Funding Rundown: Microsoft invests in Darwinbox, Z3Partners marks final close of fund & more

Here's a lowdown of the top deals from the startup space.

Funding Rundown: Microsoft invests in Darwinbox, Z3Partners marks final close of fund & more

Microsoft invests in Darwinbox, collaborates to redefine the future of workJan 17, 2023 IST4 Min(s) ReadJan 17, 2023 IST3 Min(s) ReadJan 17, 2023 IST2 Min(s) ReadJan 17, 2023 IST2 Min(s) ReadMicrosoft has made an equity investment of an undisclosed size as an extension of HR tech unicorn Darwinbox's Series D round that valued the company at more than $1 billion in early 2022.Along with this investment, the companies have collaborated to include deep integrations between Darwinbox and the Microsoft product ecosystem, and co-innovation on solutions to enhance employee experience.As part of the deal, Darwinbox will adopt Microsoft Azure for its human capital management SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform. A statement from the company said that the relationship will accelerate joint go-to-market motions in all markets that the leading Human Capital Management player operates in.Also read:  73% of CEOs expect global economic growth to decline in next 12 months, says surveyStrategic product and engineering collaborations between the two companies will amplify innovation around workforce management, payroll management, benefits, talent management, and acquisition.Z3Parnters marks the final close of new funds at Rs 550 CrVC firm Z3Partners, an early investor in BigBasket that also backed social commerce unicorn DealShare, has marked the final close of its new fund at Rs 550 crore.The firm has raised funds from investors, including domestic and global institutions and family offices. These include Europe-based Orient growth fund, Bikbergen Sàrl Family office, US-based Storm Ventures, Kenya-based SVG group.

In India, the company raised funds from ACME Family office, Narotam Sekhsaria Family Office (NSFO), Parle Family office, HDFC Life and Small Industries Development Bank of India, among others.Through the fund, Z3Partners would be investing in about 10 early and growth-stage digital technology startups with an average deal size of Rs 50 to Rs 80 crore (about $6-10 million), the company said. Z3Partners also announced Rishi Maheshwari as its co-founder and managing partner.The fund focuses mainly on SaaS (software-as-a-service), fintech, e-commerce, B2B (business-to-business) commerce, agritech, big data, and consumer tech.NeoGrowth bags $10M from US-based MicroVest CapitalNeoGrowth, an MSME-focused digital lender has bagged $10 million in a funding round led by US-based investment firm MicroVest Capital Management.The firm will use the capital to extend financing to small businesses across India while helping the company get required growth capital. 'This support from MicroVest will allow us to continue making a positive impact on SMEs. The funding will be used to help accelerate the growth of MSMEs and integrate them into the mainstream financing ecosystem,' said NeoGrowth's Managing Director and CEO Arun Nayyar.NeoGrowth said it has served over 150,000 customers, disbursing over $1 billion in loans across 25 locations in India.Chara bags $4.75M in Pre-Series A roundDeeptech startup Chara has raised $4.75 million in its Pre-Series A round led by Exfinity Venture Partners.

This round also saw participation from Vietnam based Big Capital, venture arm of Bitexco and Log9 Materials. Existing investors Kalaari Capital and also invested in this round.Chara is building a scalable, cloud-controlled, and rare-earth free platform for designing, building, and deploying electric motors for EV, HVAC and various other applications.The startup claims to have built motors for two-wheeler (hub and mid-mount), 3 and 4-wheeler LCVs and HVAC use cases. The motors and its matching controllers are being field tested and are expected to go into production later this year.Loom Solar raises $2M from US-based SIMASolarTech startup Loom Solar has raised $2 million in a funding round from US based Social Investment Managers and Advisors (SIMA) under the Energy Access Relief Fund (EARF) supported by the World Bank, DFC, BII, FMO, IFC and others.The funding will support Loom Solar to achieve its goal of powering millions of homes in India in the medium term through sustainable solar energy.

The startup has been developing its capacity, innovating, and building new product portfolio, and building a stronger brand and a deep distribution network across India.'Loom Solar has successfully delivered clean power to thousands of customers across residential, commercial, and industrial sectors in India, and we look forward to working in the same direction by bringing more efficient & green energy solutions in times to come,' said Amod Anand, Director, Loom Solar.Zlade raises $1.5M from family offices to boost omnichannel footprintMen's personal care brand Zlade has secured $1.5 million in funding from multiple family offices which includes Shivanssh Holdings and Amit Kalyani of Bharat Forge.The brand is also in advanced talks to raise another $1.5 million in equity funding from marquee investors and family offices, a statement said. The products of this startup are available as an omnichannel platform across various marketplaces and 10,000 retail outlets in 13 states, the company said.'As we boost our operations by building an omni-channel presence, we needed the support of a legacy brand that could guide us on scaling up our capabilities,' said Mihir Vaidya, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Zlade.Titan Capital leads Pre-Seed round in savings app SayFSayF, a rewards-based savings app, has raised $240,000 in its pre-seed funding round led by Titan Capital, Sunn91 Ventures, and other prominent angel investors.The platform intends to use the fresh capital for its initial team building, product refinement, and early product experimentation. "Indians' love for gold, cashback and savings, has been just growing, and we at SayF club have put all this into a single product, where you spend, earn and invest all in a single transaction at our 300+ brands stores ranging from Swiggy, Uber to Reliance smart,' said Priyesh V Gandhi, Co-Founder, SayF.Over the last four months, the platform claims to have processed more than Rs 7.5 crore+ transactions and helped users invest about Rs 40 lakh+. Going forward, SayF said it will help to track, spend, save, earn and invest money all in one place.D2C dairy brand Sid's Farm secures $1M in first funding roundSid's Farm, a bootstrapped D2C dairy brand has raised $1 million in a bridge round from its customers and their referrals.As per the firm, it will use the fresh funding for product development, infrastructure upgrades, deeper retail penetration and digital transformation in order to gear up for future trajectory.As per a report from Statista, online sale of milk has grown to 2.1% of organized milk sale in India from 0.5% in 2017.

The adoption of online milk and groceries has accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic and the landscape currently is extremely promising for pure-play dairy brands like Sid's Farm, a statement said.str8bat bags undisclosed capital from SucSEED Indovation Fund & othersstr8bat, a consumer tech company in sports, focused on providing actionable insights for players looking to better their game, has received an undisclosed capital in a bridge round led by SucSEED Indovation Fund, Dholakia Ventures and other Angel investors.SucSEED Indovation had also previously invested in str8bat. The freshly raised funds will be used to ramp up the go-to-market efforts internationally, fuel product development, and accelerate consumer and partner growth, the firm said in a statement.The firm also aims to have 3-4 million players using its IoT and Data Science powered technology over the next 5 years. 'The funding will help us in our continuous innovation journey and will help us grow into Australia and continue to build our momentum in India and keep us in track for the next major growth curve of the company through our 4 channel GTM strategy,' said Gagan Daga, Founder and CEO, str8bat.Also read: Dallas Venture Capital, T-Hub partner to help startups in Telangana scale up