Phonup, a joint venture between Franchise India and Phonup Italy, launched its first store in Karnataka, Bengaluru. The store will be a ‘one-stop-destination’ for all mobile phone solutions. Phonup, offers the widest range of new and certified pre-owned smartphones and tablets from leading brands such as Apple iPhone, Samsung, Xiaomi Mi, OnePlus, Motorola, Lenovo, etc., under one roof.

Image Source – PhonUp

A pre-owned smartphone is a smartphone less to dispose. Extending the life cycle of a device involves environmental care in terms of emissions and energy necessary for disposal. For these reasons, Phonup is committed to improving the sustainability of the high-tech frontier, both for the collection and re-use.

Driven by the philosophy of high quality and precision, every pre-owned phone from Phonup goes through extensive 40+ quality checks before being rolled out to the customers. Phonup is here to revolutionize pre-owned mobile phone market in India. The company provides umbrella solutions for mid and high-end mobile handsets across pan-India. Further, every smartphone offered from Phonup comes with 12 months of warranty. The phones for repair, gets handpicked from customer’s home.

Gerardo Taglianetti, CEO, Phonup Italy, said

The mobile repair market in India is largely unorganized and people find it hard to get reliable repairing solutions at an affordable cost. Phonup will be a game changer in this category offering process driven, world class repair to the Indian customers and additional services like extended warranty packages, accessories, repairs and technical training.

Sanjeev Arora, COO, Phonup India, said

At Phonup, it is our endeavor to enable our customers with trust and transparency and our first retail store here is a step towards the same. Our objective is to provide customers with a platform to buy pre-owned mobile handsets that are not only affordable but also offer a warranty of 12 months which is equivalent to a completely new piece.

Phonup also offers special packages that help in gauging the overall health of your smartphones and tablets.

Gaurav Marya, Chairman, Franchise India, further added

We are very happy to launch Phonup’s first experience store in Karnataka. We believe Bengaluru being a technology hub will be a great fit for the brand and our offerings. We are sure to challenge and add value to the existing pre-owned phones and mobile repair market in the region.

Just in a few months of its launch, Phonup is currently on a fast expansion mode across India via the franchisee model. A Franchisee can opt to have a Unit, Kiosk or Multi Brand Franchisee. Swan Enterprises is the master franchise in Bengaluru, which is expected to have about 120 franchise stores in the next couple of years.

About Phonup

Phonup is a joint venture between Franchise India and Phonup Italy and based on the idea of providing people with world class repairing of smartphones at affordable prices. Founded on the principles of trust and transparency it offers wide range of services to the phone owners such as extended warranty, a comprehensive health check among others. It also offers the widest range of phones and tablets to users to buy from. It is expanding its roots in India via the franchisee model. For more information, please visit Phonup India

Truecaller has announced that it has reached over 100 million active users who use the app on a daily basis. In less than a year, the app has leapfrogged from 100 million monthly active users [MAUs] to 100 million Daily Active Users [DAUs], and is growing faster than ever.

In a company blog post Alan Mamedi, CEO & Co-founder shared a letter to express his delight on the milestone

It was so big, in fact, that Truecaller is pleased and excited to announce that we now have more than 100 million daily active users using our app for their daily communication. There are only a handful of mobile-only services that impact as many users each and every day, and we are humbled to be able to join this exclusive group.

We could never have predicted that Truecaller would become a resource for women’s safety in many countries; or that it would be used for e-commerce and courier services around the globe to facilitate the difficult last mile of delivery, or allow more people to experience a data-only product in offline mode. Truecaller is more than just an app on your phone, it has aided in bridging the digital divide between the urban and growing semi-urban/rural markets in India, and has even enabled more African businesses to accept online payment.

The world has come a long way

From people mostly using Nokia and BlackBerry phones years ago, to a wide array of Androids and Apples, technology is constantly evolving around us and the world of communication has come a long way. The cost of both mobile phones and data continues to plunge, which allows more and more people to come online with just their phone.

