WizRocket Raises $8M Led by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners

Company Name : WizRocket
Funding Amount : $8mn
Investor(s) Sequoia Capital & Accel Partners.
Funding Round : Series B


WizRocket, the in-app solution that offers an evolved customer experience, announces it has raised $8M and $1.6M in new funding from Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. WizRocket will direct this funding to help grow its prescriptive mobile ad platform.wizrocket

Taking mobile marketing automation a step further, WizRocket is a free and scalable platform that enables brands to develop a relevant and targeted dialogue with their customers.

The new funding follows an initial $1.6M seed round led by Accel Partners. WizRocket, through its advanced customer profiling, gives marketers the ability to adapt, target and customize user notifications. This enables marketers and developers to have higher user conversion and retention rates with decreased attrition.

On-demand Delivery Solutions Platform, Roadrunnr Raises $11mn In Series A funding

Company Name : Roadrunnr
Funding Amount : $11mn
Investor(s) Sequoia Capital, Nexus Venture Partners Blume Ventures.
Funding Round : Series A


Roadrunnr, a B2B online platform and service provider for hyper local logistics, has raised $11 million from Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures. This investment will help Roadrunnr enhance its technology platform, expand nationally and build a dense delivery network.

roadrunnr

Bangalore based Roadrunnr aspires to provide every merchant in India the capability to deliver orders rapidly and on-demand to customers in their locality by connecting them with a supply force using mobile technology.

The company caters to merchants, restaurants and ecommerce companies, managing their deliveries in a cost effective manner while adhering to service level agreements. Roadrunnr has quickly grown to have the largest fleet for on-demand services in Bangalore and has recently started operations in Delhi NCR. It now plans to take this model across India and develop the largest fleet of on-demand hyperlocal delivery carriers in the country.

The company partners with students, drivers and others who work with Roadrunnr on a part time basis. Their pricing model differs from other aggregators as they charge merchants a flat fee based on their shipment size rather than the value of the order.

The company has previously raised seed funding from Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures.

Mini Truck Aggregator, Porter Raises INR 35 Crore In Series A Funding From Sequoia, Kae And Others

Porter, an online logistics marketplace, has raised INR 35 crore in Series A funding from Sequoia, Kae Capital and other investors. The investment will be used to facilitate geographical expansion, improve existing products and solutions, as well as help recruit talent.The Porter

Founded in August 2014, Porter is an aggregator of light trucks and allows businesses and consumers to hire trucks and tempos on demand for their intra-city pickup and delivery needs. Porter currently has 300 vehicles handling 10,000 transactions every month in Mumbai and NCR, with plans to ramp up to six cities in the next one year.

Porter-Truck-Aggregator

Porter provides reporting and intelligence tools that allow businesses real-time monitoring of the vehicles they use. The company is also developing APIs that would enable SMEs and startups to integrate this logistics system with the customers’ internal processes.

The company has also partnered with three strategic angel investors who will help strengthen Porter’s operations and guide them in their next phase of growth. These include – Rajeev Chitrabhanu – CEO and Managing Director of JM Financial Services Pvt. Ltd., Anupam Mittal – Founder of People Group and Sandeep Tandon – Co-Founder of FreeCharge.

Fashion App, Voonik Secures $5million From Sequoia Capital and Seedfund

Voonik, a leading fashion app today that it has raised  $5million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital and Seedfund. The funding will enable the company to enhance their personalisation and style recommendation technology.Voonik Women

Founded in 2013 by Sujayath Ali and Navaneetha Krishnan, Voonik is India’s first personal shopping app which allows users to buy what suits their body, lifestyle and budget.

Voonik offers multiple stores on a single platform and lets consumers shop in a single checkout. With over half a million SKUs, Voonik is one of the largest stores of its kind offering apparel, accessories and footwear as well as beauty products.

Voonik launched its mobile app last year, which has rapidly grown to 1M+ downloads, and on an average registers close to 2,500 purchases daily from 1,500 unique customers.

Breaking away from the conventional e-commerce business model, Voonik is powered by an in-house personal shopping platform that makes recommendations to shoppers based on their profile and preferences.

“Voonik is a next generation business model, that has created a “lean marketplace” for fashion that
allows users to discover personalized apparel from dozens of other e-commerce sites. So people can
shop on the Voonik app and mix and match from styles and SKUs across other sites like Jabong,
Fashionara, Zovi, and so on. This allows Voonik customers to get personalized recommendations
from across e-stores in a single app. This is resulting in terrific user engagement, retention and
growth at Voonik. We are delighted to partner with Sujayath and Navneetha in their journey to
redefine fashion e-commerce.” said Shailendra J Singh, Managing Director at Sequoia Capital India Advisors.

PepperTap Secures $10 M From SAIF Partners & Sequoia Capital In Series A funding

PepperTapThe hyper local grocery delivery service, PepperTap, has raised $10 million from SAIF Partners & Sequoia Capital in Series A funding.
PepperTap earlier raised seed funding from Sequoia in Feb 2015.
The funds will be used for hiring and expanding the reach of PepperTap to 10 more cities in the country by the end of 2015.
Launched in November 2014, PepperTap offers more than 15,000 SKUs across categories including Staples, food & dairy products, household items, fresh fruits & vegetables etc. Consumers can place their orders through a mobile app and deliveries are made in a span of two hours.

