Industry News

Exam prep startup Unacademy raises $11.5 mn from Sequoia, SAIF, others

Online learning platform Unacademy, run by Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt.
Ltd, has raised $11.5 million (Rs 73 crore) in a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital India and SAIF Partners, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The startup will utilise the funds to enhance its product and technology, and to scale to other categories including personality development, new languages and job interviews.
Munjal and Singh were previously running Flatchat, which was acquired by CommonFloor in 2014.
Recently, billionaire and serial entrepreneur Bhavin Turakhia joined Unacademy’s board.
In January, Unacademy raised $4.5 million (Rs 30 crore) in Series A funding led by Nexus Venture Partners and existing investor Blume Ventures.
In August 2016, the startup raised $1 million (Rs 6.7 crore) from a clutch of investors including Flipkart co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, with Blume Ventures leading the round.
Blume also led the company’s $500,000 (Rs 3.3 crore then) angel round in May 2016.
Unacademy competes with Byju’s, India’s best-funded ed-tech startup that raised fresh funding from China’s Tencent Holdings in July.
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Pirelli Is Said to See $10.8 Billion Value in IPO Matching Peers

Price range said to be announced as early as this week Tire maker’s IPO could be the biggest in Europe this year Pirelli & C. SpA , the tire maker that supplies Formula One race cars, is seeking an equity valuation of as much as 9 billion euros ($10.8 billion) in its initial public offering, implying a trading multiple in line with Finnish peer Nokian Renkaat Oyj, people familiar with the matter said.
Pirelli has said it’s planning to sell a 40 percent stake in the listing next month.
Nokian trades at an enterprise value, which includes debt, of about 11.3-times expected 2017 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Pirelli reported first-half adjusted Ebitda of 546.4 million euros.
As part of a Chinese-led takeover in 2015, Pirelli combined its industrial truck business with ChemChina’s tire unit to focus on high-end tires for consumer vehicles and to boost profit margins.
Pirelli may also encourage investors to value the firm at comparable levels to other luxury Italian companies, such as handbag maker Salvatore Ferragamo SpA and apparel firm Moncler SpA, one of the people said.
A representative for Pirelli declined to comment.
A group led by China National Chemical Corp. bought Pirelli for about 7.4 billion euros in 2015, delisting the firm after nine decades on the stock exchange.
The Chinese company and its partners plan to reduce their holding from 65 percent to below 50 percent in the IPO.
Pirelli Chief Executive Officer Marco Tronchetti Provera will stay at the helm of the firm, which makes tires for luxury auto brands including Ferrari, McLaren and Bentley, until mid-2020 and will have a leading role in choosing his successor, the company has said.

Made in heaven: Matrimony.com’s IPO

Made in heaven: Matrimony.com’s IPO.
The Indian online matchmaker is expected to raise $78m when its initial public offering closes today.
The site operates in 15 languages, permitting users to upload their profile—or, given that parents still play a big part in matchmaking, their child’s profile—and an algorithm matches horoscopic details with potential suitors filtered by caste, education and income.
Though Matrimony dominates the market, it faces growing competition as it tries to seduce the 90% of the country’s “active seekers” who don’t yet search online for a partner.
Some sites, discovering the scourge of fake profiles, are tightening up by requiring government-issued identification credentials.
Others aim for quite specific slices of the marriage market: an elite matrimony site for rich suitors, one for “non-resident Indians” and IITIIMShaadi.com, just for those graduating from prestigious universities such as IIT and IIM.
For a market flush with young folk and ever-cheaper phones, love is in the air.

