Each one of us wants to make our loved ones feel special 🙂 So what comes to our mind – Gifting, Holiday, Partying etc. But what if someone could make that “Special Day” or occasion unique & memorable!! This is where Oye Happy can come to your rescue.

Oye Happy is a startup that provides a unique platform for making special occasions memorable through gifts, experiences or even simple wishes of the day.

We caught up with Varun Todi & Harshvardhan Khemani, Co-Founders of Oye Happy who shared their thoughts on Oye Happy, Startup mantras & Entrepreneurship.

Note : “I” in the conversation refers to Varun Todi.

Can you give a small background about your start-up and it’s founders?

I worked as a copywriter and creative consultant for several advertising agencies and Harsh was a strategy and operational efficiency consultant at KPMG before Oye Happy.  We are cousins.

Oye Happy was started as a passion project by us in 2009 while we continued working in our respective fields. It wasn’t till 2014 that it evolved from a fun project to a serious business. We launched our e-commerce portal last year and soon grew into a team of 12 delivering surprises across the country.

Every idea is born out of a problem, what was the trigger of starting Oye Happy?

Harsh and I have always been great at making special occasions extra special for our loved ones. A friend once requested us to surprise her boyfriend at the airport as he was flying in from the US. We actually held a mock swayamvar to welcome him! We had a blast getting it together and they couldn’t have been happier. This led to a whole bunch of similar requests coming our way from friends and friends of friends who wanted to pay us.

It didn’t take us long to realise that the Indian customer had evolved. People don’t spend enough time with their loved ones so the time that they do spend together, especially on special occasions, matters a lot. Buying a gift is a form of expression and people look for emotional connect in the gifts they get.

We noticed that unique experiences were valued much more highly than traditional gifts and various studies backed up our observation. People chose to create memories rather than invest in expensive material presents. Our surprises helped in building that connect in a way flowers and cakes simply couldn’t.

How did your team come up with the name Oye Happy?

We considered a lot of names at first. We wanted it to be bigger than gifts or even surprises because, as we like to believe, what we’re ultimately delivering is happiness. Harsh came up with “Oye Happy” and I thought it was perfect.

What are some of the unique services offered by Oye Happy?

At the moment we have two distinct products – our gifts and our experiences. These gifts are unique ideas conceptualised by our in-house product development team. We then create them ourselves and have it mass manufactured by external vendors or tie-up with professionals who handle end-to-end making of them. Experiences too are similarly conceptualised and executed.

This essentially makes the majority of our products unavailable elsewhere. Our customers are usually more than impressed with what have to offer considering they have never encountered similar services especially in India. You can treat your loved one to a play date with puppies, get a pani-puri stall set up at a chaat lover’s doorstep and do so much more beyond the usual cakes and flowers through us.

Which are the cities where Oye Happy is currently operational?

We have delivered our gifts to more than 50 cities and towns since our launch. Our immediate plan is to have a physical presence in every metro to start offering the experiences as well since we have already gotten queries from across the country, including smaller towns for them.

Does it cater to enterprise segment or Oye Happy only caters to B2C segment?

Besides our retail operation, we have launched Oye Happy ‘Excite’ which are experience boxes for businesses. This will allow companies to gift a memorable experience to their employees and clients instead of conventional gifts. Employees can choose to do what interests them from a host of options like wine tasting, horse riding, Zumba classes, etc. available in the experience box.

What are some of the customer retention policies followed by Oye Happy as special moments for every person might be few.

70% of our repeat clients order again with us within 3 months of their first order. They do not necessarily employ us for special occasions that only involve their inner circle [spouse, best friends and kids/parents] but also beyond that like valued colleagues and relatives with typically lower cost products.

The key customer retention policy we have followed so far is only limited to good and prompt service. Even without customer referral or loyalty programs we have seen a steady increase in repeat and referral customers.

How does Oye Happy stake up when compared to other startups in more or less similar market segment?