In emerging markets, Truecaller is seeing the importance of smartphones in peoples’ daily lives. It’s their primary gateway to the internet, their connection with family and friends, people abroad, and increasingly their main banking and finance tool. Smartphones and Truecaller have become indispensable in the lives of our 100 million daily users.

Making your communication safe and efficient

With technology evolving, Truecaller has also come a massively long way since the day we founded the company. From simple beginnings as a Caller ID and spam blocking app, to a full-fledged communications platform with calling, SMS, Flash Messages and payment services.

Ebix, Inc., a leading international supplier of On-Demand software and e-commerce services to the insurance, financial, e-governance and healthcare industries, has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in India based Smartclass Educational Services Private Limited [Smartclass], a leading e-learning Company engaged in the business of education services, development of education products, and implementation of education solutions for K-12 Schools.

Image Source – Ebix

Ebix expects the acquisition to be immediately accretive to its earnings and forecasts up to $0.20 in increased Diluted EPS, once the acquisition is fully integrated over the next 6 months. Under the terms of the agreement, Ebix will pay up to $8 million in cash for its stake in SmartClass.

Smartclass is one of India’s leading e-learning companies catering to the fast-growing K-12 education sector in India. With staff strength of approximately 500 employees out of a total of 1000 staff, dedicated to research & development and customer engagement, the Company caters to accredited school education through rich media like 2-D, 3-D, Virtual reality animation etc. Smartclass’s 500-strong sales and marketing staff across the country has helped create a strong growth trajectory, in terms of top line and reach for the Company.

Smartclass today has a customer base encompassing thousands of classrooms, paying for Smartclass e-learning products and services in an on-demand subscription basis. Smartclass will be tightly integrated into Ebix’s Education and e-learning initiatives in India and is seen as one of the many steps, that Ebix intends to take with an intent to invest up to $100 million in the sector.

Robin Raina, Ebix Chairman, President & CEO  said

The e-learning business model is typically asset lite and caters well to strong recurring operating margins, once the customer aggregation crosses the threshold levels. We have been eyeing India’s fast-growing e-learning sector for many years now, fueled by education being one of the highest spending areas traditionally for an Indian median household.

Towards that extent, we have earmarked a $100 million amount for investment in India’s e-learning sector and the acquisition of Smartclass is a logical first step for Ebix to establish its presence in the country’s e-learning markets.

A few years back, we started investing in the healthcare e-learning sector through our Indian subsidiary acquiring Birmingham based Oakstone LLC. Any business-like e-learning where you can create an asset and sell it thousands of times, has strong possibilities of generating strong operating margins and cash flows.

When you consider the strong focus that the Indian Government has put on investing in the e-learning sector in the recent budget, the present nascent state of the country’s education infrastructure, and the fast growth that high tech companies like Smartclass have experienced in India, the decision to take up a strong position in the country’s e-learning markets became an easy one for Ebix.

Divya Lal, Smartclass Chief Executive Officer said

We are very excited by the possibilities of growth, geographical reach and financial strength that this investment from Ebix brings to Smartclass. We look forward to becoming a part of the Ebix family and replicating Ebix’s international success over the last two decades, to build upon our existing strengths and take a leadership place in India’s e-learning industry.

About Ebix, Inc.

With 50+ offices across 5 continents, Ebix, Inc., endeavors to provide On-Demand software and E-commerce services to the insurance, financial, e-learning and healthcare industries. In the Insurance sector, the Company’s main focus is to develop and deploy a wide variety of insurance and reinsurance exchanges on an on-demand basis, while also, providing Software-as-a-Service enterprise solutions in the area of CRM, front-end & back-end systems, outsourced administrative and risk compliance, across the world. For more information, please visit Ebix and EbixCash.

Nazara Technologies Limited and Royal Challengers Sports Private Limited [Royal Challengers Bangalore] have come together to launch their second mobile cricket game RCB Epic Cricket. RCB Epic Cricket is a 3D realistic and simulative game for fans featuring multiplayer mode that allows users to play versus other players across India. In this game, play as Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers along with team sensation Safaraz Khan and rule the pitch.

