Deal Flow

Delhi Based Playcez secures seed funding from GSF’s Rajesh Sawhney and Mukul Singhal (SAIF Partners)

Led by angel investors Rajesh Sawhney (GSF) and Mukul Singhal (SAIF Partners), PlaycezPlaycez (currently in closed beta) takes a different approach to events discovery by monitoring social media and check­in services with proprietary algorithms (as opposed to pure-play directories).

The event data is dynamic and so far, attempts at scalable directories or listing services have proven dissatisfying. By identifying locations (bars, restaurants, night clubs, even dentist offices) in which consumer traffic is highest, Playcez recommends events and activities that are most popular in a user’s respective city. Users can search events and activities by distance and time.

While SAIF’s Singhal will provide strategic support particularly around the company’s financial model, GSF’s Rajesh Sawhney will prepare the company to extend beyond the Indian market. “What impresses me is Ashwani’s obsession with building a world class product,” says Sawhney. “Ever since I met him six months ago, Playcez continues to evolve as a product and build great consumer traction.” Also, Playcez has been mentored by Ixigo’s cofounder Aloke Bajpai.

Alumni-College Network, AlmaConnect secures angel funding of $250,000

AlmaConnect has received angel funding of $250,000, roughly six months back from CIIE – IIM Ahmedabad, IXORA Ventures,, Dharmendra Yashovardhan (Co-Founder, IXIGO), a few other angel investors & family & friends.almaconnect_logo

AlmaConnect is a product based company started in 2011. It has been founded by Swapnil Khandelwal & Rubish Gupta, both 2009 graduates from DA-IICT (Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information & Communication Technology). Before AlmaConnect, Swapnil was running a startup in the online tutoring space & Rubish was working as web technology evangelist in a startup.

The company is an alumni of CIIE’s iAccelerator batch of 2011 and has also been awarded incubation from CEID, DA-IICT along with a seed funding of $50,000

AlmaConnect helps in connecting institutes and alumni. The key problem AlmaConnect is addressing is of providing a platform connecting alumis and colleges.  Currently, AlmaConnect has 45 institutes across the country paying an annual subscription cost for using the platform to connect to their alumni.

The startup is utilizing this investment in product development for further enhancing reach, scalability & engagement. Very soon, the company is going to launch a freemium version of the product with which any verified alumni of an institute can start an alumni network of the institute and until a specific number of users the platform can be used without any subscription cost. Following which the company would be looking to raise the next round of investment to improvise on the strong traction & huge opportunity that is being seen.

Getit Buys Infomedia Yellow Pages & AskMe from Network18

Local search and classifieds company Getit has acquired two of Network18 group’s local search businesses– Infomedia Yellow Pages and AskMe. BSE listed Network18 informed the exchange that the combined operations of Getit will be called Getit Infomedia and will be owned totally by Getit shareholders.

“This is in line with the stated objective of divesting stakes in non core assets to create value for shareholders,” the Network18 group said. The deal size was not disclosed.

The group, which runs a clutch of television channels including CNN IBN, CNBC TV18 and Colors had sold  Six months ago, Accel Partners invested nearly Rs 100 cr in Bigtree, a Network18 owned online movie and event ticketing company which runs Network18 sold a minority stake in Bigtree to Accel Partners for Rs 66 cr.

The group is on its way to getting rid of its assets that aren’t in the broadcasting business.

Meanwhile, Homeshop18, the ecommerce & tele shopping arm of Network18 has filed for a confidential Initial Public Offering at the Nasdaq. The company is said to be looking to raise $100 mn from the IPO. Yahoo Getit

Last month, Getit partnered with Yahoo! to revive its local search services. Getit now powers Yahoo!’s local search.

Two years ago, Malaysia based investor Astro acquired 50% stake in GETIT Info services for around Rs 100 crore. The Helion Ventures backed local search and classified company was valued at around Rs 200 crore in then.

Info Edge Acquires Semantic Search Startup MakeSense for Rs 8 cr

Info Edge India, the company which owns job search portal has acquired MakeSense Technologies, a startup which makes software for semantic search for Rs 8 cr. (~$1.5mn)

The company said that the proprietary software developed by MakeSense Technologies will be used on to improve search results.

