Carsome raises $50M for its used-car sales platform in Southeast Asia

Carsome, a Malaysia-based marketplace for trading users cars, has closed a new $50 million financing round to fend off its rivals and grow its business in Southeast Asian markets.

The new financing round, dubbed Series C, was funded by MUFG Innovation Partners (MUIP), the corporate venture capital arm and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Daiwa PI Partners, the private equity arm of Japan’s securities group Daiwa Securities, Endeavor Catalyst, and Ondine Capital.

Existing investors including Gobi Partners and Convergence Ventures also participated in the round, which pushes four-year-old startups’s total raise to date to $85 million.

Carsome operates one of the largest car trading platforms in Southeast Asia, connecting individuals who wish to sell cars with dealers. The startup, which is operational in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, claims its platform sees more than 40,000 cars worth more than $300 million trade on the platform. The startup, which employs about 700 people and has been used by more than 6,000 dealers, also offers dealers and sellers with financing options.

Carsome uses an online auction model to conduct sales, with prospective cars typically listed the day after they are submitted by consumers following a check-up conducted by the startup’s staff.

That approach allows dealers to check in at a set time each day to look over the cars on offer, while the focus on vetting autos quickly — Carsome can dispatch vehicle checkers directly to a prospective seller’s home — means that consumers can quickly get a sale.

The auction model adds competition and the potential for a seller to make more money than they originally anticipated. That’s a dynamic, as my former colleague explained, that is tricky to replicate in other static sale models.

Eric Cheng, co-founder and chief executive of Carsome, told TechCrunch that the startup is attempting to challenge “opaque and inefficient” middle parties that “exploit the misinformation in the market.”

He added, “we want to establish a brand and a standard that advocates trust, transparency, consistency of service and quality assurance across the region that people and businesses can rely on to make their purchasing decisions.”

The startup, which competes with a number of players including Carro in Singapore, plans to use the fresh capital to expand to more markets in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines.

Cheng said Carsome aspires to become “the Visa/Master network of auto transactions, and build a collaborative ecosystem of partners to provide the best experience to consumers in Southeast Asia.”

Zetwerk, an 18-month-old Indian B2B marketplace for manufacturing items, raises $32M

Zetwerk, an Indian business-to-business marketplace for manufacturing items, has closed a significantly large financing round as it scales its operations in the nation and also helps local businesses find customers overseas.

The 18-month-old startup said on Wednesday it has raised $32 million in a Series B financing round led by Lightspeed and Greenoaks Capital. Zetwerk co-founder and chief executive Amrit Acharya told TechCrunch in an interview that the startup has also raised about $14.2 million in debt from a consortium of banks, and others.

Existing investors Accel, Sequoia India and Kae Capital also participated in the round, which pushes the Bangalore-based startup’s total raise to date to about $41 million. Vaibhav Gupta, co-founder of business-to-business marketplace Udaan, and Maninder Gulati, one of the top executives at budget lodging startup Oyo also participated.

Zetwerk was founded by Acharya, Srinath Ramakkrushnan, Rahul Sharma and Vishal Chaudhary last year. The startup connects OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and EPC (engineering procurement construction) customers with manufacturing small-businesses and enterprises.

Unlike the more common e-commerce firms we come across every day, Zetwerk sells goods such as parts of a crane, doors, chassis of different machines and ladders. The startup operates to serve customers in fabrication, machining, casting and forging businesses. Currently, Zetwerk works with more than 100 enterprises and 1,500 small and medium-sized businesses. It delivers more than 15,000 parts each month.

“These are all custom-made products,” explained Acharya. “Nobody has a stock of such inventories. You get the order, you find manufacturers and workshops that make them. Our customers are companies that are in the business of building infrastructure.”

“We index these small workshops and understand the kinds of products they have built before. These indexes help bigger companies discover and work with them,” he added.

Once a firm has placed an order, Zetwerk allows them to keep a tab on the progress of manufacturing and then the shipping. This “hand-holding” is crucial, as in this line of business, manufacturing and shipping typically take more than two to three months.

Zetwerk has also enabled manufacturers in India to discover and find clients overseas. Today, manufacturers on the platform export their goods to North America and Southeast Asia, Acharya said. “India has a lot of depth in manufacturing, but much of it has not been tapped well,” he said.

