Chennai-based startup The ePlane Company has raised $5 million (about Rs 37 crore) in pre-Series A round of funding to develop flying taxis. The funding round was led by deep-tech venture capitalist Speciale Invest and climate-focussed fund Micelio.
In March last year, the company had raised $1 million. It currently employs 36 people.
A consortium of investors, including Naval Ravikant, Prashant Pitti (Co-Founder of Easemytrip), Anicut Capital, Infoedge, UTEC (University of Tokyo Edge Capital), 3one4 Capital, Thought Ventures, Java Capital and Firstcheque.vc participated in the funding round, news agency PTI reported.
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The funds will help bolster talent hiring, advance R&D gain airworthiness provision and initiate certification, the company said.
“The funding we have received demonstrates the confidence investors have in us. We are grateful for the support from both our Indian and foreign investors,” PTI quoted The ePlane Company Co-Founder Pranjal Mehta as saying.
Founded in 2017 at IIT Madras, The ePlane Company is the brainchild of aerospace engineering professor Satya Chakravarthy and his student Pranjal Mehta. The company, which aspires to build a compact flying taxi called the e200, has already test flown a lab-scale prototype, Yourstory reported.
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It plans to test a full-scale prototype in April 2022. According to the founders, the e200s will not require any dedicated infrastructure and can cut down travel time for city passengers at around 1.5 times the taxi fare. Apart from transporting passengers, the company is also working on cargo transport to reduce traffic congestion on the roads.
The ePlane Company expects to get the first cargo plane ready by next year, Chakravarthy told Yourstory, adding that the cargo carrier is likely to be rolled out by February 2023, while the passenger flying taxi may come by December 2024.
Preliminary discussions on commercialisation of the product are on, sources said.