We are the only company that not just creates our own unique gifts but also creates experiences. While companies like Giftxoxo, etc. are essentially curators, we go a step beyond by also creating products that fit our customers’ need perfectly. What is currently and widely available in the market no longer cuts it for the customer and we constantly provide them with more options that are not otherwise available.

What are some of the factors that entrepreneurs should consider while naming their start-up?

Two important questions to consider would be – “Does this work for the brand I’m building and will customers be able to relate the name to the service I provide?” and “Is this a name my target audience will like and be able to recall?”. And they should also probably ask themselves, “Is this a name I can repeat over a hundred times a day for a long time to come and not cringe?”.  We’re glad “Oye Happy” fit all three criteria!

What are the major changes that you experienced when paved your way into entrepreneurship?

Both Harsh and I were leading our teams in our respective workplaces before we started Oye Happy so running the show wasn’t new to us. And as far not having a boss is concerned, we’re still answerable to each other so it helps having a co-founder. You keep each other in check.

What are your key advice(s) to people who want to start-up?

The only advice we have for entrepreneurs is that they should be truly passionate about the industry they are getting into and to be able to admit it when they are wrong. If you’re willing to invest several years of your life in an idea, you need to enjoy every moment of it and constructive criticism is always more helpful than blind agreement.

Can you give some pointers on Scaling Up & Customer Acquisition?

Every entrepreneur must acquire the first few customers themselves for proof of concept. It is imperative that the business grows organically in the initial stage through repeat purchases and word of mouth marketing for an objective view of your product in the market.

How important it for startups especially web, mobile to follow Lean Methodology?

The idea behind using technology aggressively is to make a business process-driven. Scaling up a business need not to be in proportion to scaling up the manpower. A company that follows the lean methodology from the beginning allows you to focus on perfecting the process without it being dependent extensively on manpower, especially applicable for startups that use web and mobile platforms.

Thanks Varun & Harsh for your time and sharing your thoughts with us. We hope that Oye Happy grows leaps and bounds to make ‘Gifting’ unique & memorable.

If you have any questions for Oye Happy or their founders, please leave them in the comments section…

9Apps & 9Game, the world’s leading third-party app stores for Android apps/games have announced that it has 140 million Monthly Active Users [MAUs]. The two stores altogether have also reached 8.5 million Daily Active Users [DAUs] with over 18 million daily aggregate downloads of apps and games.

Launched in 2012, 9Apps and 9Game, which are part of UCWeb, a business within Alibaba Group’s mobile business division, operate across regions including India, Indonesia, the Middle East and Russia. Boosted by mobile proliferation in these countries/regions and the marketplaces’ size-able app repository, 9Apps and 9Game have quickly risen to become the go-to destination for smartphone users in where it serves.

In addition, by providing in-depth localized operation & integrated promotion services, the app stores have also helped their partners around the world to grow through reaching out to a considerable user base.

Talking on the new milestone, Simon Shi, Head of 9Apps and 9Game, said

We have an active user community across China, India and other emerging markets which have helped us achieve this mark. 9Apps & 9Game give Android users an ideal alternative to download apps and games with no need for account registration. We have not just an abundant and varied app repository but also a huge collection of region-specific apps for each market – that’s one of the factors contributed to our uptrend. While the popularity we’re enjoying also speaks to the opportunity for our app developer partners as they stand a better chance to reach out to more users.

Recently, UCWeb announced the launch of UC Open Platform 2.0 – an ecosystem to help Indian mobile internet players to acquire users and monetize traffic through UC Browser, 9Apps, 9Game & UC Union – a global traffic platform that has a vast distribution network and abundant campaign offers.

UC Open Platform covers most genres of mobile internet players in India, including content and service providers, affiliates, developers, agencies, ad networks, publishers and advertises – providing a full-suite promotion and monetization platform.

9Apps marked its entry into India with an office opened in Mumbai in June 2014. The business has shown deep commitment to Indian market with its ‘Fundraiser Program’ launched earlier this year. 9Apps has committed Rs 10 lakh to not-for-profit organization Prayas for education of the girl child in India.