Helping these manufacturing workshops find clients online is still a new phenomenon in the nation. Acharya said Zetwerk largely competes with domain project consultants in the offline work. “They specialize in certain products and geographies. So let’s say someone wanted to buy a machine XYZ in Orissa, they reach out to consultants who help them find workshops and estimate how much time it would take to get the project done.”

According to industry reports, manufacturing today accounts for 14% of India’s GDP. But the nation lacks a supporting ecosystem to execute projects in an efficient manner.

Vaibhav Agarwal, a partner at Lightspeed, said it was unusual to come across a market that is as large as $40 billion to $60 billion in India and global trade-tailwinds that creates opportunity to serve international demand.

The startup plans to infuse portions of the fresh capital into expanding its international operations. Acharya did not share exactly how many clients it has outside of India but said exports currently account for less than 5% of the startup’s GMV, or gross merchandize value.

He said the startup will continue to focus on helping Indian manufacturers find clients outside, as it is better suited to address this, as opposed to helping Indian companies find manufacturers overseas.

The startup will also explore helping its manufacturing workshops access working capital, though Acharya cautioned that it is not something that would happen anytime soon.

In a statement, Prayank Swaroop, a partner at Accel, said, “the use of technology in project planning, procurement, audits, and supply chain transparency is the core offering of Zetwerk which is completely original. Accel is very fortunate to be part of Zetwerk journey since the startup’s inception.”

Netflix earmarks $420M to fight Disney in India

Netflix may still not have a million subscribers in India, but it continues to invest big bucks in the nation, where Disney’s Hotstar currently dominates the video streaming market.

Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, said on Friday that the company is on track to spend 30,000 million Indian rupees, or $420.5 million, on producing and licensing content in India this year and the next.

“This year and next year, we plan to spend about Rs 3,000 crores developing and licensing content and you will start to see a lot of stuff hit the screens,” he said at a conference in New Delhi.

The rare revelation today has quickly become the talk of the town. “This is significantly higher than what we have invested in content over the past years,” an executive at one of the top five rival services told TechCrunch. Another industry source said that no streaming service in India is spending anything close to that figure on just content.

While it remains unclear exactly how much capital other streaming services are spending on content, a recent KPMG report suggested that Hotstar was spending about $17 million on producing seven original shows this year, while Eros Now had pumped about $50 million to create 100 new original shows. (The report does not talk about licensing content expenses.)

Netflix, which entered India as part of its global expansion to more than 200 nations and territories in early 2016, has so far produced more than two dozen original shows and movies in India.

Hastings said several of the shows that the company has produced in India, including A-listed cast-starrer “Sacred Games” and “Mightly Little Bheem” have “travelled around the world.” More than 27 million households outside of India, said Hastings, have started to watch “Mighty Little Bheem,” an animated series aimed at children.

India has emerged as one of the last great growth markets for technology and entertainment firms. About half of the nation’s 1.3 billion population is now online and a growing number of people are beginning to transact online.

To broaden its reach in the nation, Netflix earlier this year introduced a new monthly price tier — $2.8 — that allows users in India to watch the streaming service in standard quality on a mobile device. (The company has since expanded this offering to Malaysia.)

More to follow…

Flipkart leads $60M investment in logistics startup Shadowfax

Walmart’s Flipkart has backed Shadowfax in a new $60 million financing round as the retail giant works to strengthen its logistics network in the nation.

Flipkart led the Series D financing round for the four-year-old Bangalore-based startup, Shadowfax co-founder and chief executive Abhishek Bansal told TechCrunch in an interview.

Existing investors Eight Roads Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Mirae Asset Naver Fund and World Bank-backed IFC also participated in the round, which brings the startup’s total raise to date to $100 million.

The new round valued Shadowfax at about $250 million, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Flipkart alone contributed about $30 million to the round, they said. The startup declined to comment on the valuation and individual contribution of its investors.

Shadowfax operates an unusually built business-to-business logistics network in over 300 cities in India. The startup works with neighbourhood stores to use their real estate to store inventory, and a large network of freelancers who do the delivery.

“Anyone with a bicycle or a bike can join our platform and deliver items for us,” said Shadowfax’s Bansal. The startup has also setup its own warehouses and fulfilment hubs.

