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Zomato Launches Zomato Gold To Battle Swiggy’s Access

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Swiggy, the online food ordering platform launched Swiggy Access to allow its restaurant partners to set up kitchen spaces in neighborhoods where they currently do not operate.  This initiative will help in bringing quality food closer to consumers while enabling business expansion for its restaurant partners.

While Swiggy upped its game, Zomato also did not leave any spoon unturned. The online restaurant discovery platform launched its international paid subscription programme, Zomato Gold. This subscription based initiative is an exclusive dine out and social drinking membership programme where members can avail complimentary meals and drinks. While Zomato users will get access to complimentary food and drinks at over 1,200 highly rated restaurant partners, Swiggy users will get faster delivery as these kitchen spaces are “delivery only” branches and do not have a dine in option.

Zomato first launched the service in the UAE and Portugal earlier this year before launching it in India. At the moment, the programme is available through two membership plans. Users can pay the inaugural price of Rs. 299 for three months or Rs. 999 for 12 months. At present only Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru based users can avail this opportunity.

Meanwhile, Swiggy’s restaurant partners will be able to expand their services to newer neighborhoods where consumers can avail a great variety of food at a lightning fast speed. Through this initiative, restaurants will also be able to optimize their kitchens for factors like stocks planning, demand forecasting, preparation time and order edits.

Although rumors suggest both the giants of the food delivery industry were in talks for a stock based merger, Swiggy denied all allegations in a statement. At present, it seems like both the startups have locked heads to capture a majority of the lucrative industry. Despite global players like UberEATS and Google trying to enter the restaurant discovery and food ordering marketplace, Swiggy and Zomato still hold the upper hand.

According to Zoamto, the company completes close to 3 million online orders per month, while Swiggy claims to complete 4 million. However, as Swiggy is still mainly a food delivering platform, Zomato reigns over the restaurant discovery business. India’s online food delivery market has grown exponentially over the past couple of years.  The estimated Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) for the fiscal year 2016 was close to $300 million. While both Swiggy Access and Zomato Gold seem to be bold moves, it is yet to be seen who will wear the ultimate crown.

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Amazon Opens Automated Grocery Store – Amazon Go

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Amazon.com Inc., the global ecommerce giant will launch the first of its kind supermarkets without checkouts, human or self service on Monday in Seattle. According to BBC, this revolutionary supermarket, Amazon Go, has been tested by Amazon staff for the past year.

Amazon Go store relies on cameras and sensors to track shoppers and maintain a list of what shoppers remove from the shelves and what they put back. Making cash registers and checkout lines superfluous, customers buying products from the Go store will be billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.

A row of gates guards the entrance to the store and shoppers can only enter after they scan their Amazon Go app. The 1,800 square foot mini market is packed with shelves of food and will be open from 7 A.M. To 9 P.M. Monday to Friday. Speaking about the newest venture, the Vice President of Technology, Dilip Kumar said, “(the idea behind Amazon go is to) push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning and to create an effortless experience for customers.

According to Amazon, the technology used in the Amazon Go store is so accurate that the sensors can detect minute changes and distinguish between multiple people standing side by side at a shelf. The tracking is precise enough to detect which customer picked up a yogurt or a cupcake and track which customers are simply browsing. Technology website GeekWire reported, the system also knows when people pick up items and put them back in case customers simply wanted to read the label. While the company has remained tight lipped about the technology it’s using in its sensors and tracking devices, can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every item.

Amazon further added the technology will not replace employees but streamline the shopping process. Associates and employees will be put on different tasks including restocking shelves and helping customers troubleshoot any technical problems and help customers find items. According to people who have tested the store, Amazon sends an electronic receipt for purchases only a few minutes after walking out of the store. The Head of Amazon Go, Gianna Puerini, speaking about the technology said, “This technology didn’t exist, it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.” The company has already released official Amazon Go apps on iOS and Android and customers can use their existing Amazon credentials to log in to the Amazon Go app.

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WhatsApp Launches Business Application

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WhatsApp, the global messaging service launched its flagship WhatsApp Business App in America, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico and the United Kingdom, yesterday. However, the app is currently available only for Android devices and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

WhatsApp Business aims to enable better communication between businesses and their customers. Currently, a majority of WhatsApp’s 1 billion users base already use the app for their small businesses to connect with audiences and customers. According to the Facebook owned company, the Business app will be rolled out to businesses in the rest of the world in the coming weeks.

This standalone app will help businesses give their customers useful information such as business description, email or store addresses and website links. Along with the information, businesses will also be able to provide quick automated replies to frequently asked questions. The app will also have new features to send greeting messages that introduce customers to the business and away messages that let customers know if the executives are busy. Businesses using the app will also be able to check the statistics about messages that are read by the customers among other user metrics.

In order to separate the businesses from the customers, accounts will be identified as a business account and businesses will soon be able to have confirmed accounts when their account and business phone numbers match. The company also claims more than 80% of its small business users in Brazil and India say they find the WhatsApp messaging service helpful for communicating with their customers and grow their business.

At the same time, customers who already use the app to communicate with businesses won’t need to download the new application. WhatsApp said, “(Users will) continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, as well as report spam.” While the current app is free to use, WhatsApp is reportedly planning to offer some business tools as paid services in the future, according to Chief Operating Officer Matthew Idema.

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Karnataka To Fund Startups From Across The Country

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The Karnataka Government will fund startups from pan India by calling them to register in Karnataka. According to IT Minister of Karnataka, Priyank Kharge, entrepreneurs and startups across the country seeking funds can soon look up to the Karnataka government.

The IT Minister further added, “We want to take our startup policy to the national level this year. We will support startups from across the country provided they pay taxes here.” For this purpose, entrepreneurs registered in Karnataka under the Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1961 can apply for funds and other initiatives. The Minister, however, did not elaborate on when this new phase will kick off and whether more funds will be allocated.

The Karnataka government was one of the first governments in India to launch their startup policy in 2015 in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Startup India initiative. Since then, the government has set up several funds with a corpus of over Rs. 300 crores to back startups across different sectors such as biotechnology, tourism and animation. In accordance with their five year startup plan, the State Government is aiming to boost 20,000 technology based startups by 2020 in Karnataka and create 6 lakh direct and 12 lakh indirect new jobs in the sector. In 2017 alone, 250 startups received funding from the from the Government while 5000 startups were registered under the policy.

In October last year, the Karnataka government also invested Rs. 40 crores in the construction of a state of the art artificial intelligence (AI) and data science capabilities center. The Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence aims to help global companies create approximately 35,000 jobs over the next five years for data science and artificial intelligence professionals. In August, the State government also provided funding worth Rs. 35 crores to 100 innovative startups through its Elevate 100 program.

According to the data from research firm Tracxn, till date, Karnataka has funded 890 startups while Maharashtra funded 645 and Delhi NCR funded 419. Currently, 7909 startups were founded in Karnataka following Maharashtra with 8117 startups.

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