Unacademy, India’s largest learning platform, announced the closing of its $21 million Series C funding round from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, and Nexus Venture Partners. Blume Ventures also participated in this round. Unacademy has raised $38.6 million in total so far.  The funds raised will be utilized to onboard new educators on the platform, penetrate deeper in categories including pre-medical, GATE and CAT, and further strengthen the core product and technology team.

Image Source – UnAcademy

Commenting on the announcement, Gaurav Munjal, Co-Founder and CEO, Unacademy said

Right from the outset, we have focused on growing the platform by empowering the best educators. We have grown tremendously since our inception, and just last month, more than 3000 educators were active on the platform and lessons created by them were watched more than 40 million times by learners.

I am thankful to our existing investors for infusing Unacademy with growth capital and reaffirming their faith in us. We will utilize these funds to invest heavily in our product and technology to make Unacademy one of the best global internet products out of India. We remain committed to growing our platform with more educators, learners and categories.

Shailendra Singh, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital [India], Singapore said

Sequoia India is thrilled to lead the new round in Unacademy, which is already making a big impact in India’s online learning space.  Gaurav, Roman and Hemesh are driven founders with a very focused mission, and that is having a clear effect on the pace of production innovation, team building and overall growth.

Unacademy was founded by Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh in 2015. The platform empowers educators by making it easy for them to create high quality educational lessons on the Educator App, that learners access via the Learning App.

Alok Goel, Partner, SAIF Partners, said

Unacademy has demonstrated tremendous progress towards their goal of delivering personalized learning by connecting great quality educators and students on their platform. The company has diversified across several new domains and has achieved amazing word of mouth among learners. We are excited to continue supporting Gaurav and team in their journey.

Sameer Brij Verma, Managing Director at Nexus Venture Partners, said

We are super excited to support the Unacademy team on their mission to become India’s largest online learning platform. The team has done a great job in building market leadership in the government test preparation domain since we led their Series A round in early 2017, and they are aggressively expanding to new examination categories.

In October 2017, Unacademy also launched ‘Plus’ courses on its platform with a private discussion forum, live video classes, and a personalized classroom learning environment with its top educators. Currently, more than 30 educators take paid ‘Plus’ courses on the platform apart from the lessons that are also available for free. Since the launch of Plus courses, the company has achieved a 6x growth in its monthly revenue.

About Unacademy

Unacademy is an education technology platform founded by Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh in 2015. It was started as a YouTube channel by Gaurav Munjal in 2010. Headquartered in Bengaluru, Unacademy is India’s largest learning platform that brings expert educators together with millions of students in need of quality education. With a growing network of 10,000 registered educators and 3 million learners, Unacademy is changing the way India learns. The company has raised $38.6 million so far from prominent investors such as Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures. To know more, download the Unacademy Learning App from Play Store or Unacademy Learning App from the iOS Store

Truecaller introduced their newest Premium feature, Call Recording, for its Android users globally. This is another step towards upgrading their Premium offerings aimed at making communication safe and efficient by helping users report harassment related or fraudulent calls.

From helping users identify new business clients, to empowering women in their fight against harassment or objectionable calls, Truecaller has safeguarded users by identifying unknown calls and SMSs.  The latest Call Recording feature will also assist its users in keeping track of important conversations with businesses, colleagues, or friends.

Call Recording has been one of the most highly requested features by Truecaller users. The team decided to develop and combine it into their Premium package along with the Who Viewed Your Profile feature.

How Call Recording Works

When a Premium user dials or receives a call, they can toggle ‘ON’ the recording feature from the Truecaller Caller ID screen. The recordings are then stored on the user’s phone. All users without a Premium subscription can get a free 14-day trial of this feature, the company announced.

Call recordings are stored locally on the user’s phone, and not on Truecaller’s servers. The users of this feature are responsible for following local laws around two-way consent.

More Premium features when you subscribe

  • Who viewed my profile
  • Ad-free experience
  • Contact requests
  • Premium badge for your profile

To upgrade to Premium, tap on the ‘Upgrade to Premium’ tab in the Truecaller app.

Staying true to their commitment to innovate and make life comfortable for their customers, Luminous Power Technologies has launched Luminous Home Mobile application, the first of its kind, Mobile AR Catalogue for Indian Home Electrical Industry. The application uses Augmented Reality to help consumers select the best fan and modular switches designs for their homes without leaving the comfort of their home. Luminous Home is available on Google Play and Apple Store for customers to download.

