PlanetSpark, a Gurugram-based EdTech startup on a mission to make traditional tuitions obsolete through powerful and gamified learn-tech products and certified teachers in K8 segment, has been infused with funds worth Rs. 1.6 crore by FIITJEE, India’s leading education company. PlanetSpark will use the funds to rapidly grow its existing 200+ home based tuition centers by close to 350% to 750+ home-based tuition centers across Delhi NCR and beyond. The funds will also be used to develop powerful, heuristic, gamified learn-tech products for an integrated instructional learning experience.

Image Source

Kunal Malik, Co-founder, PlanetSpark, said

At its core, PlanetSpark is a tech company aiming to organize the unorganized market of tuitions in India through scalable tech solutions. We firmly believe that the era of boring tuitions is over and the vast and unorganized tuition’s market is ripe for getting organized through full stack tutoring model, following the trend in other markets like transportation, logistics, food delivery or e-commerce.

Parents don’t want to send their children to unverified and un-certified tuition teachers any more and they are ready to prefer a professional brand which brings game-based learning models, instructional content, and technological backing and mobile apps.

With a ‘Blended Learning’ approach to teaching school subjects to preteens, the startup combines Face to face Classroom learning and tech-based learning. The company develops gamified learning content such as mobile based learning games, educational cartoons, learning activity boxes, workbooks and board games and partners with qualified homemakers and helps them start their home based tech enabled tuition centers using PlanetSpark’s gamified teaching content, technology and training.

Maneesh Dhooper, Co-founder, PlanetSpark, said

We are clear that the future of early and primary education lies in a Blended Approach to learning where one combines face-to-face teaching with technology. It is a known fact that purely online ‘learning apps’ don’t work as one cannot eliminate the human element of a teacher, especially for younger kids. At the same time, just face to face learning models are neither scalable nor make the learning process fun and gamified using Tech. Hence the sweet spot lies in Blended Learning.

Kunal Malik [L], Maneesh Dooper [R] of Planet Spark Team with Teachers

In order to create highly engaging games and learning cartoons for children, the company’s game development team has designed two product innovations that can create a learning game or a learning cartoon within a few hours. This would help the company exponentially scale its content offerings to more subjects and classes in the coming months.

Commenting on the development, Mr. D. K. Goel, Chairman Emeritus Fiitjee Group, said

The home based blended learning model of Planet Spark is poised to empower teachers, students and parents in the learning process.

The team is now gearing-up for the release of its learning tablet which has been developed as a series of story-based learning adventures designed by Russian game design experts. The company plans to scale-up to 5 more cities in the next academic year to spread the joy of learning pan-India!

About Planet Spark

PlanetSpark is making traditional tuition’s obsolete through powerful and gamified learn-tech products and certified teachers. It partners with qualified and smart homemakers and opens tech-enabled tuition centres from their homes. It follows a blended learning approach of a combination of classroom teaching with gamified online learning.

It offers a complete spectrum of learning products such as mobile based learning games, educational cartoons, learning activity boxes, workbooks and board games, especially designed for younger children. PlanetSpark was founded by Kunal Malik and Maneesh Dhooper, alumni of XLRI Jamshedpur with experience in global organizations such as Unilever, Novartis Switzerland and startups such as UrbanClap. Find out more here.

Start-up culture is at its’ boom in India. Start-up attracts Venture Capital [VC] or Private Equity [PE]. VC/PE investment sometimes requires hiring specialists. For Start-ups, it’s not easy to offer competitive pay to attract talent. Employee Share Option Scheme [ESOP] as part of salary package offered, comes in handy. At other times, ESOP is offered to retain talent and give a sense of ownership.

Image Source

Flipkart deal has showered fortune on its employees holding shares under ESOP. Paytm and Citrus are other examples. But it’s the positive part of the story. Some startups shut down after receiving investment. Their ESOPs never get listed on any exchange or are bought back by any investor. ESOPs are not always about startups. Most of the big corporate like HDFC, ITC, Wipro, L&T etc. have awarded shares to recognize and reward employees.

Like many other things, ESOP story is two sided as well. This article talks about ESOP from employee side. The article will cover following aspects of ESOP:

  • What is an ESOP?
  • ESOP as part of offered package [Remuneration negotiation]
  • Eligible employees
  • Procedure of ESOP
  • Pricing of ESOP and lock-in period
  • Taxation
  • When you losses your rights under ESOP?
  • ESOP vs bonus

In the following article, we will discuss ESOP from the view of employer i.e. company.

