Illustration of a food delivery boy (Source: BloombergQuint)

Startup Street: Why Swiggy’s Delivery Executives Got Arrested

This week on Startup Street, we have food delivery startup Swiggy which caught the attention for all the wrong reasons. Byju’s becomes the latest Indian unicorn to expand overseas; and Microsoft Ventures, now called M12, is looking to invest in India’s business-to-business startups. Here’s what went on.

Another Food App Is In Trouble Over Its Delivery Executives

Food delivery startup Swiggy is in the limelight this week due to misconduct by several of its delivery executives, as they allegedly vandalised a hotel property in Bengaluru.

According to local news reports, the incident was triggered by a minor traffic accident where a delivery executive’s two-wheeler brushed with another bike of a hotel worker in front of the Empire Hotel on Bennerghatta Road.

It soon turned into a brawl and the police arrested 30 people on charges of vandalism.

While media reports differ on the details, some say that the Swiggy delivery executive was attacked by a few of the hotel workers, as the argument intensified. The Swiggy delivery executive then rushed back to the hotel with 20 other delivery executives where they even pelted stones at the hotel's glass walls. Other media reports suggest that there were already some Swiggy delivery executives present on the scene who rushed to the site.

The incident not only included Swiggy's executives, other people present at the scene also joined, a Swiggy employee with knowledge of the matter told BloombergQuint, requesting anonymity. The issue has been sorted out with Empire Hotel, the source said.

“Our team has been in constant touch with the delivery partners and the restaurant ever since the incident has been brought to our attention. We strongly condemn such acts of aggression and have extended our full support to the investigating authorities in addressing the issue with all the parties involved,” Swiggy said in an official statement to BloombergQuint.

“Swiggy maintains a zero tolerance policy towards any unruly behaviour and has taken immediate and strict action by suspending those delivery partners involved. We regret the inconvenience caused and would like to emphasise that this kind of behaviour doesn't reflect our values at Swiggy,” it said.

The people involved, who were arrested at the scene soon after, have now been released on bail according to a local media report.

This, however, is not the first such incident that Swiggy has had to handle. In July 2018, another delivery executive had vandalised a restaurant New Delhi's Kalkaji area.

Swiggy's rival Zomato faced criticism last month after video of a delivery agent eating food from an order he was meant to deliver surfaced on social media.

Byju’s Acquires A Learning Game-Developer

Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive officer of Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd.,  at the company’s office in Bengaluru. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg
Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive officer of Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd., at the company’s office in Bengaluru. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Education and tutorial startup Byju’s acquired a U.S. based developer of learning games, making it the latest Indian unicorn to expand overseas.

Byju's, one of India’s most valuable education startups, bought Osmo for $120 million, according to Bloomberg. Osmo will continue as a standalone brand once the deal is completed, the report said.

“Osmo makes learning more effective and engaging, which is very important with younger children,” Byju Raveendran, Byju’s founder and chief executive officer told Bloomberg. “It takes us into a new age demographic of younger kids as well as fitting into our plans for a bold global expansion.”

Founded in 2013, Osmo uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence to bring physical toys into the digital world. The startup—backed by Accel Partners and Mattel Inc.—has so far attracted more than 1 million U.S. households.

Byju’s has over 30 million users from 1,700 cities in India, out of which 2 million are paid subscribers. The Bengaluru-based unicorn was valued at $3.6 billion during its last funding round.

Microsoft’s M12 Looks To Expand India Investments

Betting big on the burgeoning Indian startup ecosystem, Microsoft's corporate venture fund, M12, will invest $2 million to $10 million in various Indian startups.

M12 Partner Rashmi Gopinath said the entity will invest in enterprise business-to-business startups, participating in series A to C rounds with cheque sizes ranging between $2 million-$10 million. It may both lead these rounds, or co-invest with other local investors, she said, according to a PTI report.

M12, formerly known as Microsoft Ventures, has chosen health-tech startup Innovaccer as its first investment in India. The startup’s focus lies in areas like big data and analytics, business Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud infrastructure, machine learning and artificial intelligence, productivity and security.

The startup is working to solve data interoperability challenges in healthcare and helping health systems enhance their clinical and financial outcomes with a data-first approach, Gopinath said, while speaking about Innovaccer.

Tech investment activity in India, according to Gopinath, is at an all-time high. Venture capitalists are estimated to have pumped in over $3.09 billion in business-to-business startups in 2018 across 415 rounds, which is 28 percent more than $2.41 billion invested in 2017, she said.

An increasing number of enterprise B2B startups are being founded in India that cater to a global customer base, most notably in artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, SaaS, data analytics and Internet of Things, she said.