India’s Krutrim raises USD 50 million
Indian artificial intelligence startup Krutrim, founded by Ola co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal, has secured USD 50 million in funding, valuing the company at USD 1 billion. Matrix Partners India led the funding round, with participation from other undisclosed investors.
Krutrim is ostensibly India’s first AI company to attain unicorn status.
According to VCCircle, Krutrim will use the capital to spur innovation and expand its reach globally.
The startup is aiming to create India’s inaugural complete AI computing stack. Notably, Krutrim unveiled its base large language model (LLM) last month, asserting that it contains the largest representation of Indian data in its training datasets.
Elice secures KRW 20 billion in Series C round
Elice, a South Korean AI-powered edtech company, has secured KRW 20 billion (USD 14.9 million) in a Series C funding round led by Vertex Growth, a growth-stage venture capital fund anchored by Temasek subsidiary Vertex Holdings. Altos Ventures also participated in this round.
The newly raised capital earmarked to fortify Elice’s organizational capabilities and facilitate its expansion in the Asia Pacific. Additionally, the company is planning to bolster its AI research capabilities by constructing a large-scale AI data center in Busan, where it will actively seek and acquire top-tier talent.
“With increasing sophistication in IT workforce roles and the rapid evolution of IT technologies, there’s a growing underserved demand for more advanced, practical workforce education […]. Elice’s platform, evidenced by its impressive growth and endorsements from prominent teaching institutions and corporate clients, stands out as the only market solution adequately addressing these market needs and is poised to appeal to the overseas workforce upskilling and reskilling market,” said Tam Hock Chuan, general partner at Vertex Growth.
SoftBank Ventures Asia rebrands as SBVA following closure of new fund
From February 1, SoftBank Ventures Asia will officially rebrand itself as SBVA, marking the change following its acquisition by The Edgeof from SoftBank Group Corporation in June last year.
This rebranding coincides with the recent closure of the firm’s 2023 Alpha Korea Fund, boasting a total committed amount of approximately KRW 200 billion (USD 149.6 million), surpassing the initial target of KRW 100 billion (USD 74.8 million). Noteworthy limited partners (LPs) include the Industrial Bank of Korea (as the anchor investor), SBG, Hanwha Life, IBK Industrial Bank, Nexon, and KB Capital, among others.
Through the 2023 Alpha Korea Fund, SBVA aims to actively seek out early- to mid-stage startups that leverage technological innovations in areas such as AI, robotics, and computing, creating fresh business opportunities.
InnoVen Capital reaches first close of second China fund
InnoVen Capital, a venture debt provider, has unveiled its second China fund: InnoVen China Fund II, a USD-RMB dual currency fund. Targeting a total size of USD 250 million, the fund has completed an initial close, securing approximately USD 130 million.
The LPs contributing to this fund come from diverse backgrounds. InnoVen Capital, a joint venture between Temasek-owned Seviora and United Overseas Bank, is taking on the role of anchor investor. Additionally, other LPs include local government agencies.
With the launch of InnoVen China Fund II, InnoVen Capital aims to broaden its presence in China, focusing on delivering venture debt financing to high-growth and innovative startups.
Former footballer Keisuke Honda launches fund to invest in Japanese startups
Keisuke Honda, a former Japanese football player, has launched the X&KSK Fund, a fund to invest in Japanese startups, an investment vehicle targeting Japanese startups. The deployment of capital is expected to commence as early as next month.
The fund has set a goal of raising JPY 15 billion (USD 101.3 million) by the end of this year, primarily from both domestic and foreign institutional investors. According to Honda, the fund plans to invest in approximately 30 startups, with the strategic aim of identifying at least one that will eventually reach a valuation of USD 10 billion.
This venture into the X&KSK Fund is not Honda’s first experience in the realm of investments. Prior to this initiative, he successfully operated the KSK Angel Fund, which made strategic investments in three companies that have since gone public. Notable successes include Makuake, AnyMind Group, and Progrit. —Bloomberg
Fantuan acquires Chowbus’ delivery business
Fantuan, an Asian food delivery and lifestyle service platform, has acquired the delivery business of Chowbus, an online food delivery platform. Following this acquisition, Chowbus will focus on optimizing its restaurant software-as-a-service and point-of-sales business. Simultaneously, Chowbus will partner with Fantuan to enhance food delivery services through an expanded restaurant network.