“So we have not built any assets on the ground. We are essentially bringing the inefficiency of the market on to the platform and catering large enterprises,” he said.

This logistics network handles goods in a range of categories including hot food, grocery and e-commerce.

“It’s a very reliable logistics network. And each grocery store is only serving to users in a kilometre radius, so the delivery could be incredibly quick. These grocery stores, whose staff also often participate in delivery, only have to work with us for a few hours in a day, so it’s a quick way for them to make extra money,” he said. The platform has amassed more than 100,000 delivery partners.

Flipkart, which is one of Shadowfax’s “hundreds” of clients, said it will explore ways to strategically work more closely with the startup going forward. Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy said Shadowfax will help the company “significantly reduce delivery time and provide superior customer experiences across product categories.”

He added, “by leveraging kirana stores and the deep delivery capabilities of Shadowfax and other Flipkart-led innovations, we are building a strong foundation to make inroads into a dynamic hyperlocal consumer market.”

Flipkart owns stakes in a range of logistics firms including WS Retail.

Shadowfax’s Bansal said the startup will use the fresh capital to expand its network across India, especially in smaller cities and towns. The startup also plans to grow its team, tech infrastructure, and grow clients to handle more than 100 million shipments a month.

More to follow…

In a first, Amazon launches a battery-powered portable Echo speaker in India

After launching nearly a dozen Echo speaker models in India in two years, Amazon said on Wednesday it is adding a new variant to the mix that addresses one of the most requested features from customers in the nation: Portability.

The e-commerce giant today unveiled the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, a new variant in the lineup that includes a built-in battery. The 4,800mAh enclosed battery will offer up to 10 hours of continuous music playing or up to 11 hours of stand-by life, the company said.

“Portability has been one of the most requested features in India,” said Miriam Daniel, VP of Alexa Devices. “You want to be able to carry Alexa with you from room to room within your homes. So we have designed something just for you.”

The company said the Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition (which remains a mouthful) shares the same “architect” as the Echo Input, a device it launched last year that does not feature a speaker.

The battery-powered Echo model, designed exclusively for India, is priced at 5,999 Indian rupees ($84). Users can currently purchase it at an introductory price of 4,999 Indian rupees ($70) and the device will begin shipping on December 18.

Other than the built-in battery pack, the new speaker model offers an identical set of features — access to some 30,000 Alexa skills, compatibility with a range of home devices, of course, support for Alexa voice assistant — as other Echo variants. (The new model additionally carries an array of four LEDs that light up when a user taps the power button to show battery level.)

Amazon has never disclosed how many Echo speakers it has sold in India, but it has noted that the country is one of its most important markets. At a conference in September, Rohit Prasad, VP and head scientist of Alexa AI at Amazon, said the “adoption of Alexa in India has been phenomenal.”

The e-commerce giant, which has invested north of $5 billion in India, is among many international firms that are currently betting to turn the nation of 1.3 billion people into one of their biggest markets. Winning that market means customizing many of their products and services to align with local conditions in the nation. In September, Amazon announced Alexa was adding support for Hindi language to broaden its appeal in the nation.

Amazon executives said they intend to bring this new speaker to other markets eventually.

Spam calls grew 18% in 2019

Do you feel you have been receiving more spam calls of late? You are probably not wrong — or alone.

The volume of spam calls has grown by 18% globally this year, according to Truecaller. In its annual report published Tuesday, the Stockholm-based firm said users worldwide received 26 billion spam calls between January and October this year — up from 17.7 billion during the same period last year.

The United States remains the eighth most spammed country, where the volume of robocalls increased by 35% this year. In a separate report earlier this year, Truecaller estimated that 43 million Americans were scammed last year and lost about $10.5 billion. The growth is despite  the efforts local carriers and authorities have made in the country.

Brazil again topped the list for the most spammed country. The culprit behind the increasingly growing spam calls in the country are its own telecom operators and internet service providers. Truecaller said that in the last 12 months, calls from the operators have increased from 32% to 48%.

“These calls are typically seeking to provide special offers and upselling data plans amongst other services. Scam calls continue to be a big problem in Brazil. Two years ago, only 1% of all the top spammers were scam related, last year it went up to 20% – and this year it is up to 26%,” it said.

