An ingenious idea of bus tracking and ticketing service, Chalo, raises funding of nearly $45 million in a Series D round. Founded in 2014, this Public transport startup, Chalo, saw participation from existing and new investors.
The startup primarily aims to enhance the quality of urban bus services by making them more dependable, user-friendly, convenient, and time-efficient. By doing so, they intend to attract more passengers and increase the overall usage of buses in cities. Chalo is a Mumbai-based startup focusing on transportation technology and providing a mobile app that offers up-to-date transit details in real-time.
The Eureka Moment for ‘Chalo’
From waiting for buses to standing in queues to buy bus tickets, countless issues go hand in hand with bus travel. The core team cum co-founders, Mohit Dubey, Priya Singh, Vinayak Bhavnani and Dhruv Chopra, founded Chalo to tackle these very hassles.
During their research, the co-founders of Chalo noticed that buses are the most prevalent form of public transportation in India, accounting for 48% of all trips. Buses cover almost every nook and corner of the city, offering the most significant potential for improvement. Unlike intracity trains and metro systems, limited to a few metropolitan cities, local bus services are available in nearly every city and offer an excellent chance for a broader target group. Unfortunately, the existing bus systems are characterized by unreliability and inefficiency, leading people to opt for private vehicles.
“Why are international cities with equally bad congestion – like Hong Kong, London, New York, and Singapore – still much easier to get around and live in? The answer was simple – they have more efficient and highly reliable public transportation, which people prefer to use over their private vehicles,” says Dhruv Chopra, the co-founder and CMO of Chalo.
Consequently, the team found a significant opportunity to employ technology to enhance bus accuracy and uplift the overall passenger experience for every population strata.
“We wanted the name to be easily understood and relatable across passenger segments and the country. We also love that we use the word “Chalo” several times in a typical day,” says Chalo co-founder Priya Singh in an interview, explaining the idea behind the startup’s name.
Chalo Funding Status Report
- In the recent Series D funding round, prominent investors including Lightrock India, Water Bridge Ventures, and Amit Singhal (former VP and head of Google Search) showed keen interest in supporting this innovative project.
- Prior to this, Chalo had successfully raised $40 million in its Series C funding round on October 5, 2021, with Lightrock India, Filter Capital, Raine Venture Partners, and WalterBridge Ventures among the lead investors.
- Before that, Chalo secured $7 million in a Series B funding round led by Raine Venture Partners on January 13, 2021.
How does ‘Chalo’ work?
Chalo aims to enhance accessibility, affordability, and convenience in public transportation by emphasizing cashless rides and offering digital solutions. They aim at having both B2B and B2C target groups for revenue generation.
For B2B it partners with local bus operators across India and receives payments from operators based on increased ridership. While in B2C, it offers passengers GPS tracking and online ticketing services, including digital bus passes for multiple journeys.
Upcoming Collaborations and Trends for Chalo
Recently, Mumbai’s most extensive local bus operator, BEST, announced its plans to adopt Chalo’s product on a larger scale, including using a “Chalo Card” with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Founded in 2014, Chalo experienced stable growth during the fiscal year 2022. According to its annual financial statements, its operational revenue remained consistent at Rs 35.75 crore in FY22 compared to Rs 26.17 crore in FY21.
The Chalo App allows users to live-track over 15,000 buses in 51+ cities, and it has gained popularity with over 10 million downloads as of June 2023. One of their successful offerings is the Chalo Card, a contactless travel card that enables tap-to-pay functionality for bus travel. Additionally, Chalo provides services such as mobile tickets, bus passes, and multi-trip ‘Super Saver’ plans, which can be purchased through the Chalo App and the Chalo Card.
In the upcoming months, Chalo aims to concentrate on the increasing number of Electrical vehicles (EVs) on the road – buses, and e-bikes. This move comes with the idea to further magnify its tech abilities towards 100% digitization of buses.
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