Turno Bags $3.1 Mn Seed Funding To Ramp Up Tech, Increase Headcount

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The funding round was led by Stellaris Venture Partners and Avaana Capital, with participation from angel investors such as Bigbasket’s Vipul Parekh, Darwinbox’s Jayant Paleti, among others

The fintech startup, focused on EVs, will use the funding to ramp up its technology vertical and expand its footprint to 5-6 new cities in the next one month

Turno is in talks with investors to close another funding round in the next 3-4 months: CEO Hemanth Aluru

While working at Zoomcar, the company’s then chief business officer (CBO) Hemanth Aluru and chief operating officer (COO) Sudhindra Reddy were operating very close to the automobile sector. Realising that there was a huge pent-up demand and opportunity in the electric vehicle (EV) segment, the duo took a plunge and resigned from their posts at Zoomcar.

Both Aluru and Reddy scoured the market and met key stakeholders in the business. Having worked closely with the auto sector, the ex-colleagues sat down to work on a project which eventually morphed into Turno.

Founded in April 2022, Turno is a fintech player that is primarily focused on the burgeoning EV segment in the country. The startup enables small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individuals to select the right EVs for their needs and then provides financing via its Turno credit app to enable users to buy them.

After being bootstrapped for a few months, the startup has finally come out of the stealth mode and raised $3.1 Mn in a seed funding round led by Stellaris Venture Partners and Avaana Capital.

The round also saw participation from a clutch of angel investors such as Vipul Parekh of

Bigbasket, Darwinbox’s Jayant Paleti, Zestmoney’s Lizzie Chapman and Priyamvada Sharma, Dhyanesh Shah of Mosaic Wellness, Matilde Giglio of Even, Rohit Bhat of Airavat Capital, Eight Roads’ Aditya Systla, Speciale Invest’s Arjun Rao, Bala Parthasarathy of Freo Money, Archit Gupta of Clear, Urban Ladder’s Ashish Goel, Kunal Khattar of Advantedge and the Goenka Family Office.

Turno will use the funding to ramp up its technology vertical and expand its footprint. The startup, which is currently operational only in Bengaluru, plans to expand to 5-6 other cities in the next one month. 

It will also use the funding to shore up hiring, especially in tech and marketing verticals. Turno CEO Aluru told Inc42 that it plans to double its headcount from the current 60 in the next few months.

Aluru said that the startup is in talks with a slew of investors to raise another funding round. Turno plans to close another round in the next 3-4 months to accelerate the growth even further, he added. 

Turno is primarily focused on three-wheeler markets and above. Explaining his stance, Aluru said that while two-wheelers account for 85% of sales in the country, they account for a mere 14-15% of fuel consumption. “We want to increase the number of electric miles and that is why we are focusing on the three-wheeler, four-wheeler and above market,” Aluru added. 

The Game Plan

The startup collates specific user data and then, based on the use-case, suggests a specific EV model to the buyer. 

“There are multiple use-cases that we cater to. If we generalise last-mile delivery as a use-case, different businesses have different performance metrics. While businesses demand multiple sorties, others may require to move more volume per trip,” Aluru said while explaining the process.

The startup suggests a vehicle as per the use-case and then provides financing to the customer to buy the EV. 

Aluru said that the startup deploys credit scores and other proprietary systems to grade the candidates. Over the life-course of the EV, it also tracks battery and other EV metrics to keep a track of the health of the EV.

Turno also offers a resale guarantee to its customers. It plans to build this into a separate revenue making vertical in the near future. Aluru told Inc42 that the startup is working to forge new alliances with other players to offload these resold vehicles from its books.

It also gathers data from the battery module of EVs ranging from location to other metrics related to the health of the vehicles. Responding to a question about the startup’s gameplan with regards to the huge trove of data, Aluru said it intends to scale this up to better tailor services for its users and to develop new products. However, he didn’t specify the products the startup is looking at.

Giving a snapshot of the startup’s revenue model, he said it makes money by sharing the margins of its sales with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Besides, it also takes a cut of the profit margins from non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) who have tie-ups with the startup. 

Turno also plans to foray into other related domains, such as insurtech, in the coming time. It is mulling a host of parallel revenue streams to further diversify its holdings and consolidate its presence. 

The Bengaluru-based startup has tied up with leading OEMs such as Mahindra, Piaggio, Omega Seiki Mobility, Etrio, among others. Turno claims to have captured 75% market share in the retail cargo three-wheeler segment in Bengaluru. 

Aluru said that at the current pace, Turno expects to emerge as the largest seller of commercial EVs in the country by August 2022.

The startup is also working to finalise a major deal with a large bank to offer more credit to its customers and to spruce up its bottomline, he said. 

Highlighting Turno’s future plans, Aluru said it intends to move 50-60% of the OEM inventory in multiple markets across the country in the coming years. The startup is also mulling launching its services in other Southeast Asian markets in the next 12 months. 

The company intends to be the ‘orchestrator’ of the commercial EV market, Aluru said. “We are building tech, we are working with NBFCs to bring capital and we are also bringing value to the market. All that means is that we are serving the customer from end-to-end. This is what sets us apart.” 

According to a report, India’s total EV market was well pegged at $220.1 Mn in 2020 and is projected to grow to $152.21 Bn by 2030 at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 94.4% between 2021 and 2030.

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