A luxury apartment is seen inside the Bahia Plaza residence complex at the Paseo Caribe luxury development in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photographer: Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg)

Startup Street: Homigo’s Tenants, Employees Accuse Missing Founders Of Fraud

This week on Startup Street, tenants and employees of co-living startup Homigo alleged fraud by founders. Indoor farming startup Plenty hired Twitter’s former chief financial officer for the same role in the latest addition to its team. Facebook unveiled a new initiative to support entrepreneurs in India. Here’s what went on.

Tenants Accuse Homigo Founders Of Fraud

Tenants of co-living startup Homigo have filed a police complaint accusing founders of absconding with their security deposits and rents.

The founders failed to pay money to land owners and other building staff despite taking payments from tenants, which led to termination of rental contracts and they were told to vacate their homes, according to Facebook posts under a group called ‘Action against Homigo’, created by at least 100 tenants. The founders have been out of reach, the company’s offices are deserted and employees have been laid off, they said.

Sundresh Gowda, who said he had paid Rs 7 lakh for a property lease to Homigo, told BloombergQuint over the phone that he filed a complaint at the Mico Layout Police Station in Bengaluru. The police told the tenants not to vacate the property until the absconding executives are caught, he said.

The first information report was filed by 30 people a week ago, Vijay Kumar, inspector at Bengaluru’s Mico Layout Police Station, told BloombergQuint over the phone. He said the founders of the startup were on the run and the total amount may run into crores.

BloombergQuint has yet to receive a response to queries sent to Homigo’s email ID. Phone calls to the number given on the website led to a recorded message saying the offices were closed for the day.

(Source: Homigo website)
(Source: Homigo website)

Founded in 2015, Homigo acts as a middleman between property owners and tenants. It offers apartments in Bengaluru on rent or lease and takes care of furnishings, utilities such as WiFi, cooking gas, electricity, television, and other maintenance services. It operates 32 properties across Bengaluru, according to its website.

Apart from the tenants, some employees also came forward on the Facebook page saying there was no response from the founders and they too were victims of the fraud.

The startup had raised an unspecified amount in its last round of funding in January 2017 from Anuj Srivastava and Rahul Agarwal, chief executive officers of online furniture retailers Livespace and Mebelkart, respectively. BloombergQuint couldn’t immediately contact the investors.

Plenty Hires Twitter’s Former CFO Mike Gupta

Mike Gupta, former chief financial officer of Twitter Inc. (Photographer: Jim Graham/Bloomberg)
Mike Gupta, former chief financial officer of Twitter Inc. (Photographer: Jim Graham/Bloomberg)

Indoor farming startup Plenty hired Twitter’s former Chief Financial Officer Mike Gupta in the same role as it prepares to expand overseas and improve its technology for vertical growth of leafy greens.

“It’s not new for me to be in hypergrowth companies that are entering unchartered territory,” Gupta said in an interview to Bloomberg. “This is a very capital intensive business so having someone who can think about how we raise and deploy capital in the long run will be very important.”

Gupta, who helped take the social media giant public, left Twitter in 2015.

To be sure, he is not the only high-profile hire the SoftBank Group Corporation-backed startup has made recently. The names include Tesla's former battery director Kurt Kelty and its vice president of engineering Nick Kalayjian.

The hiring come as Plenty is in the process to build a new version of its farms called Tigris. The new farm will be able to produce 40 times the amount of leafy greens while using lesser energy, according to Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Matt Barnard.

‘Facebook Hubs’ To Support Startups From 20 Locations In India

Signage is displayed outside Facebook Inc. headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
Signage is displayed outside Facebook Inc. headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Facebook launched an initiative across India—called Facebook Hubs—to support startups and entrepreneurs.

The hubs will extend support for startups by hosting mentoring hours and conducting training, workshops and discussions across 20 locations including Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Navi Mumbai and in Goa, PTI reported quoting its statement.

“We have already worked with hundreds of startups through our various programmes and by teaming up with 91springboard we hope to reach out to more to fuel India’s startup ecosystem with a vision to build businesses of tomorrow,” Satyajeet Singh, head of product partnerships, Facebook India and South Asia, said in the statement.

Facebook Hubs will be part of a global network for training and mentoring facilities for startups, developers, small and medium businesses, creators, and job seekers.

Also read: Facebook’s Vulnerabilities Highlighted During a Terrible Week