Mumbai-based venture capital fund Unicorn India Ventures has invested undisclosed sums in three Kerala-based startups, it said in a statement.
The startups are humanoid developer GenRobotic Innovations Pvt. Ltd, smart kitchen appliances’ maker SectorQube Inc and body-scanning firm Perfectfit Fashion Ltd.
Unicorn India Ventures has been exploring investment opportunities in the state after partnering Kerala Startup Mission, a state government-backed accelerator which is also an investor in the venture capital fund.
The VC firm invested in the three startups from its first fund, which it had launched in 2015 and had 10 startups in its portfolio before the latest transactions.
“Kerala is the hotbed for growing startups in the country today... KSUM is working aggressively with industry experts to nurture the startup ecosystem,” said Anil Joshi, co-founder at Unicorn.
Saji Gopinath, CEO at KSUM, said the Kerala government aims to build a proactive startup ecosystem by extending financial and strategic support to entrepreneurs in the state. “It is under this vision that we have partnered Unicorn India Ventures, making it the first early-stage venture fund to invest in startups in Kerala,” he said.
Last month, KSUM had launched an accelerator programme in collaboration with private-sector accelerator Zone Startups India.
The three startups
GenRobotic was founded in 2015 by Rashid Bin Abdulla, Vimal Govind MK, Nikhil NP and Arun George. Its team specialises in using powered robotic exoskeletons with remote-controlled humanoid robotic systems and artificial intelligence for social issues.
The company has received a grant from state-run refiner Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd to research and develop an automatic robotic system for cleaning of manholes and sewers.
The startup will use the seed funding raised from Unicorn India for product marketing and strategic hiring. It also plans to enter West Asian and Southeast Asian markets.
“We are working towards a mission to use robotic technology to eliminate manual labour from areas like sewer cleaning, which results in 9,000-10,000 deaths every year,” said Govind.
SectorQube was started in 2011 by Sabarish Prakash, Nibu Alias, Ani Abraham Joy, Arjun S, Midhun Skaria and Biniyas VL. The company has been working on making smart kitchen appliances and the next-generation Roti Maker.
It will use the funds raised to develop the Roti Maker and make it market-ready. SectorQube also has international expansion plans for places where the Indian diaspora is strong.
Alias, who is also the CEO, said the fund infusion will accelerate its growth. “Our ongoing work on a smart kitchen appliance and an IoT (Internet of Things) platform needs funds. We plan to use the funds to fast-track our R&D (research and development) and begin tooling and manufacturing the product,” he said.
Perfectfit Fashion, a Kochi-based startup, specialises in 3D body-scanning systems for fashion and healthcare industries. The system scans the user for exact measurements, which are then used to cut out patterns from fabric sheet.
The company’s scanning systems produces the final clothing in a fraction of time taken by conventional manufacturing. It will use the funds raised for product enhancement and customer acquisition.
“The seed round will help us deploy our first commercial product line this year, The Perfit Uniform Solutions. We also plan to double our team strength, set up a new development centre and fast-track our research and development," said co-founder Eobin George.
The investment firm was founded in early 2015 by Joshi and Bhaskar Majumdar. It invests in early-stage startups in sectors like consumer, enterprise, healthcare and deep technology.
Before launching the VC firm, Joshi headed operations at investment networks Mumbai Angels and Bangalore Angels. He has also held positions at Century Rayon, a BK Birla Group Company, and Transasia Bio-Medicals Ltd, maker of diagnostic instruments and reagents.
Unicorn floated its maiden fund in 2015 with a target corpus of Rs 150 crore ($23 million then), with an aim to build a portfolio of 30 companies. In December 2015, Unicorn hit the first closure of the maiden fund at $6 million.
Also, in November 2017, Unicorn launched its maiden debt fund with a target corpus of $93 million (then Rs 600 crore).