MakeSense was founded in 2009 by IIT Mumbai Alumni Vivek Arya, Anand Ramachandran and Sumit Kundu. It was backed by angel investor Ravi Jakhar, the founder and Director of ICE X Electronics.

“Our Semantic Search technology built on a library of over 1,00,000 concepts spanning skills & expertise, designations, companies and industries delivers 2x better results than keyword based resume or job search,” the company claims on its website.

The company also has an IVR based candidate screening technology which will help recruiters cut down on the time and effort involved in recruitment.

The Internet firm recently invested $10 mn in Online Restaurant Directory Zomato to acquire a majority stake in the company.

Info Edge also invested Rs 30 cr in Applect Learning Systems Private Limited, which runs to increase its stake in Applect.

Meritnation secures INR 30 Crore in a fresh round of funding from Info Edge

Meritnation, the online K-12 education website has raised Rs. 30 Crores from Info Edge. Prior to this round Info Edge had invested Rs. 31.5crore in Meritnation over three rounds.meritnation

Currently the site attracts more than 7500 new registrations daily and the funds will be largely used to build our brand, expand geographically, offer new boards and create new products for existing customers.

Meritnation was launched in 2009 and currently services students studying in Indian boards across 7 countries: India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait Qatar, Bahrain with further international expansion on the cards.

InfoEdge’s other investment includes 99labels, Nogle Technologies, MyDala, PolicyBazaar and today announcedinvesting $3 Million in Zomato, the online food and restaurant directory.

IvyCap Ventures Invests in Reuters Market Light, Thomson Reuters to Continue to Hold Shares

IvyCap Ventures, which recently received government approval to invest $36 million in Indian startups has picked up a stake in Reuters Market Light, an information solution for farmers in India.

The fund floated by former head of Piramal Group’s PE arm Vikram Gupta, will become the lead investor in RML and Thomson Reuters will remain a shareholder in the newly formed RML Information Services Private Limited, the company said.

Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Amit Mehra, founder and managing director of RML, will continue to be the CEO of RML Information
Services Private Limited.

The company was founded in 2007 to provide agricultural, weather, market price and crop information over the mobile phone to farmers. The company said that it now has more than 1 million unique subscribers across an estimated 50,000 villages in 17 sates.

Image: RML Website
Image: RML Website

IvyCap is a recent venture capital fund sponsored by the Alumini Trust and invests in early and growth stage companies in  Healthcare, Education, Energy, Agricultural, Rural & Technology space.

The fund made its first close of $19 million sometime in July last year and said that it was in talks to invest $4.5 million each in two Indian companies. The venture Capital firm has an interesting investment thesis which backs startups founded by graduates from top tier Indian colleges.

We had a chat with Mr Gupta sometime back about his view of the venture capital industry and the firms investment thesis. You can read it here. This is what Mr Gupta had to say about backing entrepreneurs from top tier colleges

There is no debate on who makes better entrepreneurs. Our philosophy is to approach investments through an ecosystem. The ecosystem that we are continuing to build is formed of people coming from premier institutes of India and abroad. The idea of this ecosystem is to build a strong support system for entrepreneurs who find it easier to connect with alumni from similar educational institutions. However, this does not mean that we will reject an entrepreneur just because he/ she doesn’t come from the background of a premier institution. Any investment opportunity is evaluated based on its own merits – one of the important criteria being the background of the management team. Since IIT Alumni has been our strongest supporters, we have committed to them that any IITian entrepreneur approaching the Fund will get some support from our network even if the fund is not in a position to invest in them due to various reasons. We are already seeing the value of this approach on the ground through the quality of investment opportunities coming to the Fund as well the passion within the network associated with the Fund.

Interestingly, the fund, which has former home secretary G K Pillai as its Chairman, also gives back a percentage of its profits to top tier institutions in the country.

K Ganesh Sells Remaining Stake in TutorVista to Pearson

K Ganesh, Serial Entrepreneur
K Ganesh, Serial Entrepreneur

Serial entrepreneur K Ganesh has sold rest of his stake in Tutorvista, the online tutoring company which he co-founded with his wife Meena Ganesh in 2005 to UK publishing house Pearsons, which is making a major push in the Indian education market.

TutorVista was backed by Sequoia Capital and LightSpeed Venture four years ago.

