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Weekly rundown: Auxano, B Capital launch new funds; Shiprocket, upGrad make acquisitions

Weekly rundown: Auxano, B Capital launch new funds; Shiprocket, upGrad make acquisitions

Even as start-up fundraising continues to remain in a slumber, a handful of early-stage start-ups have raised new funds this week.

The week also saw a few mergers and acquisitions. The week also saw a few mergers and acquisitions.

B Capital, a global multi-stage investment firm that has backed Indian start-ups such as Byju’s and Meesho, announced the close of its first dedicated early-stage fund named Ascent Fund II. The $250 million fund will invest in pre-Seed through Series A rounds globally, with an emphasis on the U.S. and Asian markets. With $6.5 billion in assets under management across multiple funds, the firm focuses on seed to late-stage growth investments, primarily in the enterprise, financial technology and healthcare sectors. Its India portfolio also includes Khatabook, PharmEasy, Dailyhunt and BlackBuck.

Early-stage venture capital firm Auxano Capital said it is raising a $25 million fund from its network of HNIs, UHNIs and Family Offices. The sector-agnostic fund named ‘Auxano Entrepreneur Trust’ plans to back start-ups across Fintech, Enterprise SaaS, Sustainable Mobility and Agritech verticals. The company aims to achieve the fund's first close by the end of this quarter.

Mumbai-based early-stage VC First Cheque raised Rs 38 crore from global investors for its second fund. The fund aims to invest in 50 start-ups in the next 18 months. It has backed over 100 early-stage firms in the past three years as part of the AngelList syndicate. The firm will focus on first-time founders and will invest $100,000 in each of its portfolio companies.

Shanti Mohan, co-founder of start-up fundraising platform LetsVenture, launched a Rs 50 crore micro-VC fund to back early-stage start-ups. Named Propell, the fund will back 30 early-stage ventures across verticals like e-commerce, fintech, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and direct-to-consumer (D2C). The fund is anchored by Vikas Choudhury, president of Reliance Jio and supported by Vivek Khare, adviser, corporate development and early-stage investments at Naukri.com and Sudhi Herle, engineering, Android Platform at Google. It has already invested in 15 start-ups including savings and investment app Jar, e-commerce player Zaamo, social commerce app GoBillion, and upskilling platform Seekho.

The week also saw a few mergers and acquisitions.

Edtech unicorn upGrad acquired online learning institution Harappa Education in a cash and stock deal worth Rs 300 crore. Harappa’s shareholders Bodhi Tree Systems, an investment platform formed by James Murdoch's Lupa Systems and former Star & Disney India chairman Uday Shankar, and the start-up’s co-founders Pramath Raj Sinha and Shreyasi Singh, will join the upGrad Cap table. Launched by Sinha, the Founding Dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB) and the Founder Trustee of Ashoka University, and Shreyasi Singh, ex-editor of India Inc, the New Delhi-based start-up offers self-paced courses and programs to help learners with must-have thrive skills, which are an essential set of cognitive, social and behavioural skills. The company claims to have an active clientele of 100 mid and large-sized organisations. This is the second acquisition for upGrad this month. Early this month, the company fully acquired Bengaluru-based WOLVES India, a recruitment and Staffing firm for an undisclosed amount.

E-commerce enablement platform Shiprocket snapped up Arvind's Omnichannel technology business ‘Omuni’ in a stock and cash transaction for total consideration of Rs 200 crores. Shiprocket expects the acquisition to help with quick, efficient deliveries of shipments from the nearest store or warehouse, which can significantly reduce delivery timelines and enhance customer experience.

In its third acquisition this year, financial infrastructure provider M2P Fintech acquired identity verification service provider Syntizen. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. M2P Fintech had previously snapped up core banking solutions provider BSG ITSOFT in February and cloud lending platform Finflux earlier this month. It offers application programme interface (API) solutions to banks and financial technology companies. The company said the acquisition Syntizen, which helps financial institutions with identity checks, would help the company offer a comprehensive platform for financial institutions.

On the fundraising front, the largest venture capital cheque this week was raised by Niyo. The neobanking platform raised $30 million from private equity firm Multiples Alternate Asset Management (Multiples). In other major deals, AnyMind Group, an end-to-end commerce enablement company, secured $29.4 million and Network infrastructure management company AppViewX bagged $20 million.