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Ratan Tata Backed Startup Niki.ai Raises Rs. 13 Crores

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Ratan Tata Backed Startup Niki.ai,Startup Stories,Startup Stories India,Inspiration Stories,Ratan Tata AI startup,CEO Sachin Jaiswal,SAP.io,AI startup founders,business news india


Bengaluru based artificial intelligence startup Niki.ai has raised Rs. 13 crores from San Francisco based fund SAP.io in a Series A funding round. Existing investor Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures along with Haresh Chawla, Partner at True North and Arihant Patni also participated in this round besides some US and German based investors.

The AI startup was found in 2015 by IIT Kharagpur alumni Sachin Jaiswal, Keshav Prawasi, Nitin Babel and Shishir Modi. The startup provides a conversational interface to shop for products and services and tries to make artificial intelligence accessible to everyone. Niki.ai uses a chat interface ‘Niki’ with machine learning technologies to converse with customers.

According to CEO Sachin Jaiswal, this new capital will be used to further strengthen machine learning capabilities, building voice and multilingual functionalities and expanding distribution network.

Presently the 32 member team is working with companies like BookMyShow, OYO, RedBus, Ola, Uber, JustRechargeIt and others, covering over 20 categories. The startup also raised an undisclosed amount in May 2016, from Ratan Tata.

San Francisco based SAP.io was launched by software giant SAP in March this year with an initial investment of $35 million. They seek to expand the SAP ecosystem by making early stage investments in software startups. The managing director of SAP.io Ram Jambunathan, managing director of SAO.io has stated that Niki.ai, with its innovative technical approach, is capable of building a scalable product that can change commerce industry as a whole.

In recent times artificial intelligence based startups have gained significance in the startup ecosystem. Bengaluru based Boxx.ai also raised $500,000 from Unicorn India Ventures and product discovery platform Unbxd raised $12.5 million in Series C funding round.

Entrepreneur Stories

Inside T-Hub: India’s Launchpad for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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Aerial view of T Hub Hyderabad

Imagine a building that’s not just a structure but a buzzing ecosystem. A space where startups, corporations, universities, and investors come together to create the future. This isn’t science fiction; it’s T-Hub, India’s largest innovation hub, and it’s rewriting the rules of entrepreneurship.

T-Hub isn’t just about workspaces. It’s a launchpad for ambitious dreams. They’ve empowered over 2,000 startups, turning ideas into thriving businesses. Think funding woes? T-Hub’s got your back, connecting entrepreneurs with angel investors and government grants. Need a mentor to guide you through the rough patches? T-Hub boasts a network of 2,000 mentors ready to share their wisdom.

T-Hub’s vision extends beyond startups. Here’s a glimpse into what makes T-Hub special:

  • From Seed to Scale: Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur with a bright idea or a scaling startup ready to take on the world, T-Hub has programs to support you. From the “seed-accelerator stage” Lab32 program to the “early-stage technology startups” RubriX program, T-Hub provides the tools and guidance needed to thrive.
  • Corporate Muscle: Innovation isn’t just for startups. T-Hub bridges the gap between startups and established corporations like Facebook, Uber, and Boeing. This collaboration allows startups to tap into corporate expertise and resources, while corporations benefit from the agility and fresh perspectives that startups bring.
  • Funding Powerhouse: T-Hub is more than just an idea incubator; it is also a reality maker. Through initiatives like T-Angel and the Digital India Scaleup Program, T-Hub connects startups with high-net-worth individuals, angel investors, and government funding sources.
  • Global Ambitions: Thinking Beyond Borders? T-Hub has you covered. With partnerships across the globe, from the UK government to La Trobe University, T-Hub helps Indian startups access international markets and provides foreign startups with a foothold in India.

And it doesn’t stop there. T-Hub 2.0, their new colossal campus, is a testament to their ambition. This behemoth is not just the world’s largest technology incubator; it’s a microcosm of innovation itself. Universities find a home here, churning out future tech leaders. Foreign partnerships open doors to international markets for Indian startups. It’s a melting pot of ideas, cultures, and expertise, all focused on creating a brighter tomorrow.