What is an ESOP

ESOP is usually known as Employee Stock Option Plan in legal terms it may be called by different names as

  • Employee Stock Option Scheme
  • Employee Stock Purchase Scheme
  • Stock Appreciation Rights Scheme
  • General Employee Benefits Scheme
  • Retirement Benefit Scheme

By whatever name called, all the above schemes offers shares/securities of the Company for direct or indirect benefits of its employees. Here the important thing to be noted by an employee is that the ESOP needs not to be necessarily offered by the Company at whose payroll you are working. You may also receive ESOP from your holding company or from any other company of the same group.

In layman’s language an ESOP is an offer given to employee by his employer to buy shares of the Company at a predefined price and in a phased manner.

ESOP as part of offered package [Remuneration negotiation]

Always analyze risk associated with accepting an offer having ESOP. Startups are unlisted entity. So, ESOPs by startups will not have liquidity as is available in case of listed entities.

Pay package is often structured such that shares under ESOP are granted at the end of first year [like retention bonus] and then you must wait for vesting period of shares to benefit from share grant. This means you are investing for long term.

Last but not the least, under ESOP, shares are not given to you for free. You must pay the predefined purchase price. If all does not go well with the organization, the predefined price may be a higher price than the face value and market value of those shares, resulting in loss of speculated gain. Though, we all know that higher the risk the higher the gain.

ESOPs can be offered only to permanent employees.

My advice is to take calculated risk. Research ESOP grant timing, purchase price, eligibility and vesting period before accepting ESOPs as part of pay package.

 Eligible employeesESOP can be offered to below types of employees

  • A permanent employee of the company who has been working in India or outside India
  • A director of the company, whether a whole time director or not, but not to an independent director
  • An employee of holding company

Options under ESOP can’t be granted to promoters or person belonging to promoter group.

Most inquired questions about ESOP is – Can the new employee receive options under ESOP? Well, Compensation Committee of a company has the power to decide who will receive options under ESOP. A company is free to decide criteria for granting ESOP. ESOP scheme may be structured in a manner that option can be granted to senior employees to reward their loyalty, to young talent to retain them and to new employees to attract talent.

Procedure of ESOP

The implementation on ESOP consists of three steps-

  1. Grant of option
  2. Vesting of option
  3. Exercise of option

Let’s take an example. Mr. A received 100 no. of options from his Company which will vest @25% each year from the end of first year of grant.

Here no. of grant is 100. Vesting each year at completion of one year of receiving of grant will be 25. Mr. A can exercise his right to buy shares/options so vested at the end of each year. Please note Mr. A can’t buy the shares/options before their vesting.

Some employee wonder if they can claim the difference in the share price [i.e. ESOP price – Market price] on exercise date. It can be done only if ESOP is managed by a trust, securities of the company are listed on stock exchange and ESOP scheme has such provision.

At the time of receiving ESOP always check whether your Company is listed or unlisted and options so received give you right to invest in shares of your company or your subsidiary/holding/group company. Please remember that shares of unlisted public company or private company can’t be sold in stock market. In that case, the only liquidity left is when an investor of the company is ready to buy those shares or the company itself decides to buy-back its own shares.

Pricing of ESOP and Lock-in

As an employee you are not going to receive any free share under ESOP. Exercise price is the price at which you can buy the options vested in your name. Current regulation gives freedom to the company to determine the exercise price provided accounting regulation is taken care off. Thus, the company can give you shares at discounted price.

ESOP scheme may specify a lock-in period. Lock-in means after buying the shares under ESOP you cannot sale it till the lock-in period is over. This is usually one year from the date of exercise of option.

  • Taxation – Shares purchased under ESOP are taxed twice:
  • At the exercise of option – At the time of exercise of option the price difference between the Fair Market Price of said shares and the exercise price is treated as perquisites in the hands of employee and shall be taxed under the head income from salary. That tax will be deducted at source by the employer and will reflect in Form 16 of the employee.
  • At sale of shares – ESOP shares will be liable for short-term capital gain or long term capital gain as the case may be, at the time of sale. For calculation of tax the price difference between fair market price at the date of sale of shares and the fair market price at the date of purchase of these shares will be considered. As at the time of purchase the difference between exercise price and fair market price would have already been taxed as perquisites.

