Multilingual Indian video app Roposo raises $10M from Tiger Global and Bertelsmann

India has 22 official languages, which often presents a challenge for businesses that want to scale across the entire country. Video-sharing app Roposo, however, uses that to its advantage by offering content in several different regional languages. Based in Gurgaon, Roposo announced today that it has raised a $10 million Series C from returning investors Tiger Global and Bertelsmann, bring its total funding so far to $31 million. Roposo will use new funding for hiring, product development, and user acquisition.

Tiger Global first invested in Roposo’s Series A round and also returned for its Series B, according to Crunchbase. After an Indian startup funding spree, Tiger Global hit pause on new investments there for a couple of years before reportedly closing a $3.75 billion fund this year to focus on India, the U.S., and China. Roposo’s funding news comes a week after facility management company Facilio, another Indian startup, announced that it also received funding from Tiger Global.

Roposo originally launched as a fashion-based social network in 2013 before pivoting to videos in August 2017. It now claims 7.5 million monthly active users, 250,000 user-generated videos, and 160 million video views a day.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Mayank Bhangadia tells TechCrunch that Roposo’s pivot came from “a gradual evolution of the platform from a fashion social network into rebooting as a complete social video network to enter the next big level of game play.” Users still share videos about fashion, but now it is one of several topics, including music, comedy, spirituality, tech, travel, and current events (Roposo organizes videos into about 25 interest-based channels).

Roposo currently claims a total user base of 25 million. One obvious question is how the app plans to keep their attention as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram each aggressively promote their live-streaming video features.

One of Roposo’s key advantages is its focus on multiple Indian languages (it offers content in 10 so far), which gives it an edge in smaller Indian cities and towns. Bhangadia says it also differentiates by creating a TV-like viewing experience and offering editing tools that make it easy for people to start broadcasting (about 30% of Roposo’s users have created content). Video creators can also make money based on how much user engagement their content generates.

Walmart partners with Rakuten to open its first e-commerce store in Japan

Walmart is continuing its strategy of revamping its businesses in Asia after the U.S. retail giant opened its first e-commerce store in Japan, where it is working with local retail giant Rakuten.

The companies first announced a collaboration in January when they agreed to team up on the launch of an online grocery service in Japan and the sale of e-readers, audiobooks and e-books from Rakuten-owned Kobo in the U.S. That e-grocery service — Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper — rolled out in October, and now the duo have launched the Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store to help Walmart grab a slice of Japan’s e-commerce market, which is estimated to be worth 16.5 trillion yen ($148 billion) per year.

The store, which sits on Rakuten Ichiba — Japan’s largest e-commerce store — will cover 1,200 “U.S. branded” products that include clothing, outdoor items and kids toys. Walmart will fulfill orders in the U.S. and they will be sent by air to Japan where Rakuten will use its e-commerce smarts to deliver them. There’s no word on how long the process will take, but it will include shipping cost, duties and taxes in the final price.

The move is an interesting one for Walmart, which has struggled in Japan for some time.

Earlier this year, the company was forced to deny rumors that it was in the process of offloading its Seiyu GK unit, a business it acquired in full in 2007 which operates its Japan-based supermarkets. A sale may not be happening (yet) but Walmart has shuttered some 100 Seiyu stores, according to CNBC, which shows that it isn’t performing as expected in the country.

Partnering with Rakuten, the $10 billion e-commerce giant that also covers financial services, travel, mobile and more, is a smart way to take a bite out of Japan’s online market with risk or exposure. Though it does have its limits. Amazon, Walmart’s big domestic rival, is taking on Rakuten directly, by contrast, and seeing some success albeit at a high cost of investment.

The partnership approach isn’t new for Walmart in Asia.

The partner of choice in China is JD.com, second to Alibaba, which acquired Walmart’s floundering Yihaodian marketplace in 2016. As part of that deal, Walmart became a retailer inside Yihaodian thus leveraging JD’s platform and logistics know-how to generate sales in China.

