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Zone Startups India Selects 15 Startups For EmpoWer Accelerator Program

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Zone Startups India has selected 15 women led startups for the second edition of its EmpoWer Accelerator Program. The current batch of 15 entrepreneurs were selected out of 376 applicants from across India.

EmpoWer is backed by the Department of Science and Technology, Tata Trusts’ Social Alpha, Microsoft, Amazon, ICICI Bank, PayU, CapitalFirst and FlexiLoans. The selected startups represent various technology themes such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and deep learning, across industries like healthcare, smart cities and enterprise solutions. A panel comprising of 12 mentors and noted industry experts selected the startups after careful examination.

The startups that have been shortlisted will join the six week community programme. All the entrepreneurs will be provided with industry networking opportunities, valuable mentoring sessions, workshops, case studies, peer to peer interactions, boot camp and investor networking. The winner of this Cohort will also get the opportunity to attend a week long business development and personal mentorship programme in Quebec, Canada.

Launched in 2016, the accelerator programme has been designed to identify the need based gaps witnessed by women entrepreneurs. Through extensive research, Zone Startups is gunning to fill the gaps such as a lack of peer group of like minded women, limited financial independence, a risk averse mindset, lack of training in technology and finance among others. In the first edition, $ 23.6 million was collectively raised in funds by the 15 startups which were selected out of 191 applications.

Speaking about the 2nd Cohort, Director of Zone Startups India, Ajay Ramasubramaniam said, “ We believe we have unearthed some solid winners in the final cohort of 15, who will go on to do wonders for themselves and the ecosystem of women entrepreneurs.” The selected startups will be supported by Zone Startups India for up to a year after the programme.

Here Is the List Of The 15 Selected Startups And Their Founders –

Aardra Kannan Ambili – Riot Solutions Inc.
Founded in 2015, Riot Solutions is an IoT-based startup which develops sleep monitoring solutions for babies to track their wellness.

Meenakshi Vashist – Technology Uncorked
Technology Uncorked, led by Meenakshi Vashist, offers a light IoT framework for devices and appliances for energy efficient, Smart and connected Living Spaces.

Komal Goyali – WOWLET
WOWLET runs a mobile application that offers toilet maintenance and cleaning services for household, office complexes, and restaurants. Founded in 2017, the startup gives the user real time information on the cleanliness of  toilets.

Neha Bagoria – Tapu Sustainable Solutions
Tapu Sustainable Solutions is into sustainable green solutions and provides waterless urinal solutions such as EcoTrapin Xtra and EcoTrapin Plus to help alleviate issues like climate change.

Vishakha Singh- ICONICbot
India’s first multilingual, AI driven chatbot, ICONICbot, helps to connect influencers and their fans on relevant messaging platforms. Available in English and Tamil, the company claims the bot has processed 2.6 million messages.

Shruthi Gilla – Revol Inc.
Revol is a startup engaged in the creation of smart wallets, such as Cashew, equipped with fingerprint authentication and Bluetooth connectivity. The company, registered in Delaware, USA, has a target to sell 10,000 units globally and generate $1,000,000 in revenue.

Niyati Agarwal – Morph.ai
Morph.ai is an enterprise ChatBot suite founded in 2016. The company introduced the concept of ‘chatbot as a landing page’ to boost lead generation for businesses and engage in personalized marketing and sales.

Chandni Rajendran – Tactopus
The Tactopus team, lead by design innovator Chandni Rajendran, is developing an interactive edtech device such as interactive books for blind children. Children with visual disabilities can listen to audio labels and explanations while feeling and reading tactile shapes with their fingers.

Pria Randolph – Bitgram Technologies
Bitgram is a trust based consent oriented software product which uses blockchain and machine learning for instant, real time exchange of verified information.

Veena Moktali – Periwinkle Technologies
Periwinkle Technologies Pvt., Ltd., is a med tech startup that provides various products for healthcare to enable faster and better diagnostics. The company also developed an affordable device in association with Tata Memorial Center for the diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Vidya Vellala – Faasthelp
Faasthelp is a customer support and engagement platform which helps businesses retain customers, convert new ones and enhance customer satisfaction.

Sivareena Sarika – PregBuddy Technologies
Founded in 2016, PregBuddy is a mobile application that is designed as a one stop platform for smart communication between doctors and patients, especially for pregnant women in India.

Mansi Khanna -The Friday Code
The Friday Code builds products which aid the growth of traditional and new age brands, develop platforms and transform organizations. Founded in 2016, this startup helps brands and agencies increase their returns from investments through efficient tracking and optimization of advertisements.  

