Mobility startup Chalo has raised $40 Mn in its Series C round of funding led by Lightrock India and Filter Capital. The new round also saw participation from its existing investors WaterBridge Ventures, Raine Venture Partners, Neeraj Arora (former WhatsApp chief business officer) and former SVP of Google Amit Singhal.
The funding will be utilised to invest in technology, deepen its presence in India, and also expand its business operations in international cities.
The Mumbai-based startup, Chalo digitises buses by adding live bus tracking services and contactless payment solutions in a bid to provide a safer and more reliable experience to commuters.
Commuters through the Chalo app can also know whether the bus is crowded, thus avoiding close contact amidst the pandemic. The startup offers cards which enables digital bus tickets for those who don’t want to use their smartphones for payment
At present, Chalo operates with 15,000 buses and has a presence in 31 cities across Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and other states.
The startup claims that it completes 20 Mn rides every month. The startup will utilise $10 Mn of the new fund raise to buy back ESOPs to reward its current and former employees.
Founded in 2014 by Vinayak Bhavnani and carwale.com’s cofounder Mohit Dubey, Chalo had last raised $7 Mn earlier this year from Raine Ventures, Neeraj Arora among others to expand its operations in newer cities. The startup had raised its Series A round in 2017 from WaterBridge Ventures and seed round in 2015-16.
The startup competes against Mumbai-based startup CityFlo and IntrCity. Founded in 2015, CityFlo has raised $7.7 Mn in its series A round led by Lightbox Ventures late last year.
Mobility sector was among one of the worst impacted sectors by the ongoing pandemic. Stringent lockdowns throughout 2020 and first half of 2021 had resulted in mobility startups to either shut their operations or pivot their business model.
One of the popular corporate bus providing startup Shuttl had to close down its operations as it failed to pivot. Two-wheeler ride hailing startup Rapido which initially had to shut its operations eventually pivoted to grocery delivery to continue its operations during the lockdown. According to Statista, between 2021 and 2025, India’s mobility sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.94% and touch $165 Bn by 2025.