Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal. Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint
Bengaluru: Scooter rental start-up Vogo Automotive Pvt. Ltd is in advanced talks to raise Rs40-45 crore from cab hailing platform Ola and venture capital firms Stellaris Ventures Partners and Matrix Partners, three people aware of the discussions said.
As part of the proposed deal, Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) will lead the round, followed by Stellaris and Matrix, the first of the three persons mentioned above said. All three spoke on condition of anonymity, as the discussions are confidential.
The bike rental space has spawned several early-stage ventures over the past two years. Earlier this year, Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital invested in Metro Bikes. Bengaluru-based motorbike rental marketplace Wheelstreet raised $120,000 from US-based accelerator giant Y Combinator. Other similar ventures such as Tazzo and ONN Bikes have also attracted investor attention.
Ola declined to comment. Vogo, Stellaris and Matrix did not respond to requests for comment.
In September, Vogo Automotive had raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round from AV Thomas Group chairman Ajit Thomas, former Formula One driver Karun Chandhok and other individual investors.
The investment, if it goes through, indicates Ola’s growing interest in expanding beyond cabs and becoming a one-stop platform for urban transportation. Earlier this month, Ola bought transportation information provider Ridlr (Birds Eye Systems Pvt. Ltd) to expand its fledgling public transportation business that has become an important battlefront in its fight against arch-rival Uber. In December, Ola started testing a bicycle sharing service in IIT Kanpur campus called Ola Pedal. The company then said it was working on expanding the service.
Over the past 12-18 months, Ola has adopted an aggressive investment and acquisition strategy, taking cues from unicorns such as Flipkart Ltd. In December, it spent $40-50 million to buy food ordering app Foodpanda from its German parent Delivery Hero AG to re-enter the food delivery business.
Ola’s interest in bike rentals comes at a time when the cab-hailing start-up is looking to create a group company-like structure similar to that of Flipkart, Mint reported earlier in April. Apart from its flagship cab hailing business and Foodpanda, Ola has a payments business called Ola Money.