Image Source – Nazara

Nazara has exclusive mobile gaming rights for a multiyear partnership with Royal Challengers Bangalore to license the intellectual property for curation of freemium games.  HP has come on board as the title sponsor for the official game, RCB Epic Cricket. It has been integrated in the game in the form of jersey branding, billboards, real estate branding, user interface branding and much more. HP is one of the key sponsor brands for RCB for the 11th edition of T20 Season.

Last year, the RCB Star Cricket game rose quickly through the charts and had even reached the No.1 top free games spot on Google Play within few days of its launch. While the peak engagement was during T20, more than 54% of the engagement happened post the T20 season during the rest of the year.

Amrit Thomas, Chairman of Royal Challengers Bangalore, said

Over years, RCB has become more a lifestyle brand than just a cricket team. RCB has immensely transcended the experience of fan engagement. Fans connect with the team across multiple touch points on digital platforms. We strive to give them a seamless and more personalized experience for the love and support they have shown for the team.

Manish Agarwal, CEO, Nazara Games, said

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new muliti- player game RCB Epic Cricket with Royal Challengers Bangalore. It feels great to work with a team which is always eager to push new boundaries whether it is ‘play along’ aspect within the stadium or hall of fame on social media.

RCB fans are in for a treat this year with exciting merchandise to be won within the multiplayer launched in the game. We have also printed a QR code on all the tickets sold at the RCB stadium for them to have an interactive experience while watching the game.

RCB Epic Cricket is currently designed to be played in three modes – Multiplayer Mode, Live Events and Career Mode. The unique part about the game is its multiplayer system which enables the player to create your own RCB Dream Team and play against an opposing team [RCB Dream Team] in a turn based multiplayer match along with elements of strategy. The player can compete on– Daily, Weekly and Monthly Leader-boards to win plenty of original RCB merchandise.

The Live Events enables the player to play real time matches of RCB during the T20 Season. This mode gives the players a chance to help RCB defeat their rival teams. The players can compete in these Live events to win existing RCB merchandises.

The Career mode, on the other hand, will enable the player to play as their favourite RCB stars. To begin with you can step into the shoes of ace cricketer and RCB Captain, Virat Kohli. This mode offers the cricket fans to face 7 bold Teams on-field that have been simulated from T20. This mode also has other cricketing heavyweights such as Yuzvendra Singh Chahal and AB de Villiers. The game is available for download on Google Play Store for android devices and is expected to be available for iOS by mid-April 2018.

RCB Epic Cricket for Android can be downloaded from here

In the advent of the shift towards evaluating performances through ‘Continuous Feedback’, Cyber Managers Software Services [CMSS] [earlier coverage here] has now enabled ‘e-Nhancer – the performance management platform’ with the Continuous Feedback capabilities.

The essence of e-Nhancer’s continuous feedback system is to provide a platform for employees to critique work related activities of their co-workers on real time basis. To facilitate quick feedback, e-Nhancer provides easy access on all major touch points like HR portals, Communication platforms and intranet social workplace available on Mobile or desktop.

According to Godwin Pinto, Business Head Mobility at CMSS, said

Keeping feedback simple and accessible is our primary focus in making e-Nhancer continuous. The roadmap for e-Nhancer with continuous feedback have many more features and they are under development.

In addition to KRA/Goal Settings, Cyclic Review, Ratings the core features of e-Nhancer continuous feedback are:

  1. Give/Seek Feedback – You can choose to give feedback to other employees or seek feedback from your colleagues for any work-related activity. You can record your feedback with voice, video or photographs, and tag them with KRA’s.
  1. Groups – A feature similar to Whatsapp, structured for continuous feedback, allows feedback within a group, either to individuals in a group or to the entire group.
  1. 360 degree feedback/Survey – Employees can conduct a 360 degree feedback/survey to seek perception/opinion of others.
  1. Meeting Calendar Synchronization – e-Nhancer can sync with meeting calendar to seek feedback on meetings which could help in understanding the effectiveness of meetings.
  1. Employee recognition – You can choose to give your appreciation badges to team members for their exceptional performances.
  1. Gamification – Appreciation Badges, Leaderboard, Badge Level Limits are some of the employee engagement aspects that have been added to increase engagement with the platform and promote continuous feedback.
  1. Team Health Monitoring – e-Nhancer comes with AI extensions that allow Managers/Admin to view the sentiments of groups/teams/locations/organization, etc. thus foreseeing, when intervention may be required.

