Flying taxi startup The ePlane Company raises $5 million
India's first flying taxi startup 'The ePlane Company', which plans to launch electric planes for intra-city travel, announced on January 10 that it has raised $5 million in pre-series A funding led by hard-tech venture capitalist Speciale Invest and clean mobility fund Micelio.
Vishesh Rajaram, Managing Partner, Speciale Invest, said: "The eplane Company is one of the unique companies with the vision to create technology that will make India self-sufficient. We at Speciale Invest are fortunate to be associated with them. It aligns with our vision of backing disruptive companies solving global problems via tech innovations very well. With this round, they are well on their way to making regional aerial transportation a reality. All the very best to them."
The consortium of investors who participated in this round of funding for the Chennai-based startup included Naval Ravikant, 3one4 Capital, UTEC (University of Tokyo Edge Capital), Anicut Capital, Infoedge, Prashant Pitti (co-founder of Easemytrip), Thought Ventures, Java Capital, and Firstcheque.vc.
The e-plane start-up, which was co-founded by Aerospace Engineering professor Satya Chakravarthy and his student, IIT Madras graduate Pranjal Mehta, in 2017, had raised $1 million in March last year.
The company has already flown a lab-scale prototype of the electric flying taxi, e200, which they claim can cut down travel time for door-to-door commute in cities greatly at just 1.5 times the fare of regular taxis.
According to The eplane Company, the "world's most compact flying taxi" could help reduce congestion on roads and emissions from ground transport while lowering the risk of road accidents by enabling short-range commute of passengers and cargo by air.
The new funds raised by the deep-tech startup will be used to make investments in product development, increase its engineering bandwidth, local certification capability, and the number of prototypes.
The company said in a statement: "The fresh lease of funds would help bolster the hiring of top-tier talent, advance R&D, and continue to gain airworthiness provision and initiate certification."
"Our product will not have any dedicated infrastructure requirements and can make the city commute ten times faster at just 1.5 times the taxi fare," said, Pranjal Mehta, Co-founder, The ePlane Company, said.
Mehta added: "Our mission has always been to explore efficient, safer, and carbon-neutral mobility solutions. With eplane, we aim to build electric planes for intra-city transportation. The USP is that we are making the most compact flying taxi in the world which has a hybrid design that uses both rotors and wings and a subscale prototype that enables it to fly slower than e-planes with compact wings would normally require."
Satya Chakravarthy, Co-founder, The ePlane Company, said: "We have currently tested a scaled-down prototype and expect to have our first cargo plane ready as early as next year. The cargo carrier is expected to be rolled out by February 2023, the passenger version is expected by December 2024."