China deal flow was rather slow this past week as Chinese get ready for the Year of the Dog. Yet India was on fire these past days with new deals.
With a forward-looking government leadership, a steady group of experienced venture capital firms, a deep pool of digital talents, improving infrastructure and the motivation to get ahead, India is coming into its own as one of the tech axis powers, alongside China and the U.S.
As smartphone usage spreads among its population (the world’s second largest after China) and broadband improves, the startup ecosystem is flourishing in India.
This column looks at several recent Indian startups that have received financing from well-regarded investors.
Silicon Dragon has long said that India would catch up to China. It’s still in the works as Indian entrepreneurs and investors take cues from what else has worked in Asia’s frontier tech markets and apply it locally to the Indian market. After all, India does claim the world’s third largest venture capital market, after the U.S. and China. Funding levels in India last year were down by 17 percent to $2.87 billion while exit value jumped 56 percent to $2.7 billion.
Silicon Valley-based Samsung Next has made its first investment in India, joining in on a $12 million, Series B financing of HealthifyMe, a health and fitness app that relies on AI to help users monitor food choices and track fitness goals. Singapore’s Atlas Asset Management and Japan’s Dream Incubator participated in the funding that included four VC firms: IDG Ventures, Blume Ventures, Inventus Capital and Dubai-based NB Ventures. The popular app grew to 4 million users in 2017. Nutritionists and trainers guide users through diets and workouts, and an AI-empowered assistant Ria tracks all.
HealthifyMe, located in Bangalore, plans to use this fresh round of funding to deepen its presence in India by expanding into more markets and offering health foods, diagnostics and insurance products beyond its digital nutrition/fitness services portfolio. The company recently launched in several Middle Eastern markets.
Nexus Venture Partners has led a $5 million, Series A financing of Joveo, Inc., a job advertising technology platform based in Hyderabad and San Francisco.
Joveo will use the recently raised funding to accelerate its product offerings, expand its partnerships and scale its AI/deep learning layer.
Additionally, Joveo acquired Ripple Media Inc., a programmatic media buyer that partners with agencies to provide an open publisher marketplace and trading expertise.
At Nexus Venture Partners, managing directors Sameer Brij Verma and Ram Gupta spearheaded the deal.
Digital gold loans provider Rupeek picked up $6.83 million in funding led by Accel Partners with participation from Sequoia Capital India. Previous backers includes founders of well-known successful Indian startups Snapdeal and FlipKart.
Bangalore-based video sharing app, Clip, raised $6 million in a Series A round led by Matrix Partners. Clip lets users create, edit and share short 60-second video clips on the platform.
Chinese drone maker EHang has achieved a series of manned flight tests in South China’s Guangzhou. Imagine that! A passenger drone, made in China. The concept was unveiled at CES two years ago but it’s now being tested with human passengers. Wave of the future? Personal drones and air taxis may be coming sooner than you might have imagined!
Rebecca A. Fannin is founder/editor of news, events and research group Silicon Dragon. She is an author of three books on innovation and venture trends, and is a public speaker.