T-Hub’s story is far from over. They’re aiming to empower a staggering 20,000 startups in the next five years. With their focus on internationalization and capacity building, they’re poised to become a global hub for innovation. So, if you’re an entrepreneur with a dream, T-Hub might just be the launchpad that takes you to the stars.

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Funding

Carl Pei’s Nothing Invites Retail Investors 

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Carl Pei said the time came for him to leave OnePlus and focus on other interests, following which he resigned from OnePlus in October 2020.  Since then, Pei had been working on his new startup in the audio hardware sector.  Carl Pei unveiled the name of his startup which is now called as Nothing, on January 27th, 2021.  Since the unveiling of Nothing, Pei’s startup has attracted a lot of attention from Silicon Valley and venture capitalists.  

Carl Pei now seems to be emulating his success formula at OnePlus with his new startup Nothing.  OnePlus is highly customer centric, because as a company they take in inputs from their consumers and adapt them to their products.  Pei seems to be using the same strategy with Nothing, as he invited retail investors to invest in his new startup.  Normally a startup raises Series A funding to begin product development and then goes on to Series B and so on.  For a normal retail investor to invest in a stock, they could only do it at the time of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the time of which the company would be valued highly.  However, Carl Pei is letting in investors from the beginning.  

ALSO READ: Alphabet Invests In Carl Pei’s Startup Nothing

This lets the investors be a part of the product development process and makes Nothing more personalised.  Moreover the investors would also act as promoters for the products.  Currently, there are $ 1.5 million worth of shares available.  Users can invest a minimum of € 50 and a maximum of € 20,000.  However, the demand to invest is off the charts and was unexpected as Carl Pei confirmed there was an interest worth of $ 10 million from 8,700 users.

Nothing’s first wireless earphones will be unveiled in the summer of 2021.  Nothing aims to build an ecosystem of listening devices which talk to each other.  Initial investors of Nothing include the likes of Tony Fadell (Principal at Future Shape and the Inventor of the iPod,) Casey Neistat (YouTuber,) Kevin Lin (Co founder of Twitch,) Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit,) Liam Casey (Founder and CEO, PCH,) Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of Web Summit,) Kunal Shah (CEO of CRED) and Josh Buckley (CEO of Product Hunt.)  Alphabet’s investment arm Google Ventures was the latest investor in Nothing as they invested $ 15 million.

 

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Startup India Seed Fund To Be Disbursed From April 1st

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There is no doubt India has a strong foothold in the startup ecosystem.  India currently ranks third in the world for the number of startups, next only to the United States of America and China.  This was possible due to the Indian Government’s initiatives to develop the startup ecosystem and also due to a strong presence of unicorn startups like PayTM, Zomato, Unacademy and many more.

The Government of India announced it would begin to disburse INR 945 crores seed capital from April 1st, 2021 under the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme in a  bid to boost the startup ecosystem in India.  These funds would be distributed through select incubator partners all over the country.  This scheme will be implemented by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT.) 

In a gazette notification, DPIIT announced that Startup India Seed Fund Scheme will provide financial assistance to startups that have been recognised by the DPIIT and incorporated not more than two years ago at the time of application.

ALSO READ: How The Events Industry Is Impacted By The COVID-19 Pandemic

The Startup India Seed Fund Scheme will have a common central application on the Startup India portal for startups on an ongoing basis.  An Experts Advisory Committee (EAC) will be formulated to oversee and monitor the overall execution of the scheme.  The EAC will evaluate and select the incubators for allotment of the seed funds and place measures for the efficient disbursement of funds.

The government also mentioned preference will be given to startups working in the areas of agriculture, education, food processing, healthcare, social impact, waste management, water management, financial inclusion, biotechnology, energy, mobility, defence, space, railways, textiles and oil and gas.

 

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