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    Piyush Goyal, Rajeev Chandrasekhar to grace ET Startup Awards ceremony; Dunzo cofounder to exit

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    Commerce minister Piyush Goyal and MoS IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar will be the guests of honour at the prestigious Economic Times Startup Awards 2023. This and more in today’s ETtech Morning Dispatch.

    Also in this letter:
    ■ Real money gaming platforms see surge in user deposits
    ■ Fi lagging 30% behind revenue targets
    ■ Exclusive interview with Cerebras CEO

    Programming note: On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, the ETtech newsletter team is taking a day off. There will not be an edition of ETtech Top 5 on October 2, and of ETtech Morning Dispatch on October 3. Please stay tuned to all the news and updates on
    Ministers Piyush Goyal, Rajeev Chandrasekhar to grace ET Startup Awards 2023
    Piyush Goyal_Rajeev Chandrasekhar_2
    Union minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal and minister of state for information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar

    Union minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal and minister of state for information technology (MoS IT) Rajeev Chandrasekhar will be the guests of honour at a glittering ceremony to celebrate the winners of The Economic Times Startup Awards 2023 on October 7.

    The star-studded event in Bengaluru, which will also play host to a galaxy of business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers, marks the ninth edition of the country’s most coveted awards for entrepreneurial excellence.

    If the technology and startup sectors are to play a pivotal role in India’s quest to emerge as a $5-trillion economy by 2025, they will need to work in close collaboration with policy makers and the government.

    All winners

    Winners: The winners of these most elite awards for startup excellence were chosen at a virtual meeting that lasted for hours on September 12. A stellar jury led by Kotak Kotak Mahindra Bank founder and director Uday Kotak picked the winners in eight categories from a shortlist of 40 contenders.

    OfBusiness, the Gurugram-based B2B commerce and fintech startup, won the coveted Startup of the Year award for building a large-scale B2B venture focused on the country’s SMEs while generating stellar profits. Jishnu Bhattacharjee, MD of Nexus Venture Partners, won the Midas Touch award for his consistent track record of portfolio exits through acquisitions.

    Read about winners across eight categories here.

    Here are all the important stories on ET Startup Awards 2023:

    Dunzo dealt another blow as cofounder Dalvir Suri to exit
    Dalvir dunzo_2

    Hi! Digbijay here in Bengaluru. Troubled quick commerce startup Dunzo is losing one of its cofounders — Dalvir Suri. My colleague Soumyajit and I have more on our Monday morning newsbreak!

    Time to move on: Kabeer Biswas is the face of Dunzo, but there are three other cofounders at the Reliance Retail-backed startup - Dalvir Suri, chief technology officer Mukund Jha, and Ankur Agarwal. Suri is leaving the firm, sources told us. He had been discussing his exit with Biswas for a few months at least, but it’s now been finalised.

    Dunzo recent troubles_SEP_2023_Graphic_ETTECH

    Who is Suri? Suri, who joined Dunzo as a cofounder six years ago, has been closely involved with its B2B unit Dunzo Merchant Services (DMS), which has now become the core focus of the firm. DMS serves clients like Reliance Retail by servicing their last mile deliveries. Reliance Retail — Dunzo’s biggest investor — is also the largest client of DMS. Suri oversaw day-to-day operations at Dunzo as Biswas was focussed on arranging new funding to tide over the ongoing cash crunch at the firm.

    In future, DMS will likely account for 70% to 80% of Dunzo’s overall business, ET had reported on September 25.

    CEO Biswas on Suri: Biswas confirmed the development to ET saying Dalvir has been instrumental in building out every new line of business at Dunzo. “He has been the key zero-to-one person from the founding team that just gets things done. He has been meaning to take a break for sometime now - and with over 6 years spent building Dunzo, he plans to move forward to pursuing new journeys,” he said.

    Dunzo nears funding but TC apply_Graphic_ETTECH

    Exit ahead of a fresh start: Suri’s exit comes even as Dunzo has finally been able to stitch up a financing round of around $30-35 million to fend off a cash-flow crisis that had triggered multiple rounds of layoffs. Dunzo hasn’t been paying employees their dues for some months now.


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    Gamers put real money on table ahead of 28% tax regime
    Over 120 online skill gaming companies

    As the online gaming industry prepares for a turbulent phase with the introduction of the 28% goods and services tax (GST), gamers and gaming influencers tanked up deposits in the past two months, anticipating the introduction of the tax from Sunday. Consequently, some gaming platforms saw a surge of as much as 300% in daily deposits.