That relationship was deepened this year when Walmart co-led a $500 million in a grocery delivery service that’s part-owned by JD– yep right, another case of online grocery in tandem with e-commerce.

Elsewhere, Walmart decided to enter India this year when it scooped up local Amazon rival Flipkart for $16 billion, a record deal for the U.S. firm.

Google has acquired one of India’s most popular train tracking apps

Google is increasing its efforts in India after it snapped up the team behind popular transportation app ‘Where is my Train.’

The app claims 10 million registered users and, as the name suggests, it helps commuters track arrivals and departures as well as buying seats. That’s no small job given that India is estimated to operate some 14,000 trains on a daily basis across the country. The app is for Android, it works offline or with poor connectivity and supports eight languages. It is rivaled by VC-backed companies like RailYatri and iXigo.

There’s no official price for the deal, although India’s Economic Times is reporting that it is in the region of $30-$40 million. The site reported on Google’s interest back in August, when it wrote that other suitors included Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. A Google spokesperson confirmed the deal to TechCrunch, but declined to provide a price.

Sigmoid Labs, the company that develops the train app, was founded by four former TiVo executives in 2013. Economic Times reports that it has around 10 staff. It is unclear how much money it has raised to date.

The company told customers news of the acquisition on its website earlier today.

“We can think of no better place to help us achieve our mission, and we’re excited to join Google to help bring technology and information into more people’s hands,” its founders wrote.

Google said that the Where is my Train team would “continue to build on the current offering,” so it seems that the app won’t be shuttered, immediately at least.

The service’s significant userbase would suggest that Google might look to develop and expand its scope to perhaps touch on other areas. Ride-hailing apps, for example, have moved into adjacent spaces including entertainment, payments and food delivery to take advantage of their position as daily apps.

That’s all conjecture at this point. But it also stands to reason that Google could fold it into other apps, including Google Maps, although that certainly isn’t the plan at this point.

Screenshots of Where is my Train Android app from the Google Play Store

The deal falls under Google’s ‘Next Billion User’ division which is developing products and services to help increase internet adoption in emerging markets. To date that has focused strongly on India where Google has developed data-friendly ‘lite’ versions of popular apps like YouTube, and initiatives like public WiFi for India’s rail network that’s used by over eight million people.

That scope has also covered services, with Google looking at apps that provide information and utility to Indian consumers. Google launched an on-demand app and a mobile payment service last year, and this year it released a neighborhood Q&A service. The Where is my Train deal certainly fits that strategy and you’d imagine it’ll become a core part of Google’s consumer-facing product line in India.

The deal is also one of the most significant to date for a U.S-based tech firm in India. Facebook, Twitter, Google and even Yahoo have made acquisitions to build teams or acquire talent but Where is my Train seems significantly more strategic as a product.

Grab invests $100M into India’s OYO to expand its budget hotel service in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab has made its most ambitious investment to date after it backed India-headquartered budget hotel network OYO to the tune of $100 million. The investment was part of a $1 billion Series E round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund that closed back in September.

The deal was first made public via a regulatory filing in India, as Economic Times reported.

“We can confirm the investment into OYO,” a Grab spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Grab has done a handful of strategic deals thus far, including investments in bike-sharing startup oBike and grocery delivery service HappyFresh, but those have been far smaller and local to Southeast Asia. Its highest acquisition to date is around $100 million for Indonesia-based offline payment network Kudo some 18 months ago.

The deal with OYO is not only far higher but also outside of its immediate home turf, which spans eight countries in Southeast Asia. OYO’s business is heavily focused on India and China, but the company is also active in Nepal, Malaysia and, most recently, the UK. That Series E deal was aimed at funding international growth and it looks like Grab will work closely with the company to help expand its presence in Southeast Asia, a region with over 650 million consumers and a fast growing digital economy.