About 9Apps

9Apps is one of the most popular Android marketplaces globally with a huge audience base as well as an abundant and varied app repository in India. 9Apps supports incremental updates to help users save traffic and increase the speed of product upgrades. Download 9Apps from 9apps.com

The fastest growing enterprise communication and collaboration app Flock continued its trend of creating waves yet again at the recent Gartner Symposium held in Goa this week. Flock participated in the ITxpo as a Silver Sponsor of the event, and as usual was one of the primary show stealers at the event.

The Gartner Symposium IT expo is the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and senior IT executives with an agenda that is designed to provide the strategies, insights and tools needed to lead the next generation of IT and achieve business outcomes.

Gartner invites leaders and executives from some of the most reputable firms in the market for the event, and the turnout this year did not disappoint, with over 1100+ people attending. It was these global leaders that Flock presented itself to and received a highly positive response and rave reviews. Members of the Gartner team itself complemented and congratulated Flock on its tremendous job at engaging such influential people with their insight and product.

The features that generated most interest were its slick, clutter-free interface across platforms, rich, intuitive user experience and newer features such as Video Calling, Shared Group To-Do’s, Reminders and Integration with other apps. Flock’s tagline of ‘Get Work Done. Faster.’ and promise of increasing employee efficiency by a significant amount resonated with members of startups and big businesses alike and made for a convincing proposition.

Bhavin Turakhia, CEO, Flock [and its parent company Directi] said

The Gartner Symposium is an extremely prestigious platform, and our main focus is to let people at the event know how Flock is changing the way teams communicate and collaborate. Most teams in organizations struggle with using multiple distributed systems for different collaborative tasks. With Flock, companies can actually make people and teams more efficient, by helping them get work done faster. This is a space that is ripe for disruption and Flock is quickly breaking new ground. I am very happy with what we have achieved here today as a team.

About Flock

Flock is a free enterprise communication and collaboration service for enterprises that is designed to enable people to get work done faster. Flock simplifies communication within teams and enables quick communication across multiple platforms without the need for IT admin support. It is scalable to any number of users and has a simple, clutter-free and intuitive interface synced across multiple platforms. Flock is the perfect communication tool for fast moving teams and organizations. It is available for download for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and Chrome from flock.co

[Image Credit* – Flock]

YourDOST, a technology start-up aiming to establish a unique platform for mental well being and emotional support, has completed its first round of Angel funding. The venture which has been operational since December 2014 through the web portal, offers complete support to people looking to discuss any kind of emotional issues by providing them instant online access to experts along with the much required anonymity. YourDOST is also available to people on mobile now with the launch of its mobile app on android platform and available for free download from Android Play Store.

Commenting on the venture, Richa Singh, Co-Founder & CEO, YourDOST

With YourDOST we aim to create awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental wellness in our society. We all face problems, stress, and anxiety at some point in our life but mostly we are not willing to talk about these fearing social implications, being judged and for the fear of being judged. We are confident that technology combined with empathy and right kind of experts will go a long way in helping people going through a various emotional and mental challenges and equipping them to better deal with it.

Bootstrapped for initial period of its operations, YourDOST has raised close to USD 400,000 [Rs. 2.5 crores] in Angel round to fund its marketing and expansion needs. Owing to the uniqueness of the idea, the start-up has been able to attract established entrepreneurs and professionals like Phanindra Sama [Redbus Founder], Aprameya Radhakrishna [TaxiForSure Founder], Aneesh Reddy [Capillary Founder], Nagesh Grandhi [Hyderabad Angels] and many more into its investor portfolio.

Started by Richa Singh, an IIT-Guhawati alumnus in partnership with Puneet Manuja, IIM-B alumunus & Prakhar Verma, a computer science graduate from BMSCE, Bangalore, in last 10 months of its operations, YourDOST has received tremendous response from the market with close to 70,000 users so far and the number growing at about 40% month on month. With 10,000 registered users currently, a team of 75+ experts service around 300 one to one interactions on a daily basis.

