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Scooter sharing platform Vogo raises $7 mn in Series A funding round

Scooter sharing platform Vogo raises $7 mn in Series A funding round
Vogo's founding team: (L to R) Padmanabhan Balakrishnan, Anand Ayyadurai and Sanchit Mittal

Automated scooter sharing platform Vogo Automotive Pvt. Ltd has raised close to $7 million (Rs 48 crore) in a Series A investment round led by cab hailing company ANI Technologies, which operates Ola, and Hero MotoCorp chairman, Pawan Munjal, a company statement said.

New investors who also participated in the round were venture capital firms Stellaris Venture Partners and Matrix Partners India and high-net-worth individuals like Aprameya Radhakrishna, founder of TaxiForSure; Rajesh Yabaji, founder of logistics firm Blackbuck; and Mayank Bidawatka, founder of Goodbox, the statement added.

The startup will use the funds to expand its operations further in existing cities, which include Bengaluru and Hyderabad, Anand Ayyadurai, founder and chief executive of Vogo, told TechCircle.

The dockless scooter rental company targets users who have a daily commute of three to six kilometers. The scooters come with a lockbox which dispense keys when the customer enters an OTP. All users have to upload a copy of their driving license on the app which is verified by the company.

“We are trying to solve the use case for daily commuters who can probably walk 100 to 150 meters to pick up our scooters. These are all gearless vehicles which ensure that a cross-section of users can access them,” Ayyadurai explained.

The company also plans to leverage the association with Ola to study traffic and the heat map of users to identify potential access points.

“Short-haul and last-mile commuting is an unsolved problem in mass transportation in India. We believe Vogo can both increase the reach of public transport as well as provide an affordable alternative for areas not yet serviced by it,” Ritesh Banglani, partner at Stellaris Venture Partners, said in the statement.

The startup was founded in 2016 by Ayyadurai, Padmanabhan Balakrishnan and Sanchit Mittal. In earlier stints, Ayyadurai and Balakrishnan have worked at Flipkart and Mittal was with online real estate platform Housing.com.

Vogo had raised seed funding in 2016 led by AV Thomas Group chairman Ajit Thomas, executive director at Thiagarajar Mills Hari Thiagarajan, and business head - nutraceuticals at EID Parry Muthu Murugappan.

Deals in the space

The last-mile connectivity space has seen the entry of a number of docked bike and other two-wheeler rental startups. The bicycle space, though, has not seen much traction and is perceived as a weekend pursuit by users.

Last month, Alibaba-backed bike-sharing startup Ofo closed down its India operations, just seven months after setting up shop in the country.

However, a number of startups offering two-wheeler rental services have raised venture capital funding in the past few months.

Last week, Bengaluru-based Wickedride Adventure Services Pvt. Ltd, which rents out premium motorcycles and last mile connectivity solutions, raised $12.2 million (Rs 83.6 crore) in a round co-led by Sequoia Capital India and Accel Partners.

Last month, bicycle-sharing startup Yulu, founded by Amit Gupta, a co-founder of mobile advertising technology unicorn InMobi, raised at least Rs 8-10 crore ($1.2-1.4 million) in tranches over the past few months from the investors.

In January this year, Bengaluru-based self-riding bike rental company Ontrack raised seed investment from Diverse Middle East FZE, a Dubai-based family office.

In December 2017, Gurugram-based Mobycy raised $500,000 (Rs 3.2 crore) in a seed round from a US-based angel investor.

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