The founders of Flipkart, one of India’s biggest e-commerce companies, have led an investment of $1 million in Ather, a Chennai-based startup that makes electric scooters. In addition to Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, who launched Flipkart in 2007 (and are unrelated, despite their identical last names), Ather’s seed round also included participation from Raju Venkatraman, the CEO of healthcare company Medall.
Ather is not the first startup Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal have invested in since Flipkart received an impressive $1 billion in funding three months ago. The two have also put money in Touchtalent, a social network and marketplace for artists, while Binny Bansal participated in a funding round for Roposo, a discovery platform for fashion products.
Ather is currently developing high-speed electric scooters for the Indian market. In a joint statement, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal said, “We believe the world is moving towards a smarter, more energy-efficient and environment-friendly approach in our daily lives. Growing Indian startups like Ather are using technology successfully to make a mark in this field.
Ather claims their scooters are 20 percent lighter than petrol scooters and can go from zero to 60 kmph in 11 seconds, with a top speed of 75 kmph.
The Flipkart founders’ interest in Ather comes at a promising time for the scooter market in India.
According to the Times of India, the share that scooters take in India’s two-wheel vehicle market grew 25 percent in 2013 to 2014, compared to just 14 percent in 2007 to 2008. For a while, sales of scooters dipped as more riders turned to motorcycles, but now they are enjoying a revival because they are easier to navigate in heavy traffic and more fuel-efficient.
Furthermore, the Indian government also announced plans last year to subsidize electric vehicles, which should benefit Ather as well as rivals like Electrotherm and Hero Electric.