Brand Capital, the investment arm of Bennett, Coleman and Co Ltd (BCCL), which owns The Times of India and The Economic Times newspapers, has invested Rs 150 crore ($25 million) in Meru Cabs.
The company will use the capital to strengthen its foothold in the Indian market, reports PTI. Meru is deploying these funds primarily to increase brand salience and brand awareness with the aim of widening its customer base, it added. Last year, Meru had raised Rs 300 crore ($50 million) from its existing investor, India Value Fund Advisors.
“With the ongoing transformation in the taxi industry, this move is in line with the company’s efforts to showcase its services to a larger customer segment via a bouquet of media channels,” Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO, Meru Cabs said.
Meru was launched in 2007 as an air-conditioned radio cab service. It is now competing with newer rivals such as Uber and Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) that are backed by deep-pocketed investors.Uber has so far secured more than $11 billion from various investors while Ola’s total fundraising to date is around $1.2 billion.
In February this year, Meru Cabs had announced that its planning to launch inter-city ride-sharing services on two routes initially – Mumbai-Pune and Bangalore-Chennai after the successful rollout of ride-sharing services in Delhi. It intends to finish the test pilot by the first quarter of FY 2016-17.
Meru Cabs also integrated its cab booking system with Facebook Messenger to provide automated cab booking facility recently and in December 2013, it had also launched MeruGenie, a low-cost taxi service, which is now present across 13 cities in India. Meru has also launched a specialised service for differently abled and elderly commuters called ‘Meru Enable’ via spacious and disability equipped vehicles and trained and sensitised drivers.
Meru receives over 70 per cent of its booking from the mobile app.