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Stellaris, others invest in education financing platform Propelld
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Bengaluru-based Propelld, a student education financing platform, has raised Rs 15 crore (about $2.2 million at current exchange rate) from early-stage investors Stellaris Venture Partners and India Quotient, among others.

Propelld said in a statement that existing investor Indian Angel Network Fund also participated in the round, along with other investors including Raghunandan G, co-founder of TaxiForSure, and Ramakant Sharma, co-founder of Livspace, both of whom participated as members of Stellaris’ Founder Network.

The platform, owned and operated by Bluebear Technologies Pvt. Ltd, has tied up with over 150 educational institutes across the country and has extended loans to over 1,500 students. With this fundraising round, it plans to increase its base of institutes and students by 10 times over the next 18 months.

“We have been able to provide financing to erstwhile un-serviced segments while maintaining excellent portfolio performance, through our unique approach to credit underwriting,” Propelld co-founder Bibhu Prasad Das said. The platform uses its algorithm to assess employment prospects and creditworthiness of applicants. It provides finance to students pursuing vocational training in areas ranging from machine learning to hospitality management, who otherwise may not have access to bank credit. Propelld was founded in 2017 by Das, Victor Senapaty and Brijesh Samantaray.

Stellaris partner Ritesh Banglani said, “Education financing is a massive under-served opportunity in India where a tiny percentage of students have access to bank credit.”

Law firm AAS Regina Legal advised Propelld on the transaction.

Last year, Propelld raised $250,000 (around Rs 1.7 crore) in a seed round of funding from Indian Angel Network and its eponymous venture capital fund. The funding round was led by IAN members Ambarish Raghuvanshi, former chief financial officer of jobs portal Naukri; Alok Sharma, former chief executive of tech giant Apple India; and Satish Jajodia, former CFO of marketing and information services firm Education Dynamics. 

Investors

Stellaris is an early-stage investment firm started by former Helion Venture Partners executives Alok Goyal, Banglani and Rahul Chowdhri.

It marked the first close of its debut fund at $50 million in February 2017 and counts technology giants Cisco and Infosys among its limited partners. Companies in its portfolio include personal care brand Mamaearth, know-your-customer solutions startup Signzy and scooter-sharing startup Vogo.

India Quotient was founded by Anand Lunia and Madhukar Sinha in 2012. Lunia was the CFO of venture capital firm Seedfund, while Sinha was a senior investment manager at social-impact investor Aavishkaar Fund.

In April last year, India Quotient marked the first close of its third fund at $30 million (Rs 195 crore). Its portfolio includes intelligent fleet management Fleetx.io, custom loan provider LoanTap and hyperlocal payment app Momoe.

Indian Angel Network, which was founded in 2006, invests across sectors and usually exits over a three- to five-year period through a strategic sale. According to its website, the network has invested in over 130 enterprises and has operations in at least seven cities. It has invested in companies including education-technology startups ConceptOwl, Knudge.me, as well as vernacular hyperlocal news platform PublicVibe.

Deals in the space

Investor activity in the financial-technology segment has heightened in recent months.

One of the biggest investments in the fin-tech segment this year was announced last month, when online payment gateway startup Razorpay Software Pvt. Ltd. raised $75 million (around Rs 524 crore) in a Series C funding round. Ribbit Capital and Sequoia Capital India led the investment. Existing investors Tiger Global Management and Y Combinator also participated.

In April, Eduvanz Financing Pvt. Ltd, which provides loans to individuals for education and skill development, announced a fundraise worth $2 million (around Rs 13.8 crore) from social-impact investment firm Unitus Ventures and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

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