Indian startup Chalo, which works to transform the bus commute, has raised $45 million in a new funding round and secured an additional $12 million in debt as it works to deepen its mobility offerings and launches in more international markets.
The Series D funding round was led by Avatara Ventures. Existing investors Lightrock India, WaterBridge Ventures and former Google CEO Amit Singhal also participated in the financing. Trifecta and Stride Ventures financed the debt. This capital injection brings Chalo’s cumulative fundraising to $119 million.
Mohit Dubey, the mastermind behind Chalo, previously founded CarWale, an online platform for trading new and used vehicles. After ten years at CarWale, Dubey realized that his startup — and many other similar companies — served only 3% of India’s population, he told MinRegion in an earlier interview.
Chalo’s business, on the other hand, revolves around enabling bus operators to transition to digital payments and facilitate commute tracking. Despite India’s lack of buses, the country’s bus market offers a potential $20 billion opportunity, almost twice the size of the taxi market.
A lack of buses, with only three out of every 10,000 residents, creates a good opportunity for disruption in an area that remains largely underserved. Chalo tries to solve inefficiencies such as cash-based fare payments, limited availability of monthly passes, and unpredictability of bus schedules.
The eight-year-old startup is installing GPS systems on buses, allowing customers to track their commute in real time through their eponymous app, which also sells tickets and monthly passes.
Chalo, which now operates in more than 50 cities and tracks more than 15,000 buses across India, has seen a consistent increase in passenger numbers thanks to the efficiencies the platform offers, the startup said. Over time, the company has also expanded its offerings to cater to premium customers through the acquisition of Amazon-backed Shuttl, and ventured into e-bikes through the Vogo brand.
“Over the past two years, our capabilities have grown significantly. We have strengthened our core business of city buses and now offer a multimodal public transport network solution to cities, consisting of city buses, premium buses and first and last mile connectivity,” Dubey said in a statement Monday.
Chalo, which also has a presence in Southeast Asia, plans to boost the number of e-vehicles in its fleet and further expand into other international markets.