Today’s top tech news, March 07: GrabCar now offering rental service in Kuala Lumpur

Today’s top tech news, March 07: GrabCar now offering rental service in Kuala Lumpur

Another major story is Korean automotive firm Hyundai’s talks to invest up to US$300M in India’s cab-hailing firm Ola

GrabCar now offering a rental service in Kuala Lumpur [The Star]

Ride-hailing company Grab is now offering a rental service to users that includes a car, a driver and fuel.

Currently users are only able to rent a car from the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) and its surrounding area. The service allows users to visit as many locations as they want, so long as the locations are within the Klang Valley area.

The service is priced from RM480 for four hours, RM680 for six hours and RM880 for eight hours. If users exceed the time booked, an additional charge of RM3 per minute will be incurred. There is also a surcharge of RM50 for drop offs to Genting Highlands and KLIA/KLIA2.

Hyundai in talks with Ola to pump up to US$300M as strategic fund [Entracker]

Following its investment in Grab four months ago, Korean automotive firm Hyundai is in talks with Ola to invest up to US$300 million, said three sources aware with the deal which has reached the second stage of negotiation.

“Both companies have held two rounds of talks and it’s likely to fructify in the next six weeks. The size of round may vary between $200 to 300 million,” said two of the three sources. Hyundai had invested $250 million in Grab in November last year.

Zoho acquires ePoise Systems [press release]

Zoho, a global software products major with a suite of SaaS applications and online productivity tools, has acquired ePoise Systems, a hiring automation product startup, for an undisclosed amount.

Zoho’s forty plus business applications in areas of CRM, HR, Finance, Office productivity and Customer Service are used by 45 million users worldwide. They are available separately as well as under a single user license as Zoho One.

Founded in 2013 by Sachin Agrawal and Bishan Singh, ePoise automates multiple screening steps for each role including a set of assessments leading to a video interview thus bringing significant efficiency to the hiring process for high volume recruiters.

“The combination of Zoho’s global footprint and depth of product portfolio and ePoise product capability and talent will add value to our customers,” said Sridhar Vembu, CEO, Zoho. “We are open to such tech-focused acquisitions. We look for whether the acquisition plays well into our existing product portfolio, and more importantly, if there is a cultural fit at a team level.”

K Vaitheeswaran, father of e-commerce in India, launches ready-to-drink offering [press release]

K Vaitheeswaran, Founder of India’s first e-commerce company (later rebranded, along with his Co-founder Sundeep Thakran, has forayed into the beverages market with a ready-to-drink offering.

Called AGAIN, it contains low fat dairy (milk or yoghurt), real fruits, nuts, vegetables and natural sweeteners. It has zero refined sugar, no added preservatives, artificial flavours or colours, claim the founders.

Vaitheeswaran said: “We see a huge gap in the ready-to-drink beverage market in India. Right now, consumers are forced to choose between delicious and nutritious. Whether it is consumers shopping at retail outlets, patrons eating out at restaurants or passengers at airports, we wonder why can’t they have both?”

“The high sugar content and preservatives as well as significant amounts of artificial ingredients in popular beverages is disconcerting. Given the current scenario, it is of paramount importance that we provide nutritive food choices, which are easily accessible and affordable. Without compromising on the taste factor. With AGAIN, our endeavour is to do exactly that. And I have a feeling that this is going to be an exciting journey.”

Malaysia’s AC repair booking app Ecotech to raise US$235K in crowdfunding [press release]

Ecotech Sales & Services, which develops AirForce, an app to book air-conditioner maintenance services in real time in Malaysia, has announced it is raising RM960,000 (US$235,000) on equity crowdfunding platform Ata Plus.

The funds raised will contribute to the business’s ambitious growth and expansion plans as it aims to enhance and digitalise conventional services.

“Having serviced air-conditioner installation contracts for corporate clients throughout Malaysia, we
have developed a strong network of technicians around the country that will be signing onto their app, which we believe will be a crucial element to the launch and adoption of the AirForce app,”said Yeo Weng Keong, Founder and CEO of Ecotech. “We offer the first all-in-one booking platform for air-conditioner servicing between millions of air conditioner owners and the thousands of technicians that currently operate in the analog.”

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