India: Sarla Aviation “Raises Pre-Seed Investment from Campus Fund”

Sar­la Avi­a­tion, an India-based eVTOL com­pa­ny, announced this week its first insti­tu­tion­al fund­ing from Cam­pus Fund, along­side finan­cial par­tic­i­pa­tion from Theia Ven­tures, reports Busi­ness­Wire India. The invest­ment will pro­pel Sar­la’s devel­op­ment efforts, enabling test­ing and val­i­da­tion, while advanc­ing the com­pa­ny towards com­mer­cial­is­ing its air­craft. 

The three founders of Sar­la are Adri­an Schmidt, a for­mer Ger­man stu­dent who for­go his master’s degree at the New School in New York, to embark on this ven­ture, lever­ag­ing his pri­or expe­ri­ence as a prod­uct design­er at Lil­i­um; Rakesh Gaonkar, a pro­duc­tion and design engi­neer who worked along­side Schmidt at Lil­i­um; and Shi­va Chauhan whose knowl­edge of bat­tery sys­tems began when work­ing for Joby Avi­a­tion.

The com­pa­ny name is inspired by Sar­la Thakrai, India’s first woman to earn a pilot’s licence in 1936 at the age of 21 years-old. Her pio­neer­ing spir­it and ground­break­ing achieve­ments “aspires Sar­la Avi­a­tion to chart new paths in Indi­an urban mobil­i­ty.” This is the com­pa­ny ethos.

Schmidt com­ment­ed, “The urban air mobil­i­ty mar­ket presents a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty to reshape how we nav­i­gate cities and beyond. With this pre-seed fund­ing, we take a sig­nif­i­cant stride towards real­is­ing afford­able air taxis, engi­neered for deploy­a­bil­i­ty and oper­a­tional effi­cien­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly in emerg­ing mar­kets.”

Sarla’s devel­op­ing eVTOL can hold six pas­sen­gers, their lug­gage and one pilot. The air­craft is equipped with four, dou­ble-iso­lat­ed bat­tery packs, to pow­er sev­en elec­tric motors; will achieve speeds of up to 250 km/h; can fly up to 160 kms, although opti­mised for 20 to 40 km urban jour­neys; and is capa­ble of per­form­ing back-to-back 40-km trips with just 15 min­utes of charg­ing time in between. 

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Rich Baj­pai, Founder of Cam­pus Fund, com­ment­ed, “It is very encour­ag­ing to wit­ness stu­dent inno­va­tors dar­ing to rede­fine urban trans­porta­tion from the ground up as well as choos­ing India to build their start-up.”

The release states, “Sar­la offers oper­a­tional flex­i­bil­i­ty, enabling either direct fleet man­age­ment or pro­vid­ing advanced air­craft to indus­try lead­ers keen on enter­ing the UAM sec­tor, includ­ing avi­a­tion giants like Air India and Indi­Go, as well as ride-shar­ing oper­a­tors such as Uber and Ola.”

The com­pa­ny web­site says, “The phi­los­o­phy of ‘Pow­er to the Peo­ple’ is at the heart of our design for the world’s most spa­cious eVTOL cab­in. We aim to sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the Seat-KM cost com­pared to oth­er eVTOL com­pa­nies via oper­a­tional effi­cien­cy allow­ing us to offer ser­vices at rates com­pet­i­tive with Ola and Uber India.”

Sarla’s ini­tial pro­to­type eVTOL air­craft achieved a suc­cess­ful maid­en flight in Feb­ru­ary. The com­pa­ny is now head­ing towards its ambi­tion to become an Indi­an leader in the UAM mar­ket.

Adri­an Schmidt

On Schmidt’s Linkedin page, he writes, “Eight months ago, I made a leap of faith, mov­ing from the sky­scrap­ers of New York City to the vibrant streets of Ben­galu­ru. So why India? With over 50 per­cent of its pop­u­la­tion under 25 and more than 65 per­cent below 35 years, Indi­a’s youth­ful ener­gy is not just about num­bers; it’s about a mas­sive, tech-savvy mar­ket ready for inno­va­tion. 

“Fore­cast to be the world’s third-largest econ­o­my by 2030, Indi­a’s GDP growth rate is expect­ed to aver­age around 7 per­cent dur­ing the next decade. And with urban­i­sa­tion pro­ject­ed to hit 40 per­cent, the demand for sus­tain­able urban mobil­i­ty solu­tions is sky­rock­et­ing, offer­ing a vast mar­ket for EV and eVTOL inno­va­tions. 

“Mean­while, India’s mid­dle class is expect­ed to grow to 475 mil­lion by 2030, a huge con­sumer base for new tech­nol­o­gy. Final­ly, as the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, India pro­vides a sta­ble and sup­port­ive envi­ron­ment for inter­na­tion­al busi­ness­es and star­tups.”

For more infor­ma­tion


(News Source: www.latestly.com)

(Images: Sar­la Avi­a­tion)

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