Image Source – Luminous

The picture overlay is displayed on the smartphone’s or tablet’s screen showing how the new Signature fan/ modular switch would fit in their home with the added benefit of background and colour option on the application. With the help of these options, customers can visualize, which fan or modular switch will go best with their home decor. In addition, the application also helps customers to locate dealers in their area if they wish to make the purchase.

Vipul Sabharwal, Managing Director, Luminous Power Technologies, said

At Luminous, our aim is to always advance with the evolving needs of the Indian buyers.  We have introduced virtual and augmented reality technology to give our customers the flexibility to get a better idea of some of our products by giving them a platform to experience it. We are positive that the launch of this app will lead to increase in brand preference for Luminous and create a strong brand recall among Key Retailers in Electrical trade and the end consumer.

The launch of the new mobile app comes at the heels of Luminous’ new signature range of fans, imbibing the unique personalities of charismatic cities like Jaipur, London, New York & Rio de Janeiro in February. The range is available through 2000 key retailers across India and costs between Rs.3000~Rs.9000.

Consumers can download the app by scanning the QR Code in the image below

About Luminous Power Technologies

Luminous Power Technologies is the leading electrical specialist in India having a vast portfolio comprising of Power back up solutions such as Home UPS, Batteries, Stabilizers and Solar Solutions to Home Electrical offerings such as Fans, LED lighting, Wires & Switches. Luminous has been in business for 30 years now. It has 7 manufacturing units, more than 28 sales offices in India and presence in over 36 countries. Our 6000 employees serve more than 60,000 channel partners and millions of customers.

The advent of smart phones has led to an evolution in the world of financial technology; right from simplifying banking transactions to trading – everything is away at a click of a button. This has also lead to a significant spike in the number of traders who are resorting to the likes of their smart phone device.

Image Source – Mobile Trading

But, why it became essential to make the ‘smart switch’ to the smart phone?

If you are a trader, tracking the markets on the desktop might not be the most feasible thing to do. As you are required to keep a tab on the markets, on the go it, having the trading data on your hand will enable your accessibility & mobility and will be less time-consuming.

Why don’t we look into a few advantages of mobile trading through a stock market app?

  • Multi-tasking

As a trader, you are often required to make crucial decisions regarding your investments by comparing multiple sources of information at the same time. Mobile trading app enables you to collect and compare critical information on a real time basis. Share market app, thus, enhances the accuracy of the decisions you make, and there by benefits your investments.

  • Live updates

Share market app gives you the live updates of the market situation from anywhere around. It enables transparency as the notifications sent at the same time to every trader. Stock market app enables the real-time transactions and boosts the rate of conversions and benefitting the clients with quick access to various services.

  • Safety & Security

When it comes to money, security is a given! And in the current times, with advancements in technology such as login through biometrics and two-step authentication and digital signature; there is a turnaround in the security options available to us. With the help of such share market apps, mobile trading will enable the traders to execute multiple transactions without being worried about the implications of their money being unsafe or squandered.

  • Easy interface

One of the major advantages of mobile trading app is that the interface is made easy for anyone to trade. The stock market app functions smoothly on your phone; you can choose the language of your choice which enables you to smoothly wade through your financial transactions.

Airbus subsidiaries NAVBLUE and Aerial have signed contracts with three Indian startups, accelerated at Airbus Bizlab India, to power cutting-edge technologies that will help usher in new industry benchmarks in aeronautical data services, flight operations and imagery services.

Image Source – AirBus

NAVBLUE signed up Bengaluru-based Stelae Technologies to enhance aeronautical data services quality and consistency while enabling faster introduction to the market of the next generation fully data-driven and connected EFB [Electronic Flight Bag] solution. NAVBLUE also extended its agreement with EFlight with the aim of providing a comprehensive service solution to the Indian business aviation market.

The third agreement was signed between Airbus Aerial and Navi Mumbai-based Airpix for a joint go-to market in India to provide geo-analytic solutions and imagery services in the country. The agreements mark the successful culmination of Season 3 of Airbus BizLab’s start-up acceleration programme TAKE OFF 2018, which seeks to bolster the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ and Startup India initiatives. The latest partnerships are in addition to those that Airbus signed with Bengaluru based start-ups – Neewee and EFlight in February 2018.

Bruno Gutierres, Global Head, Airbus BizLab, said

For the last couple of years I have been convinced with the potential and the quality of entrepreneurs in India. I am pleased to see that all these partnerships between Airbus and Indian startups are proving me right.