When you lose your right under ESOP

If you retire, resign or die, ESOP is governed by specific terms of scheme. Below is a general discussion of these circumstances

i.)  Termination – The options not vested on that date expire. Options already exercised by the employee, remain with the employee. A period is provided for exercise of options already vested.

ii.)  Resignation – The options not vested on that date expire. Options already exercised by the employee, remain with the employee. A period is provided for exercise of options already vested.

iii.) Death or permanent disability – All the granted options will immediately become vested in the name of legal heir of the employee to whom the options were granted.

As an employee you shall also check the clause for treatment of bonus/right shares, if any, offered during the period of grant till the time of exercise of option. Effect of change in capital structure or corporate restructuring like mergers/amalgamations shall also be checked.

ESOP vs bonus

Indians prefer higher package or bonus than ESOP. ESOP only gives an option to invest in shares of the company at a pre-determined price. If ESOP is granted as a reward for your loyalty or to retain your without compromising the bonus or incentive structure, it is an added advantage.

Note – The article was originally published here and is reproduced with author’s consent. The author is Nikita Singh who is a Corporate Legal Advisor with expertise in overseas acquisition, IPO, ESOP, M&A, buy back and share swap FEMA compliance. She is attempting to make the legal world a layman’ walk through her articles and extensive exposure to corporate world. She can be contacted here and her LinkedIn profile is here.

The concept of co-working is becoming very popular among small, medium and large enterprises all over the world. Co-working office spaces offer an economical option to businesses and individuals because of low investment cost and various other factors. Gurugram has witnessed an impressive growth in the co-working segment over the last 3 years. With the increase in the number of startups, software companies and other companies, there is also an increased demand for fully managed offices in Gurugram.

Plus Offices, a fully funded venture by few angel investors announced that it will be soon opening up one of Gurugram’s largest customized and co-working office space. Spread over an area of 55,000 Square feet, this fully-managed co-working space is located in Sector 67, Gurugram.

Plus Offices started their operations from Gurugram, India in January 2018 and have been expanding their business operations. The company started its first co-working location in Sector 44 and their Managed Workplace and Business centre. The sector-44 centre hosts clients including Cars24, Mettl, Unicommerce, etc.

Plus Offices is a rapidly growing venture which is helping growth bound ventures, SMBs and corporates to move into customized, managed and co-working workspaces.

Ravi Kikan, Chief Operating Officer of Plus Offices, said

After a fantastic response to our Sector 44 facility we are now expanding to Sector 67, Gurugram to a new massive 55,000 Sq feet facility. This place would be ideal for startups, entrepreneurs, SMBs and enterprises who are looking at a productive workplace with a customized format. The current format can be easily customized from a 10-member team to a 1000+ growing enterprise. In fact, we have a mandate of growth for around 1.5 Lac Sq Ft area in Gurugram itself in the coming times.

Our focus is completely customer and productivity oriented. Growing enterprises, SMBs or a Corporate who are looking at customized and productive workspace should definitely talk to us. We can plan productive workplace seating right from a 10 member team to even a 2000+ strong growing enterprise. Our vision is to provide customized workplace solutions for across sectors and business formats around India. We have had a great start from Gurugram and now we would want to replicate the same to tier A and tier B cities in the coming times.

Most of the managed and co-working facilities focus only on infrastructure however very few are focussed on building a productive environment and building service levels for customers keeping in mind the efficiency and productivity of the teams working in those facilities.

Plus Offices has also started their Mentor Plus Program where they are trying to help growth bound enterprises to get on business acceleration by connecting them with regional and global mentors.

CloudSEK, an information security risk management SaaS-based start-up, has raised Rs. 14 Crores in its Pre-Series A investment led by Exfinity Venture Partners and StartupXseed. CloudSEK will leverage the freshly raised funds to evolve its flagship product XVigil, a unified risk management platform. The company will also use the funds to expand its footprints in India and South East Asia. After establishing itself as a preferred cybersecurity solution in the financial, e-commerce and transportation sector, CloudSEK now plans to target the pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and retail industry.

