In a bid to increase the services it provides via its virtual assistant, Alexa, in tune with the demands of Indian customers, e-commerce Amazon has led an $11-million investment round in Shuttl, a Gurugram-based urban mobility start-up backed by Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures and others.
The round was led by Amazon, in connection with the Amazon Alexa Fund and Dentsu Ventures, along with existing investors. The company plans to invest in expansion. Sources say Amazon plans to incorporate features such as booking a seat on a bus, hailing a cab and a host of other skills to Alexa, which would help it reach out to a new set of users.
Alexa India Skills Store has over 15,000 skills like music, news, food, games and smart home. Amazon has expanded its portfolio of Smart Home devices that work with Alexa to allow customers to control their Smart Home cameras, ACs, TVs and set-top boxes with their voices.
“Millions of people use shared transportation options for their commute. Voice represents a convenient way for them to manage these types of daily routines and we look forward to supporting Shuttl as they work to deliver this experience to Amazon Alexa customers across India,” Paul Bernard, director of Amazon Alexa Fund, said.
Shuttl plans to expand to more cities and increase the fleet of buses it has on its platform. Despite getting an investment, Shuttl says, it would not work with the e-commerce giant anytime soon. “We will continue to improve consumer experience and design more routes. Our operations are currently too small to be incorporated into a massive platform like Amazon. However, we would love to be a part of their eco-system in future,” said Amit Singh, chief executive officer and co-founder of Shuttl.
Shuttls smart buses serve 45,000 rides daily in Delhi-NCR and are present in seven cities across India. Currently, the company operates 700 buses and on 150 routes with safety features like face recognition and live-CCTV feed, which are particularly important for working women.
Shuttl has also expanded into Kolkata as per the company’s long-term plans to take its services outside the National Capital Region (NCR). – Business Standard