A source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch that Grab was primarily motivated to partner with OYO for its potential to boost its GrabPay service. The core idea here is that GrabPay could become the preferred payment method for OYO in Southeast Asia, thereby boosting Grab’s ambition of dominating the region’s mobile payment space.

OYO claims to have over 10,000 franchised or leased hotels in its network which it says spans 350 cities across five countries, although most of that is concentrated on India and China. In the latter country, OYO says it offers 87,000 rooms in 171 cities after launching in the country in June 2018.

Southeast Asia, where OYO is already present via Malaysia, is an obvious next step and Grab could also give it a helpful boost to reaching customers by including its service on its in-app platform. Months after a deal to buy Uber’s local business in exchange for a 27.5 percent equity stake, Grab unveiled a ‘platform’ designed to aggregate services in the region to give its audience of over 110 million registered users visibility of services that they may like. That, in turn, can help companies tap into the Grab userbase, although some users have complained that Grab’s app is increasingly ‘cluttered’ with additional services and information beyond basic transportation.

Grab has already partnered with travel giant Booking — which recently invested $200 million in its business — to offer deals to its users, and it is quite conceivable that it could do the same with OYO to help the Indian firm’s efforts in Southeast Asia.

The $11 billion-valued ride-hailing firm isn’t short of cash — having raised over $3 billion this year — so it can afford to make the occasional splashy investment. However, it might need a budget reallocation. That’s because Indonesian rival Go-Jek’s continued Southeast Asia expansion is threatening to reignite a subsidiary war that Grab probably thought it had won for good after Uber’s exit. It’ll be interesting to watch how that competition weighs in Grab’s overall effort to go from ride-hailing into the ‘super app’ space, covering payments, local services and more.

Tiger Global and Accel lead facility management startup Facilio’s $6.4M Series A

Facilio, an IoT startup that focuses on facility management software, announced today that it has raised a $6.4 million Series A led by Tiger Global and returning investor Accel. The funding will be used to expand further in India, where Facilio has an office in Chennai, the United States, and the Middle East, as well as enter new markets. Facilio is also one of the first new Indian companies Tiger Global has added to its portfolio since hitting pause on new investments there in 2015.

Led by Lee Fixel, Tiger Global was among the many venture capital firms that poured money into early-stage Indian startups in 2014-2015 before uncertainty about growth and valuations dampened the funding frenzy. Funding began picking up again this year, but this time the focus is on more mature companies like Swiggy and Zomato.

Tiger Global hit a home run when one of its Indian investments, FlipKart, was acquired by Walmart earlier this year and recently reportedly closed a new $3.75 billion fund to focus on India, U.S., and China.

Founded in 2017 by Prabhu Ramachandran, Rajavel Subramanian, Yogendra Babu, and Krishnamoorthi Rangasamy, Facilio’s software helps commercial real estate property owners keep on top of regular maintenance, make sure things like air conditioning systems and elevators are functioning properly, and lower their energy consumption.

In a press statement, Fixel said “On a global basis, facilities management services and energy spend by buildings each account for more than a trillion dollars. I am optimistic that Facilio can be a true disruptor in this industry.”

UrbanClap, India’s largest home services startup, raises $50M

UrbanClap, a four-year-old startup that offers home services across India, has closed a $50 million Series D round for expansion.

The round was led by Steadview Capital, a hedge fund with more than $1 billion under management, and existing investor Vy Capital. It takes UrbanClap to $110 million raised to date, according to data from Crunchbase.

Via its platform, UrbanClap matches service people, such as cleaners, repair staff or beauticians, with customers across 10 cities in India. Co-founder and CEO Abhiraj Bhal told TechCrunch that the business supports 15,000 “micro-franchisees” with around 450,000 transactions taking place each month.

“Micro-franchisees” is an interesting term — I’ve not heard it used much, even in the buzzword-heavy world of tech startups — but Bhal explained his vision to enable service workers to earn more and enjoy greater control of their work and, consequently, overall life.

