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Walmart readies another $2.5 billion investment in India’s e-commerce and payments • TechCrunch

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Walmart is preparing to spend over $2.5 billion in India as the retailer doubles down on the opportunities it sees in India’s e-commerce and payments markets even as the firm contends with rising costs amid the market downturns.

Walmart spent about $780 million earlier this month to the Indian tax authorities after PhonePe, in which the retailer owns a majority stake, moved its domicile to India from Singapore. Walmart is also looking to invest between $200 million to $300 million in PhonePe’s ongoing funding round, according to a source familiar with the matter. (PhonePe declined to comment.)

The company, which owns majority stake in Flipkart, is now looking to spend about $1.5 billion to buy back e-commerce firm’s shares from early backers Tiger Global and Accel Partners, Indian newspaper Economic Times reported Thursday.

India, the world’s second largest internet market, has become a key battleground for Walmart and Amazon.

Amazon has spent over $9 billion in India (including investments for AWS cloud regions in the country) over the past decade. Walmart, which missed the e-commerce race in the U.S., has coughed up over $20 billion on Flipkart and PhonePe to buy the lion’s share in India’s e-commerce and payments markets.

Flipkart leads the e-commerce market in India, according to Bernstein. And PhonePe commands over 40% of all transactions on UPI, a payments network in India built by a coalition of retail banks. UPI, which processes over 7 billion transactions a month, is the most popular way Indians pay online.

As Walmart makes splashy moves, its rival is taking a different approach. Amazon has spent the past few months streamlining its business in India. It has shut some of the newer bets — food delivery, wholesale distribution, and an attempt at online learning. But the company, by all accounts, appears to be continuing to invest in its core e-commerce business in India. 

Amazon faced a very public setback in the country last year after India’s largest retail giant Reliance outwitted the American firm into securing retailer Future Group’s assets. Amazon went public with its frustration, and then entered the quiet mode.

In one of the first major announcements in two years in India, Amazon launched Amazon Air in the country earlier this week. But company’s top country managers were absent from the event, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Portside lands $50M to help manage business aviation • TechCrunch

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Business aviation operators are often challenged with crew and aircraft shortages as they look to scale and meet the growing post-pandemic demand for air travel. With industry-wide staffing shortages, operators need to figure out how to attract pilots and other crew members — whether it be to fill full-time vacancies or add temp positions to meet urgent scheduling needs.

Inspired to build a tech-forward solution, Alek Vernitsky and Alek Strygin co-founded Portside, which allows aircraft operators to share schedules, financial and maintenance data, and other key aircraft information with owners, banks and insurance companies through a web-based portal. Portside today announced that it raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Insight Partners with participation from existing investors including I2BF Global Ventures, bringing the company’s total raised to more than $70 million.

Portside is Vernitsky and Strygin’s second venture after tour agency startup GetGoing, which they sold to business travel management firm BCD Travel in 2016. Vernitsky was previously head of product at thredUp and for years was an SVP at BCD Travel (as was Strygin) following the GetGoing acquisition.

“Portside provides an integrated platform and strives to be a one-stop shop for flight departments,” Vernitsky told TechCrunch via email. “As operators scale, they need to capture efficiencies through technology. Portside’s product suite gives them the ability to streamline workflows while making the best use of their aviation assets.”

Image Credits: Portside

To this end, Portside provides tools to automatically allocate crew and aircraft depending on a given schedule and standardize how business aviation trips are reported. Portside’s staffing marketplace gives employers access to a database of pilot and crew while a dedicated services app helps manage crew accommodations. Beyond this, Portside maintains an operations management portal that helps schedule and dispatch government, corporate and charter flights using existing aviation systems.

“Business aircraft are now more capable than ever in terms of flying more people over longer distances, which means many more trips are now international, and more complex from a logistics and regulatory perspective,” Vernitsky continued. “Having an integrated system that combines operational, financial and maintenance data is now paramount for a successful trip.”

Business has been quite good, Vernitsky said — even during the pandemic. It helps that business aviation as a market is expanding at a rapid clip. A Honeywell survey released last October forecasts up to 8,500 new business jet deliveries worth $274 billion from 2023 to 2032, up 15% in both deliveries and expenditures from the same 10-year forecast a year ago. Another poll — this one from from Airbus — found that 89% of businesses with annual revenue of over $500 million plan to increase their use of business aviation in 2023.

Why the robust growth? The Airbus poll provides some insight. Eighty-one percent of respondents said that they became increasingly reliant on business aviation during the pandemic while 63% cited continued expected problems in the commercial aviation sector, such as flight delays and cancellations.

Whatever the reason, Portside has certainly benefited. The company claims to support almost 1,000 operators of private, business and government aircraft today in over 30 countries.  There’s over 10,000 aircraft on the Portside platform, Vernitsky claims, and over 50,000 users.

“Business aviation grew tremendously during the pandemic, and Portside grew about 3x per year over the past few years. Business aviation is continuing to grow, and we intend to continue developing innovative products for the industry,” Vernitsky said.

Vernitsky says that the capital from the latest funding round will be put toward software development and “further expanding” Portside’s customer base and product portfolio. The startup employs 110 people currently and expects to grow to 150 by the end of the year.

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Which metrics really matter? • TechCrunch

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Without customers, there can be no business. So how do you drive new customers to your startup and keep existing customers engaged? The answer is simple: Growth marketing.

