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13-11-2017 to 18-11-2017



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Another week, another set of speculations, investments, announcements and collaborations! Catch all the latest news of the past week in our quick weekly wrap up!

China’s biggest ecommerce startup Alibaba broke all records during its annual Singles Day Sale! The company reported a Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) of $ 25.4 billion in 24 hours and became the leading online shopping platform. The sales hit the roof within the first two hours, reaching $ 16 billion by mid morning. First launched in 2009 as a way to celebrate the lonely hearts of China, Single’s Day has become a buying frenzy that exceeds the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States.

The multi million dollar deal between taxi hailing startup Uber and Japan based venture capital firm SoftBank was finally confirmed this week. The investment giant along with Dragoneer Investment Group will invest close to $ 10 billion in the cab aggregator in the coming months. This consortium will invest up to $ 1.25 billion in the company and would also buy up to 17% of the existing shares from investors and employees in a secondary transaction. As a part of the transaction, Uber will also undergo a variety of changes in governance and leadership.

The celebrity fashion firm backed by cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, Universal Sportsbiz, raised Rs. 100 crores from US based venture capital firm Accel Partners. The venture capital firm will pick up a 15 % stake in the company. Founded in 2012 by former national level badminton player Anjana Reddy, Universal Sportsbiz is currently valued at Rs. 650 crores. Both the companies have already signed an agreement, while a formal announcement is expected soon. The fashion retail startup will use the fresh funds to develop their products and expand their presence across smaller cities in India.

Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Uber’s Chief of Policy for India and South Asia, put down her papers last week to join the cloud based software maker Inc. Kohli was responsible for building Uber’s relations with the regulators and the government officials of India to expand its business in the country. Her resignation, however, might be a step back for Uber as Kohli was leading government engagements in the influential circles. The company is faced with multiple resignations including the European Policy Chief Christopher Burghardt.

Hyderabad based startup engine T-Hub in association with United Technologies Corporation launched the NanoAccelerate programme for startups working on video analytical solutions. The Smart City/Smart Building NanoAccelerate Programme has already selected five video analytics startups for its first cohort out of which two are from India, one is from Israel and the remaining two are from US. The selected startups have strong technical and research teams, hold more than 20 granted and pending patents and provide services to Fortune 100 companies. The startups will have the opportunity to work closely with UTC to provide seamless actionable intelligence data with minimal human intervention.

The Seattle based ecommerce giant Amazon has been placing heavy bets in the India marketplace. Confirming its commitment to developing its presence in India, Amazon will be investing Rs. 2,900 crores in Amazon Seller Services, which runs Amazon’s Indian ecommerce business. This is Amazon’s third investment in the Indian ecosystem and the single biggest infusion of capital. The company invested Rs. 1,680 crores in India in June this year and further invested Rs. 1,620 crores in September. After making an initial commitment to investing $ 2 billion in their Indian business, Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos further promised to invest $ 3 billion in 2016. This round of investments comes despite Amazon recording a high loss in its international business this year.

The Indian foodtech industry is estimated to have a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of $ 300 million. In an attempt to grab a majority of this lucrative industry, foodtech startups Zomato and Swiggy have been locked in a fierce battle. Swiggy launched the Swiggy Access initiative which allows its restaurant partners to set up kitchen spaces in neighborhoods where they currently do not operate. Zomato, on the other hand, launched its international paid subscription programme, Zomato Gold, which is an exclusive dine out and social drinking membership programme. While Swiggy users will get faster delivery, Zomato users will get access to complimentary food and drinks.

The biggest ecommerce startup to come out of India, Flipkart, is reportedly looking to invest in the online food delivery platform Swiggy. Along with China based venture capital firm Tencent, the companies are discussing a potential investment of $ 100 million. While there has been no official confirmation, this news comes at a time when reports suggest Flipkart initiated investment talks with a bunch of vertical ecommerce startups. Flipkart’s investment in Swiggy will give the foodtech startup the leverage to gain the upper hand in the online food and services market.