Provider of ‘totally integrated solutions’ in the areas of Software Products, Application Engineering and Professional Service, CMSS is pioneering in creating technology solutions in the Human Resource Domain. The company last year launched Chatbot by the name H-SHARP, designed specifically for Human Resource industry which can make human-like natural conversation with the support of AI, NLP, and Machine Learning [ML].

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a two-year $1.58 million partnership between New South Wales [NSW] and India to enhance the State’s startup, technology and advanced manufacturing sectors. Ms Berejiklian made the announcement in Mumbai at accelerator Zone Startups and said it will allow NSW entrepreneurs and technology businesses access to new markets, talent and knowledge.

Image Source – Partnership

The funds will be used to send NSW young entrepreneurs and startups to India to learn from the country’s best and brightest, to support commercial connections between startups in NSW and India and on fostering collaboration on advanced technology projects.

Ms Berejiklian said

NSW is Australia’s startup and technology capital and this partnership will ensure our industries grow alongside one of the world’s most dynamic technology markets.

Our state is home to 44 per cent of the nations startup founders and 40 per cent of the Information and Communications Technologies [ICT] industry. This important partnership will allow us to learn from India’s best and brightest so that we can create the smart jobs of the future.

This partnership will provide NSW businesses with incredible access to some of the best entrepreneurs and technology experts in the world and I look forward to seeing the results over the next two years.

The Premier is in India on a trade mission visiting Mumbai and New Delhi between April 16 and 19.

icanstay, a portal known for making luxury hotel stay available for business travelers, has raised fresh round of funding of Rs 1.30 Cr from an angel investor Manoj Prasad, executive chairman at Singapore-based venture capital & management advisory firm MP Morgan Capital Partners Pte. Ltd.

Image Source – icanstay

This is addition to Rs 2.24 Cr raised few months earlier from the same investor who has picked up 6.54% stake in the company. The overall funds acquired are USD Five Hundred Fifty Thousand. This investment values FTTL at more than Rs 36 Cr, in a short span of just nine months since its commercial launch.

Commenting on his investment, Manoj Prasad, the angel investor said

We see tremendous growth opportunities in the travel and hospitality space in India. FTTL is an exciting start-up with a unique model that brings value to all its stakeholders – customers as well as hotels and is well positioned for growth. We are excited to partner with such an exceptional management team and continue to build and grow this business over the long term.

icanstay is launched to fulfill aspiration of millions of Indians, who have not yet experienced stay in a Luxury Hotel. As per market study, less then 2% Indians have experienced stay in a luxury hotel. There is a huge aspirational class of customers, as per an estimate 10% of the total population, who wish and desire to stay in a luxury hotel. And as on date there are 125000 luxury rooms in India, which will grow to 165000 by 2020. With industry average of 62% occupancy, 47500 rooms go vacant daily. icanstay is a market place/bridge for a large base of aspirational consumers and luxury hotels with vacant rooms.

icanstay offers 4 & 5 Star rooms all over India at an amazing and fixed price of Rs. 2999 [include GST] all around the year. No seasonal surges or city-based price. The portal wishes to upgrade budget hotel customer to Luxury hotel and make this his/her way of life. Users can purchase an open voucher valid for 11 months, which can be utilized in more than 50 cities.

Puneet Gupta, COO and Co-Founder, FTTL said

The investment would be utilized to beef up the technology and expand hotel network. We are strongly placed to help hotels fill their vacant rooms and increase their yield per room. Further we are continuously strengthening our product offering and user experience. We are targeting a turnover of Rs. 700 Crores by 2020.

The company’s USP has always been the price and flexibility that it offers to its customers, making luxury hotel stay affordable for as many people as possible.