Adding further, Richa said

We are delighted with the response received from the users so far. We have received very good traction from the users by word of mouth and it is very encouraging for a young team like us. With the first round of funding in place and having such experienced people on board with us as investors and mentors, we are certain that YourDOST will benefit immensely from their association and guidance

YourDOST – Addressing the need gap

Access and awareness towards mental & emotional well-being is very restricted in India and comes with several taboos associated with it. Here are some facts highlighting this challenge

  • According to government estimates, 1 in 5 people in India need counselling, either psychological or psychiatric
  • For an estimated 70 million+ people living with psycho-social problems and disabilities, there are less than 50 government mental health establishments.
  • According to a report by WHO in 2011, 1 out of 7 people in India i.e. 15% of Indian population was suffering from depression in 2015, this has seen an alarming rise with 20% of Indian population being depressed today.
  • 50% of corporate India is suffering from chronic stress. In fact as per a survey by ASSOCHAM earlier this year, highlights that the rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by 45-50% among corporate employees in the last eight years.
  • According to medical experts, 4 in 5 people suffering from severe mental ailment in India choose not to treat it which causes early death by at least 15-20 years as compared to mentally healthy people

Dealing with societal pressure, pressure to perform and excel at work, family and marital issues, stress of studies, constant lifestyle comparison with the peer group due to over exposure to social media and several other factors have led to severe disturbances in our emotional stability. While the stress is on a constant rise, discussing it openly or dealing with it medically is still a taboo in our country.

This huge need gap and Richa Singh’s personal experience of a friend losing her life at IIT due to placement pressure led to birth of YourDOST to provide people with convenient yet anonymous access to experts consisting of life coaches, psychologists and other experienced individuals. Through this online platform which is available as a free service both through web portal and mobile app, users can choose to get into a live chat, find answers over email or book an appointment with the expert of their choice.

YourDOST team strongly believes that awareness at this stage is key; people need to know and acknowledge the importance of mental wellness, then comes the next step of seeking help.

About YourDOST

YourDOST is one of its kind online emotional wellness platform to get support from experts consisting of life coaches, psychologists and other experienced individuals. Launched in December 2014, YourDOST is available to people via its web platform & also on mobile through its recently launched mobile app on android platform. YourDOST allows instant access to users to a team of 75+ experts and share their problems through an online interface be it a live chat or email query or even book one on one interaction with the expert of their choice. The key aspect of this venture is that people are kept completely anonymous throughout the platform.

YourDOST aims to reduce the stigma attached to seeking help for mental wellness in our country and with the use of technology wants to make expert help widely and instantly available to people looking for emotional and mental well-being.

[Image Source* – YourDOST Blog]

In an effort to provide a comprehensive overview of the Indian Games industry, The National Association of Software and Services Companies [NASSCOM] have released a report titled the Indian Games Market Review at the NASSCOM Gaming Developer Conference 2015 taking place in Pune. The report aims to provide an overview of the Indian media & entertainment industry and digital landscape, showcasing the history and evolution of the Indian games industry, an assessment of the Indian games market from consumer spending and demographic insights into the Indian gamer.

Talking about the findings of the report, R Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM said

To provide a holistic picture of the growing gaming landscape in India, NASSCOM interviewed the key players to conducted an extensive survey of the Indian developer and service provider ecosystem. The report provides a road map to start-up’s, Indies and investors based on internet usage patterns, mobile smartphones and tablets, to digital media and mobile advertising.

According to the report, mobile gamers lead the market in India, with a Smartphone install base estimated at 200 million by the end of 2015 that is estimated to grow by 100 million each year thereafter.

  • Approximately 40 to 50 million people play games on their smartphones and feature phones, with an annual growth rate of 40% to 50%.
  • Mobile gaming revenues are currently estimated at $150 million across all revenue models.
  • Additionally, the console market size, is estimated to be around 3 – 4 million gamers, with 3 – 3.5 million of lifetime sales for all consoles including PlayStation 2 [2 million] and 100,000 units for PlayStation 4 and X-Box One combined.
  • The cyber cafe market is currently estimated at 3000 cafes in India with games, of which 1500 have 5 machines or more dedicated to games.