India’s biggest mobile wallet Paytm is collaborating with India’s leading private bank ICICI Bank to provide digital credit to selected users. This unique amalgamation of financial services aims to provide seamless interest free short term digital credit for everyday use, such as bill payments, booking flight tickets and buying physical goods. Based on the Big Data algorithm by ICICI Bank, the credit will be decided on the basis of the financial and digital behavior of the customer. Users can avail this digital credit ranging between Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 10,000 for up to 45 days. Once the consumer limit is set, a consolidated bill would be generated on the first day of the month that should be repaid by the 15th day of the same month.

The fashion ecommerce startup owned by Flipkart is leveraging neighborhood kirana stores for last minute deliveries and to reduce the delivery time by 25%. Under its MENSA Network scheme, 2,000 kirana stores and other small shops, are responsible for the delivery of one in every five orders. These corner stores complete close to 23% of the Myntra’s nonsale deliveries. To further boost its delivery system and business, the company also launched the ‘Project Mass.’ Under this programme, Myntra’s delivery staff can start their own businesses and shops and add to the Mensa Network. These businesses will also be provided with a seed investment of Rs. 40,000 by Myntra. So far, over 370 of the companies delivery associates opted for Project Mass out of which 250 stores are already operational.

One of the most valuable startup companies, Uber, launched four new features for the Indian market in an attempt to entice more users. Aimed at making the taxi booking process easy and hassle free, the new features include a website version of Uber, an option to request to book rides for a guest, offline search for those with limited connectivity and a call to ride feature. While the features will be released only in India initially, they will also be applied in Uber’s global markets soon. The company also launched a second engineering facility to work on innovations that can be applied to Indian as well as other global markets, in Hyderabad recently. The 150 member Indian team played a key role in developing the pieces of innovation.

Hyderabad is gearing up for the eight edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. GES 2017 will be hosted by the United States of America along with the Republic of India. With the theme Women First, Prosperity for All, this year’s summit will see Ivanka Trump leading the US delegation. With close to 1400 participating startups and 300 other dignitaries, GES aims at creating an environment that empowers innovators and entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally. Along with sessions, master classes and workshops by global experts, the summit will also hold networking events and keynote speeches from prominent entrepreneurs.

13. Ola And Uber: Boon Or Bane?
Ola and Uber may be the country’s largest gift to transport woes. However, in the past, there have been more people with complaints than people with happy faces. From various sources, the information proved only the obvious. Despite there being a large number of service providers and customer care facilities available at both Ola and Uber, it comes as a shock for people when these service providers offer sub par and negligent service. With a comprehensive study, this piece aims at uncovering the loopholes surrounding Ola and Uber!

That’s all for this week! Subscribe to our portal to never miss updates from the startup world! If your startup has an exciting announcement coming up, you can even write to us at [email protected]. Catch up with the highlights of the week with our The News This Week section.

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Meta’s AI Assistant, Meta AI: Friend or Foe for Searching Giants?



Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) has introduced Meta AI, an AI assistant, powered by Llama 3 language model, designed to be your one-stop shop for information, chat, and creativity. This means you can get real-time information on Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram without ever leaving the app!  


Meta AI’s search strategy is an intriguing twist. While it may appear to be a competitor to Google and Bing, it contends that Meta AI is not a competitor, but rather a collaborator. Here’s why:


By relying on established search engines as sources, Meta AI positions itself as a user-friendly tool that combines the best of Google and Bing. Imagine getting results from both Google and Bing in the same search. As you are exposed to different points of view, you may gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject. They’re calling it the “most intelligent AI assistant that you can freely use,” so it will be interesting to see how it compares to other assistants on the market. 


How does Meta AI help you? 


Search Powerhouse: Meta AI combines Google Search and Microsoft Bing results to provide you with a more comprehensive view of your queries.


Chatty companions: Need answers or simply want to talk? Type “@MetaAI” into Facebook Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp and let the conversation begin.


Creative Spark: Feeling artistic? Meta AI allows you to create custom stickers and photos based on your text descriptions.


Where to Find Your Meta-AI Buddy:


  • Look for Meta AI in the search bars on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.
  • To respond to posts, interact with Meta AI directly in Facebook’s main feed.
  • Explore the new website for extended conversations.
  • Type “Imagine” into your WhatsApp chat to generate real-time images.
  • The future may even include access via Meta’s VR headsets and Ray-Ban smart glasses.