For example, he said, the typical salary for an offline service worker might be in the region of 10-15,000 INR (up to $215) while, for those operating independently, their flow of work would be tied to a middleman, store or word of mouth networks. UrbanClap offers a more direct model, with workers keeping 80 percent of the cost of their jobs. That, Bhal said, means workers can earn multiples more and manage their own working hours.

“The UrbanClap model really allows them to become service entrepreneurs,” he said. “Their earnings will shoot up two or three-fold, and it isn’t uncommon to see it rise as much as 8X — it’s a life-changing experience.”

Beyond helping workers with their job, UrbanClap also provides training, credit, basic banking and more. Bhal said that around 20-25 percent of applicants are accepted into the platform, that’s a decision based on in-person meetings, background and criminal checks, as well as a “skills” test. Workers are encouraged to work exclusively — though it isn’t a requirement — and they wear UrbanClap outfits and represent the brand with customers.

While there is encouragement, there is also a level of monitoring. If a worker’s average review for their last 30/50 jobs (dependent on vertical) drops below 4.0, the system stops sending them work. There is an opportunity to appeal, retrain and return to the platform, except in cases of poor attitude, misconduct and other serious misdemeanors, Bhal said. He declined to provide numbers for dropouts but said that the retention rate is “healthy.”

UrbanClap founders (left to right) Abhiraj Bhal, Raghav Chandra and Varun Khaitan started the business in 2014

UrbanClap expanded to Dubai, the capital of the UAE, six months ago, so it would be logical to think this new capital will go toward further expansions. No so, according to Bhal. The company is instead going after tier-two cities in India and working to deepen its position in its existing locations. In short, there’s no additional overseas plan at this point.

“In many ways, we think about the Dubai move as an extension of India [Dubai has a strong presence of Indian and South Asia nationals] rather than an international expansion — a little like a U.S. company going into Canada,” Bhal explained. “We believe we have enough headroom to grow in India and Dubai; these are fairly unpenetrated markets.”

Elaborating on that thinking, Bhal said that online is just a small component of all local service jobs in India.

“We need to get to double digital penetration of the offline market,” he said. “We think we could grow 10, 20 or 100 times from where we are right now.”

The company isn’t profitable yet and Bhal isn’t sharing revenue details, other than the fairly hazy detail that revenue is growing 3X per year. Rival Housejoy, which includes Amazon among its shareholders, went through some fairly well-publicized issues this year resulting in layoffs and, according to reports, efforts to sell the business.

Bhal didn’t comment directly on those reports, but he did say that if the company did do an acquisition, it would be focused on “adjacent spaces we aren’t in yet” as opposed to a direct competitor for growth.

He was somewhat more forthcoming on the future exit plan for UrbanClap, which did allow some secondary sales within this Series D round. Bhal said he fully intends to take the company public but he said that there’s no firm plan on when, or indeed where, that might happen.

“Eventually we will look to go public,” he said. “But we’re a few years away from that — we need to earn the right, which means being a scalable and profitable company.”

SimbaPay launches Kenya to China payment service via WeChat

Forging another link between Africa and China’s digital economies, the African-focused money transfer startup SimbaPay and Kenya’s Family Bank are partnering with WeChat to launch an instant payment service from East-Africa to China.

The product partnership is aimed at Kenyan merchants who purchase goods from China—Kenya’s largest import source.

Using QR codes, SimbaPay developed a third-party payment aggregator that enables funds delivery into WeChat’s billion plus user network.

Individuals and businesses can now send funds to China through Family Bank’s PesaPap app, Safaricom’s M-Pesa, or by texting USSD using the code *325#.

The service opens up a faster and less expensive money transfer option between Kenya and China through the TenCent-owned WeChat social media platform.

“Kenya imports about $4 billion goods from China. That’s the total market that we’re getting into. We’re looking at a single digit market share of the transactional volume around that,” SimbaPay Founder and CEO Sagini Onyancha told TechCrunch.

“The users [of the new product] are primary small Kenyan businesses, that import phones, gadgets, electronics…small to medium size traders who import goods from China,” he said.

