Darwinbox, which operates a cloud-based human resource management platform, has raised $15 million in a new financing round as the Indian startup looks to expand beyond the country and Southeast Asian markets.
The new round, a Series C, for the Hyderabad-based startup was led by Salesforce Ventures, the venture arm of the American software giant. This is Salesforce Ventures’ one of rare investments in India. Existing investors including Lightspeed India and Sequoia Capital India also participated in the round, which brings the five-year old startup’s total raise to date to $35 million.
Over 500 firms including — Tokopedia, Indorama, JG Summit Group, Zilingo, Zalora, Fave, Adani, Mahindra, Kotak, TVS, NSE, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank, Dr.Reddy’s, Nivea, Puma, Swiggy, Bigbasket — use Darwinbox’s HR platform to provide more than a million employees of theirs with a range of features including insurance and early salary as loans in 60 nations, up from about 200 firms across 50 nations in 2019, said Chaitanya Peddi, co-founder of Darwinbo, in an interview with TechCrunch.
Peddi said the startup has always looked up to Salesforce, and investment from the enterprise giant is “nothing sort of a child receiving validation from their father,” he said.
The fundraise caps the most successful year for the startup that started with uncertainty as the coronavirus spread across Asian nations. The startup took a hit as its customers scrambled to navigate through the global pandemic, but the last two quarters have been its best to date, said Peddi. Overall, the startup’s revenue has ballooned by 300% since September 2019, when it last raised money, he said.
“As Asian conglomerates, governments, high growth businesses and MNCs operating in Asia witness digital transformation, Darwinbox has become their preferred Human Capital Management solution,” said Dev Khare, Partner at Lightspeed India, in a statement.
Darwinbox’s platform is built to take care of the entire “hiring to retiring” cycle needs for employees. It handles onboarding of new hires, keeps a tap on their performance, monitors attrition rate, and provides an ongoing feedback loop.
It also provides its customers with a social network for their employees to remain connected with one another and an AI assistant to apply for a leave or set up meetings with quick voice commands from their phones.
Peddi said the startup will deploy the fresh capital to expand to several more countries, especially in the Middle East, and broaden its offerings.
“India is home to one of the world’s youngest population, and by 2050, it is expected to account for over 18% of the global working age population,” said Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson and CEO, Salesforce India, in a statement. “This makes technology platforms like Darwinbox, that focuses on workforces, incredibly important. I’m proud that Salesforce is supporting Darwinbox on their journey as they continue to grow and innovate in this space.”
Alex Kayyal, partner and head of international at Salesforce Ventures, told TechCrunch in an interview that the firm helps its partners in a number of ways, including exposing them to the firm’s customers, executives and their networks, and helping startups scale their business. “We have one of the most innovative and disruptive customer bases that are looking for cloud solutions and digital transformation. So the opportunity to expose companies like Darwinbox to our customer base is something we get really excited about,” said Kayyal, adding that the firm is exploring several more deals in India.