ADES profit falls as IPO costs offset revenue rise

Revenue was up 46% to $87.8 million.
The company attributed the fall in profit to the one-time cost of its May IPO totaling $4.6 million.
ADES said that new contracts won in the first half of the year will not begin until 2018, as a result of which the company expects the second half of the year to be broadly in line with first-half results.
ADES International Holding Ltd. (ADES.LN) on Tuesday reported an 11% fall in pretax profit for the first half of 2017 and lowered its guidance, after contracts it won in 2017 were delayed to the beginning of 2018.
The provider of oil-and-gas drilling and production services for the Middle East and Africa made a profit of $16.6 million for the six months ended June 30, compared to $18.7 million in the year-before period–a fall attributed to the one-time cost of its May IPO totaling $4.6 million.
The company now expects the second half to be broadly in line with the first, instead of higher as previously expected.
The company also expected to close a number of competitive tenders in new regions like Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, although it would be operating through integrated service companies, said Dr. Farouk.
Shares at 0945 GMT were down 6.66 pence, or 0.7%, at 965.76 pence.
They floated on May 9 at 16.50 pence.
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Defence Startup Tonbo Imaging Gets $17 Mn Boost From WRV Capital, Others

Bengaluru-based defence startup Tonbo Imaging has raised $17 Mn in Series B funding led by WRV Capital.
The company was reportedly valued at about $62.5 Mn (INR 400 Cr).
Lead investor WRV Capital is one of the largest private venture investment in the domestic defence technology space.
Nicholas Brathwaite, Managing Director, WRV Capital said, “Based on our experience in building and investing in imaging businesses globally, we believe that Tonbo is very well-positioned for rapid growth in both military and commercial markets.
We will work closely with Tonbo to expand the use of their imaging platform into new market opportunities including surveillance and automotive applications.“ Tonbo was initially set up in 2003 as a subsidiary of Sarnoff Corporation and Stanford Research International to further research and development in next generation imaging, optics and computer vision systems.
Later it emerged as an independent entity after a management buyout.
Tonbo Imaging designs, builds and deploys advanced imaging and sensor systems to sense, understand, and control complex environments.
It also provides imaging products and intellectual property cores that can be licensed by OEMs and systems integrators.
Tonbo Imaging’s last funding round was in 2012, wherein the company raised Series-A funding from Silicon Valley-based VC firm Artiman Ventures.
With this round of funding from WRV Capital and other, defence startup Tonbo will look to expedite its international expansion.

Zilingo raises $18M for its fashion e-commerce service in Southeast Asia

Zilingo raises $18M for its fashion e-commerce service in Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia-based fashion marketplace Zilingo has closed an $18 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Burda Principal Investments.
The startup had existed largely under the radar until it raised $8 million around one year ago.
“There’s no other comparable fashion brand, so we probably have a window of about a year to make to big before others follow.” Zilingo expanded into Indonesia earlier this year after Bose relocated to Jakarta to learn more about the market.
Some six months into operating there, she’s impressed by the opportunities of the country.
“I’ve never seen a market that’s so ready to consume consumer internet products,” she said.
“We are seeing 85 percent growth each month, that’s not something anyone has seen in other Southeast Asia markets.
People spend a bit less on every transaction, but the behavior is crazy and they shop more times.” “We were initially really worried about logistics, because Indonesia is an archipelago, but it hasn’t been that hard.
If your expectations are correctly set, it’s a great market,” the Zilingo CEO added.
Bose added that she’s particularly excited to work with Burda, which has emerged as one of the few traditional Series B investors in Southeast Asia after hiring ex-GREE investor Albert Shy to head up the region.

Blackstone Readies An IPO For Vivint — WSJ

Blackstone Readies An IPO For Vivint — WSJ.
Blackstone recently invited investment banks to pitch for a so-called dual-track process that could lead to an IPO or sale of Vivint, people familiar with the matter said.
A deal could value Vivint at more than $3 billion, or $6 billion including debt, some of them said.
The latter would be about three times what Blackstone paid for the company five years ago.
Home security has been a lucrative niche for private-equity firms lately.
Apollo Global Management LLC last year bought Vivint competitor ADT Corp. in a nearly $7 billion deal, and is already preparing an IPO that could value the company at well over $15 billion including debt, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
Two years after it bought Vivint in 2012, Blackstone took sister company Vivint Solar public.
Last year, the maker of solar panels terminated a planned merger with SunEdison Inc. after SunEdison’s board began investigating claims from both a former and a current employee challenging the accuracy of SunEdison’s financial disclosures.
Private-equity firms often run a dual-track process when they are ready to exit an investment, in part because it can give them more leverage with potential acquirers.
Write to Dana Mattioli at dana.mattioli@wsj.com (END) Dow Jones Newswires September 12, 2017 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)

