Bengaluru-based scooter rental startup Vogo Automotive has raised an undisclosed amount in a Series A funding round led by cab aggregator Ola’s parent company, ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, and Hero MotoCorp chairman Pawan Munjal.
Existing investors Matrix Partners India, Stellaris Ventures, and angel investors also participated in the funding.
A Livemint report quoted the funding amount between $6-7 Mn. However, Vogo did not confirm the funding amount to Inc42.
Founded in 2016 by Anand Ayyadurai, Padmanabhan Balakrishnan, and Sanchit Mittal, Vogo offers commuters round-the-clock scooter rental service as a cost-effective alternative to the more popular cabs and autos.
As Anand said, “Vogo was founded with a vision to revolutionise the existing transportation ecosystem in India, with a locally relevant solution that’s apt for a quick, inexpensive movement. Our goal is to make a Vogo scooter available in every nook and corner of the country that’s plagued with issues like traffic congestion, pollution and growing population.”
The startup has been working with the authorities since the launch of its operations late last year, to make this a reality in a vast majority of areas in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Currently operating in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Manipal, and Mysuru, Vogo earlier claimed to receive more than 5,000 orders per month, a significant percentage of which comes from short trips and weekday commutes.
The company now plans to add more than 1,000 pickup points in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Tarun Davda, managing director at Matrix Partners India, said in a statement: “The rise in urban congestion requires a transformation in the way India commutes. Vogo’s localised approach of creating a scooter-sharing network through an automated, convenient and cost-effective model represents one such transformation.”
More than 27,000 users have commuted a distance of 6 Mn km using the Vogo mobile app, according to a statement released by the firm.
Earlier, Inc42 had reported that Ola would lead a $7 Mn funding round in Vogo with Stellaris Ventures Partners and Matrix Partners.
The startup raised an undisclosed amount in a Seed funding round led by Murugappa Group in September 2017.
Ola: Expanding, Strengthening, Diversifying
Ola chief Bhavish Aggarwal is looking to make the cab aggregator a more holistic company that provides 360-degree services, which is evident from Ola’s past acquisitions. The investment in Vogo is well-aligned with these plans.
Aggarwal is reportedly considering ways to invest in independent assets that can together increase Ola’s valuation.
Recently, reports surfaced that Ola was in talks to acquire foodtech startup FreshMenu and another similar startup.
The company acquired Mumbai-based Ridlr, an Indian public transport commuting and ticketing app. The companies believe that combining Ridlr’s innovations in mass transit with Ola’s mobility products will enable true multi-modal mobility solutions for their users at scale.
Ola also acquired Foodpanda’s India business in December 2017 for $31.7 Mn (reportedly) to venture into the food delivery business.
With a war chest of $3.9 Bn in 11 rounds from about 20 investors, the homegrown cab hailing company has been going all out to challenge its arch-rival — Uber — both in India and on foreign shores. The cab aggregator is also eyeing to hit profitability by FY 2019.
Ola has already made two official international forays — Australia and the UK — where Uber has been the major player for quite some time. It is also eyeing expansion in other countries in Asia and North Africa.
Even though Ola has been expanding its product portfolio, it hasn’t been able to scale its bike taxi operations. Ola introduced pilot bike taxi services in Bengaluru back in 2016, but the project was withdrawn after the government started seizing the vehicles, saying the service violated the law.
Bets on players such as Vogo are sure to provide Ola with an edge in entering the two-wheeler ride segment. In the scooter sharing segment, Vogo competes with WickedRide, Stoneheadbikes, Rentabike and many others.
Bengaluru-based bike rental platform Wicked Ride just secured $8.98 Mn (INR 60.9 Cr) in a fresh funding round led by venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners.
According to a report by RedSeer Consulting, the Indian online mobility market, which includes cab aggregator and auto-hailing verticals, has seen a substantial growth last year.
The report said these two categories contributed over 15% of the industry’s overall gross book value (GBV) in 2017.