Public transport technology firm Chalo on Tuesday said it has raised around USD 40 million (about Rs 297.8 crore) in funding led by Lightrock India and Filter Capital. The Series C round also saw participation from existing investors – WaterBridge Ventures, Raine Venture Partners, Neeraj Arora (former Chief Business Officer of WhatsApp) and Amit Singhal (former Google SVP), all of whom were early investors in the company, a statement said.
It added that USD 10 million of the proceeds is being used to buy back ESOPs to reward current and former employees, as well as to enable early angel investors to monetise. With this fundraise, Chalo aims to invest further in technology, deepen its presence in India and expand to international cities, the statement said. Chalo, which powered 20 million bus rides in September 2021, has 15,000 buses live on its platform and a presence in 31 cities across Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and other states.
For bus operators, Chalo has built the complete tech stack to digitise bus operations and offer a technology-led digital bus experience. Chalo deploys GPS devices for live tracking as well as electronic ticketing devices that enable mobile and card payments in buses. Bus operators benefit from increased ridership, and by converting cash tickets into digital transactions via Chalo App and Chalo Card, revenue leakage and cash management burden on their daily operations is also reduced.
For consumers, Chalo App helps them live track their bus and see its live arrival time, thereby eliminating waiting time at bus stops. They can also see how crowded the bus is and buy a ticket or a bus pass through the app. Buses are India’s number one form of public transport with 48 per cent share of trips. Despite this, the experience is broken. At Chalo, we deploy technology that significantly improves the bus experience, and thereby increases ridership,” Chalo CEO Mohit Dubey said.
Manish Kheterpal, Partner at WaterBridge Ventures, said bus mobility in India is a USD 35 billion market opportunity. “Unfortunately, it has not seen any tech disruption or meaningful service improvements. Chalo offers a full-stack solution for passengers, fragmented private bus operators and municipalities to improve this essential citizen service for over 350 million Indians,” he added. Raine Group was the exclusive advisor for this transaction.