Pearson, which had a minority stake in TutorVista in 2009, upped its stake in the company to 80 % in 2011. The publishing giant, acquired the majority stake for Rs 577 cr, valuing TutorVista at Rs 1,000 crore at the time.

Srikanth B Iyer, the Chief Operating Officer of Pearson’s education wing is the new Chief Executive Officer of TutorVista.

The UK publisher has been pushing hard in the education market in India, in a bid to strengthen its growing business in the segment. Its planning to get to a 100 schools this year, the company said. Pearson had also launched bundled education tablets in India.

That elearning is a big opportunity in emerging markets is no secret. Rising middleclass and policies such as the right to eduction has put pressure on classroom learning. As physical classrooms become more and more crowded, online methods are likely to ease the pressure. Companies like Educomp and NIIT are leaders in providing technology enabled classroom solutions in India, working with hundreds of schools in the country.

According to estimates by Technopak, the current e-learning market in India is pegged at $150 mn, growing at 15 % cagr. TutorVista, Extramarks, Mathguru, Studyplaces, 100 percentile and iProf are some of the key players in the segment. TutorVista, also caters to the much larger US & UK markets.

The digitized school products market, in which Educomp and others are key players is estimated to be worth $500 mn in private schools and $750 mn in public schools.  The private school market is likely to grow 20 % cagr to reach $ 2 bn by 2020 and the government school market is set to grow five times by 2020.

Recommended Read

Serial Entrepreneur K Ganesh on parallel entrepreneurship and macro trends in India
Why (Digital) Education is the new eCommerce
Understanding the e-learning market in India

Info Edge Invests $10 mn in Online Restaurant Directory Zomato, Acquires Majority Stake

Info Edge (India) Limited, the company which runs major portals like has invested an additional $10 mn in online food guide and restaurant directory Zomato. zomato_follow_feature_thumb.jpg

The company has invested a total of about $15 mn in Zomato so far to become a majority shareholder .

“While Info Edge has transitioned to a majority shareholding this will not transform the operating relationship between the investors and the founders who will continue to enjoy the same operating independence as earlier,” the company said.

Zomato, launched four years ago operates in five countries including India, United Kingom and Qatar and has plans to expand further.

Their site and mobile app provides information such as restaurant menus, contact details, pictures, ratings and reviews for over 75,000 restaurants. Zomato claims over a million downloads for its mobile apps and that its India operations broke even at the Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) level in December 2012.

“More than 1500 restaurants in India have paid Zomato in the current financial year. Renewal rates are in excess of 80%, the company added. Zomato competes with US based Yelp, which has a market cap of more than $1.3 bn.

The company has plans to enter Philippines and South Africa in the next few months.

Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO of Zomato said, “We plan to use these additional funds for product development, scaling up our sales team in various locations, and further international expansion.”

Meanwhile, Zomato’s larger rival Yelp, is said to be launching in India soon.

Recommended Read

Sales isn’t just sexy, its smokin’ hot (by Zomato team).

Discussion: Why Zomato has not yet raised money from investors beyond InfoEdge

Pet Shopping site DogSpot receives funding from India Quotient

dogspot-logoDogSpot, an online store for pets has raised funds from India Quotient, a fund setup by Anand Lunia of Seedfund.

While the company did not disclose the sum invested by India Quotient, the fund is known to invest around $500,000 in startups.

The company was seed funded by a group of investors including Vikas Saxena, the Global CEO of Nimbuzz. The seed investors are still with the company, Rana Atheya,CEO of DogSpot told NextBigWhat.

DogSpot is owned by PetsGlam Services Private Limited.  The Gurgaon based online platform for dogs aggregates, organizes information and tries to bring dog community closer.

Currently, the platform has puppies listed by users spanning across various breeds such as Rottweiler, St. Bernard, Boxer, German Shepherd, amongst several others. Apart from dogs, DogSpot provides content around dog’s care and awareness.

“We will focus on product management and private labeling,” Atheya said. “There is a big brand building opportunity in the industry because there are only one or two known brands yet,” he added.

It is estimated that there are about 2 million pet dogs in India and the dog food industry is estimated to be worth over Rs 1,000 crore. “It will be a multi billion dollar business in 5-10 years,” he said.