    Driving the news: While some exhausted their UPI deposit limit of Rs 1 lakh per day on most days in August and September, others used up their credit card limits. Platforms made special offers to lure the heavy-duty gamers, as a “last-ditch effort” to tide over the uncertainty and keep the bigger players on the platform.

    Also read | Online gaming companies tax demand in line with legal stand: CBIC chairman

    Finding a loophole? One of the players, who said he spends Rs 15,000-25,000 per week on different real money games, got in-app notifications over the past fortnight suggesting he “deposit up to Rs 50,000 per week to get a 30% deposit bonus”, apart from cashback and other benefits.

    Game On A timeline final

    “Such offers are always sent to the bigger players or regular spenders from time to time to encourage them to earn more. While some of the smaller companies could be using the October 1 deadline as a mark to encourage players to deposit more, we do not think that is the case across the industry for RMG,” said a senior executive at a fantasy gaming firm.

    Also read | ETtech Unwrapped: The harsh ‘reality’ facing real money gaming firms
    Neobanking company Fi’s revival hinges on its credit offerings
    (From left) Fi cofounders Sujith Narayanan and Sumit Gwalani

    Neobanking firm Fi, which laid off 10% of its workforce last week and is falling short of its minimum revenue target by 30% this fiscal, is placing its hopes on credit to revive the business. However, the credit route is fraught with multiple challenges:

    Challenges hit credit ambitions: Lack of multiple credit partners on the supply side, smaller base of credit-worthy customers, cutting down on user acquisition spends and depleting cash runway have led to significant obstructions for the fintech firm to fully execute its credit strategy.

    FI GFX

    Credit card growth muted: The company launched its co-branded credit card with Federal Bank, almost three months back, but has only issued between 6,000-8,000 new credit cards – a far cry from the target of 100,000 credit cards it set out to reach by FY24-end. While it remains in limited release, it faces challenges of a shrinking credit user base, as competition heats up.

    Limited credit partners: To make the environment challenging, Fi has only one major banking partner, Federal Bank, which powers everything - from new account openings to credit for the fintech. Fi is in talks with IDFC Bank and non-bank Liquiloans to power consumer loans on its platform, but they still haven’t started rolling out credit to its users.
    India short of data centres to support supercomputers: Cerebras CEO
    Andrew Feldman, cofounder and CEO of Cerebras Systems
    Andrew Feldman, cofounder and CEO of Cerebras Systems

    To support its burgeoning engineering talent, India needs to address its real challenge — shortage of data centres — Andrew Feldman, co-founder and CEO of startup chipmaker Cerebras Systems, a key rival of Nvidia, told ET in an exclusive interaction.

    Solving a 'real problem': “India today has a shortage of data centers to support big fast supercomputers. You need powered cooling at a remarkable scale for the type of projects we aspire to build. So these are tens of megawatts of power and you need dedicated buildings and you need cooling infrastructure,” he told us.

    India a priority: However, Feldman also said he categorically considers India a priority for Cerebras, citing the country's tremendous engineering talent, top universities and a growing AI ecosystem. The company has an office in Bengaluru which employs around 40 people.
    Other Top Stories By Our Reporters
    Byju Raveendran, founder, Byju's

    Byju's to hold board meeting to approve delayed FY22 financials: Byju's is at least 12 months behind the statutory due date to file its FY22 financial results with the Registrar of Companies. The delay has been a key concern for investors and lenders who have given a $1.2 billion term loan to the Bengaluru-based company.

    Also read | Byju’s new India CEO Arjun Mohan to cut more than 4,500 jobs

    MyGov chief Akash Tripathi to become CEO of India Semiconductor Mission: Andrew Feldman, cofounder and CEO ofMyGov chief executive Akash Tripathi is set to take over as CEO of the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) from October 9, official sources said.

    My way or the AI way: Companies approach govt for infra amid GPU scarcity | GPUs are the highways AI requires. Companies are therefore petitioning the Centre to invest in the vital compute infrastructure so that local startups can compete and win meaningfully in the frenetic global AI race.

    The immersive visualisations that are lighting up India: Immersive experiences are visual treats being engineered through projection mapping technology offered by Belgian company Barco. The 90-year-old firm provides networked visualisation solutions in entertainment, enterprise and healthcare markets across the world.
    Global Picks We Are Reading

    ■ Why Linda Yaccarino took on the wildest job in Silicon Valley (Financial Times)

    ■ Traditional multinationals are making their mark on Latin American tech (Rest of World)

    ■ The global victims of FTX’s collapse won’t get their day in court (Wired)

    Updated On Oct 02, 2023, 07:42 AM IST

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    The Economic Times