SimbaPay and Family Bank will generate revenues on the WeChat based transfer service through a fee share arrangement on transactions. “We have a sliding scale of charges [for the service]. For example, to send the equivalent of $80 will cost $3.50,” said Sagini.

This presents a significant reduction of fees and opportunity cost for Kenyan traders who import from China, according to Sagini and Family Bank.

Current available payment methods to China for Kenyan businesses are less secure and more expensive options such as traditional money transmitters (Western Union), SWIFT, and off the grid services, according to Sagini and Family Bank Chief Operation Officer (COO) Godfrey Kariuki Kamau.

“There are informal channels on the street who will take your money, get it paid out to the recipient [in China] one or two days later and take a percentage,” said Sagini.

SimbaPay and Family Bank estimate over seven million customers and businesses will be able to access their China WeChat payment service, based on projections of Kenya’s current SMEs.

Located in Nairobi, Family Bank has a current customer base of 600,000 account holders (including SMEs) across 92 branches, according to COO Kariuki Kamau.

Prior to the SimbaPay-Family Bank China service, he said a number of Family Bank’s small business customers “were taking cash from our counters and pooling with…informal transmitters” to pay Chinese vendors.

Kariuki Kamau estimates the immediate transactional potential for the new SimbaPay WeChat based service will be $1 million in the first three months.

“The businesses in Kenya import over $4 billion from China, so this could be conservative. We could see this grow 4 to 5 times beyond that when people hear they can send money directly,” said Kariuki Kamau.

On regulation of this new service, he confirmed “Family Bank got the approval of the [Kenyan] Central Bank for SimbaPay to move in the market and…we confirmed with the UK financial regulators that SimbaPay is allowed to do this business.

Headquarted in London, SimbaPay launched in 2015 to facilitate more cost effective and efficient transfer of funds across Africa. The platform works as a gateway payment product “for banks and mobile money providers to offer their customers without having to make any major technical integration” to send funds across Africa’s borders, explained Sagini.

“We’ve created the platform in such a way that we’re able to provide this service like a SaaS B2B service to banks and telcos…and our service is available without internet access,” Sagini said—noting the platform’s USSD capabilities.

The startup has focused more on capturing intra-Africa and out-of-Africa payments volumes, compared to a number of fintech companies with an eye on the multi-billion dollar remittance market for funds sent to Africa from regions such as Europe and North America.

SimbaPay transfers funds to 11 countries—9 in Africa then to China and India. “Early next year we’ll increase this to 29 countries,” said Sagini. This includes offering the WeChat China payment service elsewhere in East Africa.

SimbaPay has raised $1 million in seed funds from TechStars, Barclays Accelerator, and local angel investors, according its CEO.

Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal resigns over allegations of ‘serious personal misconduct’

Flipkart, the India-based e-commerce firm owned by Walmart, has lost CEO Binny Bansal after he resigned from the company following an investigation into “serious personal misconduct.”

Bansal founded Flipkart in 2007 with Sachin Bansal (no relation) and he had served as its CEO since 2016, before going on to become CEO of the Flipkart Group — which spans its core e-commerce, fashion and payments divisions — one year later.

Walmart said in a statement that Bansal denied the allegation and that an investigation into it “did not find evidence to corroborate the complainant’s assertions.” However, the retailer did uncover “other lapses in judgement, particularly a lack of transparency, related to how Binny responded to the situation” which is why it has accepted his resignation.

Walmart, Flipkart and Bansal aren’t providing details on exactly what happened, but Walmart cautioned that “recent events risked becoming a distraction.”

This photo taken on May 9, 2018 shows Walmart CEO Doug McMillon (R) speaking next to Flipkart co-founder and CEO Binny Bansal at an event in Bangalore, as a deal was announced for Walmart to buy a stake in Flipkart (Photo by – / AFP)

Alongside Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Tiger Global’s Lee Fixel, Bansal was widely seen as a key figure in securing the deal that saw Walmart agree to fork out $16 billion for a majority 77 percent stake in Flipkart. The transaction, which closed in August and is the largest in Walmart’s history, cemented Flipkart’s position in India and pitted Walmart against its arch-enemy Amazon for a new battle outside of the U.S.

