Intercity bus service YOLO raises $800,000 in seed funding, plans to go pan-India in a year's time

Co-founded by Gupta and Mukul Shah, and Danish Chopra, YOLO runs on an Uber-like template, where it does not own buses, but it takes care of the operational side of the business

Sulekha Nair February 19, 2020 16:09:56 IST
Intercity bus service YOLO raises $800,000 in seed funding, plans to go pan-India in a year's time
  • Co-founded by Gupta, Mukul Shah, and Danish Chopra, YOLO runs on an Uber-like template, where it does not own buses, but it takes care of the operational side of the business

  • The services find traction during the weekends and on holidays

  • The startup hopes to scale to be able to come out with an initial public offering eventually

After raising $800,000 in a seed funding round last month, Gurugram-based YOLO Bus founded in August 2019 aims to be the first preference and easy recall for anyone opting for intercity bus services. The intercity transportation startup recently announced a fundraise of $600,000.  Last week, it revised the fundraise to $800,000 after it received seed funding from Rebright Partners along with other active angel investors.

A part of the money raised will go into marketing to reach this goal, said 31-year-old Shailesh Gupta, co-founder. Yolo TravelTech Pvt. Ltd, which operates inter-city transportation and mobility platform YOLO, wants to have a presence in the eastern and western regions of the country, which Gupta is hopeful will be accomplished in a year's time.

The money raised will be used to build technology and expand the startup team from its present size of 20 to 50 members.

Intercity bus service YOLO raises 800000 in seed funding plans to go panIndia in a years time

Co-founder Shailesh Gupta (2nd from left), Mukul Shah and Danish Chopra. Pic courtesy: YOLO

Co-founded by Gupta, Mukul Shah, and Danish Chopra, YOLO runs on an Uber-like template, where it does not own buses, but takes care of the operational side of the business including the scheduling of buses, ticketing, customer service, and network planning.

The startup was founded from a 'bad experience'— Gupta reached three hours late for a 9 AM meeting with a professor in Chennai. The bus he was travelling got delayed and the professor could not oblige as he was very busy. "I reached Chennai only to return and was hugely disappointed. That experience triggered the idea to set up a venture to solve this problem," he said.

Gupta and Mukul Shah found that there was a major disconnect between what existing bus operators deliver and what travellers need. Attempting to fill this gap, the duo along with Chopra has come out with ways to make public transportation and bus commute comfortable, safer and convenient. The result is YOLO-a premium mobility platform.

The bus fleets partnering with the startup offer personalised bus captains, welcome kits to all passengers, high-speed Wi-Fi, hygienic washrooms, food and beverages, USB charging points, films, and infotainment. Apart from this, babies and pregnant women get a special kit. It also has an emergency SOS button inside the bus and special safety measures for women, informed Gupta.

With YOLO, an acronym for You Only Live Once, Gupta and his co-founders provide 'clean buses with toilet facilities and Wi-Fi' to passengers besides punctuality and safety being its USP. "We have been able to achieve 90 percent punctuality," said Gupta.

Gupta is a serial entrepreneur. He co-founded his first startup while in his final year of engineering at IIT Kharagpur with his younger brother, Nalin-a 3rd year student from the same institution and two of his friends. They wound up the venture as soon as Gupta graduated, but he said the co-founders did not 'lose any money'. One of the reasons for closing the venture was that there were too 'many competitors' and they found it difficult to scale. Two more short stints as a an entrepreneur and he hit gold with Innov8-his co-working spaces startup, that he sold and made 'some good money'.

From having exited his first startup due to 'competition', Gupta and his co-founders now say that with YOLO,  'competition is not a consideration'. Instead, they are focussing on customer experience.

The intercity bus service has covered more than 15 lakh km and has done 1 lakh rides so far.

How it works

Download the YOLO App and make your booking. It can be booked through other platforms--Redbus, Paytm, MakeMyTrip or through one of their agents / physical booths. Passengers can also book tickets on the bus if seats are available.

The services find traction during the weekends and on holidays. Since its launch, the startup has seen a 30 percent growth in revenues week on week. The plan is to connect all the regions in the country and make the brand 'most-loved' among people, said Gupta.  The startup hopes to scale to be able to come out with an initial public offering eventually.

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