Bike taxi operator scoops up pre-Series A from Google India MD, Hero MotoCorp MD and others


Bike taxi operator Rapido, on Tuesday, raised pre-Series A round of funding from a group of high profile investors.

The founders with the Rapido bikers

The funding round has been led by Pawan Munjal, Chairman of Hero MotoCorp Ltd; AdvantEdge Partners; Astarc Ventures; Tessellate Ventures Ventures; Anupam Mittal, Founder and CEO of People group; Harish Bahl, Founder of Smile Group; Ankit Nagori, Ex-CBO of Flipkart; Rajan Anandan, MD Google India and South East Asia; and Kunal Khattar, serial entrepreneur and Co-founder of Carnation Auto.

The funds will be deployed for Rapido’s expansion into other cities and team building. Started by Aravind Sanka, Pavan G and Rishikesh Sr in November 2015, the operator has over a fleet of 400 bikes across Bengaluru, Gurgaon, and Delhi. At present, Rapido has over 50,000 app downloads and has completed more than 1,25,000 rides. The company claims that 85 per cent of its rides are from repeat customers with 10 per cent of them being women.

Speaking on the funding, Aravind Sanka, Co-founder of Rapido, said

Our investors will contribute not only by infusing capital but also by sharing expertise in scaling the business. We believe India has a potential of more than two million bike taxis and we want to build this segment as a convenient, cost-effective, faster yet personal mode of transportation.

Rapido claims to have strict checks to ensure best in class safety standards. As a part of the standard check, a rider has to complete a comprehensive test ride, get his vehicle tested while accomplishing mandatory training and certification. The platform also monitors the speed for each ride, prompting the rider in case of over speeding. They also have an emergency SOS button installed within the app.

Commenting on the market, Pawan Munjal, Chairman, MD and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, said

In a rapidly changing demographics and socio-economic environment, urban mobility in the country is undergoing an evolution with people looking for alternative modes of transport, convenience, and comfort. Rapido is a commendable initiative and has the potential to generate significant employment besides making convenient motorised transport accessible to the masses.

Rapido currently has a team of more than 20 members. This bike operator envisions to start bike pooling in India. They aim to build a community where riders with spare seats on their two-wheeler get to meet other riders who want to share a bike ride. Apart from the multiple modes of booking, the firm also has a missed call booking service for customers to book their ride.

The Rapido bikers

The state of affairs

Aravind Sanka, Co-founder of Rapido

On March 3, 2016, Uber launched uberMOTO in Bengaluru, and the same week Ola announced its pilot run for bike taxis. However, the continuing tussle with policy makers, and the Regional Transport Office saw the service being shut down within a week of launch.

In fact, Hemant Kumar, Co-founder of bike taxi service One on One, says how their launch in Bengaluru in August last year got delayed due to red tape issues, and license to be granted by the government. Other bike taxi aggregators have also faced certain concerns in metros like Delhi and Bengaluru.

While still operating in other cities, experts see last-mile personal transportation as a massive problem in metros and other cities and believe that addressable market is as big as $5 billion.

Alok Goel, Partner at VC firm SAIF Partners, believes, “On-demand two-wheeler taxi service seems to be an interesting model. Last mile is a big pain for the masses in the top five cities. And bike taxis can be a convenient, affordable, and efficient mode to commute for people in big cities.”

At present, there are more than 10 bike taxi operators in three metros of Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi – HeyTaxi (Mumbai), Redeji, HeyBob, Bikemates, Baxi, Promto, Yaya, Bikxie, OneRyder, HeadLYT, M Taxi, One on One and Rapido.