Bizlab is a part of Airbus’ innovative strategy to bring together start-ups and Airbus intrapreneurs to work and speed up the transformation of their innovative ideas into valuable businesses. It has a community of over 2000 B2B start-ups from India, South East Asia and Israel. Through its six-month acceleration programme for start-ups and internal projects, Airbus Bizlab gives access to a large number of coaches, experts and mentors in various domains that help start-ups and internal projects speed-up the transformation of their ideas into valuable businesses.

As part of the TAKE OFF programme, Airbus BizLab will sponsor two travels to Europe for Indian start-ups in a period of six months as well as fund up to 50,000 Euros to them for the demonstration of proof of concept.

Fabrice Villaumé, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at NAVBLUE, said

NAVBLUE believes in India’s potential for multiple reasons. One is India’s proven capacity for innovation within the IT sector, which is demonstrated perfectly by the start-ups present at the Airbus’ BizLab, with whom we work very closely. Another is the potential of the aerospace industry; India has the world’s fastest-growing domestic airline market.

We are very excited to work with startups and SMEs in India to help power this growth, and bring value to the Indian aviation industry with our integrated solutions.

About Airbus Aerial

Airbus Aerial focuses on developing new imagery services. These services leverage the best software and aerospace technology from across the globe to offer actionable data and analysis of information provided by drones, satellites, high altitude aircraft and other sources

About NAVBLUE and N-Flight Planning

NAVBLUE is an integrated Flight Operations and Air Traffic Management Services company providing end-to-end, innovative and integrated flight operations solutions for a wide-range of customers around the world. NAVBLUE’s flight planning system, N-Flight Planning, is well renowned for its adaptability to each customer’s specific needs. It enables a number of flight operation benefits and reduced operating costs through increased flight plan accuracy, dynamic route construction and higher productivity of dispatchers and flight planners. NAVBLUE’s N-Flight Planning also offers superior route optimization results, with integrated avoidance of in-flight hazards, such as forecast turbulence and icing.

A desire to purchase a car or a house is always there on our mind, but at the same time, planning your child’s education or your retirement is as important to think about. But the most important question that comes in the mind is: How to invest money and most importantly Where to invest money? Indulging in the habit of investing money to meet certain goals is worth adapting for. Setting short-term investment and long-term investment goals is necessary to diversify your bank balance properly by investing in various instruments and indulging in goal based investing. This practice will give you all the insights you need before you ever ask yourself: How to invest money? And where to invest money?

Image source – Goal Based Investing

What are Short-term Investment goals?

Short-term goals are the one’s which are required in a short duration of the time like purchasing a vehicle or repairing the house. Investing money for such instances are raised within short span of time to accomplish these tasks within your estimated period.

What are Long-term Investment goals?

Long-term goals as the name suggests, are the goals for longer duration. Goals like planning for your retirement or your child’s college education are categorized into Long-term goals. The money saved is set aside on a regular basis to meet the requirement for the future.

Types of investments for Short-term goals

  1. Systematic Investment Plan [SIP]

Start investing in mutual funds by the means of SIP with a fixed sum of your preference and at the regular intervals amount is deducted and invested in mutual funds. This will help you to serve your short-term goals. SIP can be started with as low as Rs. 500, and for the tenure of minimum 1 year.

  1. Equity Linked Savings Scheme [ELSS]

In ELSS, investments are carried are by linking with Equity. ELSS has the lock-in period of minimum 3 years. It can be extended for the long-term goals. It gives maximum returns as it directly linked to the stocks, but it carries higher risk. 

Types of investments for Long-term goals

  1. Public Provident Fund [PPF]

PPF is the most common vehicle for investing money to save for your retirement. It is a non-taxable, interest earning savings account. It has a lock-in period of 15 years and with minimum investment amount accounting to Rs. 500/ annum.

  1. Unit Linked Insurance Pan [ULIP]

ULIP is a combination of insurance and investment vehicle – stocks, bonds or mutual funds. It has a lock-in period of minimum 5 years. 

  1. Tax Saving Fixed Deposit

Tax Saving FD’s are the investment instruments offered by banks and non-banking financial institutions, having a lock in period of 5 years. Depositor can claim a tax deduction under Section 80C of the Indian Income Tax. These FD’s can be held either in ‘Single’ or in ‘Joint’ mode. The interest on tax saving fixed deposit can be reinvested on a monthly or quarterly basis.

  1. Bullion Market

Bullion Market is known as the market for trading gold and silver. High risk is involved in storing the physical gold, but the Digital Gold option of – Gold ETF has no risk associated to it as the gold held is in the electronic form. The returns on the Gold ETF is lower than that of actual gold.