It’s estimated that there are 250,000 active PC/MMO players, with popular games including Counter strike, DOTA, League of Legends and World of Tanks.

On the content creation side, the report outlines a young industry that has changed dramatically in the last five years and now includes over 200 games development studios and service providers. The advent of self-publishing, investment and crowdfunding, has led to a new breed of agile indie developers, whose focus is on mobile and PC social games.

More than half of Indian Game Developers and Service Providers were established from 2012 onwards and the industry follows a lean structure, with 57% of companies having less than 10 employees and in 2014, 27% of all Indian Game Developers and Service Providers had revenues of above $1.6 million. The report further states that, 75% of Indian developers are focused on building games for the global gaming market. 96% of developers work on mobile games, with 61% of those building free-to-play games. Among studios, arcade games are the most popular genre, followed by puzzle and racing releases.

Currently most game developers and service providers in India are focused on the global market, with development, game art services and animation being the main sources of revenue. Approximately 9% generate revenue from the domestic market, while foreign games dominate the app store rankings. With recent developments such as Apple and Google lowering the minimum price for apps and in-app purchases in India, the report expects more Indian companies to turn their focus towards the Indian market in the future.

On the sidelines of the NASSCOM Gaming Developer Conference 2015, NASSCOM also announced the winners of the NGF Awards 2015, to evangelize the community in India and recognize their achievements in Game development and encourage the creation of IP. The Winners are:

To view the full Indian Games Market Review report visit NASSCOM report

About NASSCOM

NASSCOM is the premier trade body and the chamber of commerce of the IT-BPM industry in India. NASSCOM is a global trade body with more than 1800 members, which includes both Indian and multinational companies that have a presence in India. NASSCOM’s member and associate member companies are broadly in the business of software development, software services, software products, consulting services, BPM, e-commerce and web services, engineering services and animation and gaming. NASSCOM’s membership base constitutes over 95% of the industry revenues in India and employs about 3.5 million professionals.

Zoho has launched Zoho Motivator, its insight driven software for maximizing the performance of sales teams. Available immediately, Zoho Motivator marks the company’s foray into gamification. It works with the company’s customer relationship management software, Zoho CRM, and uses contests, scorecards and leader boards to help sales people maximize revenues and help increase team engagement.

ZohoMotivator

Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist of Zoho said

Sales is about numbers, and driving desired behaviour in salespeople is instrumental to achieve them. Sales teams often focus squarely on targets and neglect the practices that lets them achieve those targets. Zoho Motivator not only increases revenue by driving desired behaviour and improving the sales process, but also makes sure salespeople have fun while they’re at it. Zoho Motivator puts sales teams in the game.

As the only company to offer both gamification and CRM solutions without depending on a third party, Zoho delivers superior functionality and tighter integration compared to other solutions in the market.

Zoho Motivator’s key benefits

Drive revenue with insights that matter

Business intelligence through KPIs and Dashboards – A sales manager can define various criteria or KPIs like leads generated or potentials created, and track performance in real time. They can also customize dashboards and analyse data on these criteria to identify areas of improvement.

Deeper insights through metrics like Pipeline Velocity and Pipeline Stages – Pipeline Velocity indicates how quickly opportunities are moving through the sales pipeline on their way to becoming won deals. Pipeline Stages provides insights about bottlenecks in the sales pipeline.

Encourage the right sales behaviour and activities

Define desired sales practices by setting Custom Targets – The process is as important as the outcome. Managers can drive desired behaviour in salespeople by setting targets like “Making all client calls by noon” or “Meeting prospects every week”. Revenue happens when sales teams follow the appropriate sales activities and methodology. Zoho Motivator allows sales managers to focus not just on the outcome, but also the process.

Real-Time Scorecards for insightful results – The right feedback at the right time helps in improving sales processes. Salespeople can have access to a real-time report of their current sales contest using scorecards which also helps in team building. A high performing individual can be paired with a low performing individual and work together as a team – this way everyone is motivated to perform better.

