Indian scooter rental startup Bounce seeks to raise $150M

Big bucks are pouring to get you through the chaotic traffic on Indian roads.

Bounce, a Bangalore-based startup that operates over 17,000 electric and gasoline scooters in three dozen cities in India, is in advanced stages of talks to raise up to $150 million as part of an ongoing financing round led by existing investors Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital and Accel Partners India, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The new financing round, dubbed Series D, values the startup “well over $500 million,” the people said, requesting anonymity. This is a significant increase since the year-old startup’s Series C financing round, which closed in June, when it was worth a little over $200 million.

The financing round has yet to close, so the final amount is likely to be different. A spokesperson of Bounce declined to comment.

Bounce, formerly known as Metro Bikes, allows customers to rent a scooter for as little as Rs 1 (0.1 cents) per km and Rs 1.5 per minute. Once the ride has been completed, customers can drop the scooter at any nearby parking spot.

The startup, which had raised $92 million prior to the new financing round, said last month that it has amassed 2.1 million customers.

The affordability of these rides is one of the selling points for smart electric and gasoline bikes in India. The other perk is the increasingly growing realization that two wheels warp through much faster in crowded traffic than four.

In this way, smart scooters are posing a challenge to Ola and Uber, both of which have invested billions of dollars to populate more than 100 cities with hundreds of thousands of cabs. In an interview with the New York Times, Bounce co-founder and chief executive Vivekananda Hallekere said earlier that “traditional” model of Uber and Ola is reaching its limits.

“You can’t make it affordable with a driver,” Hallekere told the Times. “And if users know how to use a scooter, why do you need a driver?”

Both Ola and Uber have noticed.

Bounce competes with a handful of local players including Vogo, which is heavily backed by ride-hailing giant Ola, and Yulu, which maintains a partnership with Uber and closed an $8 million Series A funding this week.

Hallekere told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this year that Bounce, which currently offers IoT hardware and design for the scooters, is working on building its own form factor for scooters.

India is the world’s largest market for two-wheelers. According to industry estimates, more than 200 million people have a license to ride a two-wheeler vehicle in the country. And about 20 million new motorcycles and scooters are sold in the nation each year.