Typeform, a platform for ‘conversational’ data collection, raises $35M

Today, a startup called Typeform has raised a significant round of capital to help fund its mission to change all that, with a platform that the startup claims gets its customers much better results because the interactive experiences created on it are more intuitive and thus easier to engage with.
The startup, based out of Barcelona, is today announced a Series B of $35 million led by General Atlantic as it drives deeper into international markets, specifically the US; and expands its tools for developers with more analytics and artificial intelligence features to personalise the experience more.
“We are proud to be the first company to transform the online data collection space by creating conversational forms.
“We had no intention of building a startup out of this.” Today, creating basic online forms is nearly a commoditised business, with companies like Google offering products like Forms free of charge, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter letting people create free polls and other services, and so on.
At the same time, the startup has very much pushed into making its service something that one can use in any scenario where a user might need to enter data: from basic information entry like job application and contact forms; through to surveys; registration forms; shopping and order forms; online learning and tests; and invitations.
Its success is also playing out in user numbers.
Typeform’s today describes its form-filling platform as “conversational”, but its original concept behind that pre-dates a lot of the talk we hear today about conversational AI, and bots.
That being said, today, the startup does not use any AI in its platform, although that is very much something that it is considering, either by growing it in-house (today the company has around 170 employees, including engineers), or by partnering with an existing firm, or potentially through an acquisition.
We want to help our customers generate more conversations, and we think our products could help with that.” The focus on creating an interactive platform based around natural language is one reason why investors were interested in helping fund the startup to grow.
“And the solution that Typeform has developed can be easily integrated and managed by the product, not the tech, team.” Caulkin is joining Typeform’s board with this round.

Typeform, a platform for ‘conversational’ data collection, raises $35M

Typeform, a platform for ‘conversational’ data collection, raises $35M.
The startup, based out of Barcelona, is today announced a Series B of $35 million led by General Atlantic as it works on expanding its tools for developers and to drive deeper into international markets.
“We are proud to be the first company to transform the online data collection space by creating conversational forms.
(I’m asking around to see if I can get a more current number and will update when and if I learn more.)
Other notable investors in Typeform include Anthony Casalena, CEO of Squarespace; Javier Olivan, VP of growth at Facebook; and Jay Parikh, Facebook’s VP of engineering.
It sometimes happens that the most successful startups are founded in response to an enterpreneur’s frustration with an existing product or service.
Co-founder Robert Muñoz and David Okuniev are both designers — specifically with focuses on interaction, UX, and UI — and running their own agencies back in 2011, they found themselves working jointly on a single brief (for a toilet company of all things).
In that work, they found themselves unable to find any templates or platforms to build online forms that could help their client not only get users to fill out their information with reliable regularity (no pun intended to the toilet company) but provide details that could be used for sales in the future.
That focus on creating an interactive platform based around natural language is one reason why investors were interested in helping fund the startup to grow.
The interactivity and square focus on sales and customer relationships also makes the company a prime target for acquisition, in my opinion, with companies such as Salesforce, Google, Facebook, Microsoft/LinkedIn and many others all looking at better ways to help businesses interface with users, particularly across platforms with more tricky interfaces, like mobile.