One of the takeaways from the report is just how complex it is to understand the nature of these spam calls. There is no common thread — or culprit — behind these calls. In some markets, such as South Africa (ranked sixth in the report), spammers are mostly making fraudulent tech support calls and conducting job offer scams.

In some other markets, like Chile (placed seventh in the report), it’s debt collectors that are placing 72% of all spam calls in the nation. In UAE, ranked 12th in the report, like Brazil, telecom operators were the ones making most of these pesky calls.

Peru, ranked second, and Indonesia, ranked third, have seen spam calls explode in the nation. In Peru, users received more than 30 spam calls in the month. Most of these calls were made by financial services that are looking to upsell credit cards and loans.

In Indonesia, spam call volume has doubled in one year. As the nation goes through tough times, scammers have tried to leverage on it, the report said. “One of the more common scams are the ‘one ring scam or Wangiri scam’. Another scam that has been going on lately is the fake hospital/injury call where someone would call and tell you that a family member or a friend is hospitalized and need immediate treatment, and you need to send them money in order for them to treat the patient.”

The position of India, where the number of mobile subscribers has ballooned from 1 million to more than a billion in two decades, is fifth on the table. It’s better than before, but spam calls are still growing in the nation. In India, too, it’s the telecom operator and telemarketers that are together making up for more than 80% of all spam calls.

Truecaller’s report also noted that users worldwide received more than 8.6 billion spam texts this year. Below is a chart that looks at the markets that are most affected with spam SMSs.

Kredivo’s parent firm FinAccel raises $90M to expand its credit lending platform in Southeast Asia

Singapore-headquartered FinAccel has secured $90 million in one of the largest funding rounds for a fintech startup in Southeast Asia as it looks to further grow its credit lending app Kredivo and build more financial services.

The financing round, dubbed Series C, for the three-and-a-half-year-old startup was jointly led by Asia Growth Fund — a joint venture between Mirae Asset and Naver — and Square Peg.

Singtel Innov8, TMI (Telkomsel Indonesia), Cathay Innovation, Kejora-InterVest, Mirae Asset Securities, Reinventure and DST Partners participated in the “oversubscribed” financing round, the startup said.

FinAccel said it has raised more than $200 million in debt and equity this year itself. It has raised $140 million in equity to date.

FinAccel operates credit lending app Kredivo in Indonesia, where it has amassed more than a million customers and is growing by a whopping 300% each year, Akshay Garg, chief executive of FinAccel, told TechCrunch in an interview.

The app enables customers to secure credit between $100 and $2,200. If a customer pays it back in full in a month, FinAccel does not charge them any fee. Otherwise, the service levies an interest rate of 2.95%, he explained.

Kredivo’s payments option is also integrated with a number of e-commerce firms, including Lazada and Shoppe, and food delivery startups in Indonesia, so users can quickly access the credit to purchase things and pay the app later.

Credit lending apps are increasingly gaining popularity across the globe, but especially in Southeast Asian markets, where the penetration of credit cards remains low — hence, there are very few people with a traditional credit score. This has created an opportunity for startups to look at other metrics to determine who should get a loan.

FinAccel’s team poses for a picture

Garg said Kredivo looks at a range of data points, including the kind of smartphone model a customer is using, and the apps they have installed on it. “Basically what we’re doing is almost like creating a user profile about the user using a combination of different data signals that come from the existing credit bureaus, the telcos, the e-commerce accounts, the bank accounts and the users themselves,” he said.

“All of that creates a 360-degree overview of the customer that helps us determine the risk factors and decide whether to issue the credit,” he added. As of today, Kredivo is only approving about one-third of the applications it receives.

Jikwang Chung, managing director of Mirae Asset Capital, the strategic investment arm of Mirae Asset, said in a statement that FinAccel is one of the leading companies in Southeast Asia that is able to “combine a strong technology DNA with top-tier risk management and a bold vision of financial inclusion.”

FinAccel, which works with banks to finance the credit to customers, has evaluated more than 3 million applications to date and disbursed nearly 30 million loans. Garg said the startup is now working to develop more financial services, such as low-interest education and healthcare loans.

In the next three to four years, it aims to grow to 10 million users and expand to other Southeast Asian markets such as the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

A handful of other startups also operate in this space in Indonesia. C88, which also offers credit to customers, last year raised $28 million in a financing round led by Experian.