So far, DogSpot has served mover 5,000 customers and delivered more than 15000 orders in 950 cities across the country. Its community has 20,000 active pet lovers, says Atheya.

VUCLIP acquires assets of Jigsee, mobile video streaming company

Mobile video and media company, Vuclip has acquired the core assets of Jigsee, a mobile video streaming company, for an undisclosed sum. Vuclip wants to provide mobile video for consumers worldwide, regardless of device type or network quality, and by extension, deliver value to strategic business partners such as content providers, advertisers and carriers. To further this, Jigsee’s core assets will bring to Vuclip considerable mobile app development talent, as well as additional proprietary video streaming technologies.Vuclip

Vuclip plans to offer new apps to complement its browser strategy, particularly in India, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Vuclip raised $13million in Series D funding led by SingTel Innov8, and existing investors NEA and Jafco Ventures.Vuclip makes it easy to share clips across 5,500 different handset models and up to 80% file compression. The company counts Associated Press and UTV among its clients.

Headquartered in Ottawa, Jigsee raised Series A from IAN in 2011. Jigsee’s technology delivers continuous video streams in low-bandwidth environments (with data rates as low as 50 Kbps). Combined with the company’s Smart Client technology – which makes video streaming possible on phones with basic features, Jigsee has overcome hurdles which have prevented the uptake of mobile TV services in most emerging markets. raises Angel funding, new features, location on the cards

Mumbai based startup which makes it easier for users to look for a place to rent has raised an undisclosed amount from a group of angel investors led by Zishaan Hayath, the co-founder of Chaupati Bazaar, a phone commerce company acquired by Future Bazaar.

The group of investors, are predominantly alumni of IIT Bombay and IIM Ahmadabad.

Advitiya Sharma, the co-founder of says that the startup is working on new features and is planning to launch in a new location soon. The site has seen good traction in Mumbai.

Sharma said

We are working tirelessly to come up with new features which we believe will eventually make the home search experience hassle free. We’ll continue to make Mumbai our stronghold for now. We’ve chalked out our next destination and will be starting operations there as soon as we are ready.


We’d written about the product sometime back on NextBigWhat. The site has taken a data and map based approach to real estate hunting. It gives you information on the location like the aminities around it and other details overlayed on a map so you can decide even before actually visiting the place. The startup charges a subscription fee (bi-annual and annual) to brokers which allows them to upload unlimited listings on the website. Listings for landlords is free for now.

SME Venture debt financing company IntelleGrow raises under $2 mn from Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

IntellegrowMumbai based venture debt financing company IntelleGrow has raised little under $2 million form Michale & Susan Dell Foundation to finance small and medium social enterprises. The non banking finance company as so far disbursed 20 loans totaling about $3 mn to small and medium enterprises, according to the company.

IntelleGrow is promoted by Intellecap, a business solutions provider that helps sustainable enterprises.

A report last year by IFC and Intellecap showed that despite the key economic role small and medium enterprises play, contributing to nearly 22 % of the Gross Domestic Produce, over 37 % of the overall debt demand by SME’s cant be serviced by existing financial institutions.

The company said:

Most formal lenders typically engage in traditional collateral-based lending to enterprises operating in established industries and require at least three years of profitable track record. IntelleGrow provides viability-based debt financing to early-stage enterprises with a turnover of less than $10 mn and at least 12 months of track record. It provides customised financing solutions using flexible repayment schedules linked to cash flows.

Sanjib Jha, CEO of IntelleGrow said

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s investment would allow us to take the spirit of innovation that we inherited from our parent entity Intellecap and nurtured by the strong support of Shell Foundation to build an Rs 250 cr (~$ 50 mn) portfolio by 2015.

Mobilewalla raises $4 mn from early Amazon backer & IAN

Mobilewalla's architecture: Courtesy (pdf)
Mobilewalla’s architecture: Courtesy (pdf)

App search and discovery company Mobilewalla has raised $4 million in funding from Madrona Venture Group (an early Amazon investor) and the Indian Angel Network’s Venkat Raju, Google India head Rajan Anandan and Sharad Sharma along with Singapore government’s venture capital arm, according to a new report.

About a year ago, Mobilewalla pivoted from being an app search and discovery company to becoming an Analytics company, reports TechCrunch. The idea was to do analytics on mobile and social apps using public and private data. Earlier, Techcircle had reported the possibility of Mobilewalla raising another round.

