Employees arrange clothing into boxes in the office of Myntra.com, a unit of Flipkart Internet Services Pvt., in Bangaluru, India (Photographer: Namas Bhojani/Bloomberg)

Startup Street: This Firm Will Help Myntra And Jabong Fight Competition

This week on Startup Street, we have a learning startup which is set to help Flipkart’s fashion brands gain edge over competition. Uber’s former Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick has a “new gig”. Snapchat’s parent firm has reportedly acquired a startup which may help take its platform to the next level and India’s information technology veteran Mohandas Pai says why more than half of India’s startups may fail. Here’s what went on.

Myntra, Jabong Use This Startup To Gain Edge Over Competition

Employees work at desks in the office of Myntra.com, a unit of Flipkart Internet Services Pvt., in Bangaluru. (Photographer: Namas Bhojani/Bloomberg)
Employees work at desks in the office of Myntra.com, a unit of Flipkart Internet Services Pvt., in Bangaluru. (Photographer: Namas Bhojani/Bloomberg)

Flipkart subsidiaries Jabong and Myntra are tapping into a learning startup called Udacity, to reskill its employees in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The Silicon Valley-based startup will provide nano-degree programs in machine learning foundation, machine learning basic, machine learning advanced and deep learning foundation, the companies said in a joint statement.

Myntra and Jabong will train half of their employees in AI and ML, Ananth narayan, chief executive officer of the two companies told BloombergQuint.

Flipkart bought Myntra in 2014, while Myntra merged with Jabong in 2016, bringing two of the initial e-commerce fashion brands in India under the country’s largest e-commerce retailer. However, a number of other fashion brands such as Koovs, AliExpress, AJio, among others, have entered and gained a market share over the last few years.

Reskilling employees in latest technologies will help the websites become more efficient in their delivery system, the statement said.

Uber's Kalanick Ends Brief Sabbatical

Travis Kalanick, co-founder  of Uber Technologies Inc. (Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg)
Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber Technologies Inc. (Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg)

Travis Kalanick has invested in City Storage System. The former Uber Chief Executive Officer announced that he will lead the company as the chief executive officer after buying controlling stake for $150 million, according to his statement posted on Twitter. Kalanick made the investment through ‘10100’, the fund he launched earlier this month to house his “passions, investments, ideas and big bets.”

The California-based company is focused on repurposing distressed real estate assets like parking lots or shopping malls that are being shut down. They turn them in to suitable spaces for new industries like food delivery and online retail.

The $150 million funding for CSS is driven by the “massive opportunity to reposition unproductive assets to fuel job creation,” Kalanick said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The investment amounts to roughly 10 percent of Kalanick’s liquid wealth, according to Bloomberg. He had sold $1.4 billion worth shares of Uber as part of SoftBank Group Corp’s funding in January.

This is Kalanick’s first leadership role at a firm after he stepped down from Uber in June last year following an investor revolt. Uber had been marred by a series of controversies ranging from allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and a male-dominated culture. Kalanick stayed on the board of directors though and helped pick his successor, Dara Khosrowshahi. Kalanick also joined the board of healthcare startup Kareo earlier in March.

Snap’s Move To Get Deeper Into Virtual Reality

Disappearing photos and video sharing app Snapchat’s parent has acquired a startup that supports 3D gaming, to strengthen its virtual reality play amid intensifying competition.

Snap Inc. has acquired U.K.-based PlayCanvas, according to a report by Business Insider, citing U.K. financial filings and a source with knowledge of the matter. An email sent to Snap Inc. for confirmation by BloombergQuint remained unanswered.

Founded in 2011, PlayCanvas has built an open-sourced engine that powers games on Facebook and browsers. The technology has been adopted by a number of known names such as Disney, King and Nickelodeon, according to the company's website.

While it is unclear as to how Snap will use this technology, it is expected to help fight off competition from Facebook-owned Instagram. Snapchat has had a rough year. Its share prices have fallen 29.7 percent over the last 12 months, taking a deep plunge after Snapchat royalty Kylie Jenner tweeted that she barely uses the app anymore. Facebook owned Instagram and Whatsapp introduced a disappearing story feature with filters—to that of Snapchat—last year, eating into Snapchat’s user share.

Also Read: Snap's Next Surprise May Be Earlier-Than-Expected Profit

More Than Half Of India’s Startups May Go Kaput

As much as 60 percent of India’s startups may fail due to the lack of an adequate market and other factors, technology veteran TV Mohandas Pai said.

India is sprouting 5,000-6,000 ventures every year in an addition to an exsisting 30,000, he said in an interview to news agency PTI. While all startups have a bright future, not all of them can survive, he added. “The mortality rate is very high. About 60 per cent of them will fail. That is the nature of the industry,” Pai said.

Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education, believes that most startups may not scale up or get a market as they are all started by first time entrepreneurs.

First time entrepreneurs may not know how to tackle the business but the good news is that even if they fail the experience they get from building a business or becoming a problem solver is enormous.
TV Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education.

He added that by 2025, there will be one lakh active startups in India, employing about 32 lakh people.

The Centre's Startup India policy coupled with policies of various states, IT initiatives, success of Flipkart and others, have enthused more people, he added.

With inputs from PTI