CloudSEK is the brainchild of Rahul Sasi and was founded in 2015 with its headquarter in Singapore and an operational center in Bengaluru, India. CloudSEK, a cybersecurity platform powered by machine learning, entails Rahul’s journey from being a college dropout to becoming a successful tech entrepreneur. Being criticized for dropping out of engineering college and predicted for a career failure, Rahul continued his journey as an ethical hacker and security expert through his successful career. Before co-founding CloudSEK, he has worked with Citrix Systems, one of the biggest names in the software industry.

Commenting on the post-funding plan Sourabh Issar, the CEO, CloudSEK, said

Being a product-only organization, our revenues are primarily generated through license sales. This investment for us is a vote of confidence from some of the eminent architects of the Indian IT Industry. We plan to utilize the funds to develop the existing products and expand our presence in India as well as South East Asia.

CloudSEK offers cybersecurity platform powered by machine learning and promises to build a risk-free digital security ecosystem. X-Vigil, CloudSEK’s SaaS-based flagship product is an outcome of the company’s four years of diligent research and development efforts. Cloudmon, another product by CloudSEK, tracks network and application related security issues associated with the client. The start-up was seed funded in 2015 by M.E. Meeran Foundation, the investment arm of Kochi-based Eastern Group.

Chinnu Senthilkumar, General Partner & CTO, Exfinity Venture Partners, said

The dark web is moving faster than Law Enforcement agencies. The losses due to cyber-related crime, worldwide, is estimated to be upwards of USD 600 Billion. Globally, Cyber Attacks are on the rise and about 500,000+ Cyber Attacks have already been reported in India in 2018.

Many of these attacks are targeted towards BFSI networks, Government Departments and may potentially end up targeting power grids, oil and gas pipelines which have the potential to cripple any economy. With companies increasingly adopting cloud solutions, CloudSEK’s unique non-intrusive solution can detect digital footprint leakages of any enterprise in real-time helping the CSOs to strengthen the Cyber-Defence.

Speaking of its investment, Ravi Thakur, Partner, StartupXseed Ventures said

Technology is redefining the way Risk Management is being practiced and CloudSEK has forayed into that space with applications in Cyber Security. Looking at their product, clientele and growth rate, they have struck the right chord to crack the business. Moreover, what fascinated us is their way of solving the problem which is very effective and scalable at large along with strong team background and execution capabilities.

CloudSEK already includes leading banks, e-commerce and technology organizations in its clientele. Federal Bank, Go-Jek, Bank Bazaar, HDFC Bank and Grab Taxi are in CloudSEK’s client list, five of which are unicorns.

[L-R] Rahul Sasi & Sourabh Issar, Founders of CloudSEK

Talking about the association with CloudSEK, Shalini Warrier, CFO, Federal Bank, said

Federal Bank and CloudSEK have had a relationship since July 2017 and it is a relationship that has grown over the last few months. Cybersecurity is a key risk for the financial services industry and CloudSEK has played an important role in mitigating some of the risks we experience in the fast-changing digital world.

Through this association, we have been successful in unearthing potential points of compromise in our security posture and they have worked with us to address these concerns. Their threat intelligence has been very useful to us. We wish Rahul and CloudSEK the very best in their future endeavors.

Sameer Ratolikar, EVP & CISO of the largest stable Indian Private Sector Bank, while speaking about the relationship with CloudSEK, said

It has been a great experience working with the team at CloudSEK, their focus on building a Machine Learning driven Digital Risk Management platform is commendable.

CloudSEK has been helping organizations by providing them timely, specific and actionable intelligence, thereby preventing digital security infractions. The start-up promises to build a risk-free cyber security ecosystem in Asia. The exclusive gamut of cyber security tools offered by CloudSEK is all set to make India ready for what is being assumed to be the next phase of the digital revolution.

About StartupXseed Ventures

StartupXseed is a Seed-stage VC firm led by bureaucrat-turned-VC investor Mr. B.V. Naidu. It is backed by former Infosys board members Mr. V Balakrishnan and Mr. TV Mohandas Pai, along with Mr. Ramakrishnan [Ex CDO and M&A head – HCL], Mr. Siddhartha Mookerji [Founder – Software Paradigm International] and Mr. Ravi Thakur [Entrepreneur]. It invests from Aaruha Technology Fund, whose focus is Deep Technology Start-ups creating products for B2B Businesses. For more information, visit StartupXseed

About Exfinity Ventures Partners

Exfinity Venture Partners is an early-stage frontier technology fund backing enterprise companies [B2B] in India and across the India-US business corridor. With established connections and ecosystem across India and USA, Exfinity focuses on pioneering startups that are ready to scale across the global stage. Exfinity follows a practitioner-driven Investment approach knowing what it takes to build, scale and list technology companies in India and the USA. For more information, visit Exfinity Venture Partners.