The portal claims that it rates apps using more than 100 variables. Mobilewalla’s website seems to be undergoing maintenance at present.

The company was founded by Anindya Datta, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore who had earlier co-founded Chutney Technologies which was sold to networking giant Cisco. Datta is a database systems scientist and had founded his previous company in 2000 to commercialize his research.

Recommended Read : Check out this paper written by Mobilewalla [here (pdf)] if you are interested in the nuts and bolts of app discovery challenge mobilewalla is trying to solve.

Mu Sigma Valued at $1 billion after MasterCard Advisors invests in the data analytics firm (updated)

MasterCard Advisors, a division of MasterCard has acquired an equity stake in Mu Sigma and signed up the data analytics company to jointly develop analytics products for companies, according to the company.

Mu Sigma, the big data company which has its delivery center in Bangalore and is headquartered in Chicago, has grown phenomenally in the last few years. Founded in 2004, by Dhiraj Rajaraman, a former strategy consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton and PwC, it now employs nearly 2500 people.

Update: The Data Analytics firm is now valued at $1 billion, according to The Economic Times. The firm has a revenue target of $200 million this year, the report said.

The company did not disclose details of the funding.

MasterCard Advisors is a source of aggregated and anonymous transactions and is positioned to deliver business intelligence and predictive analytics to industries and verticals including merchants, financial institutions, advertisers, manufacturers and governments, the company said.

Mu Sigma raised $30 million from FTVentures and then in April 2011, went on to raise an additional $25 million from Sequoia Capital. A further round of $108 million was raised from Sequoia and General Atlantic.Gartner Hype Cycle Big Data

Big Data is being hailed as the next big thing in the IT world. According to Gartner, Big Data will drive $28 billion in IT spending in 2012 and in 2013, it is expected to drive $34 billion of IT spending.

Valyoo Technologies which runs sites like LensKart, raises $10 million from Unilazer Ventures & IDG


Just when we thought there’s no more VC money for ecommerce companies, this comes up.

Valyoo Technologies, the e-commerce company which runs LensKart, BagsKart, WatchKart and JewelKart, has raised nearly $10 million from UTV founder Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures Limited and IDG Ventures India, according to a new report.

It was Screwvala’s first bet in the Indian ecommerce space, reports The Economic Times. The Delhi based startup had raised $4 million from IDG Ventures India in 2011. The $100 million Unilazer Ventures is a sector agnostic fund which has a focus on early to late stage startups.

The funding comes at a time when “me too” e commerce companies that had mushroomed in the country over the last 3 years are struggling to raise further rounds to stay in business. This doesn’t come as a surprise though. As we had pointed out in an interview with Manoj Kumar, the CEO & Co founder of eDabba, there is no funding crunch for differentiated ecommerce companies.

LensKart, the company’s online site which sells eye-wear, like lenses and eyeglasses and contributes to more than 50 % of its total revenue, has some interesting sales strategy going on. For instance, it gives away the frames for eyeglasses for free and charges only for the lenses.

HolidayIQ secures nearly $5 million from Tiger Global & Accel Partners

HolidayIQHolidayIQ, the online travel and holiday information company based in Bangalore, has raised about Rs 26- Rs 30 cr from Tiger Global Management and Accel Partners, according to a new report. This is the third round of funding for the company which has de-merged from Singapore based travel search firm Wego, The Economic Times reported.

In 2010, HolidayIQ had merged with Wego, a travel meta-search startup based in Singapore. The combined entity had raised series B funding from Tiger Global, the New York based growth capital fund.

Accel Partners first invested in the company in 2006. HolidayIQ is not into ecommerce yet.

As the leisure travel industry grows, there has been lot of action in the sector. Last week, New Delhi based travel package site TravelMasti was acquired by Via. The company had raised funds from BCCL in 2007.

While a recent supreme court order which banned airline transaction fee will erode the margins of online travel agents, the industry as such is growing. Players like MakeMyTrip and Yatra have started diversifying into non flight business to decrease their dependency on flight business. Two months ago, Makemytrip acquired Thailands’ ITC group for $3.2 million and before that, it acquired the Hotel Travel Group for $25 million.