Notably, this acquisition follows Fantuan’s completion of its Series C funding round in December last year, when it secured USD 40 million. That round was jointly led by GrubMarket and Celtic House Asia Partners, and saw participation from VisionPlus Capital, JSD Capital, and other undisclosed backers from North America and China.
Recent deals completed in China:
- Chunqing Technology, a subsidiary of Hangzhou-headquartered automotive company Geely Holding Group, has completed its inaugural round of financing, raising USD 100 million at a pre-money valuation of around USD 1 billion. The company will use the funds for R&D and to expand its transportation capacity for green ethanol. —36Kr
- Jiahe Info, a Wuhan-based provider of agriculture-focused remote sensing solutions, has bagged close to RMB 100 million (USD 13.9 million) in a Series B+ funding round from Gaocheng Capital. The funds will be utilized for promotions and customer acquisition. —36Kr
- MioTech, an AI-based solution provider, has completed its latest round of financing. The company did not disclose the amount raised. The investors for this round were also undisclosed. —36Kr
- Kuaizhun Auto Service Network Technology, a platform for automotive parts and solutions, has banked approximately RMB 200 million (USD 27.8 million) in a Series D funding round from Yujiang Industrial Investment Group, BeFor Capital, and Jiuxi Capital. —36Kr
- ForVision Intelligent Technology, a Suzhou-based autonomous driving technology company, has secured close to RMB 100 million in a funding round jointly led by Oriza Private Equity and SND Financial Holdings. ForVision will utilize the funds for R&D and the commercial applications of its technology. —36Kr
- Mogic AI, an AI-based marketing company, has secured USD 15 million in a Series A+ funding round jointly led by Meitu and Cathay Capital. BeFor Capital and Zoo Capital participated in this round. Notably, Cathay Capital and Zoo Capital were already backers of Mogic, having led and participated in the company’s Series A round in August last year, respectively. Zoo Capital was also one of Mogic’s angel investors. —36Kr
Latest funding activities in the Middle East:
- DXWand, a Dubai-based AI software company, has secured USD 4 million in a Series A funding round jointly led by Shorooq Partners and Algebra Ventures, with participation from existing investor DFDF. The funds raised will be utilized to expedite the company’s expansion, with a focus on scaling its R&D efforts. —VCCircle
- Crysp Farms, a Dubai-based agritech startup, has raised USD 2.25 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Gate Capital. The round also saw participation from investors in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The “farming-as-a-service” startup plans to use the capital to facilitate its regional expansion, specifically in Saudi Arabia, and to deliver committed projects to clients such as Hilton Worldwide, Jumeirah Group, and Marriott International. —VCCircle
- Karty, a Doha-based fintech startup, has secured USD 2 million in seed funding from local investors. The funds will be used to facilitate the official launch of its e-wallet product, pending approval from the Qatar Central Bank. —VCCircle
- Crealo, a Moroccan copyrights management platform, has raised USD 1.42 million in seed funding from the 212 Founders program under CDG Invest, the investment arm of the CDG Group. The round also saw participation from Kima Ventures, Evolem, Super Capital, and several angel investors. Crealo aims to utilize the funding to accelerate its growth, scale its workforce, and expand its client base. —VCCircle
Arkadiah, Sygnum, Addlly AI, and more led last Friday’s headlines:
- Arkadiah Technology, a provider of artificial intelligence-based nature restoration solutions, raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding round led by Golden Gate Ventures. The round saw participation from The Radical Fund and Money Forward Venture Partners (Hirac Fund).
- Sygnum, a digital asset banking company, raised over USD 40 million against an initial USD 35 million target in an interim close of its latest funding round, led by Azimut Holding with the support of new and existing investors, including Sygnum employees.. The company’s post-money valuation stands at USD 900 million as of this interim close.
- Addlly AI, a Singapore-based company specializing in generative AI, completed its seed funding round at a valuation cap of SGD 5 million. The exact sum raised was not disclosed.
If there are any news or updates you’d like us to feature, get in touch with us at: [email protected].