While Sachin Bansal left the company following the deal, Binny Bansal was expected to stay on and, according to reports, he was viewed as a very key part of the future of the business.

Despite that, Walmart couched the exit as expected.

“Binny has been contemplating a transition for some time and we have been working together on a succession plan, which has now been accelerated,” it said.

There’s no word on Bansal’s successor at this point. Walmart said that the existing leadership will remain in place — that includes former Tiger Global executive Krishnamurthy as head of Flipkart, Ananth Narayanan as CEO of Myntra and Jabong, its fashion portals, and Sameer Nigam as CEO of its PhonePe unit.

Tinder to roll out expanded set of gender options in India

Tinder is preparing to roll out more gender options in its app in India. The company will announce shortly that users will be able to edit their profiles in order to choose a different option for their gender identity, instead of just “Man” or “Woman,” as well as toggle a setting that will display their gender on their profile in the app.

These same options have been live in the U.S. since November 2016, when the dating app added options for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

The news was published earlier today to Tinder’s blog ahead of a planned announcement, a spokesperson said. It plans to share more information later tonight, they noted. (We’ll update if that’s the case).

In the post Tinder published, the company admits it hasn’t always “had the right tools” to serve its community in the past, and is now trying to learn to be a better ally to transgender and gender non-conforming people using its app. On this front, Tinder says it’s expanding its support team and educating its staff about the issues that these communities face in India. 

Additionally, the company is opening up its support channels and inviting back users who were banned after being unfairly reported by others due to their gender. Tinder users will be able to email the company with a link to their Facebook profile in order to have their request reviewed by Tinder’s team, in order to be let back in. To what extent banned users will want to return, of course, is less clear at this point.

Tinder has not fared well with the trans community in particular, as some users in the past have been banned from the app even when using the identifiers for trans people and displaying this on their profile.

For the U.S. launch of the expanded gender options, Tinder had worked with organizations like GLAAD, activists and others.

In India, it worked with users and consultants, including an LGBTQ organization working for the health and human rights of the LGBTQ community since 1994, The Humsafar Trust, as well as LGBTQ author and inclusion advocate, Parmesh Shahani.

The post also pointed users to Umang, a Mumbai-based support group run by The Humsafar Trust, which offers mental health counseling, legal support, community support and events. And it linked to the clinical and counseling unit of The Humsafar Trust.

The group also runs a helpline Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 8:30 PM at +91 9930095856, and is available on WhatsApp.

“Every new person in your life expands your horizons in some way. Inclusion and acceptance drive this expansion, and we want Tinder to reflect the world that surrounds us every day. No one will ever be banned from Tinder because of their gender,” said Tinder.

The move is notable not just because of the arrival of these important and inclusive features, but because of how critical the Indian market is for dating apps. So far, it seems straight Indian men have been flocking to Tinder and other apps in large numbers, but they’ve had trouble diversifying their user base. To address this problem, Tinder and others have focused efforts on recruiting the millions of young, educated India-based users who have left home to go live and work in cities.

Tinder – like all major tech companies – sees India as a key market, because of the rapid smartphone adoption and the population size. It even launched its Bumble-inspired “My Move” feature there first, back in September.

Bumble, meanwhile, has its sights on India as well, having said it plans to be in the market in full force by year-end.

Tiger Global returns with a $3M investment to help restaurants deal with delivery apps

Tiger Global has returned to backing early-stage Indian startups after it wrote a $3 million check for CheckMate, a U.S.-Indian startup the helps restaurant deals with the pain of multiple food ordering platforms.

The deal is a Series A and it represents the first time that CheckMate has raised outside funding for its business. It is also a return to early-stage investing in India — where CheckMate’s largest office is — for Tiger Global following a period of relative inactivity.

