Amid Covid-induced new normal of work-from-home that has brought office commutes to a significant halt, Mumbai-based bus aggregator startup Cityflo for office goers has secured Rs 57 crore (around $7.7 million) in its Series A round of funding. The investment has been led by venture capital firm Lightbox Ventures that included companies such as Dunzo, Droom, etc., in its portfolio. Existing investor India Quotient, which had put seed money of Rs 3 crore in the company last year, and angel investors also participated in the current round. “We see this (Covid) as a short-term setback. People have already started commuting again. The long-term need for the service remains the same — a comfortable and stress-free alternative commute option to driving every day. All our investors stay optimistic about the long-term opportunity,” Jerin Venad, Co-founder, Cityflo told Financial Express Online.
The startup will deploy the capital towards expanding service on the current and new routes and strengthening the brand position. The company is also working towards launching a facility for bus drivers to park vehicles at the end of the day. “We are changing the perception that buses are slower than cars by limiting the number of boarding points on our routes,” said Adding further, Sankalp Kelshikar, Co-founder, Cityflo. The post-money valuation with the current round was around Rs 180 crore, the company told Financial Express Online.
Cityflo claimed 60 per cent recovery to pre-Covid level so far. Launched in May 2015, the company partners with bus operators and connects popular residential areas in Mumbai such as the Western suburbs, Navi Mumbai, and Thane, to major commercial hubs in the city. The startup logs over 8,000 bookings daily while its buses make only two trips a day. “The pandemic has made the situation more delicate with heightened apprehensions around safety, hygiene, and sanitisation. This segment, therefore, has the potential to scale up and become the next big thing,” said Siddharth Talwar, Partner, Lightbox Ventures.
The rise of on-demand cab services and the influx of venture funding for mobility companies has coincided with startups exploring different kinds of shared transportation services. According to research firm Tracxn, the highest number of on-demand transportation and related companies in India was founded in 2015 – 142, according to a January 2020 report published by WRI India titled Understanding the Impact of Bus Aggregators on Urban Mobility in India’s National Capital Region. A host of companies launched in the past in the bus aggregation model included MeriBus, Shuttl, ZipGo, Hoppr, MobiBus, Ola Shuttle, Easy Commute, and more. Some of them have already discontinued the service.