WhatsApp Invests Nearly Rs 2 Crore in Five Diverse Early-Stage Indian Startups

News18 - 18th June 2019

Facebook-owned communication giant WhatsApp and the Startup India initiative today rewarded five early-stage Indian startups with $50,000 (~Rs 35 lakh) each. The initiative was not held in a typical investment-based funding process, and is instead a part of WhatsApp's efforts to support rising Indian startups that are using technology in the Indian context to take on various fields. As a result, the Startup India-WhatsApp initiative held today does not involve an equity holding or contractual agreement between the chosen startups, and the world's most popular internet-based communication service. Speaking at the press roundtable following the day-long presentation and award event, Abhijit Bose, India head of WhatsApp, stated, "There is no obligation, one way or the other. The goal here was to identify, highlight and to the best that we can help companies that are at this stage of their journey. They have access to us, whether it be mentoring or even other resources and help that we can give, and that involves all the startups that applied, and not just the ones that won." Notably, WhatsApp's parent company Facebook also invested very recently in Meesho, a resale-based e-commerce startup. Its founder and chief executive, Vidit Aatrey, also presented a keynote, stating Meesho's journey from the initial stages. The move highlights Facebook and WhatsApp's increasing efforts in localising their India presence, by underlining their position as a Big Tech firm. The recipients of the Startup India awards were Melzo (affordable virtual reality tech), Minionlabs (Machine Learning-based electricity optimisation), Medcords (end-to-end healthcare digitisation), Gramophone (end-to-end agronomic intelligence) and Javis (conversational AI engine for businesses), each of which offer use cases that are specific to the Indian context. Given the premise of the event, it is important to note that WhatsApp's involvement in the operational front was not one of the critical factors behind the awardee startups

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