Chalo, a public transport technology startup, has secured $40 million (~Rs 297.8 crore) in a Series C funding round backed by Filter Capital and Lightrock India. Existing investors Raine Venture Partners, WaterBridge Ventures, Neeraj Arora (former Chief Business Officer of WhatsApp), and Amit Singhal (former SVP, Google) also participated in the round. The Raine Group acted as the transaction’s exclusive advisor.
Chalo plans to use the funds to invest in technology, strengthen its position in India, and penetrate international markets. Furthermore, $10 million of the funds will be used to buyback employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) in order to incentivize existing and former employees, as well as to facilitate early angel investors to monetize.
Mohit Dubey, the cofounder, and CEO of Chalo commented on the development, saying, “Buses are India’s #1 form of public transport with 48 percent share of trips. Despite this, the experience is broken. At Chalo, we deploy technology that significantly improves the bus experience, and thereby increases ridership.”
The Mumbai-based startup digitizes buses by offering live bus tracking facilities, monitor its arrival in real-time, removing the need for passengers to wait at bus stops alongside contactless payment options in order to provide commuters with a safer and more convenient experience.
Chalo’s app can also be used to track how preoccupied the bus is and purchase a ticket or a bus pass. Chalo offers a card that allows digital bus tickets for those who are not comfortable paying with their smartphones. The Chalo Card minimizes cash exchange in the bus with its tap-to-pay feature.
Chalo has designed a complete software solution for bus operators to digitize bus services and provide a technology-based digital bus experience. Chalo leverages GPS technology to track buses in real-time, as well as electronic ticketing terminals that accept mobile and card payments.
Higher the number of passengers on the buses directly benefits bus operators. Revenue losses and cash management burden on their everyday operations are also minimized by adapting cash tickets into digital transactions using the Chalo App and Chalo Card.
Chalo has emerged to become one of the largest mobility providers post covid pandemic, with 20 million bus rides in September 2021. The company claims to have achieved market leadership having 15,000 buses live on its platform and a foothold in 31 cities spanning Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, among other states.
Chalo, founded in 2014 by Vinayak Bhavnani and Mohit Dubey, Cofounder of carwale.com, secured $7 million earlier this year from Raine Ventures, Neeraj Arora, among others to strengthen its operations in newer locations. WaterBridge Ventures backed the startup with a Series A round in 2017 and a seed round in 2015-16. Chalo directly competes with other public transport technology startups like CityFlo and IntrCity.