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SoftBank Funding Turns India Startup Mindtickle Into Unicorn

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(Bloomberg) -- India’s Mindtickle Inc. hit a valuation of $1.2 billion with a funding round led by SoftBank Group Corp., as global investors plow capital into the country’s fast-growing technology industry.Existing backers including Norwest Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures participated in the $100 million round that has more than doubled Mindtickle’s valuation. The latest funding takes the total capital raised to $281 million, including a $100 million round last November that was also led by SoftBank, the company said in a statement Thursday.

The startup, based in Pune in western India and San Francisco, provides what it calls sales readiness technology: artificial intelligence-based sales tools to improve selling, product knowledge and awareness of the competition. Companies can customize Mindtickle’s templates with their own content and data, as well as analyze and incorporate customer feedback. Mindtickle aims to use the new capital to grow its client roster, make acquisitions and improve its products.

There are more than a thousand funded Indian software-as-a-service startups, generating as much as $3 billion in annual subscription revenues, according to a recent report by consultancy McKinsey & Co., the country’s software industry group, Nasscom, and trade body SaasBOOMi. The number of SaaS unicorns could increase 10-fold by 2030, reaching $1 trillion in value and create half-a-million jobs by 2030, the report predicted.

“Most companies have been on remote, digital transformation mode for the last 12 months and this makes sales skills extremely critical,” Krishna Depura, co-founder and chief executive officer of Mindtickle, said in a video interview. “Reskilling sales people and getting them ready for the limited time they get with their customers has become crucial and quadrupled the market opportunity.”

India’s technology industry is having a boom year, with a surge of tech IPOs and venture fundraisings. The value of venture deals in the country surged to $7.9 billion in July, surpassing the total in China for the first time since 2013, according to data compiled by research firm Preqin.

Sales enablement technologies are projected to grow to $4.2 billion by 2027, and the conversation intelligence market will reach $13 billion by 2025, the startup said. Its customers include the likes of Snowflake Inc., Merck & Co., AppDynamics Inc. and Johnson & Johnson.

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