Going To The IPO Route: Mobile Gaming Company Nazara Technologies To Offer $156.5 Mn Public Offering Early Next Year

Going To The IPO Route: Mobile Gaming Company Nazara Technologies To Offer $156.5 Mn Public Offering Early Next Year.
Mobile gaming studio Nazara Technologies has announced plans to offer an IPO towards the end of FY18, making it the first public listing in the Indian gaming space.
As per reports, the Mumbai-based company has mandated ICICI Securities and financial services firm Edelweiss for the proposed initial public offering.
According to sources, the public offering is expected to raise a total of $156.5 Mn (INR 1,000 Cr) at a valuation of somewhere between $469.7 Mn-$548 Mn (INR 3,000 Cr-INR 3,500 Cr).
At present, Nazara is working to capture the mobile gaming market in India, Africa, and a few Middle Eastern nations.
What’s Been Happening In The Mobile Gaming Market According to Inc42 Datalabs, India currently ranks among the top five countries in the world for online mobile gaming.
The funding was raised against a 30% stake in the startup.
As per the report, a total of 10 tech startups in the country have opted for initial public offerings in 2017, of which six took place in June and July.
Internet-based search company Just Dial launched its IPO back in 2013.
As per reports, Matrimony is looking to issue up to 3,767,254 equity shares in exchange for a total of $20.3 Mn (INR 130 Cr), which will , in turn, e used to fund advertising activities in the future.

In the age of Tinder, India’s most popular website for arranged marriages is going public

Dating apps like Tinder and Woo may be trendy, but when it gets serious, it is India’s matrimonial websites that still rule the roost.
As a testament to that, one of India’s oldest matchmaking portals is all set to launch its initial public offering (IPO) on Indian bourses today (Sept. 11).
The 17-year-old Matrimony.com, which operates websites such as BharatMatrimony.com, CommunityMatrimony.com, and EliteMatrimony.com, is looking to raise Rs500 crore ($78.3 million).
Chennai-based Matrimony.com is the country’s largest matchmaking company by number of visitors, according to media analytics firm comScore.
This is the company’s second attempt at going public, after it scrapped its earlier plans in December 2016, citing unfavourable market conditions.
And while dating apps are gaining traction, Matrimony.com’s founder and CEO Murugavel Janakiraman believes arranged marriages are still the norm, meaning there’s still room for his business to grow, especially as internet access expands.
To set his company apart, Janakiraman decided to focus on making it easy for users to search for partners from a wide range of religions, castes, languages, and other categories.
Now, Janakiraman said, online matchmaking portals account for around 10% of the market in India.
“We have been tracking data since 2006, and since then, we have had 26 million users of our sites,” Janakiraman said.
Janakiraman’s dating app, Matchify, didn’t have many takers either and was discontinued within a year of its launch in 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s vague economic shift leaves huge oil IPO on track

Saudi Arabia’s vague economic shift leaves huge oil IPO on track.
Saudi Arabia is still planning to sell part of its giant oil company on the stock market next year despite changes to the kingdom’s economic revival plan. “The IPO process is well underway and Saudi Aramco remains focused on ensuring that all IPO-related requirements are completed on time and to the very highest standards,” the Saudi information ministry said.
The partial sale of Aramco is part of Vision 2030, an ambitious plan to overhaul the Saudi economy and reduce its dependence on oil.
The Saudi government gave few details about the changes and did not state whether new targets would be introduced.
It said the revisions would “improve efficiency and effectiveness of delivery across institutions.” “It is tough to judge the impact of the redrafting without knowing the changes to be made,” Jean-Michel Saliba, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a research note on Sunday.
Some progress has been made to stabilize the economy since the overhaul was announced last year.
And much more work is needed to open the kingdom to foreign investors, develop other areas of the economy, and wean Saudis off lavish state support.
Saudi officials have said they expect the IPO to value Aramco at around $2 trillion.