Cellphone plans get up to 40% costlier in India

India has long been a wonderland for cellphone users. At a time when most telecom operators across the globe charge anywhere between $5 to $10 for a gigabyte of mobile data, telcos in India deliver that for just a few cents.

Spare another $2 to the same telecom operator, and you get a gigabyte of mobile data everyday for a month and all your nationwide calls become free.

How is that possible, you ask? In 2016, India’s richest man launched Reliance Jio, a telecom network that undercut the local competition by offering unlimited voice calls and bulk of 4G mobile data at industry-low prices. Vodafone and Airtel — two of the top three carriers in India — dramatically moved to revise their tariffs to aggressively compete with Jio, but in doing so they began to bleed a lot of money.

So now they are making some changes that suddenly make cellphone plans in the country less attractive — but fret not, these plans are still miles ahead of comparable offerings in most other markets.

Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Reliance Jio — three telecom operators that command over 90% of India’s mobile subscriber base of more than 1.1 billion users — have hiked their tariffs by up to 42% for their prepaid customers. (In India, unlike many other markets, the vast majority of people prefer to pay as they go instead of signing up for a monthly subscription.)

The revised plans from Vodafone start from 26 cents for daily usage and go up to $33.4 for a year-long validity — that is about 42% costlier compared to the previous offerings. The operator’s new tariffs will go into effect starting Tuesday.

Bharti Airtel’s new tariffs are priced similarly, though the operator says it will offer “generous data and calling benefits” to make up for the hike.

The changes are a direct result to make up for the massive losses Airtel and Vodafone reported last month. In the quarter that ended in September, Airtel lost more than $3.2 billion, while Vodafone posted a loss of $7.1 billion.

While these losses reflect the competition heat that both the networks have been facing from Reliance Jio, which now leads the market with over 350 million subscribers, they largely address a one-time potential outstanding payment these companies owe to the government related to a court dispute surrounding 14-year-old adjusted gross revenue.

Last month, chief executives of both the telecom networks requested the Indian government to give them more time to pay the fine. Vodafone chief executive added that if the government did not budge, the British firm’s India business might just collapse.

The Indian government budged and offered a small bailout after it postponed certain payments.

Over the weekend, Reliance Jio said it would be introducing new plans, too, that will be “priced up to 40% higher” in a move to “strengthen the telecom sector” and strangely “keep consumers at the center of everything.” Its revised plans would go into effect this Friday.

Its announcement follows a two-month old decision to hike the prices after other telecom operators floated the idea that they would continue to levy what they call an “interconnect fee.”

When a call from one network is placed to a phone on another network, the former carrier has to pay an “interconnect fee” to the latter. Prior to 2017, the interconnect fee in the country was set at about 14 paise (roughly 1.8 cents) for each minute of the call. In 2017, the Indian telecom regulator cut the interconnect charge to 6 paise per minute, adding that in January 2020, the interconnect fee would no longer be valid. In recent months, Airtel and Vodafone, among other networks (but obviously not Reliance Jio), have been exploring ways to extend this deadline.

At any rate, some industry executives say that these tariff hikes were inevitable. Rajan Mathews, who heads the trade group Cellular Operators Association of India, said in a recent interview that the old prices were simply unsustainable for these businesses and carriers needed to address the price war more maturely.

Indian scooter rental startup Bounce raises $150M

Big bucks are pouring to get you through the chaotic traffic on Indian roads.

Bounce, a Bangalore-based startup that operates over 17,000 electric and gasoline scooters in three dozen cities in India, has raised about $150 million as part of an ongoing financing round led by existing investors Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital and Accel Partners India, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The new financing round, dubbed Series D, values the startup “well over $500 million,” the people said, requesting anonymity. This is a significant increase since the year-old startup’s Series C financing round, which closed in June, when it was worth a little over $200 million.

A spokesperson of Bounce declined to comment.

Bounce, formerly known as Metro Bikes, allows customers to rent a scooter for as little as Rs 1 (0.1 cents) per km and Rs 1.5 per hour. Once the ride has been completed, customers can drop the scooter at any nearby parking spot.

The startup, which had raised $92 million prior to the new financing round, said last month that it has amassed 2.1 million customers.

The affordability of these rides is one of the selling points for smart electric and gasoline bikes in India. The other perk is the increasingly growing realization that two wheels warp through much faster in crowded traffic than four.