Founded 2.5 years ago initially as a bill-splitting app, CheckMate provides a platform that unifies food and payments to ease the chaos of working with modern consumer platforms. In this current age, restaurants simply must work with platforms like Uber Eats, Postmates, GrubHub, DoorDash and others to get orders, but the services don’t play together, or even with, existing restaurant systems.

That means that each service requires its own tablet for managing orders. On top of that, none integrate with order systems that print receipts for chefs or point-of-sale software. That means that restaurant staff must not only operate a bunch of iPads to handle the orders, but they have to manually enter them into their ordering systems (to ensure the ticket is processed so the order is cooked) then handle point of sale and bank the order for accounts.

That’s a lot of manual hassle and it’s the core issue that CheckMate aims to solve.

It effectively operates like a bridge that connects the various delivery platforms to a restaurant’s management system. It feeds orders from multiple food delivery services into the ordering system automatically, and feed the sales back into the restaurant management system. That helps keep the orders moving quickly, whilst managing account and sales without manual input.

“Online orders are still treated as a stepchild that’s alien to the business,” CheckMate founder and CEO Vishal Agarwal told TechCrunch in an interview. “With our solution, we inject online orders into the true heart and center of these businesses.”

A ‘wall’ of tablets is commonplace in restaurants as food delivery apps become an increasingly important source of orders

Headquartered in New York, where Agarwal is based, CheckMate has rolled out to over 1,000 locations in the U.S. and it counts Five Guys among its customers. The company recently expanded to Australia with its first customers and Agarwal — previously with e-commerce company Choxi.com — said he is looking for further international growth. The plan to get it, however, is by piggybacking the POS systems it supports, including Brink, Toast, and Revel, rather than establishing CheckMate’s own sales team.

That makes a lot of sense since the POS providers have a major incentive for linking their restaurant customers up with CheckMate because it streamlines their operations and makes their life easier. It also helps keep CheckMate lean and mean.

The team itself is already lean and international. While Agarwal, who comes from India, is based in New York, the rest of his 10-person U.S. team is distributed while the operations and tech team of 25 is located in CheckMate’s India-based office.

Since there are no public APIs, CheckMate has built its own platform in conjunction with food delivery services and now Agarwal — who said he has invested his own money in CheckMate — plans to double down on R&D, and in particular more integrations, by using this Series A raise for hiring.

“Technology in the restaurant sector is under-utilized — I was coming from e-commerce background where technology is everywhere,” he explained. “We quickly realized how much resistance to tech there is and we want to make it easy as possible for operators to adopt our product.”

That simplicity also applies to CheckMate’s pricing model which was recently adjusted. Previously, the company charged a setup fee but that has been abolished in favor of two tiers: $85 per restaurant for up to two platforms, and $100 for unlimited platforms per location.

“As restaurants streamline their operations to take advantage of rapidly increasing online orders, we
expect hundreds of thousands of restaurants to benefit from Checkmate’s unique solution,” Tiger Global partner Scott Shleifer said in a prepared statement.

The deal is an interesting one for Tiger Global, the 17-year-old New York investment firm that just closed a new $3.75 billion fund. The firm became well known for writing bold checks that backed ambitious startups in India a couple of years ago before it put the brakes on that strategy.

According to a multitude of media reports, the firm’s management grew concerned that it was overexposed in India, where it had deployed some $2 billion via deals in unicorns like Flipkart and Uber rival Ola. Flipkart’s exit via a majority investment from Walmart, however, made the firm around $3 billion in returns while it also retained a small stake in the business, which is tipped to have its own IPO in the future.

Tiger Global executive Lee Fixel, who spearheaded the India strategy, is said to have spent the last year working closely with Flipkart to realize the deal. Now that it is done, Tiger Global is said to be returning to investment mode in India, according to a recent Economic Times story. That means that CheckMate may be the first of many as the tiger begins roar again.