Meru Cabs has raised Rs 150 crore (~$25 million) from Times of India Group’s (BCCL) Brand Capital. The taxi operator said it would use the funds to further strengthen its foothold in the Indian market. It’s interesting to note that BCCL also invested in rival cab operator Uber last year.
Meru will be deploying these funds primarily to increase brand awareness with the aim of widening its customer base. So it looks like this will be another ads-for-equity deal. The Times of India Group pioneered private treaties business, now called ‘Brand Capital‘, which involved taking equity in companies in exchange for marketing inventory. An example of how private treaties deals were structured, here.
Meru had raised $50 million (about Rs 300 crore) from existing investor India Value Fund Advisors in May 2015. India Value Fund Advisors owns more than 80% stake in Meru and it was reported at the time that it would divest its stake to make room for additional funding.
Since then Meru has been introducing new services which includes:
– Ridesharing features on the platform in January 2016. Users booking a Meru Cab will be provided with an option of sharing their ride with other passengers travelling in the same direction and offer a fixed 30% discount on the estimated trip fare.
– Partnered exclusively with Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) to promote carpooling.
– Wheel chair accessible taxis in May 2016. These cabs would be fitted with a remote controlled hydraulic lift.
Taxis G7 partnership: In October 2015, Meru Cabs partnered with France’s Taxis G7 and launched eCabs, a global alliance of radio taxi operators which will provide cab services to foreign travelers in India and to Indian travelers going abroad through a mobile app. For example, a traveler going to France can book a cab through the app and Taxis G7 will provide the service, while in India it will be provided by Meru.
Currently, the eCab service is present in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, India and Ireland with plans plans expand to over 50 cities in nine countries.