Geetanjali Agarwal – Bizlem
Bizlem deals in chatbot technologies that tries to solve major business problems using artificial intelligence.

Dr. Tanushree Devi Laishram – CyGen
CyGen is an independent organization which provides unprecedented access to personalized healthcare services. Launched in 2016, this company helps individuals increase their knowledge and understand those opportunities which can minimize healthcare challenges and improve the quality of life.

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Binny Bansal Sells ₹531 Crore Worth Flipkart Shares To Walmart

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Binny Bansal, an Indian billionaire, entrepreneur and co founder of the e-commerce website Flipkart, sold $ 76.4 million worth of his shares in Flipkart to Walmart’s Luxembourg entity FIT Holdings SARL.

Binny Bansal, along with his partner Sachin Bansal, co founded the Flipkart and served as its Chief Executive Officer until January 2016.

Walmart, a multinational retail corporation, bought Flipkart in 2018 and back then, Bansal sold a small portion of his shares and held 3.85 % of stake.

Now, according to the documents filed by Flipkart with the regulators, Binny Bansal transferred 539,912 equity shares to FIT Holdings SARL.  These shares are valued to be $ 76.4 million (approximately Rs. 531 crores.)  This latest deal left him with only 3.52 % stake in Flipkart.

Vivek Durai, the founder of Paper.vc, a business intelligence platform, said, “With this transfer, Binny Bansal has monetised a small portion of his shareholdings. He had sold 1,122,433 shares for about $ 159 million during the Walmart takeover.”

According to his contract with Walmart, Binny Bansal is entitled to sell more than half of his shares to Walmart by August 2020 and he could gain around $ 400 million from this transaction.

Bansal, who is mostly based in Singapore, is now an investor in India’s  startup ecosystem and is also the co founder of xto10X Technologies, which was launched last year.

In December 2018, Binny Bansal invested a sprawling $ 25 million dollars in the online insurance startup Acko.  He also invested in several AI and healthtech startups.

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Facebook Reveals Details Of Its Cryptocurrency Libra

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On the 18th of June, Facebook revealed details of its brand new cryptocurrency called Libra.  An alternative to cash, this cryptocoin can be used to buy things or send money to people with close to no fees.  The cryptocurrency is going to be launched by an association called The Libra Association, which consists of a group of companies interested in getting Libra out into the world.

You can use Libra to buy or cash out your Libra at local stores like grocery stores and through third party wallet apps.  To make using Libra an easier task, Facebook owned Calibra Wallet will be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, thereby simplifying transaction processes.  Although certain countries have banned the use of cryptocurrencies, Facebook is trying to break new ground with the launch of Libra.

While Facebook is launching Libra, the social media giant is not going to be in complete control of the cryptocoin.  The coin will be controlled by a consortium consisting of its founding members, Visa, Uber and Andreessen Horowitz. The three companies have invested at least $ 10 million each into the creation of this cryptocurrency.

Customers interested in holding or transferring the newly acquired token will be given multiple options to do what they wish.  To further simplify matters, Facebook will let customers access transactions through this cryptocurrency via a special app designed for iOS and Android.

To protect the identity of its users while making transactions through the new app, Facebook won’t require you to share personal details.  “The advent of the internet and mobile broadband has empowered billions of people globally to have access to the world’s knowledge and information, high fidelity communication, and a wide range of lowercost, more convenient services,” the Libra Association said in a paper announcing the cryptocurrency.

Libra will be made available to the world during the first half of 2020.  As of now, Facebook is focusing on building relationships in international waters.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Facebook Invests In Indian Startup Meesho

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On the 13th of June, social media giant Facebook announced, it invested an undisclosed amount in Indian startup Meesho.

A Bengaluru based startup, Meesho works with resellers and emerging brands using social media.  This is the first time Facebook invested in a startup based in India. Through this investment, Facebook aims to increase its commitment to the Country’s vibrant internet ecosystem.

“Facebook is an ally for India’s economic growth and social development. We are excited about India and its rapidly rising Internet ecosystem. With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India,” Ajit Mohan, the Managing Director of Facebook India, said in a statement.

It was two primary factors which made Facebook invest in Meesho.  The first reason was how the startup is growing outside the Tier II and III cities, where new users are present.  The second reason is, Meesho has a larger user base, 80 % of which are women.

So far, Meesho has raised $ 50 million from a Series C funding round in November last year.  According to industry reports, the startup helps people using its service earn close to Rs. 25,000 every month!  With WhatsApp playing a crucial role in the app’s growth, it comes as an added blessing that Facebook invested in this particular startup.

Through investments like these, Facebook is capitalizing on the social media boom happening in India.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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