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India’s Ola spins out a dedicated EV business — and it just raised $56M from investors

Posted by on Mar 1, 2019 in Ankit Jain, Asia, Automotive, Bhavish Aggarwal, carsharing, Co-founder, Collaborative Consumption, Companies, didi, Didi Chuxing, DST Global, electric vehicle, Flipkart, funding, Fundings & Exits, head, India, ola cabs, Sachin Bansal, Sequoia, Softbank, SoftBank Group, Steadview Capital, temasek, Tencent, tiger global, transport, Uber, United States | 0 comments

Ola, Uber’s key rival in India, is doubling down on electric vehicles after it span out a dedicated business, which has pulled in $56 million in early funding.

The unit is named Ola Electric Mobility and it is described as being an independent business that’s backed by Ola. TechCrunch understands Ola provided founding capital, and it has now been joined by a series of investors who have pumped Rs. 400 crore ($56 million) into Ola Electric. Notably, those backers include Tiger Global and Matrix India — two firms that were early investors in Ola itself.

While automotive companies and ride-hailing services in the U.S. are focused on bringing autonomous vehicles to the streets, India — like other parts of Asia — is more challenging thanks to diverse geographies, more sparse mapping and other factors. In India, companies have instead flocked to electric. The government had previously voiced its intention to make 30 percent of vehicles electric by 2030, but it has not formally introduced a policy to guide that initiative.

Ola has taken steps to electrify its fleet — it pledged last year to add 10,000 electric rickshaws to its fleet and has conducted other pilots with the goal of offering one million EVs by 2022 — but the challenge is such that it has spun out Ola Electric to go deeper into EVs.

That means that Ola Electric won’t just be concerned with vehicles, it has a far wider remit.

The new company has pledged to focus on areas that include charging solutions, EV batteries, and developing viable infrastructure that allows commercial EVs to operate at scale, according to an announcement. In other words, the challenge of developing electric vehicles goes beyond being a ‘ride-hailing problem’ and that is why Ola Electric has been formed and is being capitalized independently of Ola.

An electric rickshaw from Ola

Its leadership is also wholly separate.

Ola Electric is led by Ola executives Anand Shah and Ankit Jain — who led Ola’s connected car platform strategy — and the team includes former executives from carmakers such as BMW.

Already, it said it has partnered with “several” OEMs and battery makers and it “intends to work closely with the automotive industry to create seamless solutions for electric vehicle operations.” Indeed, that connected car play — Ola Play — likely already gives it warm leads to chase.

“At Ola Electric, our mission is to enable sustainable mobility for everyone. India can leapfrog problems of pollution and energy security by moving to electric mobility, create millions of new jobs and economic opportunity, and lead the world,” Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.

“The first problem to solve in electric mobility is charging: users need a dependable, convenient, and affordable replacement for the petrol pump. By making electric easy for commercial vehicles that deliver a disproportionate share of kilometers traveled, we can jumpstart the electric vehicle revolution,” added Anand Shah, whose job title is listed as head of Ola Electric Mobility.

The new business spinout comes as Ola continues to raise new capital from investors.

Last month, Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invested $92 million into the ongoing Series J round that is likely to exceed $1 billion and would value Ola at around $6 billion. Existing backer Steadview Capital earlier committed $75 million but there’s plenty more in development.

A filing — first noted by — shows that India’s Competition Commission approved a request for a Temasek-affiliated investment vehicle’s proposed acquisition of seven percent of Ola. In addition, SoftBank offered a term sheet for a prospective $1 billion investment last month, TechCrunch understands from an industry source.

Ola is backed by the likes of SoftBank, Tencent, Sequoia India, Matrix, DST Global and Didi Chuxing. It has raised some $3.5 billion to date, according to data from Crunchbase.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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UrbanClap, India’s largest home services startup, raises $50M

Posted by on Nov 30, 2018 in Amazon, Asia, Canada, ceo, Dubai, eCommerce, funding, Fundings & Exits, India, Steadview Capital, United Arab Emirates, United States, UrbanClap, Vy capital | 0 comments

UrbanClap, a four-year-old startup that offers home services across India, has closed a $50 million Series D round for expansion.

