India: Car pooling app Orahi secures $520K from Indian Angel Network

Visual from Orahi website

Gurgaon-based Phonon Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which owns and operates car pooling app Orahi, on Thursday said it had raised Rs.3.5 crore from early-stage investor Indian Angel Network (IAN).

Vinish Kathuria and Amandeep Gupta of IAN will join the board of the company.

Phonon will utilize the funds to enhance product features and capabilities, expand its team and launch marketing initiatives in the National Capital Region centred on Delhi.

Orahi, which organizes a home-to-office carpooling system, has been focusing on corporate carpooling for about three years now. It currently has over 45,000 registered members on the platform, including car owners and passengers.

It recently launched a corporate connect programme which connects 500 companies in the NCR to enable carpooling among their employees.

“Carpooling is the most practical solution for a city like Delhi, which has a very inadequate public transport system. We wanted to create a platform where every individual could contribute conveniently in traffic reduction,” said Sameer Khanna, founder and chief executive officer, Orahi.

“India has 30 million cars on road and the company is going to target 10% of these cars to enable carpooling in next two years,” he added.

The company was founded by Khanna and Arun Bhati. Both Khanna and Bhati are former employees of telecom equipment maker Ericsson India Pvt. Ltd.

The Orahi app allows private vehicle owners to choose passengers travelling in the same direction. The service costs Rs.3.5 per km, out of which Rs.3 goes to the car owner while 50 paise is earned by Orahi.

The investment in Orahi comes at a time when Delhi is close to completing a two-week experiment in road rationing, barring vehicles with licence plates bearing odd and even numbers from roads on alternate days. The rule is in place till Friday.

“The city has always been dealing with traffic issues. With the government’s latest odd-even scheme, it is essential for each one of us to encourage people who want to help reduce environment pollution and further restrict traffic on the roads. Orahi is well-poised with its convenient and cost-effective platform,” said Kathuria of IAN.

Last month, online taxi hailing service Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) and its San Francisco-based rival Uber too rolled out carpooling in Delhi, which allows private car owners to share a ride with co-passengers of their choice.

Other start-ups in the car pooling space include MoveInSync Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd that raised venture debt from InnoVen Capital in July, PoolCircle and Let’s Ride. International companies like Brazil-based Tripda and French company Blah Blah Cars also launched their services in India last year.

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