Saudi Arabia Says Aramco IPO on Track as It Redrafts Reform Plan

Saudi Arabia Says Aramco IPO on Track as It Redrafts Reform Plan.
IPO process “well underway,” government says in a statement Revision of NTP reform plan represents “learning and progress” Plans to sell a stake in Saudi Arabian Oil Co. are “well underway,” the government said on Saturday, as the kingdom redrafts one of its key economic blueprints to eliminate overlap with other reform programs.
The government’s privatization program “continues to gain traction,” the Ministry of Culture and Information said in a statement.
It said more than half the objectives under the previous version have been assigned to different entities or programs.
The plan, however, was overshadowed by the prince’s Vision 2030, a broader blueprint for life after oil that calls for selling shares in Saudi Aramco and creating the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.
Consultants and civil servants began redrafting the NTP in July, calling the effort “NTP 2.0.”
The document outlines a 16-week schedule to develop the program.
A final report is due to be delivered to the government by the end of October.
“It is important to adjust and adapt to unexpected situations, and to use new circumstances in ways that reinforce and strengthen underlying strategic objectives,” the ministry said in its statement.
“Such flexibility should not undermine the stability and predictability needed to allow private sector to plan its new investments and expansions.” The statement cited several “early successes” for the kingdom’s program, such as “a faster than anticipated reduction in the budget deficit, energy price reform” and the introduction of an excise tax on soda and tobacco products.

The Democratisation Of Startups

Now is an amazing time to be an entrepreneur.
Startup communities are being built all over the world.
You can sell to customers anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world.
The Lean Startup, and methodologies like it, gives us a formalized road map to go from an idea to a startup.
Instead of building things in secret, founders are instructed to go to market early with a minimally viable product, test it with users, and then iterate continuously.
Access to Capital While the cost of getting started has dropped dramatically, access to capital has increased equally significantly.
Today, a person starting a new business has access to individual high net worth investors, angel investors, and venture capital funds created for the sole purpose of investing in new ideas and new companies.
Accelerator programs, which provide a small amount of capital and a lot of mentoring, help founders hone their early ideas and get positioned to raise additional capital.
Online crowdfunding resources, such as AngelList, create an entirely new pool of capital for founders to access.
More people than ever are starting companies.

China’s UrWork invests in Indonesia’s ReWork via $3M deal as WeWork rivalry heats up

China’s UrWork invests in Indonesia’s ReWork via $3M deal as WeWork rivalry heats up.
UrWork, the unicorn that is competing with WeWork in China, is following its American rival’s lead by extending its reach in Southeast Asia after it took part in a $3 million funding round for Indonesia-based ReWork.
That’s just as WeWork doubles down on China, where it recently launched a local business that is aimed at rapidly growing the eight spaces it currently operates across the Greater China region.
Just as we have witnessed Chinese tech firms moving rapidly into Southeast Asia to grab a slice of the fast-growing startup ecosystem, so the co-working unicorns have taken aim at the region, and Indonesia — its largest economy — in particular.
Already, UrWork has a location in Southeast Asia via Singapore in addition to a presence in the U.S., but now it is looking to expand into Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, through this deal.
We see it as a very strategic destination and are working with Rework to further open up the market and support local and overseas companies grow through the development of collaborative work spaces,” Mao Da Qing, who is CEO and founder URWork, told TechCrunch in a statement.
While of course UrWork will help with its experience and know-how.
“We can be the landing platform for Chinese companies wanting to come to Indonesia and be plugged into the ecosystem.” Left to right: Amanda Shi, executive partner at URWork, Adrian Li, founder and managing partner at Convergence Ventures, Vanessa Hendriadi, founder and CEO at Rework, Mao Da Qing, founder and CEO at URWork, Josh Zhang, chief strategy officer at URWork ReWork currently operates two locations in Indonesian capital Jakarta, a city with over 10 million inhabitants that’s known as a global social media hotspot.
There’s no immediate plan for regional expansion, but the it is looking at possible moves into the Philippines and Malaysia next year.
“All you want to do is go to your office and close the door, but sometimes it doesn’t even have windows!” It’s going to get interesting when WeWork moves into Indonesia via SpaceMob, which is working on entering the country, while Naked, another massive competitor to WeWork from China, is also casting glances at Southeast Asia.