The Future of AI Assistants


Only time will tell how Meta AI integrates into our lives, but it certainly offers a glimpse into an interactive future where AI assistants cater to our search, chat, and creative needs.  Whether Meta AI becomes a true partner to search giants or forges its own path remains to be seen.


Meta AI promises a brand new way to search and interact with information.  Do you think this AI assistant will change the way we use social media? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

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Emerging Startup Stories

Discover Kheyti, The Startup Changing The Lives of Farmers In India



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Farming has been an integral part of India’s history and culture for ages. It’s been the foundation of the Indian economy, supporting millions of people with food and jobs. Crops and agriculture hold immense importance in Indian society, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of culture, community, and spirituality.

Farming is a way of life for many people in India, but it can be a difficult and unpredictable business and farmers face a number of challenges, from erratic weather patterns to low market prices for their crops. Kheyti is a social enterprise founded in 2015 by Saumya, Kaushik Kappagantula, and Sathya Raghu. The organisation provides sustainable solutions to small farmers in India, helping them overcome challenges and improve their lives.

Kheyti’s flagship product is the “Greenhouse-in-a-Box,” a low-cost modular greenhouse that allows farmers to grow high-value crops year-round, even in unfavourable weather conditions. operates on a subscription-based model, where farmers can purchase a “Greenhouse-in-a-Box” kit or sign up for crop advisory services on a monthly or annual basis. also earns revenue by connecting farmers with markets and buyers, taking a small commission on sales. They work to keep the costs low by partnering with local manufacturers to produce their products and leveraging tech to provide personalised crop advisory services at scale.

They also provide crop advisory services to farmers, offering personalised advice on crop selection, planting, and management. In total, The company has helped over 6,000 small farmers increase their incomes by an average of 300%. You call them small farmers, Kheyti calls them Smart farmers!

While there are other companies in India that offer similar solutions to small farmers, Kheyti stands out for its focus on sustainability, innovation, and community involvement. It works closely with farmers to develop tailored solutions that meet their needs while focusing on sustainable farming practices. Through its efforts, Kheyti has improved soil health, reduced water usage, and increased yields of various crops.

Looking ahead, Kheyti plans to expand its reach to more farmers in India and beyond and aims to continue developing new products and services that can help small farmers overcome the challenges they face. With its commitment to sustainability and innovation, The visionaries at Kheyti claim it has the potential to transform the agricultural sector and contribute to a more equitable future for all.

Imagine the joy and hope Kheyti brings to struggling farmers in India. With Kheyti’s help, over 6,000 small farmers have transformed their lives, becoming Smart farmers who handle challenges and succeed. With sustainable solutions, Kheyti is not only revolutionising agriculture but also spreading hope for a brighter future.


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Leher Versus Clubhouse: Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?



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Clubhouse is a new type of social networking platform which is an audio only platform.  This means every conversation takes place through audio where users speak to let their thoughts known.  Users can create and host rooms where speakers will talk about a particular topic.  Originating in the Silicon Valley, Clubhouse attracted some major names onto its platform like Elon Musk, Evan Williams, Reddit co founder Alexis Ohanian, former Y Combinator President Sam Altman, AngelList co founder Naval Ravikant, Ashton Kuthcer, Oprah Winfrey, Drake, Kevin Hart and many others are some of the influential personalities who are on Clubhouse.  There is however a catch as Clubhouse is currently limited to iOS.

Leher is an Indian made alternative to Clubhouse and is a similar audio sharing and listening startup.  Leher also has video support unlike Clubhouse and is also available for both Android and iOS.  However, Leher does not have the biggest names in the world on its platform but it does have significant micro influencers and is growing at a rapid pace.  Within 180 days of its beta version launch, the company claimed to have its users spend about 44 minutes every day and 250,000 minutes per month for live video sessions.

We at Startup Stories are curious to see which among Leher or Clubhouse would our readers choose to take part in a virtual discussion.  Please let us know your answer in the poll below.

Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?

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