CropIn Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd., an agriculture technology startup, has raised INR 58 crores [$8 million] in Series B financing from Chiratae Ventures [formerly IDG Ventures India] and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Strategic Investment Fund [London and Seattle]. The financing will scale CropIn‘s ‘SmartFarm‘ technology platform in India and globally to expand its reach from 3 million acres across 2 million farmers to more than 10 million actively monitored acres across 7 million farmers.  With this capital infusion and its increasingly rich data-set, the Company will further develop its machine-learning-based SmartRisk platform to achieve unprecedented levels of plot-level crop detection and yield prediction.

Headquartered in Bengaluru with 180+ customers across 29 countries, CropIn enables businesses in the agriculture-ecosystem to adopt a data-driven approach through its ground-to-cloud technology platform. It thus empowers agribusinesses to ‘grow more with less‘, and drive initiatives around Digitization, Traceability, Predictability, Sustainability and Compliance. CropIn’s client portfolio includes many large global agribusinesses, banks, government bodies and development agencies. Through its product platform, CropIn addresses a global market of digital-based agriculture services that is estimated to hit $4.5 billion by 2020.

[L-R] Krishna Kumar, Kunal Prasad, and Chittaranjan Jena of CropIn

The company’s initial product, SmartFarm, is a highly customizable mobile app and web interface for farm management deployed across agribusinesses’ own field agents allowing for business-to-business-to-farmer plot-level farm management.  Because data is collected and curated by agribusiness employees active at the plot-level and scrubbed for any inconsistencies by CropIn, there is high-confidence that the information accurately reflects what is happening on the farm representing ‘ground-truth’ data. CropIn then builds on this data to enhance traceability and monitoring for its agribusiness clients through various Software-As-A-Service [SaaS] offerings.

CropIn Founder & CEO Krishna Kumar, said

To feed the 9.7 billion people in the world in 2050, agriculture efficiency must increase  by 35% – 70% and technology is the key. India’s rich mix of farming practices and small landholdings provide a massive data set to inform our models. Further, as a SaaS company, geography has never been a limiting factor for expanding our customer base. We are currently active in 29 countries throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and in select European markets. As ground-truth information from these geographies continues to fill our data lake, it provides insights that create a paradigm shift in the agriculture ecosystem globally.

At the back end, CropIn’s data lake amplifies this ground-truth data with local weather information and high-resolution satellite imagery, which form the foundation of machine learning. By analyzing and interpreting this data for the 265 crops with nearly 3,500 variants on its platform across billions of data points that grow every day, CropIn is building an agri-information highway that will detect patterns and predict the future of the crop highlighting the risk and opportunity for agri stakeholders. CropIn provides near-real-time actionable insights to agriculture processors, distributors, inputs providers, lenders and insurers through its connector APIs. Additionally, CropIn’s algorithms can establish historical performance of every pixel at farm and regional level.

Karan Mohla, Executive Director, Chiratae Ventures India Advisors, said

We fundamentally believe in the Founders’ vision of creating a global agri-tech leader, while partnering with multiple stakeholders including agri-businesses, farming companies, financial lending & insurance companies. The sheer impact of CropIn for their global customers across 29 countries based on the unique data sets captured by the platform, is staggering. The potential to revolutionize agriculture leveraging technology and machine learning has never been greater, and we believe Krishna and Kunal will continue to pioneer this industry for years ahead.

With this investment, CropIn has raised a total funding of $12 million till date.

Technology driven Sanitation start-up Fresh Rooms announced a seed funding of INR 30 Million from angel investor. Based on the Internet of Things [IoT] model, Fresh Rooms is world’s first-of-its-kind model of pay-and-use washroom, which promises a luxurious and hygienic space to freshen up with added advantages of Café, Luggage room, rest rooms, etc.

