Technology Money Startups

Ajay Piramal backs Aircel founder Sivasankaran's venture Utoo

12 Jul, 2016

Piramal Group chairman Ajay Piramal has invested an undisclosed amount in serial entrepreneur C Sivasankaran's latest venture Utoo Cabs.

According to a report by The Economic Times, Piramal has picked up minority stake in the startup. "The investment has been routed through Piramal Group company Alpex Corporate Services," Sivasankaran told the newspaper.

Piramal did not immediately reply to an email seeking comments. VCCircle could not reach out to Sivasankaran.

The two-month old taxi-hailing startup, which aims to take on already established players such as Ola and Uber, has been backed by Sivasankaran's family and friends.

The startup has been valued at Rs 1,000 crore, Sivasankaran, former owner of telecom firm Aircel, was quoted as saying.

In 1999, Sivasakaran entered the telecom space with Aircel which went on to become India's fifth-largest mobile service provider. However, he sold his stake in Aircel to Maxis Communications in 2006. In 2014, Sivasankaran was declared bankrupt. He had applied for bankruptcy protection in a Seychelles court to counter a claim by his Bahrain-based telecom partner Batelco, which won a court decree for its $212-million claim on its investment in S Tel, for which Sivasankaran stood personal guarantee. S Tel's telecom licences in India were cancelled along with 121 other licences by the Supreme Court in the 2G case.

Utoo, run by Utoo Cabs Ltd, is a taxi-hailing service currently operational in Chennai. Available on both Android and iOS apps, Utoo also allows users to book two or more cabs at the same time for different destinations by choosing a 'book to others' option. The startup is expected to provide its services in eight cities soon.

"We will launch in other cities shortly. When I complete the Series A funding, I expect a valuation of Rs 10,000 crore with one lakh pick-ups across eight cities," Sivasakaran told The Times of India.

The taxi-hailing space in India has been growing by leaps and bounds. The size of the taxi market in India is estimated to be around Rs 80,000 crore ($12 billion). However, the organised sector accounts for only 5% the market with a handful of players such as Ola, Uber and Meru, among others.

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