India’s self-drive rental platform Zoomcar raises $30m from Sony fund, others

Visual from Zoomcar website

Self-drive car rental platform Zoomcar has raised $30 million in its ongoing Series D round led by Sony Innovation Fund, and other existing investors, it said on Monday. The Bengaluru-based mobility startup plans to raise another $70 million in the ongoing round.

The Sony Innovation Fund was set up by Japanese technology giant Sony in June 2019 in partnership with Daiwa Capital Holdings to invest in growth-stage technology companies.

Zoomcar plans to deploy the capital for growth, to improve its technology and data science infrastructure, besides upgrading its IoT capability that is currently being used for its subscription service. The startup has been in the market to raise $500 million in the Series D round since April 2019, but cut short the round to $200 million, according to a company statement. Zoomcar was valued at around $170 million when it closed its Series C round in February 2018.

The mobility startup is backed by Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M), Ford Smart Mobility, Sequoia Capital, and debt investors such as InnoVen Capital and Trifecta Capital. To date, Zoomcar has raised around $130 million, including the current round, from strategic investors.

The seven-year-old startup was founded by American duo Greg Moran and David Back. Back, however, left the firm citing personal reasons in early 2015.

Zoomcar allows users to book vehicles and pay online using its mobile app and website. It has more than 10,000 four-wheelers in its fleet, including Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Renault cars.

In April 2016, it had launched an associate programme, which lets users lease out their own cars on the platform under a revenue-sharing model. It also has a subscription product, which allows users to sub-lease four-wheelers for 3-, 6-, 9- and 12-month periods. Till date, the platform has issued around 15,000 subscriptions.

Zoomcar said in its statement that it was targeting to add around 100,000 vehicles over the next 18-24 months to its fleet as urban mobility has witnessed a sharp rise among commuters in metro cities.

In the last one year alone, several mobility startups, such as Bounce, Vogo, Yulu and Drivezy, have been experimenting with easing last-mile commuting problems through two-wheeler rental services.

Investors and founders in the mobility space have been betting on a pay-per-use model for two-wheelers, which allows users to pick-and-drop vehicles within city limits. Users locate nearest vehicles using a mobile app and pay for the distance travelled.

A large chunk of the funding in shared mobility platforms in 2018 and 2019 were focused on Bengaluru-based two-wheeler rental startups—Bounce, Vogo and Yulu. The firms together secured $388 million, according to a Mint analysis.

Out of this, Accel and B Capital-backed Bounce leads the pack, mopping up $250 million in the last two years.

This article was first published on livemint.com

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.