Founded by young entrepreneur Ashutosh Giri, Fresh Rooms is the extension to the modern-day Smart Toilet that will ensure you to experience smart washroom, which will automatically clean after every use. It completely works on the eco-friendly model that has the waste management, water-recycling facilities, where most of the operations will be powered by solar energy.

Ashutosh Giri, Founder – Fresh Rooms, said

The perception about public toilets in India is completely gloomy. That’s why we have taken this challenge to change the entire eco-system of public sanitization. Nowhere else in the world such facilities are available. To translate our idea into reality, we needed a fund and today, we have received an angel investment of INR 30 Million from Angel Investor . We are happy to receive this initial support, which will help to change Indians’ experience of public toilets.

Keeping our foot forward with the technological perspective, we have also developed a Fresh Rooms App that will allow the users to acquire detailed information about the surrounding restrooms, such as the location of the nearest public toilet, details of opening hours, accessibility, parking and other services in just 3 clicks or within seconds. We are in conversation with other investors as well. Funding will be used to expand the brand Fresh Rooms to the key cities and busiest destinations of the country.

These Fresh Rooms washrooms will maintain the temperature according to the weather and will automatically clean after every use unlike the other existing pay-and-use public toilets. Washrooms will be maintained based on high hygiene parameters. Users will get points for charges that they pay for washroom usage, which they can redeem for buying a freshly brewed cup of their favourite beverage.

Freshrooms Founder Ashutosh Giri

Fresh Rooms promise to deliver the best and the most efficient operations, management, services and CRM that no other player in the segment could ever offer. Fresh Rooms will open employment opportunities for numerous employees as their team will comprise of young and energetic people who could deliver maximum for the Fresh Rooms’ users.

About Fresh Rooms

Fresh Rooms, is a sanitation start-up which is introduced on the model of pay and use washroom. Addressing to the issue of hygiene in public toilets Fresh Rooms promises to offer a luxury space to freshen up, while also taking care of their user’s luggage and their comfort. Fresh Rooms has been envisaged on a model that will have public restroom, refreshment centre, cloakroom and lounge, side by side at all across the country’s busiest destinations. The company will extensively be operating on Internet of Things [IoT], rather than dependent on humans, to keep restrooms clean, fresh and perfectly hygienic as per the unique selling proposition of this start-up. Whatever customers pay as service charge for use of restrooms, they will get points against that, which they can redeem and buy refreshments like tea or coffee or any eatables from the attached Fresh Rooms cafe. Inclusive to all this, there is an awesome Fresh Rooms App which will help you locate the nearest public toilet, details of opening hours, accessibility, parking and other extra features [parking, baby change, adult change, shower, water, sharps, sanitary] to provide maximum comfort to its users.

The CoWrks Foundry, a premier acceleration program, announced the completion of its first cohort, comprising of five innovative startups. The CoWrks Foundry is an initiative by CoWrks, one of India’s largest shared office space providers. The program is designed to nurture early-stage startups in the field of Urban Tech, Enterprise Tech, and Social Impact Enterprise, through a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum, designed by industry veterans & experts. The Foundry’s well-architected framework nurtures durable and scalable businesses by investing in the ideas and the minds behind them.

Image Source

Out of the 350+ startups that applied to the program from across India and some even international, the final five that were selected to be a part of the accelerator are Wagonfly, Understand Better, Ayasta, Betterly and T-Scale Hub. These companies were assisted with everything from initial seed capital and client acquisition to the art of crafting a stellar pitch.

The 24-week intensive program concluded with a Demo Day on November 14. The 5 startups had the opportunity to pitch their products, ideas and business models to venture capitalists, and prominent industry leaders at the city’s newest entrepreneurial hub – CoWrks Koramangala. In order to fuel entrepreneurship and create an environment where innovators and companies thrive, The Foundry also invited applications from the startups housed within the CoWrks community to pitch on Demo Day.

In addition to providing an initial influx of smart seed capital of upto $30K, The Foundry has been instrumental in equipping home-grown businesses with a solid foundation and the resources required to fully equip, refine and fortify their companies. Situated within CoWrks’ HQ in Bengaluru, the startups in The Foundry have been able to access premium workspaces within CoWrks, and the opportunity to work alongside a carefully curated community of startups, freelancers and large enterprises. Each of the 5 startups were assigned dedicated mentors and experts from relevant industries, to provide targeted coaching and guidance.

