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Aerial mobility startup ePlane gets seed funding from VC firms, ShareChat exec
The ePlane Company founders Pranjal Mehta and Satya Chakravarthy

The ePlane Company, an aerial mobility firm focussed on urban travel, has raised seed funding from a clutch of investors.

The round in the Chennai-based company has been led by Speciale Invest, a deep-technology-focussed venture capital firm. Other participants include IIM-Ahmedabad’s incubator CIIE.CO, FirstCheque, Java Capital and ShareChat co-founder Farid Ahsan.

The startup didn’t disclose the amount it raised.

The ePlane Company was set up in 2017 by Pranjal Mehta and Satya Chakravarthy, who is a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, where the company was incubated.

The company says it is aiming to build electric planes that will provide faster commutes at similar prices to that of conventional road taxis. These products will also have a use case of moving cargo in remote and rural areas. The company currently has a team of 10 members and is looking to expand this number to 25.

In a statement, Chakravarthy said electric planes have the potential to disrupt short-distance aviation-based travel, especially in the context of urban mobility. “In urban areas, people spend one-two hours every day travelling. Can we reduce it to 10-15 minutes at a similar cost?” Mehta added.

The company will use the capital it has raised to augment its technological and building infrastructure, as well as hire engineering talent to develop intellectual property, with a focus on early product demonstrations by next year.

“Our experience of working in transportation across previous investments in Ultraviolette and Vogo led us to better understand the potential ePlane has to build a multi-billion category within cargo and passenger transportation” Speciale Invest managing partner Vishesh Rajaram said.

While ePlane is among a handful of companies globally looking at building air taxis, it is among several in the larger e-vehicle space that have received investor attention in the past few years.

Last month, electric scooter manufacturer Ather Energy said it had raised $35 million (around Rs 260 crore) in a Series D round led by Sachin Bansal. The Flipkart co-founder has so far committed $53 million to the company.

In September, Etrio Automobiles raised $3 million in a Series A funding round led by Janardhan Rao, who is the founder of Triumph Global Group, a Singapore-based international commodity trading house.

Also that month, electric taxi-hailing and riding platform BLU Smart Mobility Pvt Ltd raised $7 million in pre-Series A funding from investors including Inflection Point Ventures, Venture Catalysts, and Suman Kant Munjal family office Survam Partners.

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