Oct 4 - 10
Another week has flown by. I spent most of the my Saturday bingeing Bad Boy Billionaires on Netflix. The best episode was definitely the one on Sahara, I felt. Overall, I enjoyed the show, and would recommend watching it even though its a bit superficial in addressing the underlying issues. I've also been reading Vivek Kaul's Bad Money: Inside the NPA Mess and How It Threatens the Indian Banking System, so the series made for interesting viewing in that context as well.
We had lots of interesting news this week, and I specifically have to say that I love the fact that you will now be able to book rail tickets via Amazon in India. Though I have to say, I do feel that navigating the IRCTC website is an endurance test that probably prepares you for any kind of web navigation!
Dukaan app removed from Play Store after court relief to Khatabook: In a writ petition filed by Khatabook, the Karnataka High Court has restrained Dukaan’s co-founder Suumit Shah from infringing KhataBook’s copyright over the source code of “Dukaan” application.
JioMart begins subscription commerce services: JioMart is testing a subscription-based model in Bangalore and Chennai where users will be able to order daily needs such as dairy-bakery products, vegetables and other essentials. If JioMart rolls out services after the trial, it will directly compete with BB Daily, Supr Daily and MilkBasket.
Paytm "launches" its mini-app store: Paytm is introducing its mini-app store, an ecosystem within Paytm's existing app - users can navigate to the mini-app section and use hundreds of mini apps without having to download the native apps directly to their phones.
Nitin Gupta's Uni raises a whopping $18.5M for their seed round: Fintech veteran Nitin Gupta, who founded PayU and worked on Ola's financial services arm, has a new company (somewhat in stealth) that has just raised $18.5M from Lightspeed and Accel in their seed round. It seems like the company is tackling the problem of the lack of credit cards in the country (30-35M).
Chargebee raises $55M in a Series F led by Insight Partners: Subscription & recurring billing management company Chargebee has raised $55M in their Series F round led by Insight Partners with participation from Steadview Capital & Tiger Global. This brings the company's total fundraise to just over $100M over 8 years (they raised an $800k Series A in 2014 - these days that's too small for a seed).
SAIF is raising $400 M for their new India-focussed fund: SAIF Partners plan to raise $400M for their next India-focussed fund. This is slightly larger than the firms' previous funds, which have been around $350M and will bring the firm's total AUM to over $1B. The firm has been quite active this year backing the likes of Zomentum, Camp K12, Jodo Pay & Yoga Bar.
Winuall raises a $2M seed round from Prime Venture Partners & others: Winuall has announced a $2M seed round from Prime Venture Partners, BEENEXT and a handful of angel investors. The company, founded in 2019, is a SaaS platform for tutors & coaching institutes and helps them digitize their classes.
Amazon India introduces train ticket booking: Amazon India has partnered with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to allow users to book train tickets through Amazon's mobile app directly. Amazon is also waiving service and payment gateway charges for now (presumably would make tickets slightly cheaper). Users will be able to check seat availability on the Amazon app and book tickets through the Amazon Pay tab.
Indian crypto exchange raises a series A round led by Draper Associates: Bangalore-based crypto exchange Unocoin has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from legendary Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper's Draper Associates. XBTO Ventures and 2020 Ventures also participated in the round.
Chiratae invests Rs 23.5 Cr in agritech company Ergo: ** Ergos raised a Rs. 58.5 Cr Series A round led by Chiratae Ventures with participation from Avishkar Bharat Fund (ABF) as well. The company acts as a grain bank that enables farmers to convert their grains into tradable assets and get credit against their stored produce from NBFCs and banks, and get better prices for their produce.
Paytm launches its mini app store
Amidst its battle with Google about its play store policies, Paytm took out full-page advertisements across all major newspapers introducing its mini-app store. This has actually been on the platform for a while already, but it is certainly a pretty smart move given the recent anti-foreign sentiments in the startup industry recently.
However this app store isn't really an app store. It is an ecosystem within Paytm's existing app. Users can navigate to the mini-app section and use hundreds of mini apps without having to download the native apps directly to their phones.
I think there are both pros and cons to this - on the one hand, companies get instant distribution through Paytm to hundreds of millions of users who they don't have to acquire themselves. However, they do have to follow Paytm's policies (using Paytm's gateway for all transactions and they cannot link out to their own app). Both Google Pay (Spot) and PhonePe (Switch) have their own versions of this though no one has really publicly talked about this much, until now.
These mini-app platforms resemble WeChat's famous mini program ecosystem which has certainly helped WeChat as well as companies on the platform significantly. I'm curious as to how this will play out in India where you have three competing mini-app ecosystems with no clear market leader.
Will we see the platforms try to entice companies to exclusively partner with them through lowered rates or free ad/promotion credits or will companies choose to keep and manage their mini apps on all these platforms along with their native and web presences? Only time will tell.
What we've read this week
High Rates Drive India’s Public Debt. Austerity Will Drive India Off a Cliff and Understanding India’s ‘Federalism’, and 2020’s Fiscal Troubles by Advait Moharir
A chat with Katie Perry, VP of Marketing at Public by Sar Haribhakti
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