Unitus Seed Fund has invested an undisclosed amount in DriveU, a startup that connects chauffeurs with private car owners over a mobile marketplace.
A spokesperson for DriveU said that the funds will be used for scaling up operations and geographical expansion. However, the firm did not divulge the number or names of the cities where it plans to expand.
DriveU, run by Bangalore-based Humble Mobile Solutions Pvt Ltd, currently offers services in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi.
"The firm's team, strong focus on technology and ability to innovatively solve the need for private car utilisation while also improving driver livelihoods is a model that we believe will be both scalable and profitable," said Will Poole, co-founder, Unitus Seed Fund.
DriveU was founded in July 2015 by Ramprasad Rahm Shastry, Ashok Shastry and Amulmeet Singh. Ramprasad Shastry was the first angel investor at TaxiForSure, and has successfully founded, and exited several technology-based companies over this time. Ashok Shastry is a California State University alumnus. Prior to DriveU, he worked at TaxiForSure in marketing and operational roles. Singh, chief product officer at DriveU, was previously at FreeCharge, Redbus and ZipDial.
A customer can book can book the nearest available DriveU driver and can also track while the driver is on route to the customer's pickup location. Once a booking is confirmed, all the necessary information such as driver's name, picture, rating, phone number, location, distance from customer's pickup point and estimated time of arrival is provided. There is also standardisation of services where the drivers are uniformed and come equipped with seat covers, floor mats and other accessories.
"Imagine not needing a car, because you already have your own, but just a reliable, background-verified, on-demand driver, for your weekday commute, shopping and running errands, airport runs and business meetings, shuttling children or aged parents, outstation trips or simply for attending social events such as dining, concerts, weddings, parties, and bar pickups. That's the gap being addressed by DriveU," said Ramprasad Shastry, CEO of DriveU.
The DriveU booking platform is available on web as well as on Android and iOS platforms. The drivers charge a flat rate of Rs 99 per hour along with applicable service tax charges. The firm claims that the absence of a surge pricing is the hallmark of its pricing strategy.
As on January 2016, the company claims to have served over 15,000 trips to more than 6,000 customers, of which over 60 per cent are women. DriveU, which claims to register close to 1000 bookings per week, has a headcount of 40 and hopes to hire across verticals.
DriveU competes with Mumbai-headquartered Zimmber, Delhi-based Driver Bulao, Gurgaon based Drivebud and Chennai-based DriversKart, besides other players.
Founded in 2012, Unitus Seed Fund is part of the Unitus Group, a financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. The Bangalore-and Seattle-based fund has made 25 investments in India across sectors such as healthcare, education, mobile, e-commerce and retail & agriculture.
Unitus Seed Fund recently roped in Ashwin Naik, founder of Bangalore-based Vaatsalya Healthcare Solutions Pvt Ltd, as a healthcare fund advisor.
Its sister firm Unitus Impact, an early-stage impact investor that focuses on firms in India besides a few countries in Southeast Asia, recently completed fundraising for its maiden Livelihood Impact Fund.