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30-10-2017 to 04-11-2017



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The month of October passed by in a string of acquisitions, investments, surprise announcements and major technology updates. The month of November also started out with a bang news regarding major food tech companies, female entrepreneurs in the startup industry and all time high revenues. If you missed the major news of this week, here’s our weekly wrap up.

Ola Fleet Technologies Pvt., Ltd., received $7.7 million in fresh funds from its parent company ANI Technologies Pvt., Ltd. The company already raised Rs. 50 crores and Rs. 100 crores from Ola in July this year. Close to 50 million equity shares were allocated at a subscription price of Rs. 10 apiece. Despite facing multiple loan defaults and other setbacks, the company posted a net sale of Rs. 5.6 crores for the financial year 2015-2016.

75 startups in India received financial support from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP,) of India under the Funds of Funds Initiative. These 75 startups would receive the investment through 17 Alternative Investment Funds registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI.) Established by the Indian Government in association with the Small Industries Development Bank of India, the Funds Of Funds for Startups (FFS) aims to extend funding support to the startups identified based on criteria listed in line with the Startup India initiative. So far over Rs. 300 crores has been invested in startups by the Fund.

Technology major Nokia finally launched their much awaited flagship smartphone Nokia 2 at the Sector 55-56 Metro station in Gurgaon. One of Nokia’s most affordable phones, Nokia 2, is expected to hit the shelves mid November, this year. With a 4100 mAh battery that will last for 2 days, the Nokia 2 will pack a 5 inch LTPS HD (720×1280 pixels) resolution display. The phone packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 SoC processor but will come with just 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Available in three color variants namely Copper Black, Pewter Black, and Pewter White, the handset will hold a 5 MP front camera and an 8 MP primary camera.

India’s two biggest food tech startups, Zomato and Swiggy, are reportedly in talks for a stock based merger. According to sources, restaurant discovery platform, Zomato, offered a 1:4 share swap ratio to Swiggy, which would reduce the valuation of the online food ordering platform at $225 million. 2016 saw an exponential growth in the food delivery industry. While Swiggy claimed to complete close to 4- 4.5 million orders a month, Zomato dominated the restaurant discovery business with 3- 3.2 million online orders per month. Zomato and Swiggy’s merger will be among the most significant moves made towards consolidating a lucrative sector, after the failed acquisition talks between Flipkart and Snapdeal.

In an attempt to encourage female entrepreneurs, Zone Startups India has selected 15 women for the second edition of its empoWer Accelerator Program. Selected by a panel comprising of 12 mentors and noted industry experts, the startups will compete for a chance to attend a week long business development and personal mentorship programme in Quebec, Canada. The startups represent industries like healthcare, smart cities and enterprise solutions across various technology themes including Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and deep learning, across industries like healthcare, smart cities and enterprise solutions. The shortlisted startups will get to network in the industry, attend valuable mentoring sessions and workshops during a six week community programme.

One97 Communication, the parent company of Paytm, posted a total revenue of $ 126 million and net worth of Rs. 2,376.6 crores for the fiscal year 2016 – 2017. Founded in 2010 by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm is India’s leading digital payments platform backed by China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba and Japan’s venture capital firm Softbank. The company witnessed a 65% rise in offline payments resulting in transactions worth $ 1.6 billion, post Demonetization last year. The company also claims to have over 218 million customers in India and a few other parts of the world and aims to increase their customer count to 50 crores by the end of 2020.

A day after posting their record high revenue, Paytm announced the launch of their brand new in house messaging service, Inox. In an attempt to create a separate path in the fierce world of ecommerce, Inbox lets users send and receive images and text messages. The messaging service will be embedded with digital transaction features as an additional advantage against other messaging apps. Furthermore, Inbox will also have a recall option that lets users delete messages once sent.

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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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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Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?



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If you are a regular user of social media platforms and also a fan of consuming content on the digital medium, then there is a very high likelihood that you have seen ads on pages you are reading or watching something.  There would be times when you have been targeted by an ad which feels like it was wrongly targeted at you.  Imagine if you are a vegetarian by choice and while browsing online, if you are targeted by a food delivery app which shows ads about chicken dishes.  The ad would only serve to spoil the mood of the online user instead of serving its actual purpose which is to push the user to buy a chicken dish.

These wrongly targeted ads might be the side effects of performance marketing or a weak brand marketing.  Performance marketing means advertising programs where advertisers pay only when a specific action occurs. These actions can include a generated lead, a sale, a click, and more.  Inshort, performance marketing is used to create highly targeted ads for a very specific target audience at a low cost.  Performance marketing usually means high volume for a very specific cost.  