Voice technology is gaining mainstream acceptance thanks to the new voice based devices from the leading companies like Amazon, Google. Simultaneously Artificial Intelligence [AI] is becoming more efficient in identifying user intents. Many industries are experimenting with the devices and AI powered abstraction layers to identify areas that they exploit to deliver superior customer experience.

Image Source – Voice Control

According to Google, 20% of the searches are already by voice and they expect this to increase to 50% by 2020. Quantum leap in voice accuracy is another trend that is seen by the technology analysts over the last couple of years. The fast adoption of the voice activated devices is helping industries on a faster learning curve for the devices and accuracy. From the users perspective, at least 2 in 5 users say that voice activated devices are essential to their lives.

Some of the industries that are dabbling with this technology are retail, banking and financial services, insurance and healthcare. It is also predicted that soon industries will be looking at voice first strategies.

Banking & Financial Services

Voice is the new channel banks are exploring to add to the plethora of channels. Why conversational banking now? Aside from the trends pushing banks towards this new channel, banks are always on a quest to make their services and offerings more and more personalized. The next question everyone is faced with is how they can go about introducing this channel. This requires good understanding of their customers and how well their staff is trained to handle introduction of this new technology.

The smart speakers e.g. Echo, Google Home, Apple Home pod, etc. are being used as effective marketing channels in many industries. The starting point for banks can also be this, where skills or services are offered either via the smart speakers or voice assistant embedded in existing bank apps to deliver relevant information to the customers. This would help in keeping the customers more engaged with the bank, and progressively the voice skills can be evolved to handle more complex processes.

Today banks are expected to play the role of someone who takes care of the financial well-being of their customers. Personal Financial Management [PFM] is the way banks are keeping their customers engaged. Many see PFM as digital banking. The channel for this need not necessarily be restricted to portal, web or tablet, and this can be further extended to new channels like voice. This allows banks to start giving tips or education that is valuable and relevant to keep the customers more engaged with the bank and ultimately drive them towards more profitable actions.

Insurance & Healthcare

One of the biggest challenge Insurance industry has been facing globally is how to make consumers better understand the products they offer. This is why the prime channel to sell these policies today is via agents. But as we all know this channel has its own limitations from availability, time bound, limited access and finally knowledge of agent himself. With advent of smart voice assistant services using smart speaker industry can sure put this concern to rest, if done right.

Voice being most natural & common media to communicate, this channel can provide the required learning right at the time required. Like when buying a policy, consumers can be educated of policy coverage or during a claims servicing phase, the process can be explained easily and various liabilities etc. explained as requested by consumers. The voice as a channel provides ease of use for day to day transaction. The overall experience from this channel can be more than other channels combined.

Another good use of this channel would be in Healthcare industry which will benefit both consumers and providers side. While consumers benefit from ease of use from added channel the provider side can achieve excellence not only on the clinical aspects but also save lot of time they spend after each consultancy. A virtual voice assistance can help patient check-in and can assist doctor look up past medical records and test results.

One of the biggest concern/risk in Healthcare Industry for adoption of this channel will be privacy. The adoption strategy should weigh out these risks and leverage technology and Standard Operating Procedures [SOP] to mitigate them.

Key KPI’s

One of the success criteria of this channel depends on how well corporates/organizations are able to create a dialogue for its customers, where the system is able to respond in context to the customers. Final aim should be to pass the Turing test via this channel. This should only be an aim and not a limiting factor to open this channel up for their customers.

Security is another criteria that would determine the adoption of this channel. As a rule of thumb all the security protocols that apply to the other channels used by the bank would have to be built-in to the voice channel as well.

Finally the new channels should seamlessly integrate with all the other channels, so customers have an omni-channel experience. Organizations have created this experience with their existing channels. The new channel should just be an extension to this experience.

Technology Adoption

For an organization convinced about the business case of using voice as a channel, can begin with the development of a ‘voice application’ targeting any smart speakers.

Application development can be done on platforms like AWS Lambda/DialogFlow, which support code written in Node.js [JavaScript], Python, Java [Java 8 compatible], C# [.NET Core], Go, etc. Organizations IT team can decide the right technology in line with their technology stack.

The ‘voice application’ needs to interface with the back-end systems, especially the core platform in order to fetch the right response to users’ queries.

However, in the absence of any UI, the approach to authenticate a user becomes crucial, but can be decided based on the organizations policies followed in web portal & mobile app. In most cases, multi-factor authentication would be enough to comply with the security policies.