The First Cohort of Start-ups Graduated from The CoWrks Foundry

As a part of the part of its post-program support, The Foundry will continue to aid these start-ups in terms of mentorship and guidance.

Nruthya Madappa, Managing Partner, The Cowrks Foundry said

Despite the start-up growth spurt in India, businesses in the Urban Tech, Enterprise Tech and Social Enterprise space, lack the guidance to overcome unique challenges. The CoWrks Foundry is our answer to India’s fractured entrepreneurial ecosystem. In comparison to the sturdy framework and incredible support afforded to thriving startups in Israel, Shanghai and Singapore, India lags far behind.

Therefore, it has been our endeavor to provide them with world-class mentorship and expertise, technology and infrastructure support, as well as access to investors and customers so they can scale from idea to execution at an accelerated speed. It has been a grueling yet amazing journey so far, with like-minded peers interacting and learning from The CoWrks Foundry panel, mentors and each other.

Ravi Teja Avasarala, Co-founder of Ayasta said

What drew us to the Foundry was the team behind it.  They have an inherent understanding of what startups need in order to succeed and what sort of help is required at various stages. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that during the program, the Foundry team worked harder on solving our problems than we did.

The networks we got access to would be invaluable to us in our journey. Foundry put in the effort to understanding our Ayasta’s offerings and then helped remove our biases by identifying where we are underselling ourselves. The Foundry program made us better founders which would eventually lead us to become successful entrepreneurs.

Further to the success of the first cohort, The CoWrks Foundry is inviting applications for the second one by the end of November 2018. The 24 week-long program at the state-of-the-art CoWrks Millenia office in Bengaluru will commence in January 2019.

Startups Graduated from the First Cohort

About CoWrks

CoWrks is India’s largest and fastest growing large-format co-working space provider. Established in 2016, it has quickly become home to several leading entrepreneurs, a launch pad for startups and a work hub for millennials in large enterprises and Fortune 500 companies. Headquartered in Bengaluru, CoWrks currently operates out of four cities, and is spread across 1.5 million sq. ft, with a community of over 15,000 members.

CoWrks caters to all demographics of the workforce with an array of membership options, including flexible and dedicated desks, customizable private studios and even virtual membership. With 24*7 access to select workstations, a sweeping gamut of amenities, and unique networking opportunities, the co-working space is creating a work culture that boosts creativity, productivity, cross-collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill upgradation.

Gurgaon Based Comfort Food Brand Hoi Foods has raised $500K in a Pre-Series A led by 1Crowd and its investor community. The company plans to utilize funds for geographical expansion and building a more integrated food solution in the back-end.

Image Source – Funding

The recent round of funding also saw the participation of other investors including Gemba Capital and Prime Holdings. Hoi Foods is a Food Brand which solves the in-room dining problem of Budget Hotels and promises convenient, reliable comfort for in-house guests and outside consumers.

The startup was founded in 2017 by Indrajeet Roy, with seed fund of Sanjiv Mediratta, a renowned f&b expert, Sandeep Kohli, Ex MD Yum Foods Asia Pacific and Pawan Raj Kumar, founder Supa Star Foods and active angel investor. Pawan & Sanjiv will join the board.

Indrajeet Roy, CEO, Hoi Foods, said

Hoi Foods can be a food brand which can reach 100 cities in next 4~5 years. The biggest challenge of any food brand is geographical expansion and to be present in every location where there is demand. Hoi’s asset-light model ensures multiple distribution points across the city.

Anil Gudibande, Co-founder of 1Crowd, said

Hoi has a perfect combination of youth energy, strategic advisory, and F&B Subject Matter Expertise. Hoi Foodsis bringing standardization in the comfort food segment on cuisines and promising a brand of taste, quality, consistency, variety, convenience and affordability to the budget hotels sector, which is currently completely unorganized and therefore carries huge potential.

Hoi Foods is creating an F&B footprint in multiple locations with standardized service levels and infrastructure. The company has positioned itself as a comfort food brand which promises high-quality meals at budget prices from every pin code possible.

The company relies a lot on R&D on food processing and ensures a dedicated standardized process based food production to ensure the same taste and hygiene every time. Hoi Foods currently has Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes on their menu and covers a range of desserts and drinks as well. Currently, the company is based out of Delhi/NCR and is looking to expand to different cities very soon.