Drive sales team engagement

Motivator TV drives awareness and engagement – Cultivate motivation through recognition. Sales victories and contest winners can be showcased on big-screen TVs for better team motivation and engagement. Zoho Motivator also provides a convenient on-screen ticker that displays real-time notifications to the sales team – so everyone knows how they are doing in the current contest or sales period.

Contests and Leader boards to energize salespeople – Contests do more than just motivate individuals. They provide the opportunity to work together as a team and break the tediousness of everyday tasks while fostering healthy competition. Leaderboards are concise dynamic scoreboards to showcase rankings among contestants.

Zoho Motivator complements Zoho CRM and helps users get the most out of it. Users will need a Zoho CRM account in order to reap the benefits of Zoho Motivator. All basic CRM data like leads, potentials, etc is automatically synced from their CRM account the moment they sign up for Zoho Motivator.

Pricing and Availability

Zoho Motivator is available immediately, and works seamlessly with Zoho CRM. There’s a five user free plan to start with, and the fully featured plans range from $60/month for five users, billed annually, to $200/month for 25 users, billed annually.

For more information, please refer Zoho Motivator

[Image Source* – Zoho Blog]

Shirsa Labs, an Ed-tech startup has raised USD 250K angel capital funding through ah! Ventures, a startup focused growth catalyst bridging ideas and money. Founded in 2013 by Sukhada Tendulkar & Mandar Desai, Shirsa Labs uses online engagement platform Planet of GUI to entertain and educate children mainly in the age group of 6-13. The deal was solely advised and syndicated by ah! Ventures and led to closure on its private equity investment platform, CLUBah

Shirsa Labs is India’s first dedicated content driven engagement learning platform for kids. Shirsa aims to stimulate the intellectual and learning skills of children by using a healthy combination of online and offline interactive methods.

It has multiple games, worksheets, videos, DIYs which engages kids and boosts their cognitive learning. Each offering is crafted using the most recent findings from the field of child development. Every child undergoes a free assessment and is provided with a detailed report on his/her cognitive profile with a customized program. This program is scheduled for kids to play 30 minutes a day and 3/4 times a week. A detailed quarterly report is sent to the parents to help them monitor child’s progress on the platform.

Sukhada Tendulkar, Co-Founder & CEO of Shirsa Labs said

In the larger context of children’s growth and development, we strongly felt that there is a huge open space where significant value can be created for children, parents and educators. Kids love play online, parents want actionable information and educators can teach better when children are motivated. We have connected these points and want Shirsa Labs to be a collaborator in this exciting eco-system that must work together.

Sukhada sees Shirsa Labs as a new category creator which she calls “enter-cation”; derived from ‘entertainment and education’.

Sukhada adds

Children today are exposed to multiple gadgets and online medium. There was a fight for my television time with my mom and today the exact same thing is happening for the gadget and internet time. The digital native generation deserves a better solution to the problem and we are here for all those young kids who love playing online.

Mandar Desai, Co-Founder & CFO of Shirsa Labs, further elucidates

Parents can be assured that children are safe on our platforms. We have the best content from across the world. Partnered with biggies like NatGeo, Discovery, and many more, gives us an access to tons of content which is loved by kids. Child safety is our utmost priority. Our scalability & real life connect positions us uniquely to deliver significant value to the young ones.

Through the online Economy, Children earn Geekos [the currency on the platform] which they spend to buy uniquely matched stuff from the platform. As we understand the child more on the platform through analytics, we generate insights and personalized recommendations for parents.

Kunal Ambasht, Director & COO, Shirsa Labs said

Its proposition philosophy is based on the most recent researches in India and other countries that agree on one common finding about the key role motivation plays in learning outcomes of children. Learning is the foundation of multiple cognitive skills and learning styles. Non-school based solution which complements the learning at schools for K1 to K8.

Our team is an interesting cohort of artists, technologists, educators and business professionals. All of us are driven by a common passion for providing equal opportunity for learning and development to children from a wide spectrum of social and economic background.