About the Authors

The article has been co-authored by Aparna Pallavi, Head Digital Banking – 3i Infotech; Sanjay Pathak, Head Healthcare & Insurance Solutions – 3i Infotech and Meghashyam Simha, Head, Mobility & Automation – 3i Infotech.

Unit-Linked Insurance Plans, also known as ULIPs combine insurance and investment. You pay the premium monthly, bi-annually, or annually for a period between five and 15 years. A small component of the premium amount is deducted towards administrative, fund management, and allocation costs. The balance is towards insurance protection and investments in various instruments such as bonds and stocks.

Image Source – ULIP

You may choose between different financial instruments based on your preference and risk appetite. If you are willing to assume greater risk to potentially earn higher returns, you may invest in equity funds. Alternatively, if you want to reduce your risk and are satisfied with lower returns, you may opt for debt funds.

Similar to mutual funds, the premiums are pooled to form a fund and the same is invested in different financial products. You are allotted units based on the Net Asset Value [NAV]. The NAV may change daily based on the market performance of the various investment instruments.

Because the value of these insurance plans is market-driven, you may question if investing in these is prudent or not. Here are seven ULIP benefits to give you a clearer understanding.

1. Wealth creations

Depending on the financial instruments where the combined funds are invested, these types of plans often deliver better returns with power of compounding. If the money is invested in the stock market, you are able to earn higher returns on your investment when the markets perform well.

2. Insurance protection

In addition to providing an investment avenue, ULIPs include insurance protection. Therefore, it offers financial protection to your family members in case of an unfortunate event.

3. Versatility

These types of financial products provide versatility in terms of switching between different funds. Over a period of time, your life goals change and the flexibility to switch allows you to choose instruments that suit your current financial objectives. Additionally, you may benefit from market movements among different instruments and switch your investments between various products such as cash, debt, and equity. You may choose for pre-determined monthly switches if you do not have the time or knowledge to actively monitor your investments. Under this option, a specific amount is switched on the pre-determined date.

4. Productive long-term investment

If you want to invest your money for a longer period, ULIP insurance is an excellent option. Generally, the market fluctuates a lot in the short-term thereby delivering lower returns or in some instances negative returns. However, when you stay invested for a longer period, you are able to earn better returns on your investments. Therefore, if you want to build wealth to meet specific long-term financial goals such as children’s education, their wedding, and your retirement, these plans are ideal.

5. Tax benefits

Another benefit of these insurance plans is tax-free returns and other tax advantages. The premium paid on your ULIP is tax-deductible under section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. In addition, benefits paid to your beneficiaries are tax-free in case of your demise. Moreover, you earn the higher assured benefits or the value of the investments based on the NAV. Such benefits are also not taxable as per the legal guidelines.

6. Partial withdrawals

The lock-in period for these types of insurance plans is five years. At the end of this period, you have the option of making partial withdrawals based on your financial situation. However, such withdrawals must not exceed 20% of the value of the fund. These partial withdrawals are also tax-free.

7. Top-up investment

Another benefit of these insurance policies is the top-up feature. Under this feature, you may increase the amount of your investment in case you desire. The additional investment amount is also eligible for the tax benefits and exemptions. However, you need to ensure the total investment does not exceed 10% of the total sum assured.

Although there are several benefits of ULIPs, check out some other details which will help us for a better investment planning.

  1. Lock-in period

These insurance plans come with a minimum lock-in period of five years. During this period, you cannot make any withdrawals.

  1. Market-related

The value of your investment depends on the performance of the financial products. In case of unfavorable market performance, the returns may be lower or even negative in extreme situations.

  1. Costly in the initial period

Generally, such insurance policies are more expensive in the initial years. This is because of the policy charges that are applicable during this time.

  1. Limited switches

Most insurance companies allow a limited number of free switches between funds. If you exceed this limit, you may have to incur certain transaction charges.

ULIPs combine protection and investment, which means the premium for life cover is higher when compared to term plans. Some people consider these plans to be complicated because of the various fees and charges. You may also not understand the amount that goes towards investment, insurance, and management charges. It is possible that you may not be able to exit your investment at the end of the lock-in period because of a lower fund NAV because of the higher costs in the initial years.

Although there are certain factors we need to take care in these plans, the several benefits make these a popular product. If you want to earn higher returns while procuring life coverage, a ULIP is an excellent option. However, it is important you compare different plans offered by various insurers to make an informed decision.