The round was led by Steadview Capital, a hedge fund with more than $1 billion under management, and existing investor Vy Capital. It takes UrbanClap to $110 million raised to date, according to data from Crunchbase.

Via its platform, UrbanClap matches service people, such as cleaners, repair staff or beauticians, with customers across 10 cities in India. Co-founder and CEO Abhiraj Bhal told TechCrunch that the business supports 15,000 “micro-franchisees” with around 450,000 transactions taking place each month.

“Micro-franchisees” is an interesting term — I’ve not heard it used much, even in the buzzword-heavy world of tech startups — but Bhal explained his vision to enable service workers to earn more and enjoy greater control of their work and, consequently, overall life.

For example, he said, the typical salary for an offline service worker might be in the region of 10-15,000 INR (up to $215) while, for those operating independently, their flow of work would be tied to a middleman, store or word of mouth networks. UrbanClap offers a more direct model, with workers keeping 80 percent of the cost of their jobs. That, Bhal said, means workers can earn multiples more and manage their own working hours.

“The UrbanClap model really allows them to become service entrepreneurs,” he said. “Their earnings will shoot up two or three-fold, and it isn’t uncommon to see it rise as much as 8X — it’s a life-changing experience.”

Beyond helping workers with their job, UrbanClap also provides training, credit, basic banking and more. Bhal said that around 20-25 percent of applicants are accepted into the platform, that’s a decision based on in-person meetings, background and criminal checks, as well as a “skills” test. Workers are encouraged to work exclusively — though it isn’t a requirement — and they wear UrbanClap outfits and represent the brand with customers.

While there is encouragement, there is also a level of monitoring. If a worker’s average review for their last 30/50 jobs (dependent on vertical) drops below 4.0, the system stops sending them work. There is an opportunity to appeal, retrain and return to the platform, except in cases of poor attitude, misconduct and other serious misdemeanors, Bhal said. He declined to provide numbers for dropouts but said that the retention rate is “healthy.”

UrbanClap founders (left to right) Abhiraj Bhal, Raghav Chandra and Varun Khaitan started the business in 2014

UrbanClap expanded to Dubai, UAE, six months ago, so it would be logical to think this new capital will go toward further expansions. No so, according to Bhal. The company is instead going after tier-two cities in India and working to deepen its position in its existing locations. In short, there’s no additional overseas plan at this point.

“In many ways, we think about the Dubai move as an extension of India [Dubai has a strong presence of Indian and South Asia nationals] rather than an international expansion — a little like a U.S. company going into Canada,” Bhal explained. “We believe we have enough headroom to grow in India and Dubai; these are fairly unpenetrated markets.”

Elaborating on that thinking, Bhal said that online is just a small component of all local service jobs in India.

“We need to get to double digital penetration of the offline market,” he said. “We think we could grow 10, 20 or 100 times from where we are right now.”

The company isn’t profitable yet and Bhal isn’t sharing revenue details, other than the fairly hazy detail that revenue is growing 3X per year. Rival Housejoy, which includes Amazon among its shareholders, went through some fairly well-publicized issues this year resulting in layoffs and, according to reports, efforts to sell the business.

Bhal didn’t comment directly on those reports, but he did say that if the company did do an acquisition, it would be focused on “adjacent spaces we aren’t in yet” as opposed to a direct competitor for growth.

He was somewhat more forthcoming on the future exit plan for UrbanClap, which did allow some secondary sales within this Series D round. Bhal said he fully intends to take the company public but he said that there’s no firm plan on when, or indeed where, that might happen.

“Eventually we will look to go public,” he said. “But we’re a few years away from that — we need to earn the right, which means being a scalable and profitable company.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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