right playbook, entrepreneurs can survive and thrive in whatever economic scenario. Here are five things you can do to propel your business ahead now and through the difficulties of business cycles for years to come.

1. Learn the lessons of more challenging times

A rocky economy presents a unique opportunity to make tough decisions about the business plan. Everything is open to reexamination. How has the market changed? Are your customers facing challenges that create new opportunities for your solutions? How do new conditions change your assumptions, and what actions do you need to take in response?

Critically evaluate your product roadmap. Is this the time to pivot or become more aggressive with your current plans? Prioritize the highest margin features that are achievable in the next twelve months. Push out projects that don’t make that list, and re-assign resources accordingly. Re-assess pricing. Even as inflation tiptoes back from the highest levels in forty years, raw material and transportation costs remain way up. What will impact your customers if you adjust the pricing or add surcharges to offset these costs, at least temporarily?

It’s been a rough year for hiring. Many companies took the talent they could get. If there are employees or gig workers who would fare better in a different job, now is the time to let them go. Make tough-minded corrections that will pay off overall — corrections that might be avoidable in less challenging times.

Related: How to Turn Inflation and Recession into Your Largest Business Opportunity

2. Tighten your grip on cash

Venture capitalists are pulling back. In the third quarter, Crunchbase reported that funding for startups in U.S. and Canada fell 50% year-over-year. Valuations are down across the board. If you are fortunate enough to be a later-stage startup that benefited from VC largess in 2021, make your last raise last longer than intended.

Keep your dry powder dry, and put off going for another round until the markets even out. Reemphasize the basics for early-stage companies with less market validation and greater distance between now and a potential exit. Delay all capital expenditures. Leverage the hybrid work model if possible, to reduce rent and other office expenses. Continue with Zoom or Google Meet. Now is not the time to rack up travel costs. Re-negotiate fees and terms with service providers. Seek credit terms with key suppliers, in a word, bootstrap.

3. Talk to customers, in person. Now.

How have the business needs of your customers — whether paying or beta — changed over the last 18 months? Are there benefits to your solution that have more recognized value now? Nearly every business, for example, from corporates to startups, has been forced to re-learn the lessons of supply chain management. Startups that can help their customers make better business decisions based on artificial intelligence (AI), reduce costs by improving inventory management or protect against out-of-stock scenarios by identifying and building relationships with new, more local sources of supply will have an edge.

Related: Finding Validation in Serving Customers

4. Non-dilutive capital

According to PitchBook, venture capitalists are showing greater interest in portfolio companies “whose satellite, robotics and software tools can do double duty” in military and commercial markets. International conflicts are one reason, of course.

Another is that the defense and military security industries are generally viewed as recession-proof. Our firm routinely encourages portfolio companies to consider non-dilutive funding from the Small Business Administration — grants to support cutting-edge technologies range from $150,000 to more than $1 million.

Navigating the application process isn’t for the faint of heart. A startup must be realistic about the work involved, but in many states, there are resources to help. Besides the funding, severe responses to agency requests for proposals are reviewed and evaluated by technologists. At a minimum, this can be terrific feedback and a great source of industry contacts.

5. Blue-chip cultures attract blue-chip talent

Company culture can be an asset or a liability. An inclusive, rich culture helps key hires say yes. Finding stakeholders that believe what you believe and are aligned with your team’s values significantly improves the odds that they will stick with you in good times or bad.

After months of “great resignation” fever, the over-heated demand for talent may be cooling off. Maybe offers aren’t as fast or grand as they were a year ago. Maybe Twitter won’t be the only advanced technology business to let people go. Regardless, the search for great talent isn’t a faucet that a young company turns off and on. A startup might modulate the timing or the number of hires but stand at the ready to recruit and filter for culture fit.

Related: 3 Ways to Stay Competitive in the War for Talent

With the right mindset and intentional approach, an entrepreneur can make 2023 a year to strive and thrive. As Yogi Berra, my favorite baseball player of all time, said, “Swing at the strikes.” In business, like baseball, the right swing can turn even the most challenging pitch into a hit.

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Akros Technologies, an AI-powered asset management platform, raises funding from Z Holdings • TechCrunch



Artificial intelligence is taking over almost every industry. The investment and finance industry is no exception. In Deloitte’s 2019 report, the firm reveals that AI is transforming the financial ecosystem to reduce costs and make operations more efficient by providing automated insights and alternative data, analysis and risk management.

Technology such as AI has digitized the finance sector, ranging from payments and remittances to lending. However, asset management is still in the nascent stage of digitization, according to the chief strategy officer and co-founder of Akros Technologies, Jin Chung.

Akros Technologies wants to disrupt the current asset management industry via its AI-driven asset management software platform that mines market data for stocks. Akros just raised $2.3 million from Z Venture Capital, the corporate venture capital wholly owned by Z Holdings, which also owns the Japanese messaging app Line and internet portal Yahoo Japan.

Akros intends to strengthen strategic ties with Z Holdings via strategic investment, the startup said. The latest funding, which brings Akros’s total amount raised to $6.1 million since its 2021 inception, will help Akros to scale its software platform and asset management products and ramp up its users, including local and global financial institutions and fintech companies.

The outfit is already in discussions with potential partners to expand its AI-powered product called portfolio management as a service, or PMaaS, an all-in-one operating system for portfolio management. Chung explained to TechCrunch that PMaaS “enables B2B clients such as financial institutions, fintech startups and robot-advisors to launch their own exchange-traded funds (ETFs) without having to set up ETF teams and infrastructure.”

He added that it expects to secure more than five B2B clients in the first quarter of 2023.

The startup claims that its AI-powered portfolio management platform can reduce “the overall cost structure [of] the traditional fund development,” including management fees and unnecessary fees involved in the investment process, by more than 80%. The outfit aims to maximize the finance management performance of data-driven ETFs and offer a portfolio management solution via the PMaaS for Akros’s users to help them compete with global ETF institutions like Vanguard or JPMorgan.

In August, Contents Technologies launched Korean pop music, also known as K-pop, and Korea Entertainment ETF, on the NYSE Arca Exchange under the ticker KPOP, using Akros’s PMaaS solution to develop the ETFs. In addition, Akros listed an AI-driven target income ETF, called Akros Monthly Payout ETF (ticker: MPAY), on the NYSE in May with monthly distributions at an annualized target rate of 7%, according to the startup.

To build a slew of investment strategies that lower the cost of portfolio modeling and generate scores of investment portfolios, Akros applies a generative AI model based on a decision transformer, which predicts future actions through the sequencing model, Chung said, adding the company also employs GPT-3 natural language processing (NLP) to analyze unstructured language data.

Akros plans continuously to enhance its engineering technology by bolstering its business to disrupt the asset management market and attract new partners across the globe, including Japan, Singapore and the U.S., co-founder and chief executive officer Kyle Moon said in a statement.

Founded by CEO Moon, CSO Jin and chief marketing officer Justin Gim, Akros employs seven people.

Co-founders of Akros Technologies: (Left to right) Justin Gim, Kyle Moon and Jin Chung. Image Credits: Akros Technologies

Moon previously worked for Qraft Technologies as head of AI research and CSO and had experience listing four ETFs on NYSE. Before co-founding Akros, Gim had more than nine years of experience in the asset management industry; Chung did research work for Bayesian deep learning in autonomous driving cars at Oxford Robotics Institute.

In March, Akros raised $3.75 million in funding from PeopleFund, a South Korean peer-to-peer lending platform. The company declined to provide its valuation when asked.

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