As a growth marketer who has honed this craft for the past decade, I’ve been exposed to countless courses, and I can confidently attest that doing the work is the best way to learn the skills to excel in this profession.

I am not saying you need to immediately join a Series A startup or land a growth marketing role at a large corporation. Instead, I have broken down how you can teach yourself growth marketing in five easy steps:

  1. Setting up a landing page.
  2. Launching a paid acquisition channel.
  3. Booting up an email marketing campaign.
  4. A/B test growth experimentation.
  5. Deciding which metrics matter most for your startup.

In this last part of my five-part series, we’ll cover how to determine which metrics matter for your startup. For the entirety of this series, we will assume we are working on a direct-to-consumer (DTC) athletic supplement brand.

It’s very easy to get lost if you assume upper-funnel metrics are the most crucial for your startup. Don’t fall into this trap.

First, I’ll discuss what metrics mattered the most while I was with Uber and Coinbase, an example of metric analysis, and why it’s important to pivot metrics when necessary.

Uber and Coinbase

Many people will assume that the most important metrics for growth teams at companies like Uber and Coinbase will be new riders and traders. They would be wrong. While those metrics do matter, when I was with both companies, we focused primarily on much deeper metrics that could tell us how valuable various users were.

On the rider growth team at Uber, we measured the performance of each growth channel individually and segmented by city. When we looked at each growth channel and city combination, our guiding metrics were ROAS (return on ad spend) and pLTV (predictive lifetime value). While there were many calculations happening in the background to compute these metrics, they helped us understand how much revenue each rider would ultimately bring to the company.

Similarly, at Coinbase, we weren’t only concerned with how much it cost to acquire a trader, but instead, on the quality of each trader we acquired. The ROAS was calculated by using a rolling average of how much volume each user was trading based on the channel they were acquired from.

Acquisition metrics

It’s very easy to get lost if you assume upper-funnel metrics are the most crucial for your startup. Don’t fall into this trap.

Instead, think about the ideal user of your startup. For our athletic supplement brand, it would be far from ideal if consumers only purchased a one-month initial supply and then never ordered again. At Postmates, we called users “whales” when they consistently ordered a certain number of times every month. We would prioritize acquiring users from channels that net us the highest quality users and as many “whales” as possible.

Here’s a simple exercise you can do to understand which acquisition channel is best for your startup:

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Risilience, a climate analytics and risk assessment platform for enterprises, raises $26M • TechCrunch

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Risilience, a SaaS-based analytics platform that helps companies assess their climate risk and plan their transition toward net-zero carbon emissions, has raised $26 million in a Series B round of funding.

The raise comes as ESG (environmental, social, and [corporate] governance) startups across the spectrum have continued to raise cash throughout the downturn, with climate-focused companies in particularly apparently faring well. According to data from Bloomberg, venture capital (VC) and private equity funding found its way into 539 deals in the third quarter of 2022, just fractionally lower than the 547 climate-related funding deals in the preceding three months.

Separately, PwC’s State of Climate Tech 2022 report found that more than a quarter of every VC dollar spent in 2022 was targeted at climate tech, totalling around $15-20 billion per quarter — a figure that’s roughly comparable with the previous year.

There is, of course, good reason why climate tech has perhaps been a little more resilient to economic headwinds than other sectors. The global climate catastrophe is somewhere near the top of the agenda in many political and business spheres, with pressure mounting on corporations to address their carbon emissions and do their bit to counter their impact on climate change. And capturing the right kind of data and generating insights is central to this.

“Organisations are struggling to understand and quantify how climate risk affects their business financially, and plan their way to net-zero,” Rislience CEO Dr. Andrew Coburn explained to TechCrunch. “As we move to a low-carbon economy, businesses are faced with near-term transition risks, such as regulatory change and climate-related litigation; and long-term physical risks, like the floods and weather events.”

Digital twins

Risilience, in a nutshell, promises to enable companies to “turn data into actionable insights,” and measure the (potential) impact of climate-related risks to their business. For example, the company has built “digital twin” technology that allows companies to connect their own internal systems and databases to visualize and “stress-test” the impact of myriad “risks,” which in addition to weather events may include growing regulations, litigation, and even evolving customer sentiment.

By way of example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed new rules that would require companies to report on any risks to their business related to climate change when filing updates for investors.

“Large organisations face a lot of challenges when it comes to disclosing their impact on the environment,” Rislience CEO Dr. Andrew Coburn explained to TechCrunch. “With the threat of greenwashing, and increasing pressure from investors, reporting needs to be highly accurate but, with increasing regulatory pressures on businesses to disclose this information, they need to act fast.”

Ultimately, Risilience is all about helping companies move toward lower-carbon operations while minimizing the impact on profitability, and at the same time allowing them to report accurately to all stakeholders.

“Another common problem is that net-zero pledges are made with no detailed plan for how to get there,” Coburn added. “Risilience provides the crucial insight required in forming this plan that updates based on the ever-changing landscape organisations are facing.”

Risilience in action Image Credits: Risilience

Spun out of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Risk Studies (CCRS) back in 2021, Risilience says it has already amassed a number of high-profile enterprise customers, including Nestlé, Maersk, EasyJet, Burberry, and Tesco.

Prior to now, Risilience had raised £6 million ($7.4 million) in a Series A round back in 2021, and with another $26 million in the bank, the company said that it use the fresh cash injection to drive international growth with a particular focus on the U.S. market.

Risilience’s Series B round was led by Quantum Innovation Fund, with participation from IQ Capital and National Grid Partners. 

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