Shirsa has developed a multi-pronged approach to attract children using a personalized story-line, engage parents with quantified reporting and involve educational institutions with goal based co-curriculum lab solutions. Both virtual and real world tools have been utilized to create a comprehensive product for the three stakeholders mentioned above.

Manuel Fernandes, the Tech wizard at Shirsa Labs adds

Technology, smartphones, internet and data analytics are the most powerful tools at our disposal today. Used intelligently, they provide us an unprecedented opportunity for creating engaging products across multiple platforms and hence reaching out to millions.

The startup will use this round of funding to strengthen its team further and are in talks with senior industry people for the same. Shirsa aims to make Planet of Gui app, number 1 in edutainment category in India. With its flagship product the startup is eyeing at the entire global market. This is a global platform and team Shirsa is committed to reach to maximum potential.

Giving an investor’s perspective, Harshad Lahoti, Founder & CEO of ah! Ventures said

The market that Shirsa is targeting is phenomenally large. India has over 100 million students enrolled in K1- K8 which is almost 20 to 200 times that of US and UK respectively. Besides, evidence of increasing enrollment in private schools in rural India – from 18% in 2006 to 25% in 2011 to over 30% today – is proof enough that even rural India is exploring newer and innovative avenues of teaching and learning. This coupled with the fact that Shirsa has over 70,000+ registered students, access to over 2,000+ schools and unique content sharing partnership with the likes of NatGeo, Discovery and others have made a compelling case for investment for the CLUB ah! investors. ah! Ventures is thrilled to be a part of this journey.

This deal was concluded through ah! Ventures’ private equity investment platform, CLUB ah!. CLUB ah! is India’s first full-spectrum startup investment network and platform comprising of over 500 investors, including some of the renowned angels and early-stage VCs.

CLUB ah! platform today has over 4500+ startups, 465+ seed/angel investors and over 65 VCs & institutional investors, making it one of the largest platform of investors and startups. The network also recently secured its first profitable exit from Ed-tech venture Harness Handitouch within 2 years of its investment. CLUB ah! has till date invested close to INR 60 crores in over 20 startups spread across varied industries and domains, including Shirsa Labs.

Shirsa will be the second Ed-tech startup in recent times that ah! Ventures has helped raised capital for apart from iDreamCareer. Previously they have also invested in many other Ed-tech ventures like LogicRoots, TestBook, uFaber and Harness Handitouch.

ah! Ventures is in the process of closing 3 more deals in the coming weeks.

About Shirsa

Shirsa Labs, based on the latest findings about child learning & stimulation, has built an after-school world especially for children where learning is fun and personalized. Planet of Gui got its name from Joy Paul Guilford whose theory “Structure of Intellect” was a major breakthrough that lead to impacts on schools, teachers and parents around the world. For more information, please refer Shirsa labs

PayPal, the global leader in online payments have announced the selection of four new Financial Technology [FinTech] startups – CashFree, D-Rewards, Notifie & ftcash – as new entrants into its ‘Start Tank’ Incubation Center in Chennai. The announcement was made after the final round of pitching during the 4th Start Tank Incubation Challenge on Friday, which saw more than 125 startups apply for a place in the incubator this year.

Start Tank demonstrates PayPal’s commitment to enabling the startup ecosystem in India. Launched in 2013, the incubator provides an obligation-free environment for early-stage startups to evolve at its exclusive facility in PayPal’s technology center in Chennai. PayPal offers incubated startups with technology and business mentorship, infrastructure support and networking opportunities with both investors and customers.

As PayPal looks to transform money and become an everyday part of people’s financial lives, Start Tank has aligned its focus around startups in the Payments and FinTech space. Applications called for startups focused on core payment features such as wallets, gateways and remittances, as well as payments enablers and adjacencies like bio-metric authentication, security and financial inclusion.

Anupam Pahuja, General Manager, Technology, Asia-Pacific, PayPal said

I am excited to see the entrepreneurial space in India take-off in just a short few years. Today, India ranks third among global startup ecosystems in the world PayPal’s Start Tank has been tremendously successful since its inception. All of our incubated startups so far have either successfully secured funding or are finalizing strategic partnerships. We are delighted to welcome this promising new batch of startups into Start Tank, and look forward to them scaling even greater heights through our incubation program.

