1947 Tech — #46
Once a week newsletter: Insights on Tech, markets, startups, venture capital, and foreign investments in India
1. Ikea Gets It: Ikea has a plan to fix the pollution crisis in India’s cities
Ikea has come up with a plan to help some of the world’s most polluted cities breathe easier.
The global furniture giant will start making products out of agricultural waste in India, meaning farmers no longer have to burn it.
The initiative, called “Better Air Now,” will provide Indian farmers with a use for unwanted rice straw, which is often burned. Smoke from the fires is one of the major contributors to northern India’s pollution crisis.
Ikea, which opened its first stores in India earlier this year, plans to buy the straw and turn it into a renewable source for Ikea products.
2. Big Funding Round: Visa takes minority stake in Billdesk, valuation hits $1.8 billion
US-based payments processor Visa is taking a minority stake in BillDesk, making the Mumbai-based company the latest entrant in India’s Unicorn club of private technology companies valued at over $1 billion. While Visa did not disclose details, it is expected to value the 18-year-old company at $1.8 billion.
Visa’s investment and collaboration will help BillDesk develop new product lines for its payment and loyalty businesses and expand its footprint into other geographies
This would be Visa’s first investment for a minority stake in India. Globally, Visa has invested in payment companies Klarna, Square and Stripe. The investment comes when Visa and MasterCard face stiff competition in India from the growth of RuPay cards and the Unified Payment Interface (UPI)
3. Tech Is Enabling Entrepreneurship: This woman entrepreneur is earning millions selling sarees via WhatsApp
Using WhatsApp, this woman has been selling sarees over three years and slowly built a band of more than 2,000 resellers.
Social media is a double-edged sword. Use it right and it can cut the crap and reward you.
That is what Shanmuga Priya found when she started using WhatsApp to sell sarees online. In three years, she has sold sarees worth $400,000, says a study by WhatsApp. Not only has she brought prosperity to her life, but she has also empowered many women struggling to make ends meet by making them resellers.
4. No localization: Why Apple failed in India — and how it can recover
Apple iPhone sales in India are expected to have fallen dramatically this year to two million from three million phones last year.
Reuters reports that at the peak shopping season, over the Diwali holiday, Apple stores were deserted. This occurred in the world’s fastest-growing market, in which smartphone sales are increasing often by more than 20 percent every quarter.
Apple’s loss of the Indian market was entirely predictable. Apple’s repetition in India of the mistakes it made in China: relying entirely on its brand recognition to build a market for its products there. Rather than attempt to understand the needs of its customers, Apple made insulting plans to market older and inferior versions of iPhones to its Indian customers — and lost their loyalty.
5. China Is Betting Big: Chinese companies invest $2bn in Indian startups
Chinese companies invested nearly $2 billion in Indian startups, a sharp increase from previous years and indicating their inclination to shift to India for its expanding market, cheaper labour and less domestic vulnerability, a new report says.
In terms of investments in Indian startups, Chinese firms have predominantly focused on e-commerce, followed by transportation and fintech (financial technology), with majority of the biggest deals in the late-stage e-commerce sector.
Among the major Chinese companies to have invested in Indian startups are Alibaba (Pay.tm), Alibaba with Foxconn Technology and Softbank (Snapdeal), Ctrip (MakeMyTrip), Tencent (Hike and Practo) and ByteDance (Dailyhunt)