In this way, smart scooters are posing a challenge to Ola and Uber, both of which have invested billions of dollars to populate more than 100 cities with hundreds of thousands of cabs. In an interview with the New York Times, Bounce co-founder and chief executive Vivekananda Hallekere said earlier that “traditional” model of Uber and Ola is reaching its limits.

“You can’t make it affordable with a driver,” Hallekere told the Times. “And if users know how to use a scooter, why do you need a driver?”

Both Ola and Uber have noticed.

Bounce competes with a handful of local players including Vogo, which is heavily backed by ride-hailing giant Ola, and Yulu, which maintains a partnership with Uber and closed an $8 million Series A funding this week.

Hallekere told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this year that Bounce, which currently offers IoT hardware and design for the scooters, is working on building its own form factor for scooters.

India is the world’s largest market for two-wheelers. According to industry estimates, more than 200 million people have a license to ride a two-wheeler vehicle in the country. And about 20 million new motorcycles and scooters are sold in the nation each year.

India’s electric bike rental startup Yulu inks strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto, raises $8M

Yulu, a Bangalore-based electric bike sharing platform that maintains a partnership with Uber, said today it has won the backing of one of the country’s largest automakers.

The two-year-old startup said it has entered into a strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto, which has also funded Yulu’s $8 million Series A financing round. As part of the partnership, Bajaj will co-design and manufacture future generation of Yulu two-wheelers, Amit Gupta, cofounder and chief executive of Yulu, told TechCrunch in an interview.

Yulu, which operates in Bengaluru and recently entered portions of New Delhi and Mumbai, has raised about $16.5 million from VCs to date, he said. Yulu has also raised money in debt, but it declined to reveal the figure.

The startup maintains over 3,000 electric bikes on its platform. A customer, who does not need a driving license, can rent the bike through Yulu’s app for 14 cents, pay 14 cents for each hour of usage and then park it at the nearest zone.

Gupta said Yulu plans to have 100,000 two-wheelers in its fleet by end of next year. And that’s where its partnership with Bajaj Auto would come in handy. The startup currently relies on its Chinese original design manufacturer partners to build its bikes. But Bajaj Auto, which has decades of experience building two-wheelers in the nation, will be taking care of the manufacturing from here, he said.

“They clearly have much better understanding of the Indian context,” he said. Bajaj Auto announced last month that it was reviving a decades old, sleeper hit scooter model Chetak, only this time it would run on electric. “They know the micro-mobility and share-mobility spaces. The partnership is bringing together the combined learning of building Yulu network and operational learning of Chetak,” he said.

In a statement, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj, said, “in Yulu we find an experienced and committed partner with robust achievement of success metrics in a very short time. And this is why we decided to partner with them in their journey of bringing Yulu service to every neighborhood of Urban India.”

Yulu is also expanding its presence quickly in the nation. In Delhi, it has secured the permission to offer electric bikes at 250 subway stations. “We are already servicing in nine of those,” said Gupta, who also co-founded advertising tech giant InMobi .

“We work through clusters. So we deploy about 1000 vehicles, and set up 200 to 300 parking stations and 25 to 30 charging stations. We have been able to replicate this cluster model in many places,” he said.

These bikes can ride as fast as 25 kmph (15.5 mph), and cover 60 kms (37.2 miles) in one charging cycle. The startup works with mom and pop stores and individuals to expand its parking and charging stations. “It’s very economical,” Gupta said. Yulu also has an army of workers who swap the used battery with a freshly charged one, he said.

The market of two-wheelers has grown in India despite the proliferation of taxi services in the country in recent years. With major cities in India grappling with ever growing traffic congestions, the future of two-wheelers seems brighter than ever. Gupta said Yulu’s partnership with Uber has chugged along smoothly and they may extend it soon.

Ride-hailing giant Ola has invested $100 million in scooter rental startup Vogo. Ola has also invested heavily in two-wheeler category. In September, it said its two-wheeler business — Ola Bike — was already operational in 150 Indian cities and towns and projected it would hit 450 cities and towns by next year. Both Yulu and Vogo compete with Bounce, which is also based in Bangalore. Ather Energy, another Bangalore-based startup that manufactures electric-scooters, raised $51 million in May.