Brand marketers on the other hand believe in narrowly defining target audiences but end up spending a lot of money on ad placements.  Gautam Mehra, CEO, Dentsu Programmatic India & CDO, Dentsu International Asia Pacific said, “You’ve defined a persona, you know the emotions you want to elicit, but then you buy a YouTube masthead and CricInfo sponsorships because IPL is up.  If brand advertisers look at audience-based buys more deeply than just placements, you will see more relevant ads (sic.)”  

ALSO READ: How Digital Marketing Is Impacted Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic

Performance marketing is more of a sales function rather than a marketing function and is about meeting the cost of acquisition.  This is a reason why budgets are usually high for performance marketing.  Mehra goes on to add, “the fact is that an engineer can out-beat FMCGs on performance marketing.  Advertisers who have cracked this are spending 10x and are on an ‘always on’ mode (unlike time-bound brand campaigns.)”

There is always the case of supply and demand, with the supply usually exceeding the demand on digital platforms.  Ultimately, it boils down to the choice between no ad versus low relevance ad and it is quite easy to guess that having a low relevance ad is better.  

Arvind R. P., Director – Marketing and Communications at McDonald’s India (West and South,) said “McDonalds’ for instance, has seen its share of spends on digital grow from 20% levels a couple of years back to over 40% at present.  Outcomes of this journey have been encouraging, proven by our media-mix-modelling and other key metrics.  We have seen best results from an optimal mix of Television plus digital (sic.)”  Moreover, Arvind also believes performance marketing only approach could turn out to be more suited to short term, versus a more consistent full funnel effort.  The latter ensures adequate emphasis on building consideration, as well as growing transactions.  Arvind feels digital is a complex medium which needs investment in the right talent who could use the right tools.  Brands which underestimate the need for the investment are often disappointed from the return on investment from the digital medium.

With the constantly changing consumer dynamics marketers are now shifting to unscripted marketing which frankly needs more insights into the consumer mindset.  The lack of marketers to do the proper research is why digital medium is plagued with irrelevant ads.

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Facebook Launches BARS For Creating Raps To Counter TikTok’s Growing Popularity



Facebook Launches BARS For Creating Raps To Counter TikTok’s Growing Popularity

Facebook is leaving no stone unturned to tackle the surging popularity of the Chinese video making app TikTok.  As part of its redoubled efforts Facebook is launching a new app named BARS which could be used to create and share raps.  The core idea behind the app is rappers could focus on creating content without having to worry about investing heavily in production and equipment.

Facebook said, “Audio production tools can be complicated, expensive and difficult to use. With BARS, you can select one of our professionally-created beats, write lyrics and record yourself dropping bars (sic.)”  The company also added, “BARS auto-suggests rhymes as you’re writing to keep your flow going.  You can also jump into Challenge mode and freestyle with auto-suggested word cues.  Choose from a variety of audio and visual filters to take your creations to the next level (sic.)” 

The app is now available in the Apple App Store in the United States of America.  The invites for using BARS would be sent out in batches beginning in the USA and then expanded worldwide.  

This would be the second app which Facebook is launching to counter TikTok’s growing popularity.  Instagram Reels was the latest offering from the photo sharing platform Instagram (owned by Facebook) and was launched as a replacement for the video sharing application TikTok.  TikTok was enjoying an unrivalled popularity in India as it became a means to keep boredom at bay during the nationwide lockdown which was imposed in light of the COVID-19 virus. However, the Indian government announced that it would ban 59 Chinese applications in which TikTok was one, along with WeChat, Helo, Cam Scanner and many others.  This left a sudden void in video making applications, and Instagram realised the need for urgency to capitalize on this void.  Therefore, Instagram immediately pushed their latest feature Instagram Reels which lets its users create 15 second videos with music from Instagram’s database.  These videos look very similar to the ones made on TikTok and has gained a lot of popularity in India where Tik Tok continues to be banned.

ALSO READ: 4 Things To Know About Instagram Reels

Google also took advantage of the Indian Government’s ban of the viral application TikTok.  Google introduced a new feature on YouTube called YouTube Shorts.  The feature for all intents and purposes mimics the same features TikTok used to provide.  The new feature mimics many of TikTok’s most popular features, allowing users to make and post 15 second videos with built in creative tools encouraging them to add licensed music and more.

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