Flying taxi startup The ePlane Company on Wednesday said it has raised USD 1 million (about Rs 7.3 crore) in funding from Speciale Invest and Indian-American entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant. The seed round also saw participation from Java Capital, FirstCheque.vc, and IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE incubator, a statement said. Founded in 2017 and launched in 2019, The ePlane Company is working on building electric planes for short-range intra city commutes. It is the brainchild of aerospace engineering professor Satya Chakravarthy and his student, Pranjal Mehta. The startup is building VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) electric planes which can be used for 10X faster door-to-door commute within cities at a similar price to road taxi.
Their technology can also be used for moving cargo in remote and rural areas. Incubated at IIT Madras Incubation Cell, the company operates from the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development, IITM. The seed funding will help the start-up build a world-class engineering team to develop IP and show early product demonstrations by 2021, the company said. It aims to globally launch the human-rated 200 kg taxi for deployment by 2024, it added. Currently, the startup has a team of 16 people, and is expanding their team to 25-30 people. “We are committed to building a flying vehicle providing doorstep access and high mileage like a car. Our product would enable short distance flying for commute at affordable costs.
The funding we have received demonstrates the confidence investors have in us, Pranjal Mehta, co-founder and CEO of The ePlane Company, said. Satya Chakravarthy, co-founder and CTO of The ePlane Company, said the company aspires to offer a better product-market fit for a nearly door-to-door commute experience with the specific smart eVTOL configuration that it is working on. “We are very excited for the ePlane Company, to add such a powerhouse of investors from the (silicon) valley, whom we believe would bring strong market insights from North America and Europe. We consider this as one of few early milestones for India Deep-Tech to receive global acceptance,” Vishesh Rajaram, Managing Partner at Speciale Invest, said.