About First Time Travellers Ltd

First Time Travellers Ltd is a Delhi-based online start-up in the travel e-commerce segment. It’s vision is to provide upgraded hotel experiences to aspirational consumers and frequent travelers in the country. For more information, please visit icanstay

Founded in 2004, Conquest soon became India’s biggest student-run startup conclave receiving over 1000 startup applications consistently since previous three editions. Fourteen years have passed by, with a couple of revamped models and success stories laden throughout, Conquest has now evolved into a six-week summer program for India’s top ten startups which receive free space to live and work in Bengaluru along with intensive mentoring, investment opportunities and media coverage.

In the past, Conquest has had success stories like SocialCops, which is acclaimed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has been recognized as the Most Impactful Startup of 2017 by the YourStory team. Swagene and Gamezop which were the top two startups in Conquest 2015 went on to create genetically customized medicine and social gaming platforms respectively. Thinkerbell Labs, winner of Conquest 2016 aims to bring Braille within the reach of all visually-impaired people.

With a network of top investors like Sanjay Nath, Dev Khare, Barath Shankar from investment firms like Blume Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, Accel Partners, Matrix Partners, and Indian Angel Network, Conquest serves as a networking paradise. Infotech Hub and Balsamiq as associate sponsors, Conquest is on a mission to empower founders, to catalyse innovation and to assist creation.

Rahul Chhabra, CEO at Conquest, BITS Pilani, says

The only way to push the human race forward is to have enterprising small groups of people reject the status quo and build the future. In those magical moments of giving birth to innovation, we stand by the crazy ones who dare to change the world, the ones who love building  and creating just for the fun of it.

What all is Conquest upto ?

From one of India’s grandest startup events, Conquest is now under transition to become a leader in India’s startup ecosystem with multiple initiatives for all stakeholders in the industry.

  • Summer Mentorship Program – With a goal to help the best founders build great businesses and raise money, Conquest provides a six-week long summer mentorship program at Bengaluru to their Top 10 Startups. This will comprise of free co-living space at The Hub – a coliving space where people come together to live, work and express themselves, along with free co-working facilities. A separate co-living space will also be provided at BHIVE workspace.
  • Grand Finale – The Summer Mentorship Program will be followed by a Grand Finale where the Top 10 Startups get to pitch themselves before India’s top investors and media houses to raise funds and gain media attention.
  • Conquest Mentoring Sessions – From among all the startups that register for Conquest, the Top 50 are called for a day-long mentoring session in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai with industry stalwarts in tech, customer acquisition, fundraising and so on.
  • Conquest Community – The Conquest Community is a curated community of past startups, investors, mentors and experts from the Conquest network. It sparks discussions and provides an opportunity for members to connect with and gain insights from each other.
  • Conquest Hiring Platform – This gives an opportunity to Conquest Campus Ambassadors, college E-Cell partners and developers to get a chance to work with one of the previous Conquest Finalists as well as the current startups looking to hire.
  • Conquest Academy – Building a repository of great advice to first time founders which have everything from how to find the right co-founders to how to achieve a product market fit.
  • Conquest Meetups – Regularly held meetups and hackathons with mentors, founders and developers which helps get the most talented people of the country under one roof.

Why should a startup register for Conquest?

If you are an early stage startup founder who really cares about the company you are building, then Conquest has built a distraction-free, high growth environment for you so that you can single mindedly focus on building your company.

Conquest provides intensive mentoring from founders who have built great companies themselves who are the best source of experiential knowledge on nascent stage startup problems. Another important element of the program is a collaboration focused environment which requires all Top 10 Startups to stay and work together in order to solve each other’s problems and leverage complementary skill sets. Finally, Conquest helps the startups overcome one of the most common roadblocks – fundraising.

Conquest provides investors from top VC firms, Conquest alumni and experienced founders to help craft your pitch, build your deck, maneuver deals and secure funding.

Conquest has opened registrations, join the journey hereTo know more about Conquest, check out their blogs – Conquest: Building India’s First Student-Run Startup LaunchpadWhy register your startup for Conquest?.