ThinkTankWinners

Start Tank Incubation Challenge winners

CashFree

Founded by Akash Sinha & Reeju Datta, enables payments to provide a better buying experience for consumers making online and cash transactions. By keeping payments at their core and building tools on top of it, they want to simplify the way people pay for their products they buy every day.

Reeju Datta, Founder, CashFree said

Being associated with a brand like PayPal is a huge step forward for a young payments startup such as CashFree. Globally speaking, we don’t think there is anyone better than PayPal to handle problems associated with payments on a large scale. We hope to leverage this  expertise of PayPal, specifically in the areas of risk management as that will be one of the key issues for our startup as we scale-up.

D-Rewards

Founded by Vijay Krishna & Shoaib Mohammed is a cloud-based CRM tool for offline small business retailers that enables end-to-end customer engagement using loyalty as a platform for profiling. It features in-house analytics & targeted promotions, bridging the gap between the business and its customers.

Vijay Krishna, Co-Founder & Head of Business Strategy, D-Rewards said

D-Rewards was designed to bring ease of customer engagement for businesses, keeping in mind the customers and the various ways through which they can be pampered. It has been an exciting journey so far, engaging 20000 consumers part of 48 outlets across Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad using our product to give out 8.5 lakhs in loyalty & selectively target customers with customized offers.

However, being incubated at Start Tank opens up new windows of opportunities for us. We currently don’t have an advisor or mentor on board to guide us through the process of setting up a startup and we hope to benefit from PayPal’s expertise in this field.

ftcash

Founded by Sanjeev Chandak, Deepak Kothari  & Vaibhav Lodha aims to empower the under-served micro-merchant sector with the power of mobile payments. It provides seamless solutions for micro-merchants to accept payments through multiple payment instruments including debit cards, credit cards and mobile wallets.

Sanjeev Chandak, Chief Executive Officer, ftcash said

It feels great to win PayPal’s Start Tank incubation challenge and we look forward to the experience. It has been less than a year since we launched Ftcash and there is still a long way to go. We hope to leverage PayPal’s technical and business acumen to improve our product as well as service offerings to our customers.

Notifie

Founded by Dr. N. Raja Chinnathamby & Arun Nedunchezian aspires to be the one-stop messaging platform for a two-way business to customer communications via Smartphones.

The platform supports various multimedia formats and aims to be the ideal replacement for traditional SMS. Notifie currently has five paying customers from the education, financial and retail industries.

Arun Nedunchezian, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Notifie said

For a startup, validation is everything and to receive that from a company like PayPal is highly satisfying. Notifie currently has five paid clients. However, there are several factors that goes into making a startup successful and we look forward to learning those nuances from PayPal. We look up to the company as a successful startup and hope to get their support in helping us reach the next level.

PayPal’s Start Tank incubator was launched in 2013 in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs [TiE] Chennai. The Start Tank incubator has previously hosted six startups and provides access to global mentors, angel investors and venture capitalists.

Three companies incubated at Start Tank – Kobster, Fantain and DoPartTime – successfully graduated in May 2015. Kobster also secured an undisclosed amount of seed investment, while PiQube, another startup currently being incubated at Start Tank, recently raised $500,000 from The HR Fund.

In 2014, PayPal’s ecosystem work was recently recognized with the ‘Ecosystem Enablement for Startups’ award from Zinnov, in July 2015.

About PayPal Start Tank

PayPal India formally launched its startup incubator in association with TiE Chennai in November 2013. The exclusive facility in PayPal’s Chennai technology center provides an obligation-free environment as well as technology and business mentorship for select startups to evolve. It has an office area of more than 11,000 square feet with a world-class incubation space, state-of-the-art conference rooms and other amenities.

Start Tank is located globally across PayPal offices in London and Chennai and provides access to global mentors, angel investors and venture capitalists. More information about Start Tank here