In World of Supposed Bubbles Here’s What Investors Fear Most

In World of Supposed Bubbles Here’s What Investors Fear Most.
An exchange-traded fund for betting on low volatility has more than doubled in size this year.
And let’s not get started on the bitcoin rally.
“The average U.S. pension plan is still trying to generate a return of 7.5 percent,” Olu-Pitan said.
“They can’t put everything in equities to generate that return, so there’s a wall of money going into debt to get that extra yield.
He points to European companies, where yields are trading near record lows.
Money managers overseeing about $1.1 trillion have said in the recent past that they are cutting exposure to the asset class.
“That’s where you’ve got low liquidity, low visibility and greater investor propensity to panic.” Down Risk Ladder Christian Hille, Deutsche Asset Management’s global head of multi-asset, doesn’t think that fixed income is in a bubble zone.
It doesn’t mean that we are seeing that risk now, but there’s a potential black swan there.” Made in China Like many investors before him, Legal & General Investment Management’s John Roe sees China as the biggest threat.
Stabilizing economic growth this year has helped allay most, but not all, concerns.

Credit scoring platform CreditVidya bags $5 mn from Matrix, Kalaari

Mumbai-based InfoCredit Services Pvt.
Ltd, which operates credit scoring platform CreditVidya, has raised $5 million (Rs 32 crore) in a fresh round of funding led by Matrix Partners, the company said.
While Matrix put in Rs 23.81 crore, Kalaari accounted for the rest.
“Every bank and NBFC has now embraced technology-based sourcing and underwriting to help bridge the credit gap for first-time borrowers.” CreditVidya was founded in 2013 by former Experian Credit Information Company India Pvt.
CreditVidya leverages big data analysis for credit underwriting, and helps its customers assess borrowers, especially first time borrowers, more accurately.
A VCCircle analysis had showed that since January, more than 25 fintech startups have raised funds from venture capital investors across the payments, digital lending, personal finance and payment gateway space, and the number is growing.
The same month saw Bengaluru-based fintech firm Innoviti Payment Solutions Pvt.
Ltd raising $18 million in a Series B round led by the SBI-FMO Fund, Bessemer Venture Partners LP, and existing investor Catamaran Ventures.
Ltd, had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding.
credit scoring platforms CreditVidya funded Indian fintech startups Kalaari Capital Matrix Partners VCC Startups Abhishek Aggarwal Rajiv Raj Leave Your Comment

Venture capital firm Tempus Partners is targeting B2B software startups with a new $40 million venture fund

Early-stage B2B-focused software startups will now be able to seek investment from Sydney-based venture capital firm Tempus Partners, which is looking to invest in globally scaleable startups with a new $40 million fund.
The early stage venture capital limited partnership (ESVCLP) fund will focus on startups undertaking Series A or seed funding rounds, and is Tempus Partners’ second fund since the venture capital firm was founded in 2013.
Its first fund, launched in 2015, contributed to a $1.6 million Uptick raise and invested in sports media startup Forever Network, bill analysing platform ExpenseCheck, feature management startup Feature Flow and the “Rotten Tomatoes for financial planners”, AdviserRatings.
Coleman also co-founded Software-as-a-Service startup ShippingEasy, which was later sold to Stamps.com for $80 million in 2016, and says his past experience as an entrepreneur has helped him become a more empathetic investor.
“Any investor who has been a founder has a lot of empathy for the journey, and is able to identify the founders and founding teams that are going to crawl over gravel for years in order to succeed,” he tells StartupSmart.
Coleman is not the only startup founder now on the Tempus Partners investment team: Conrad Yiu, who co-founded former Smart50 finalists Temple & Webster and Fluent Retail, as well as logistics startup Parcel Point, is also part of the team.
Coleman says the fund will be used to continue Tempus Partners’ involvement and support for Australia’s startup ecosystem by “invest[ing] in Australia’s brightest tech talent and most promising B2B [business-to-business] and globally scalable software companies.” Coleman says that these types of startups have over the last eight years created $14 billion of shareholder value, yet are often overlooked by many people outside the startup sector.
Investing in early stage ventures is something Coleman believes VC firms need to do more of, observing that “there are a lot of firms that have launched funds, but there are still not enough funds that are closed and investing [in startups]”.
Despite record-high levels of venture capital investment in Australian startups, a recent report from the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association noted that Australia is still struggling to keep pace with world standards.
“As the capital flows into the sector, more companies will be founded, and ultimately we are investing in that growth.” he says.