On-Demand Delivery Service Grofers Secures $10M From Sequoia And Tiger Global

It’s raining $$ for anything on-demand (+ mobile-first) and the latest to join the bandwagon is Grofers, an on-demand delivery service.
Grofers has raised $10mn from Sequoia Capital And Tiger Global, making the total amount raised to $10.5mn.grofers
Grofers connect shoppers to stores in their neighbourhood via apps. The Gurgaon based startup currently works with 250 vendors and has a total of 500,000 SKUs (or individual items) available for order. Grofers claims to be processing 30,000 deliveries a month (over 6,000 orders coming over the mobile application).

Truecaller Funded by Sequoia India : A Wake-up Call for Indian Startups?

Recently, Truecaller announced that it has raised a $18.8 mn funding round. While the funding round and amount was by itself not unusual – it is the model du jour for fast-growing startups to raise mega-bucks from VCs looking for the next “unicorn” a la WhatsApp or Snapchat, what was intriguing was that the round was lead by Sequoia Capital India. Not Sequoia Capital US but Sequoia Capital India!truecaller

Why is this unusual?
This is unusual because Truecaller is far from being an Indian company – it a Swedish company based in Stockholm. While other fast-growing European companies such as 6Wunderkinder have raised money from Sequoia, they did so from Sequoia Capital, USA.

So why did Truecaller raise money from Sequoia Capital, India? While we obviously have no way to know this for sure, the answer could well be something as facile as the company was able to get better terms from the Indian entity (read : Interview with TrueCaller Cofounder).

More pertinently, why would a VC firm based in India invest in a Swedish company? If this was not a one-off exception, what does this portend for the Indian funding environment in general and for Indian startups specifically?

Let’s try to parse this to glean some take-aways:

Big funds are facing a deployment bottleneck

Several VCs in India invest out of dedicated funds with corpuses extending to hundreds of millions of dollars. Deploying such huge funds in technology firms is a big challenge – to move the needle and to avoid span-control problems, a single investment needs to be in the range of tens of millions of dollars.

There are very few break-out Indian tech startups that are “investible” at this point of the spectrum and even when a company does achieve enough traction to attract an investment like this, they often prefer to raise money from investors outside India – for instance, InMobi raising money from SoftBank. Foreign VCs arguably offer better terms and often provide strategic heft for tackling global markets.

This has resulted in Indian VCs diversifying out from their original brief of investing in pure technology firms and funding everything from gold loan companies to hospital chains. The Truecaller deal potentially represents the next stage of this bottleneck where the VC is ready to do away with even the “India” tag to deploy their funds.

What this means for Indian startups:

The competition for funds is going to be tougher

Until now, Indian startups might have had to contend with other Indian startups for raising funding in India but if our investors are now opening up their wallets to fund companies outside India, the rules of the game just got changed. We are now competing not just with the startup down the road but with the one half-way across the globe as well for the same investment rupee$.

If you can break out, the availability of capital far outstrips demand

While competition might now be global, if you can break out and demonstrate traction in terms of both scale (user base/revenue) and velocity (rapid growth – for instance, TrueCaller grew its base in India alone from 1 million to 25 million in less than a year), raising money in India, even a large round, should be relatively simple as the supply-demand curve is skewed sharply in your favor with capital availability far outstripping demand from eligible candidates.

The emergence of the foreign company-Indian market/investor dynamic

The one major “India connection” that Truecaller seems to have is that out of their 45 million users, 25 million are based in India. While some would argue that this is not a good-enough reason to raise funding from India – after all, the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, among a host of others, also see India as their next big growth engine but none of them raised money from Indian investors and are extremely unlikely to do so in the future too – it does gives Indian startups two points to ponder over.

“Californication” is a myth

If you are an Indian startup, you would have undoubtedly faced the “Californication” spectre – the common refrain/feedback from all and sundry that you need to shift to California, specifically Silicon Valley as that is where all the action is, otherwise you will be “fornicated”!

The growth of Truecaller in India cocks a snook to all the nay-sayers who goad startups to shift to Silicon Valley because “India is not a large-enough market/doesn’t have enough early adopters” – if a small, Swedish startup like Truecaller (only 35 employees, started in 2009) can get such traction in India, surely Indian startups can themselves find comparable user bases.

A largely Indian user base is a double-edged sword 

If you have a product that has a global audience in any sense but your user base is largely Indian, it is a double-edged sword when you seek to raise funds. While India’s growing smart phone user base is a large attractive vector, the flipside is that it might be difficult to elicit interest from investors outside India – one possible reason why Truecaller raised funding here in India rather than elsewhere (NB: Completely speculative for Truecaller but nevertheless, a putative consideration).

While this funding event might be a watershed event in many ways or instead might well be a one-off exception, there is no doubt that the Indian startup ecosystem is going through interesting times – to paraphrase Dickens,

“it is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the spring of hope, it is the winter of despair, we are all going direct to Heaven, we are all going direct the other way!”

What are your thoughts?

[Guest article contributed by Sumanth Raghavendra, founder and CEO of Deck App.]