The second week of October was filled with good news and billion dollar valuations for major startup companies! The Indian startup ecosystem was also getting ready to adapt cryptocurrencies and forge ahead in the world of blockchain businesses.
If you missed the major news of last week, here’s our weekly wrap up
1. 5G TO COME TO INDIA SOON
India is ready to move on from 4G Internet speeds and start working for a faster network. Telecom operators like Vodafone India, Reliance Jio and Idea Cellular will reportedly come together to create the software required to make 5G a possibility. The three telecom operators will introduce Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology to enable the 5G network. The MIMO technology will help increase network capacity by at least 4 to 5 times and increase the speed up to 30 Mbps t0 50 Mbps.
The Andhra Pradesh Government is all set to make Vishakhapatnam the blockchain capital of India. The second leg of the Blockchain Business Conference was held last week to explore blockchain technologies, its applications and how it impacts the financial services industry. The conference also launched two accelerator programs for startups by ICICI Bank and Mahindra Finance. The accelerator programs will mentor and finance 30 startup companies and help them in solving problems. Notably, the AP Government is the first state to use blockchain pilots and the technology in various departments.
India’s leading taxi aggregator, Ola raised the largest round of funding in their six year history this past week. The company raised $ 1.1 billion from China’s Tencent Holdings and Japan based SoftBank. This funding round by Ola is the third billion dollar round in a series of billion dollar funding rounds in the Indian startup ecosystem this year. Ola may be valued at $ 7 billion post the latest investment round despite a considerable decrease in valuation in the beginning of this year.
Restaurant discovery and reservation startup EazyDiner raised close to $ 4.6 million in a Series B funding round from new and existing investors. Founded by various veterans of the hotel industry, EazyDiner is also backed by Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh through his venture fund YouWeCan. EazyDiner is an app based platform that allows users to book tables and offers an EazyDeal with every table booking in the form of a free glass of wine or popular desserts in some of the standalone restaurants and 5 star hotels. Along with DSG Consumer Partners and Saama Capital, the company has added Singapore based venture capital firm Beenext and an undisclosed family office from the Middle East to their investor’s list.
Technology has evolved over time to a point where virtual reality and augmented reality can be interwoven with real life. Making VR affordable, Facebook recently launched their latest device, Oculus Go which will run with the same VR as the Samsung Gear. Priced at $ 199, the new device will pack a high resolution fist switch LCD screen along with a ‘next generation lens’ and wide field of view. This latest device will also have an added spatial audio with the speakers built into the headset along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack for private listening. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Oculus Go will be “the most accessible VR experience ever.”
Picking up a considerable stake in the tea industry, global investment firm Tiger Global Management has invested $ 2 million the Gurugram based tea cafe chain Chaayos. According to reports, Ola co founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati also participated in this internal round of funding along with Powai Lake Ventures and Toppr.com founder Zishaan Hayath. Chaayos, which is run by Sunshine Teahouse Pvt., Ltd., will use these funds to expand their chain to 70 cafes in four locations. The company, which currently operates 30 outlets in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Ghaziabad and Karnal, is all set to reach the 50 cafe mark by the end of this month.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising has raised valid concerns regarding the security of female commuters using the app based transport services like Ola and Uber, after several incidents were reported recently. Responding to Jaising’s concerns, the Supreme Court of India has stated that all app based transport service providers need to be regulated in order to ensure the safety of all female passengers. The Centre has been asked to examine the issue and a bench consisting of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta have agreed to examine the plea. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) was also asked to set up an expert panel to frame a model that sets guidelines and rules to grant compensation to victims under the Victim Compensation Scheme by December 31.
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.
Leher Versus Clubhouse: Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?
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.
Why Are Ads On Digital Media Failing To Reach The Right Audience?
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.)”
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.
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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