MyTaxi India (MTI), an online platform to rent chauffeur-driven cars, has secured US$500,000 in pre-Series A funding from leading Japanese taxi company Nihon Kotsu Co (Japan Taxi).

The startup plans to use the funds to scale up operations across new cities in India, a fast-growing car-rental market currently pegged at US$9 billion.

“Thanks to GHV, MTI has been able to secure this round of funding by one of the oldest companies of Japan, Japan Taxi. We are lucky that the timing has been just right for us with the Indian taxi market at its zenith. We feel we made a few good choices in terms of GHV that we are getting validation for our model from a company like Japan Taxi,” said Anshuman Mihir, Co-founder of MTI.

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Started in 2012 by Mihir, Mohit Rajpal and Satyakam Rahul, MTI enables users to rent chauffeur-driven cars for city tours, outstation travel and holidays — both for B2B and B2C clients. Customers can choose from around 4,000 taxis (cabs, tempo travellers and buses) for local or outstation travel across 102 cities.

“For a long time, taxi and limousine service has been just one of the options of transportation to many customers. We are here to win the heart of more customers by upgrading their taxi journey to a memorable moment which is more than just a transportation. We would like to provide our superior ride experience with the spirit of ‘Omotenashi’ (Japan hospitality) to all over the world,” said Ichiro Kawanabe of Nihon Kotsu.

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MTI is mainly competing with Carzonrent that offers end-to-end long- and short-term chauffeur-driven car rental solutions through a fleet of 8,000 cars in 20 cities across India. The firm, started in 2000, claims to be doing over 20,000 trips daily. In addition to local and outstation services, Carzonrent also offers international services. Savaari Car Rentals is another key player in this segment that has operations in 10 cities across the country.

Zoomcar, a Bangalore-based self-drive car booking app launched by two US entrepreneurs, is another leading player. The startup recently secured US$11 million in fresh funding from Sequoia Capital, Empire Angels and NGP Advisors India.

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MTI is a member of Gurgaon-based GHV Accelerator, which was started by angel investor Vikram Upadhyaya. GHV mentors startups with US$100,000 seed fund and has strategic tie-ups with World Innovation Labs, one of Japan’s largest VC funds, and Indian online deal-making platform LetsVenture. GHV plans to accelerate 25 startups over a period of three years.

Recently, GHV facilitated pre-Series A funding of US$500,000 for neighbourhood commerce startup LazyLad.

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