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SoftBank and Others Invest $250 Million In OYO

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SoftBank Vision Fund along with the existing investors Sequoia India, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Greenoaks Capital have invested around $ 250 million in the budget hotel aggregator startup OYO. Sunil Munjal led Hero Enterprise also participated in this Series D funding round.

The fresh funds will give OYO the growth capital to scale up its network and invest in its recently launched effort to create premium, self managed hotels under the Townhouse brand. This is OYO’s largest ever funding round and will give the company the heft to battle the large online travel agencies MakeMyTrip and Goibibo, which joined forces in October last year.

Japanese major SoftBank previously invested in OYO in April 2016, where the company raised $ 200 million from the funding round. Speaking about the company, SoftBank’s Board representative, Justin Wilson said OYO has solidified its position in India as the leading accommodation brand for consumer affordability and high quality standards and they are excited to continue their support to OYO as they further expand their position in India. SoftBank, at present, backs various other Indian startups such as Paytm, Flipkart, Hike, Grofers and InMobi.

The Gurugram based company, founded by Ritesh Agarwal in 2013, will use the capital to support their expansion into newer markets in India and abroad. OYO has already started its expansion plans in South East Asia and entered Malaysia and Nepal in January and April this year, respectively. Till date, they have raised close to $ 436 million in funds through four funding rounds. While the valuation of OYO post this round of funding was not revealed, it is expected to be much higher than its valuation of $ 460 million from their last funding round in August 2016. A news daily reported OYO’s valuation may be as high as $850 million to $900 million after this Series D round.

Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of OYO said the company will focus on accelerating network coverage to consolidate their leadership in the economy through OYO Rooms and through the Townhouse brands. “We will also deploy fresh capital to take our made in India business model to international markets which are characterized by a similar supply demand imbalance in real estate and hospitality,” he added.

Other players in the hotel aggregator market space include RedDoorz, Wudstay Hotels, FabHotels, Treebo Hotels and GoStays.

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Funding

Carl Pei’s Nothing Invites Retail Investors 

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Carl Pei said the time came for him to leave OnePlus and focus on other interests, following which he resigned from OnePlus in October 2020.  Since then, Pei had been working on his new startup in the audio hardware sector.  Carl Pei unveiled the name of his startup which is now called as Nothing, on January 27th, 2021.  Since the unveiling of Nothing, Pei’s startup has attracted a lot of attention from Silicon Valley and venture capitalists.  

Carl Pei now seems to be emulating his success formula at OnePlus with his new startup Nothing.  OnePlus is highly customer centric, because as a company they take in inputs from their consumers and adapt them to their products.  Pei seems to be using the same strategy with Nothing, as he invited retail investors to invest in his new startup.  Normally a startup raises Series A funding to begin product development and then goes on to Series B and so on.  For a normal retail investor to invest in a stock, they could only do it at the time of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the time of which the company would be valued highly.  However, Carl Pei is letting in investors from the beginning.  

ALSO READ: Alphabet Invests In Carl Pei’s Startup Nothing

This lets the investors be a part of the product development process and makes Nothing more personalised.  Moreover the investors would also act as promoters for the products.  Currently, there are $ 1.5 million worth of shares available.  Users can invest a minimum of € 50 and a maximum of € 20,000.  However, the demand to invest is off the charts and was unexpected as Carl Pei confirmed there was an interest worth of $ 10 million from 8,700 users.

Nothing’s first wireless earphones will be unveiled in the summer of 2021.  Nothing aims to build an ecosystem of listening devices which talk to each other.  Initial investors of Nothing include the likes of Tony Fadell (Principal at Future Shape and the Inventor of the iPod,) Casey Neistat (YouTuber,) Kevin Lin (Co founder of Twitch,) Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit,) Liam Casey (Founder and CEO, PCH,) Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of Web Summit,) Kunal Shah (CEO of CRED) and Josh Buckley (CEO of Product Hunt.)  Alphabet’s investment arm Google Ventures was the latest investor in Nothing as they invested $ 15 million.

 

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Startup India Seed Fund To Be Disbursed From April 1st

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There is no doubt India has a strong foothold in the startup ecosystem.  India currently ranks third in the world for the number of startups, next only to the United States of America and China.  This was possible due to the Indian Government’s initiatives to develop the startup ecosystem and also due to a strong presence of unicorn startups like PayTM, Zomato, Unacademy and many more.

The Government of India announced it would begin to disburse INR 945 crores seed capital from April 1st, 2021 under the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme in a  bid to boost the startup ecosystem in India.  These funds would be distributed through select incubator partners all over the country.  This scheme will be implemented by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT.) 

In a gazette notification, DPIIT announced that Startup India Seed Fund Scheme will provide financial assistance to startups that have been recognised by the DPIIT and incorporated not more than two years ago at the time of application.

ALSO READ: How The Events Industry Is Impacted By The COVID-19 Pandemic

The Startup India Seed Fund Scheme will have a common central application on the Startup India portal for startups on an ongoing basis.  An Experts Advisory Committee (EAC) will be formulated to oversee and monitor the overall execution of the scheme.  The EAC will evaluate and select the incubators for allotment of the seed funds and place measures for the efficient disbursement of funds.

The government also mentioned preference will be given to startups working in the areas of agriculture, education, food processing, healthcare, social impact, waste management, water management, financial inclusion, biotechnology, energy, mobility, defence, space, railways, textiles and oil and gas.

 

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CRED’s Kunal Shah Invests In One Plus Founder Carl Pei’s Startup

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Carl Pei is one of the most well known names in the startup circles considering he gave the world one its best smartphone brands OnePlus.  Since the debut of OnePlus One. The smartphone maker earned the moniker ‘flagship killer’ and has grown in leaps and bounds.  Today OnePlus boasts on an impressive product line up apart from its smartphones and is one of the leading electronic brands in the world.  In October 2020, Carl Pei said the time came for him to leave OnePlus and focus on other interests.  Since then, Pei had been working on his new startup in the audio hardware sector.

The name of Carl Pei’s new startup will be unveiled on January 27th, 2021 but in the past three months the unnamed startup received almost $ 7 million in seed funding.  The investors include Tony Fadell (Principal at Future Shape & Inventor of the iPod,) Casey Neistat (YouTuber,) Kevin Lin (Co-founder of Twitch,) Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit,) Liam Casey (Founder and CEO, PCH,) Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of Web Summit) and Josh Buckley (CEO of Product Hunt.)

The latest to invest in Carl Pei’s startup is Indian based CRED founder Kunal Shah who invested an undisclosed amount.  Shah is not new to being an angel investor as he already has a portfolio of investing in almost 80 startups.  “Carl is working on a new consumer electronics company that I am sure will be a disruptor in the tech industry. I am excited to be part of this journey (sic,)” the CRED founder said in a statement.

While Pei’s startup is headquartered in London, more details will be known on January 27th, 2021.

 

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